It’s been a long week.
You’re settling down to watch a film and get a rest, finally, when you spy a box sitting innocently on the corner of your coffee table.
It’s a lovely box. You chose it specially. A gorgeous shade of dusky pink with applique tea roses and just a hint of glitter. It’s perfect.
You love your box.
But right now, your heart sinks.
For it’s your special box for your …….RECEIPTS!
If ever there was a moment to listen to the little voice in your head telling you to hire a virtual assistant (VA).
So let’s start with your objections (see, I can read your mind!).
Isn’t Hiring A VA Expensive?
No. A VA saves you money.
It can feel expensive at the beginning. That’s because you’re getting used to doing things a different way.
A virtual assistant charges £20-£30 an hour on average. She (as it almost always is) can also do a shitload more in that time than you can.
She likes doing what you hate. She doesn’t have the emotional baggage attached to your tasks that you have. She isn’t procrastinating about typing up yet another damn receipt as it’s not her receipt.
My VA takes 75% LESS TIME doing tasks than I do.
Which frees me up to do what makes me more money and to have ‘me time’.
How Do I Hire a VA?
Good question. I’m glad you asked.
I had no idea either. I didn’t know what help I needed, how to start or how to go about asking for whatever it was I didn’t know I needed.
That’s exactly what I said to the VA. She was cool with that (and the VAs that weren’t, we didn’t go any further with that conversation).
I even wrote a book called How To Hire A VA (withdrawn from sale because of EU VAT) which helped freelancer Emma Cossey make the leap to hiring a VA and she’s so glad she did. Relief!
Let’s get down to brass tacks. Why hiring a VA relieves your accounts overwhelm.
5 Instant Ways A VA Relieves Your Accounts Overwhelm
1. Redesign your invoice
A VA can redesign your invoice so it’s more user friendly from your client’s perspective, includes all the details you need to have an invoice, and encourages your client to pay you as soon as possible.
A VA can also make it easier to fill in client details and issue invoices for you (or your VA) so less time is taken issuing invoices.
2. Send out invoices to your clients
All you need to do is send the details to your VA and magic wand waving later, your VA sends your invoice to your client.
It can also be helpful if you send invoices to bigger companies if you have ‘an accounts department’ sending invoices and following up. Especially if they like to dick you about with paying on time.
3. Make regular checks on which invoices have been paid
Your VA can check to see which invoices have been paid freeing up your time and stopping distractions.
I wrote last week about cash flow and having your trusted VA checking you have been paid frees your time and emotional energy to focus on increasing your client list.
4. Send reminders to clients about outstanding invoices
It’s one of the most professional things you can do to be on top of your invoices, reminders and payment.
It can be such a drain on your emotional energy and sometimes jeopardise client relationships when you need to chase.
Delegate to your ‘accounts department’!
5. Set up a mileage record sheet
Keeping track of your mileage can be an energy sucking time sink.
It’s also required if you use a car. Ask your VA to set up a simple mileage record sheet.
You can also ask her to fill it in for you. You just need to send her the details of your business journeys (and your total mileage if you are on actual costs and also use your car for personal journeys). This can all be done by text at the time, so no need for those scribblings on chocolate bar wrappers.
So those are the quick ways a VA can help.
Remember why you started your own business?
I suspect it wasn’t because you enjoyed the feeling of fear when you saw the ‘finance’ section in your Dropbox folder.
Nurture yourself and do something about it.
What My VA Says About Helping With Accounts
My VA is called Lizzie.
This is what Lizzie has to say from her VA’s point of view:
‘Having a VA doesn’t mean you should have no idea what is going on with your finances, it is still about gaining financial transparency.
Rosie talks about ‘taking the fear out of doing your accounts’ – that doesn’t mean that you just hand it over to someone else and then stick your head in the sand again.
A good VA will always simplify and explain any system they set up for you. After all, you know your business the best, right?
As a VA I want to facilitate your creativity and often that means doing the time consuming paperwork bits for you or at the very least setting some systems to make it less time consuming for you to do yourself.’
[Pause for a biscuit and a cup of tea]
And for those of you who need a more long term solution……
A few not so instant ways a VA can relieve your accounts overwhelm
- Receipt sorting
- Data entry into your spreadsheet (free income spreadsheet)(free expenses spreadsheet)
- Keeping on top of regular outgoing payments so minimises time taken
- Cross referencing and checking invoices against your services and your rates/fees
- Keeping on top of HMRC changes (which is a real pain, let me tell you)
All of these things are designed to keep you in control of the finance bits of your business as well as all the other bits that you may be more confident doing.
Hiring a VA is not about admitting you can’t cope, it is about recognising that your business needs to grow and develop and to achieve this you need to free up some time.
Or as I think of it for me personally, just because I can doesn’t mean I should.
Once you start to make money, most one man band businesses are one owner with several helpers businesses – which is just as it should be.
5 step action plan
- Spend 15 minutes making a list of all the accounts tasks that cause your brain to go into overwhelm and put them in priority order
- Over the course of a week, record all the time you spend doing these tasks (Lizzie uses the free online time tracking app ‘Harvest’ for this)
- Call some VAs and get some quotes. Make sure you like them. Make sure they are a good fit for your business
- Work out your budget and prioritise short and long term goals.
- Hire a VA (the good ones will have a ready made contract you can use) and away you go!
6. (The most important part) Reward yourself. I am partial to a slice of coffee and walnut cake and a cup of Earl Grey.
What’s the one task a VA could do to help reduce your accounts overwhelm?