Do you hate asking for help? Don’t!

Written by: Penny Cooke | Posted on: | Category:

I’m writing this on Day 21 of Lockdown in the United Kingdom. It’s a lovely day outside, Bella the Lurcher is sighing a little impatiently because – in B-time – we’re late for her walk. I’ve never doubted that working for myself was the right thing to do. Today, most days in fact, I know that the decision I made in June 2019 was the only one I could make, if I wanted the flexibility it offers in terms of hours, working with people I really wanted to work with – not had to, because it was “the job” – and knowing I’m making a real and valuable difference to their business and, ultimately, their home life, too. And I could finally finally get a dog after decades of longing for one!

But it’s not been easy. I’ve made mistakes along the way – who doesn’t? – and sometimes they’ve cost more than just time. They’ve cost money, too. Because I was determined to do it my way. Not that I knew everything – or even anything – there was to know about being a Virtual Assistant (although, to be honest, I did know pretty much everything there was to know about being a Personal Assistant!). If, at the start of it all, I’d done just a little more research, asked a few more questions, rather than jump right in and do it my way, I’d have saved some money and some time, too.

The moral of this story? Never be afraid to ask for help!

We’ve all been there – too little time, too many things to do. Blimey – did you really want to be a juggler? I’m rubbish at juggling, but pretty damn’ good at keeping balls in the air, metaphorically speaking! So, my advice to you jugglers out there… throw one or two of them in my direction' aka don't be afraid to ask for help. Everyone could use an extra pair of hands – whether you’re the owner of a business, a sole trader, or a private individual. A Virtual Assistant is that extra pair of hands.

Why? Because we’re flexible. We offer many different business support services – inbox and diary management, general admin, travel itineraries – and “lifestyle” services such as sourcing that OMG it's beautiful birthday gift, or a restaurant booking, or tickets for a show. There’s a VA out there that would be perfect for you and your business, or you and your family.

So, what's a VA, I hear you ask? This particular Virtual Assistant is a highly-skilled individual providing remote business support and concierge services. You don’t have to find me an office, because I already have one, working from my own home. You don’t have to find me a desk or a computer, or software licences, because I already have them. You don’t have to pay employer taxes, holiday pay, etc because I’m self-employed.

Is a Virtual Assistant right for me? Hmm. Would you like to spend more time with your family or on the golf course, write that book you’ve been meaning to write for years, or simply get home at a reasonable time and ditch the microwave meals and takeaways? Or, even, would you like spend more time growing your business and making it a success, rather than answering emails, chasing payments, and a thousand and one other administrivial tasks (it’s a thing, honest!).

But is a Virtual Assistant really cost effective? Yes, several times over. Let’s forget most VAs have a lot of experience (in my case, over 20 years as a Personal Assistant, mostly C-suite (actually, don’t forget that!)), and there are a host of other add-ons that need to be factored in when hiring a PA, rather than outsource to a VA (see above!).

So, on the face of it, hiring a PA rather than working with a VA looks cheaper. It’s not. My ad hoc rate is £30 per hour. On average, the hourly rate of a salaried PA is about £16.50 per hour – if she works 52 weeks a year, 5 days a week, 7½ hours a day. But she doesn’t. With statutory holidays, and Christmas & New Year, that 262 days a year becomes 232. Bank Holidays in the United Kingdom – there are five, excluding Christmas & New Year – a whole week of not-working-but-being-paid.) And it’s a rare thing indeed that no-one ever takes a day if they're unwell. On average, that’s 5½ days off sick. We’re now down to 226½ days working.

All VAs track their time – literally. The clock stops when I put the kettle on, when I answer the phone, when I get up to stretch my legs. I don’t have any co-workers who stop by for a chat. The average office worker spends up to five hours on non-work-related activity every day. I’m going to be kind and say that most office workers work for 75% of their time, that they never arrive late or leave early.

When you factor all that in, a salaried PA’s hourly rate shoots up to £25.33 – and remember we started at £16.50.

Could a Virtual Assistant be the answer for you? If you’re time-poor and administrivia-rich then yes, absolutely. If you can’t see beyond the pile of paper on your desk, beyond the unread / unanswered emails in your inbox (the ones looking to do business with you?) then yes, absolutely.

Maybe it’s time you bit the bullet and said out loud that you do need help, an extra pair of hands, a professional juggler. Give me a call. See what I can do for you – help you focus on what you do best, and leave the rest to me.

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke / Pixabay

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