Office Pet

The early stages of setting up a business are always the busiest, says Richard Walton from AVirtual, but whilst you should be focusing on developing your vision, it's all too easy to get bogged down in the time-consuming administrative stages. Growth requires you to work quickly and reach the widest audiences possible through effective digital marketing, but with limited resources, it can be hard to keep up with better-established competition who have a single employee dedicated to their twitter account. So, what's the solution?

From my experience, hiring a large team of in-house employees is not usually worth the expense when you're first starting out. You have to rent office space, buy equipment, computers, stationary, spend time and money on recruitment, on training. Then are the salaries, obligatory national insurance contributions and human resources. With the time and money you waste on a new permanent employee, you could have doubled the size of your company by outsourcing to virtual services and it would have definitely been less stressful.

Outsourcing used to be a risky business. You'd need to know exactly what you were doing to find the right freelancer and even then you weren't guaranteed the quality. Thanks to technology, virtual services are now easy, reliable and widely accessible. You don't have to "be in the know" to find what you're looking for, you just need to get hold of a professional company who can provide you with expert assistance that you pay for by the hour, or in fixed packages.

Digital marketing is one of the key areas that start-ups should outsource not just because it saves you time and money, but because it's usually more effective. Successful digital marketing relies on consistency, which can be an issue when you're spreading your team across multiple responsibilities. Google will notice if there are gaps in your blogging, but when you outsource to a dedicated digital marketing manager they will be able to implement an effective content schedule to ensure you keep engaging your audiences and building your online presence. Another benefit is that outsourcing introduces new perspectives and industry knowledge. Someone outside of your company is often better able to view your position objectively and may be able to offer suggestions to boost your digital marketing through methods that you hadn't before considered. It's also a great way to stay on top of leads. When you hire a digital marketing expert, their main focus is to get you results so they'll put in the hours to make sure you build a loyal following within a certain timeframe.

The plethora of virtual services available also means that you don't have to rely on a single employee to generate your digital content. Outsourcing allows you to effectively utilise multiple marketing channels by hiring a copywriter for your newsletter and blog posts, a graphic designer for your branding and website, a social media expert to manage your strategy and even a personal assistant to manage the whole process. Professionals who work remotely can also grant you access to the latest technology to boost your marketing and digital communication. In other words, you get to tap into their resources without having to pay for the licenses and without the hassle of registering and setting up accounts.

With so many virtual services available, it's overwhelming to know where to begin. My advice would be to take advantage of complimentary trials to work out how you can best benefit from online assistance and to think about your priorities, both personally and for your company. Any task that isn't directly working towards the overall vision for your start-up, can be outsourced and should be. It will save you time, money and make the start-up experience a whole lot more enjoyable.

Richard Walton is the Founder of AVirtual a company that provides virtual PAs to small business, entrepreneurs and start-ups. He is regularly featured in the press talking about topics such as work-life balance and productivity.