The Crazy Super Powers of Virtual Assistants…

… and How Your Time Costs More Than Money.

In a series of weekly videos titled Tips & Tools to Start the Right Business for You, once a month I include the interview of a subject-matter expert who shares their business knowledge to help you succeed in your entrepreneurial journey. Recently, I interviewed Thembi Bheka, the founder of the Agency Virtual Staff on Demand: https://virtualstaffondemand.com.

Epiphanies are often surprising how they show up at unexpected moments. Here, I am about to discuss the value of our time as business owners and the opportunity costs of engaging in some business activities to the neglect of others. More specifically how to calculate the cost of your time if you are an entrepreneur or as someone who is dreaming of running their own business someday.

I recently conducted a video interview of a lady whom I greatly admire, Thembi Bheka. Thembi is native of Zimbabwe who immigrated to Canada a few years ago as a refugee with $5 in her pocket. Her immigration story alone is an inspiration to us all and illustrates how our own mind is truly the only border that stops us from reaching our dreams. This interview describes Thembi’s journey, her accomplishments and how the two complementary businesses in virtual assisting services that she eventually launched, brilliantly contribute to the success of thousands of small business owners worldwide, while immensely impacting the lives of women in Zimbabwe, an African country that suffers from 95% unemployment.

Thembi’s Agency of virtual assistants (VA) in Zimbabwe helps small business owners from the world-over, thrive and succeed by freeing them from time-consuming but needed tasks that distract them from making real progress in their business. If not adequately delegated, those necessary but mundane tasks can insidiously hinder the success of any business. Virtual-Staff On Demand is a unique virtual assistant agency with a very cost-effective model to handle all your digital marketing needs such as website updates, creating landing pages, webinars, social media posts, and much more.

Thembi’s vertical business strategy also positively impacts the lives of African women while giving her agency access to super-competent future employees whom she has a chance to informally evaluate while they pursue their VA program in her school. Through SheBreaksThru.com and her Virtual Assistant school, Thembi empowers African women by teaching them a sustainable livelihood that translates into more freedom, greater dignity, the ability to support their families and above all, hope for their future and their children’s future. Her agency embodies the African proverb: “Empower A Woman, Empower The Nation.” And yes, these women are ultra-educated with college degrees, law degrees, even doctorates, and are fully fluent in English. Yet they cannot support themselves where they live. Her big goal is to empower 1 Million African women through her school and her agency.

My discussion with Thembi led me to an epiphany. When I interviewed this extraordinary woman I finally understood something that I have known for years. I mean… I logically knew this all along. But I didn’t truly, and viscerally comprehend the big picture effects. It’s this: our time is a lot more valuable than it appears. As business owners, it’s even more expensive. When you are about to start a business, or you own a business, never forget that your time is 10, 100, 1,000 times more costly than the money paid in exchange for outsourced help.

Let’s looks at simple math examples of the hidden super-powers of a virtual assistant:

It might take a digital marketing neophyte, like myself, easily 5 hours to create a landing page, not counting the time to learn a software new to me. If a virtual assistant expertly does it in 2 hours, at a rate of $5 per hour (a generous hourly rate for a VA in the Philippines for example) it costs $10. Or as in the case of Thembi’s agency pricing (explained in the interview), this might be valued at, depending on your monthly subscription, 1/30 of $397 per month = $13 or 1/90 of $997 = $11.

Now with you as a business owner or one in the future, let’s identify the cost of your time. Here are three approaches to consider:

1- Your hourly fee: It is easy to calculate if you are an individual contributor to your business, such as a consulting professional who charges $200 per hour or an independent hairstylist who charges an average of $100/hour for her/his services. That 5-hour landing page project might cost you between $500 to $1000 to self-produce.

2- Your owner’s salary: As the owner of a business with a team, you also need to fully understand the cost of you NOT working ON your business. That is not working ON your responsibilities that are more impactful like those of drumming up new sales for the company such as building strategic relationships, creating training for new employees, developing a new marketing campaign, inspiring your staff to excel, etc… An easy approach can be to evaluate what your pay is as a % of gross revenues. Let’s say you pay yourself a salary that represents 10% of gross revenues in your business. So your salary is $100K on $1M gross income for simple maths. Those 5 hours of your time are representing $65 per hour assuming your yearly average 30 hour week including time off and vacation: 30 hours x 52 weeks = 1,560 hours per year, $100K/1,560 hours = $65. So a 5 hour-time block of you fiddling with a landing page costs you $65 x 5 = $325! One landing page costs you nearly as much as hiring one of Thembi’s VA for a full month! Or 65 hours for a VA’s time who lives in the Philippines.

