SWOT Analysis for Virtual Assistant Industry

Important facts about Virtual Assistant Industry : 

 

Want to Set up your virtual assist company or hire a virtual assist for your business : This article will help you to take right decision and business planing.

If you plan to start your new  Virtual Assistant company, this report will help you to know this industry and devise your marketing plan for VA business. Small business owners or online entrepreneurs can also use this information to know about this industry before appointing a virtual assistant firm for supporting their day to day business operation.

So objective of this report is to provide greater insight about this Virtual Assistant industry to help  online entrepreneurs, small business owners and aspiring Virtual assistant.

Virtual assistant industry is becoming more and more popular among small business owners across the globe. If fact entrepreneurs save cost on OPEX by outsourcing day to day jobs to virtual assistant company . But, what are the challenges of this VA industry, how VA firms can position their products in this highly competitive market?

I am trying to build some insights through this SWOT analysis report of Virtual Assistant industry , and  hope this will help my readers .

A. Strenght (S) : Strength of Virtual Assistant Industry

 

1. Availability of talent from Global Market: Virtual Assistant is “Virtual “in nature . So small business owners can hire the VA firms from any country across the world.

Example: I needed an American voice for my company video, and I went to Elance to hire Voice over artist from US . The whole product was developed and delivered in virtual environment. Many VA provides voice over support.

2. Huge Cost saving benefits: One of the most important strength of VA industry to help small business owners to save employee cost and others administrative tasks.

Virtual assistant can provide service at a fraction of hourly cost as charged by regular consultants or employees in developed nations.

Case analysis:

Average hourly rate of Administrative Assistant is $14.32 per hour. See more detail Below .

Administrative Assistant  rate

Administrative Assistant rate

 

 

 

 

 

 

( Source : Payscale )

Yearly payment comes minimum – $22,575

Virtual assistant Hourly rate:

It starts from $3 per hour for Data entry work to $20 for niche market research report development.

( Source : Elance job posting and awarding stats )

You can visit my another blog for detail hourly rate of virtual assistant  :

So virtual assistant is a huge money saving proposition for small business owners .

3. Broad product line:

Many top virtual assistant companies have strong and broad product line starting from Data entry to business consulting. We have found that if companies in India having broad product lines in Admin services always enjoy strong position in this industry.

As an individual VA , you should  have at least 2-3 skills ( Example – data entry , basic writing etc ) to manage  few VA jobs , but when you like to gear up for bigger role  for  providing end to end support to your clients , you need to have team members with multiple skills .

Sample product analysis of top 10 ten Virtual Assistant companies in India reveals the following interest  fact that :

1. Top 2-3 virtual assistant Indian companies  get major projects in Data entry and Data mining domain .  These are mostly repetitive tasks and low paid jobs but higher in Volume.

2. Second major Virtual jobs: Online research ( this covers topic research , lead generation , )

3. Social media marketing: There is increasing demand for Virtual assistant for this role  .

4. Niche work – market research, Business consulting. These are high paid jobs with lesser volumes.

So top virtual assistant companies have skills sets over this service portfolios

4. Quality work and on time delivery: Quality work delivered at right time always rewarded with repeats projects from Clients.

Most VA firms remain focused to deliver the projects on time.

So you need to have this quality as strength

5. Familiarity of top VA tools: This will give you enough confidence/strength to position  your products in this industry .

You can you VA business based on your basic business skill and learning ,but over the time , you need to learn basic Virtual assistant tools to provide support to global clients .

I have listed some VA tools in another blog post : Virtual assistant tools .

Some more skills your team need to have:

a. Google tools – Google Adward , Trends , keyword Planner , Google Analytics

b. Graphics – Photoshop, Illustrator

c. Market research tools and apps

6. Strong virtual team members:

It’s very difficult for a new virtual assistance agency to have VA team members with varied skills. We have found few best virtual assistant agencies in US, recruiting college students on demand basis to cater various projects.

They recruits VA team members across US; aspirant VA team member needs to have PC and Internet at home.

7. Very good resources for helping clients to make decisions to subscribe their services :

If you try to become a top virtual assistant agency ( or individuals ) , you need to have dedicated sections ( on web page ) for sharing following resources :

a. Podcast

b. Free white papers

c. Case studies

d. Blog

( Source : Based on analysis on top 5 Virtual assistant companies in US , and India )

8. As a VS, you use your core competency:

We have found many Virtual assistant may not be adept in all skills. But they strong skills in Market research, so they take projects on Market research or lead generation.

So your strength should be based on your core competency. Many VA are highly successful and highly paid based on their key skills.

9. Low cost of operation: Start up cost is very low for any virtual assistant agency. Many virtual assistants are individuals and they work from home office set up.

Even if you set up a virtual assistant agency, you can start a business with few hundred dollar ( provided you have home PC and Internet cost ) .

Even many agency having part time VAs on their payroll to manage costs . Managing your cost you give you optimal strength.

B. Weakness (W)  of Virtual assistant industry

 

1. Lack of trust from Clients: Since this is virtual operation , so many US based clinets having agitation to share sensible details with overseas workers . Best approach could be , you can work on reputed freelance portals Such as Elance , develop reputation and clients and show case these feedback and reputation to outside clients .

So this takes time to build reputation online as a VA.

2. Downward pressure on price: Since entry barrier is low , so you will be asked to lower fees to wins projects . But I feel if you are good at any VS skill say market research, then showcase your skills and justify your rates with good samples work; you need not look back.

3. Earning depends on international exchange rate : Most VA are paid in USD on more popular freelance portals . So your payment/earning depends on international exchange rate . So factors those cost in your project fees.

