The economic downturn in recent years has forced companies large and small to find new ways to save money while continuing to deliver value to the customer. This necessary shift combined with the high unemployment rate has forced new trends to emerge in the workforce.

The first trend is towards self-employment. Entrepreneurship is at an all time high. With the high rate of unemployment, many job shoppers have decided to “hang out a shingle.” According to an article in the New York Times, June,2010, an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics by an outplacement firm, Challenger Gray & Christmas, showed that 8.9 million Americans were self-employed last December, up from 8.7 million a year earlier.

However, once out of the corporate world, many small business owners find that they have budgets too small to access the level of talent that they took for granted in the corporate environment. A small business owner will typically have to choose which skill set is needed most when deciding to hire. In other words, the decision to hire is driven by a need for human resource, administrative, financial, marketing, sales, legal, skills etc. The problem, of course is that the budget of a small growing company will often require a choice as to which specialty is needed most, to the exclusion of the others, while also limiting the level of professional one can hire.

A second trend is the success of Virtual Assistants. Virtual Assistants are typically some of the professional level people mentioned above, who have left the confines of corporate America to start their own businesses. Virtual Assistants are independent contractors who work from home providing a variety of services to businesses. This trend allows these highly skilled professionals to bring their knowledge to bear for a whole range of companies that would otherwise not have access. The range of VA specialties has exploded in recent years encompassing the entire spectrum of professional skills. If it can be done from home, there is a VA doing it – Human Resources, Web Design, PR, Social Media, Online Marketing and so much more.

What companies are starting to appreciate is that Virtual Assistants cost companies a fraction of the cost of actual hires. A company employing Virtual Assistants can utilize the services of a whole range of professionals instead of having to choose which specialty is needed most as the company grows. For the cost of one salaried Administrative Assistant, a business owner could utilize over 1000 hours of assistance divided among any number of top professionals. Utilizing Virtual Assistants allows businesses access to the exact services that they need, it also allows businesses to shift gears more quickly and efficiently by investing in growth rather than payroll because they are paying only for the time spent on their project. There is no longer a reason to worry about taxes, benefits, vacation pay, and time wasted by the water cooler.

These trends have made the utilization of Virtual Assistants a better idea than ever. Go ahead and give it a try. You have nothing to lose but your to-do list!

Author's Bio: 

Grainne Foley is the owner of Live-Hire, a Virtual Placement Agency matching business owners with 'elite' Virtual Assistants, thus allowing them to grow their business while still having the time to enjoy their life.

Visit her website at and get your Free ebook "How To Save Instantly With a VA".