3 – The opportunity cost to your business: Another approach is to evaluate the opportunity cost of you not working ON your business and not growing it. Let’s again make some easy assumptions. If you want to grow your $1M business by 20% next year, adding $200,000 to next year’s gross income, assuming that as leader of your small company, you are still working an average of 30 hours per week. Your 5 hours of landing page creation costs your business $200,000/1,560 hours = $128. $128 x 5 hours of landing page creation = $641.

If you want to build a well-oiled business machine, and in addition to the tasks a virtual assistant can free you from, apply any of these three approaches to calculate the value and costs of tasks such as getting expert help to:

  • Bookkeeping,
  • Social media marketing,
  • Building your brand,
  • Fixing your computer,
  • Building a website,
  • Painting your walls, etc.

Don’t forget the value of engaging a business coach to guide you in researching the right business for you, or growing and scaling your business. Unless these are within your zone of genius and what you do for a living through your company, wasting hours of your precious time for amateurish quality results, is a hidden but real threat to your business growth and success, and often more costly than spending money outsourcing them.

Also a reason many are afraid to start a business: Many would-be business owners have this flawed perspective that owning a business is like being a slave to a business. While there are plenty of examples where this is true, ungodly demanding hours is not the cause of owning a business, but the consequence of:

  1. Picking the wrong business, one that doesn’t capitalize on the owner’s strengths or that doesn’t align with the owner’s vision of their ideal life.
  2. The owner’s inability or reluctance to outsource tasks such as what a VA can do.
  3. Not having the discipline to create solid systems that Save You Significant, Time, Energy, Money and Sanity aka S.Y.S.T.E.M.S.

What about aspiring business owners who wish they could start a business? Or those waiting for “the right time” of someday getting into their own business? Someone who is math savvy could probably build an equation for this, but here is what I share with my clients who are in the research stage of business ownership. Each person’s time is a finite resource and none of us knows how long we will live. What you might think is the ‘reasonable’ approach of waiting for the perfect time to start a business, might be a subconscious cover-up for one or several of your hidden fears: fear of failure, fear of disapproval by family or social network, fear of success, fear of not being good enough, etc. Be wise and truly aware of your subconscious motivations for not taking the first tiny step towards that dream of business ownership. And then, find the courage to take that first, safest and most reasonable step… which is to JUST explore business ownership on paper as a possible vehicle to get you to a life you would love.

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PS: About that first and safe step of pre-research… I am your outsourced expert who can help you avoid the perils of starting the wrong business or living a life of regrets. Don’t hesitate to book a free strategy session where I share with you the expertise I gained over a 30-year career in the trenches of small business ownership. Here your cost of not exploring is… well… “only” the opportunity you might have lost in not living a life of your own design via the freedom afforded when you own your livelihood. Money is valuable, but your time is actually your most precious and most finite resource of all. Spend it wisely… especially when it comes to your decisions of researching, starting, and growing a small business, or not taking that first explorative step.

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TIPS & TOOLS TO START THE RIGHT BUSINESS FOR YOU: Click here to watch the video interview with Thembi Bheka. For more information on hiring a virtual assistant with Thembi’s company, visit https://virtualstaffondemand.com/ For extra love and red carpet, let them know that you found them through our community at OPEN FOR BUSINESS

The Author: Hello, I am Patricia Bottero St-Jean Founder of OPEN FOR BUSINESS. I help individuals successfully transition from their job in corporate America or government, to entrepreneurship by starting the right business for them so that they can build a life that suits them and their families. If you would like to discuss your plans of business ownership I invite you to schedule a Strategy Call (no cost) with me. We will discuss the next steps you can take now, and also how I might support you in your journey.

For free content and information on finding the right business for you, subscribe to my Blogpost: https://openforbusinesslab.com/blog/

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Invite to book a call

Getting started.

If this is you…
Do you want greater freedom & income
from a business you own?
If so, you probably have a question or two about
starting a business from an idea or buying one.
A critical step is to build a business foundation for
success BEFORE you invest greatly.
I’m happy to offer a few tips.
Click here to book a no-cost consultation.

Invite to book a call

Getting started.

If this is you…
Do you want greater freedom & income
from a business you own?
If so, you probably have a question or two about
starting a business from an idea or buying one.
A critical step is to build a business foundation for
success BEFORE you invest greatly.
I’m happy to offer a few tips.
Click here to book a no-cost consultation.