4. Being virtual in nature if can miss many projects where your clients need local VA or require physical presence.

Example : If are expert in Marketing ( both inbound and out bound ) , now you are supporting your clients for online marketing , but your client need some support for local promotions ; your reach become limited there to text support for out bound marketing .

As a virtual assistant company in India, we have extended support to our US clients . But we missed few projects where clients need physical presence.

5. Don’t expect very big order of multiple thousand dollars – big order needs physical presence in Client’s county for local Liaoning and support. Virtual assistant company by its structural limitation can’t take million dollar projects.

So major virtual assistant services are limited to small business owners and corporate professionals .

C. Opportunity in Virtual Assistant Industry:

1. There will be huge demand in health care industry : As per research findings from Nuance , by 2018 Virtual assistant powered by clinical language understanding will change the ways how doctors will interact with patients and electronic health records .

2. This business model comes with a great earning potential for independent consultant working as a Virtual assistant.

As per Survey from Virtual Business Alliance , the average earning of a full time VA in US is about $39,452 .

( Source : entrepreneur.com    )

4. More number of small business owners are recruiting VAs instead of full time in house admin assistants. This helps to save cost and offer flexibility to owners to employ VA as on demand .

http://startups.co.uk/businesses-ideas-for-2014-virtual-assistant/

5. Big online market by 2018: As per research findings from Staffing Industry Analysts , online market will reach $5bn global market in 2018 . This will certainly create a huge demand for online workers/ agencies ( including VA agencies ) . So be it personal assistant or Virtual assistant agency , small business owners will keep on recruiting more and more VAs by 2020 .

Case Analysis –

Sooqini ,a London-based VA agency    raised $500,000 investment in September 2013 to expand its virtual based offering, demonstrating the rising demand of Virtual assistant business .

US-based  TaskRabbit founded in 2008, launched its operation UK 2013 .

( Source :  startups.co.uk )

6.  SEO – very hot skill in demand for VA industry: As per report from UKStartup , Major skills are demand for Virtual assistant jobs

  • Social media assistant jobs
  • virtual researcher jobs
  • virtual assistant for writing jobs
  • Personal Executive Assistant
  • Website designer

7. Increasing number of jobs posted on Popular freelance platforms for Virtual assistant jobs. Some popular virtual assistants job platform are – Elance , Odesk , Time, Guru etc .

8. Good online search trends for virtual assistant services: We have used Google trend for analyzing online search trends of Virtual assistant . Most increasing trends observed in the following countries

1. Philippines

2. United States

3. South Africa

5. Australia

6. Canada

7. United Kingdom

8. India

When we compare this Google trend data with job posting statics on major virtual assistance job portals, we have found major job posted from US , Australia and then UK .

Major VA providers are from   Philippines ,  India , US , Bangladesh , Pakistan .

9. Good and consistent forecast of online search trends of Virtual assistant shares the fact that VA business will be in demand in future .

Forecast for Virtual assistant

Forecast for Virtual assistant

 

 

 

 

 

 

( Source : Google trends : May 2014 )

 

D. Threats (T) in Virtual Assistant Industry

 

1. Low entry barrier brings more lost cost payers every day in your home market – There is always a fierce competition from low cost new Virtual assistants. Even if you are an established player, you can face competition from new players.

2. Threat from low cost countries: Virtual assistants from US face competition from low cost countries such as India, Pakistan. But for last 2-3 years even these countries have been facing threats from other lost cost Philippines and Bangladesh.

3. If your competitor has more product and services ( esp. for new technology or process ) , then it can pose threats in acquiring your clients .

4. Threat from specialist company- virtual assistant company is generalist in nature such as they can develop a basic website or assist in internet marketing . The moment your client needs extensive support on complex website design or niche internet marketing campaign ,  he/she can turn to a  website design company or dedicated  SEO agency . So there is always a chance of great threat from niche /specialist service providers.

5. Fluctuation in currency: This is very important for non US virtual assistant . We have experience this in India. When we started our venture that that 1 USD = Rs 45 ( Indian Currency  ) , then it rose to 1 USD = Rs 68 and now it’s 1 USD = Rs 58. So your earning is influenced by fluctuation of local currency with respect to international currencies.

Why do you need this SWOT analysis of Virtual assistant industry?

We have done this analysis based on our in-depth experience as a leading virtual assistant company in India and through marker research experience . We have developed this report so that a new virtual assistant can have insight about this industry and small business owners should know this industry facts  before hiring any virtual assistant for their business supports.

Let me know your view .

About Author :
Gobinda Roy is the Founder of Ennovation Consulting and has been involved in online research, Industry research and sales consulting for over 14 years. He is alumnus of India’s premier Institute IIT Kharagpur and has over 12 years of corporate experience. . He has worked with multiple businesses across many verticals, creating and implementing online and marketing research strategies for companies in the US , Australia , UK and across Europe. He is co-founder of Lakshay Foundation and mentor at India’s top Business School CIIE, IIM Ahmadabad. You can Contact Gobinda at : Facebook , LinkedIn

References :

1. Data from Elance , Odesk

2. http://startups.co.uk/businesses-ideas-for-2014-virtual-assistant/

3. Google trends

4. http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/71516

5. http://www.healthcareitnews.com/infographic/will-virutal-assistants-propel-future-medicine

6.http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/virtual-assistants-appeal-docs

7. http://www.eahelp.com/blog/

8. http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Administrative_Assistant/Hourly_Rate

9. http://www.virtualassistantstartups.com/Linked%20Pages/vas_final_samplechapt.pdf

10. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052748704198004575310710174207000

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