When to Hire a Virtual Assistant and When to Hire a Consultant

Jun 24, 2016

When it comes to hiring someone external to your business, you have two options – you can either hire a consultant, or a virtual assistant. All independent contractors and freelancers ultimately fall into one of these two categories – regardless of whether they’re a designer, customer service rep, writer, programmer, etc.

What’s the difference between the consultant and the virtual assistant? The consult will charge a premium to take on complex projects. Meanwhile, the virtual assistant will cost substantially less to follow establishes processes and tasks that you delegate.

Both the consultant and virtual assistant have their place in your broader business strategy. The key is to figure out which one to hire for which tasks.

To make your life easier, we’ve developed this brief list of when it’s best to hire a consultant, and when it’s best to hire a virtual assistant.

Hire a consultant if you need strategy developed

If you know that your business needs social media marketing, but you have no idea where to start, then you want to hire a consultant.

If you need a way to improve your customer service experience, but aren’t sure what path to follow, your best bet is to hire a consultant.

Anytime that there’s an area of business where you’re unfamiliar, and uninterested in learning, it’s time to hire a consultant.

Hire a virtual assistant if you need strategy implemented

Once your social media strategy has been developed, and you know who to follow, when to post, and what to post, you’re ready to hire a cost-effective virtual assistant to help make that strategy happen.

After determining that the best way to improve your customer service experience is to reach out to each customer directly with x specific questions, you’re ready to hire a virtual assistant to make the calls and send the emails.

The virtual assistant is able to clearly track and define the steps to ensure that the strategy is implemented effectively.

Hire a consultant if you need processes established

Maybe you have the right strategy, but you feel like it could be improved upon. If this is the case, hire a consultant.

Whether you need a system for tracking your finances, a process for monitoring workflow, or a method for maximizing productivity, a consultant can share best practices that will help guide successfully grow your business.

Hire a virtual assistant if you need processes followed

When you look up from your desk one day to realize that you’re spending hours on the same, trivial tasks, day-after-day, it’s time to hire a virtual assistant.

You already know what needs to be done, and how to do it. Simply document this process and hand the task over to your virtual assistant.  

While the consultant helps you discover and develop an effective process, the virtual assistant can implement the day-to-day – allowing you to focus your time on higher value activities that can’t be outsourced.

Hire a consultant if you need to develop a network

The right connections can make or break a company – and the right consultant can help you develop those connections.

If your business is just starting out, and meaningful network in a specific niche would benefit your brand credibility, then consider hiring a consultant who is already a part of that community.

By working with the consultant for a brief period of time, you can gain access to their network.

Hire a virtual assistant if you need to activate a network

When you already have your own network and simply need to keep them engaged and interested, hiring a virtual assistant can save hours.

Provide the VA with access to your email account and have them reach out with requests to share, promote, or connect. Furthermore, have them respond to comments on your blog or forum.

Although it may take a bit of extra effort and planning to have a virtual assistant manage your network as you, it can be worth it – as it literallyallows you to be in two places at once.

Closing thoughts…

Both consultants and virtual assistants play a valuable role in the success of a business – as long as you know when to hire which. Hire a consultant when you need a VA, and you’ll be throwing money down the drain. Meanwhile hire a VA when you need a consultant and your results will be minimal.

At Support Ninja we have a healthy combination of both consultants and virtual assistants – which allows us to benefit our clients wherever they may be on the planning and implementation scale. If you’re looking to improve your company’s productivity through outsourcing, get in touch. We’d love to discover if our services can help you grow your business.