Outsourcing as Virtual Assistants may sound like the world’s biggest contradiction, but contrary to popular belief, VAs aren’t timelords!
While we do have plenty of nifty time-saving tricks up our sleeves, those tricks don’t extend to bending/stopping/travelling time, so we have to find other ways to tick off our never-ending to-do lists.
Luckily for us, we’re experts in the world of outsourcing and know how to use it to our advantage. Which, coincidentally, is precisely what we’ve been doing over the last year or so. As with all businesses, ours gets incredibly busy incredibly quickly, and it can be challenging to balance all our behind-the-scenes tasks. Our clients are always our primary focus, but that doesn’t mean our business-related tasks like admin and credit control can grind to a halt!
We’re firm believers in using support when you need it here at The Edwards Company, so we asked our Managing Director, Lisa, to talk us through some of the ways she’s saved herself copious amounts of time through outsourcing. Hopefully, you’ll feel motivated to do the same!
Outsourcing as a Virtual Assistant: An Interview with Lisa
What is your main reason for outsourcing?
Like all businesses, ours is busy! I outsource a number of things so I can focus on running the business and the daily tasks I need to do to keep the business running smoothly.
Are there any specific business tasks that you outsource? Or is it just a bit of everything?
When it comes to outsourcing, it’s vital to pinpoint where you need the most support. When I know something needs to give, I assess the tasks I’m responsible for and pick one or two that take the most time or cause the most stress. These are the tasks that go straight to the top of my outsourcing list. They’ll free up the most time and allow me to focus on tasks that perhaps can’t be outsourced or need my attention specifically.
A great example of this is outsourcing our payroll. Anyone who knows me knows that this is my absolute least favourite task! It’s incredibly time consuming and can feel stressful when you’ve got a to-do list that still needs seeing to. It can also be complex, which means it can’t be rushed in case mistakes are made. Outsource criteria met!
I outsource our payroll to my brilliant Kingswinford based accountant, French Ludlum. Not only does this reassure me that our payroll is in expert hands, but it also frees up two to three hours of my time per month by not having to worry about processing it myself. Not to mention my payroll-induced stress levels are drastically reduced! It also ensures that we are bang up-to-date and compliant with any new legislation that is brought into place – just another thing I don’t have to worry about!
When it comes to outsourcing, I’d definitely recommend choosing tasks that take up significant amounts of time in your month – imagine what else you could do with that time if you had it freed up!
That’s brilliant! We know from experience that things like payroll can be tricky, so it’s great to know there is support out there. What about the more human side of the business? Are you able to outsource things like HR?
Definitely. I outsource HR to a brilliant company called Acorn Support Ltd – we’d be lost without the services of Claire and her team!
We are not HR experts by any stretch of the imagination, so when we need support to make sure that our staff handbook is up-to-date and complies with any new rules and regulations or we have a query from one of our team members relating to employment matters, Acorn is our first port of call.
Our team is incredibly important to me, and I always want to make sure I’m giving them accurate information and supporting them in the best way possible. Outsourcing our HR to Acorn gives me peace of mind that I’m doing the best by our team and supporting them in all the right ways. It also saves me spending hours and hours researching the right answers!
When it comes to deciding what to outsource, I really would recommend outsourcing tasks that you feel aren’t in your area of expertise. There’s no point struggling through a task you find challenging if there’s someone out there who can do it for you.
Exactly, you wouldn’t expect our credit control team to write content for our social media, or vice versa! What about a Virtual Assistant using a Virtual Assistant, is that something you’ve explored?
Absolutely. As Virtual Assistants ourselves, we know how valuable they can be when you’re trying to run a business. Enter, the brilliant Mary!
Mary is my fantastic Virtual Assistant, and I really would be lost without her. She does ten hours per month for me, which means that myself and everyone at the business can focus on our jobs and not have to worry about any tasks that come our way that we don’t have time for.
For example, Mary has recently created some templates for me that I use for running credit checks for a client. I probably do 200 credit checks in a year for them, and if all the information were stored in my brain, it would be at risk of exploding! I spoke to Mary and explained what I needed, and she came up with a lovely template that I now use instead. It saves me so much time and means I don’t have to remember a ten-point list every single time I do a credit check!
That’s the beauty of Virtual Assistants – they’re flexible and adaptable. I can give Mary a brief explanation of what I need, and a few hours later, it’s ready to go. It really is that simple, and the benefits I gain from having Mary on the team are second to none.
Mary is definitely a brilliant addition to Team EdCo! Is it just business tasks she helps with, or is she on-hand for more personal tasks too?
Mary does the whole shebang! When you’re running a business, your business tends to come first. It’s where you spend the majority of your time, which means sometimes tasks like scheduling appointments or organising holidays can be a bit of a pain – there simply aren’t enough hours in the day.
Again, enter Mary!
She recently helped me source a luxury dog hotel for Dobby so he can holiday when I holiday, and she’s also been brilliant in helping me find car rental firms overseas for when I travel. Even things like helping me research my Vitality membership so I can make the most of it are a massive help – I just wouldn’t have time to do it all without Mary.
As far as I’m concerned, Virtual Assistants are for everyone. It doesn’t matter what you need support with, there will always be someone out there who can provide what you need.
Speaking of tasks that aren’t business-related, is there anything else you’ve outsourced recently that has made a difference to you outside of work?
Yes, my ironing! I recently discovered Nanny Mel’s Ironing and Sewing Service, and it’s been an absolute game-changer for me. The service is absolutely brilliant, saves me so much time, and it really helps that she’s such a lovely lady too. I like ironing and find it relaxing, but it’s not something I have time to spend a couple of hours on a week, so Nanny Mel is a no-brainer.
I also outsource the cleaning of my home to a local cleaning company. They come every two weeks to clean the house top to bottom, and it really is just brilliant. It saves me a lot of time when I’m out of work so I can relax and recharge my batteries, ready to face the next week. It’s far better than having to fit all my chores in over the weekend after a really busy week and being exhausted come Monday morning.
The purpose of outsourcing is to give yourself more time. Whether that’s business-related or not, it really is worthwhile and can have a huge, positive impact on your quality of life overall.
Outsourcing with The Edwards Company
We’ve practised what we preach, now it’s your turn!
If you’re constantly talking about finding extra support to keep your business running smoothly or to increase your free time, consider investing in a Virtual Assistant (or just outsourcing your ironing, both are equally beneficial!)
Here at The Edwards Company, we provide Virtual Assistance services in credit control, content creation, data entry and admin. All our packages are designed specifically to support businesses like yours.
For more information or just to chat to one of our Virtual Assistants for some advice, please do not hesitate to get in touch.