The practice of using outside firms to handle work normally performed within a company

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Did You Know?

49% of small business say they cannot attract and retain top quality employees without offering competitive health benefits.  - Aflac, 6/2006

40% of small business owners said their greatest expense is payroll. - MasterCard Int'l, 1/2006

The average small business owner spends $7,646 per employee staying in compliance with government regulations. -SBA, 7/2006

On average, an employee wastes approximately 2 hours per day on non work-related activities and gets paid for it!
Salary.com Survey
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Additional Articles and Resources

Below are additional resources to help you understand the difference between the two work classifications.

An article published by the Virtual Assistance Chamber of Commerce stresses the importance of understanding the difference between working with a Virtual Assistant and working with an Employee before entering into either work arrangement. A misunderstanding could cost you a lot of  money in penalties and paybacks. 

What is the Difference Between an Independent Contractor and an Employee?

What is an Independent Contractor?

Independent Contractor vs. Employee?

How Much Does an Employee Cost?

Independent Contractor or Employee:  Which One Are You?

Employees vs Contractors - What's the Difference?
Employee or Virtual Assistant?

There are a lot of things to consider when deciding whether you need to hire an Employee or partner with a Virtual Assistant. This section will provide you with information regarding both options, links to several resource sites, and articles to further your knowledge about the two work classifications.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the average small business owner spends up to 40% of their time on routine administrative tasks. If you don't want to be a statistic, you have choices: You can hire an employee or partner with a Virtual Assistant. Both choices will help you to reduce your involvement in the day to day details of operating your business, but there are many things to consider when deciding which staffing option will be the best solution for you and your business.  Let's take a look at the two work classifications.

What is an Employee?
An employee is someone you hire to perform services for you according to a defined job description, and you control what will be done and how it will be done. An employee is paid for the hours you hired them for (even if you do not have work for them to perform, or when they are engaged in non work-related activities such as rest breaks, chatting with co-workers, personal business, etc. As an employer, you must withhold income tax and your portion of social security and Medicare taxes. You must give your employees a W-2 form, Wage and Tax Statement, showing the amount of taxes withheld from their pay.  Although you are not required to provide them with benefits, such as medical insurance, retirement plan, paid time off, bonus pay, etc., it is typically expected that these incentives will be part of the employment agreement.
  • If you want someone solely dedicated to work exclusively for you, control their work schedule, decide what you are willing to pay them, and dictate how the work will be performed -- then you need to hire an Employee.
  • If you want on-site assistant, or only have tasks to delegate that cannot be done off-site, such as meet, greet, and assist walk-in customers, or paper filing -- then you need to hire an Employee.
  • If you want a dedicated assistant to be available to you for 6 or more hours every day to assist you with an administrative workload that is so great that it requires that much time to get it all done -- then you need to hire an Employee.
Keep in mind employees do not work at 100% productivity, i.e., 8 hours paid may be equivalent to 6 hours in actual productive time, which means you are paying for 2 hours of non-productive time, and not getting any return on your investment.

What is a Virtual Assistant?
Virtual Assistants are business owners who work as Independent Contractors. They determine their own service fees and set their own work schedule. You are invoiced for the actual hours they work (100% productive time), which is typically prorated in 1-, 6-, 10-, or 15-minute increments. Virtual Assistants do not work for you exclusively, and typically work with a small group of clients; however, because they are business owners, they have a vested interest in your success and are dedicated to meeting your needs as if you were their only client.

Since Virtual Assistants are classified as Independent Contractors, you are not required to withhold income taxes, or pay a portion of social security and Medicare taxes. You must give them a 1099 Tax Form at the end of the year, but only if the amount you paid them is in excess of $600. Virtual Assistants do not expect to receives any benefits, nor are you required to provide them, and therefore, those extra costs will not be part of the Service Agreement.

If hiring an on-site employee is not a viable option due to limited space, location of your office, etc., and you need an alternative solution to meet your staffing needs -- you would benefit from partnering with a Virtual Assistant.
    • If you don't have the administrative workload to justify keeping a full-time employee on your payroll -- partnering with a Virtual Assistant would be an ideal solution.
    • If you are on the road a lot and work from a mobile office, but want an assistant who can help you on an ongoing, but "as-needed" basis to help you keep up with your administrative work -- partnering with a Virtual Assistant can provide you with the resources and assistance you need -- no matter where you go anywhere in the world.
    • If you want to work with an Assistant, but don't want to take on the extra administrative work and expense associated with hiring an employee, such as recruiting, interviewing, making payroll deductions, benefits administration, supervision, training, etc. -- partnering with Virtual Assistant would solve your dilemma.
    • If the tasks you would like to delegate requires less hours than what you would hire a part-time or temporary employee to do (i.e., less than 20 hours a week) and more hours than you have time to do yourself -- partnering with a Virtual Assistant is your answer.
    If you work from a home office, there are a few things to consider . . .
    • You might not have the space to set up an additional dedicated workstation for an on-site employee to work from, or the budget to purchase additional office furniture and computer equipment for the employee to use to perform your work.  Or perhaps you simply do not feel comfortable having someone working in your home.  A Virtual Assistant works from her own fully-equipped office, and uses the latest technology to perform your work.
    • You may also run into issues with the phone company when trying to install additional phone and computer lines in a residence that will be used to provide a workspace for an on-site employee to work from. By working remotely with a Virtual Assistant, you will not need to deal with setting up an additional workspace.
    • Some local zoning rules regulate home-based businesses, and you may not be allowed to have an on-site employee working in your home.  Homeowners associations, co-op boards, and other ruling entities also have rules about having employees work in your home.  There are no rules against working remotely with a Virtual Assistant.
    • You may have to increase your liability insurance to protect yourself in case an employee is injured in your home. Do you want to take that risk or responsibility?  You won't have to worry about that when you work remotely with a Virtual Assistant.
    • Some people are not comfortable working in a private residence, so it may take longer for  you to find someone to hire.  Temporary employees cannot work in private residences so hiring an employee through a staffing agency is not even an option.  You can work with a Virtual Assistant just as effectively and efficiently as if she was sitting right outside your office door. And, if you have a Skype account, you can even talk to your assistant "in person" via Skype Video Chat.
    With an employee you risk a higher turnaround.  People come and go. Having to continually go through the hiring and training process can get costly and take up a lot of your valuable time.  Virtual Assistants can come and go too, but you are less likely to experience a high turnaround with a Virtual Assistant than with an Employee.

    Virtual Assistants are in business to help you be successful in your business.  They have a vested interest in you and your business because their success depends on it. They want to develop a long-term relationship with their clients, so they will go the extra mile to provide you with superior customer service and a high caliber work product to ensure longevity. Virtual Assistants devote time and energy upfront by engaging potential clients in an in-depth consultation process to ensure that both parties are a good fit for each other prior to working together.
    How to Get Started Working Together

    The first step in the Getting Started Process is to schedule a Get Acquainted Phone Consultation. To do this, simply fill out the Get Acquainted Phone Consultation Pre-Call Form, then follow the instructions provided to schedule the phone appointment via my online appointment scheduling system. 

    During the call, we will discuss your situation, and talk about how I may be able to assist you with your current administrative needs.  If we decide together that we are a good match, we will continue to the next step in the process. 
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