Think you can’t afford to employ a virtual assistant? It may be time to think again.

With hourly rates varying between £15 and £25, a VA is a cost-effective way of getting vital support for your business.

Here are nine tell-tale signs you desperately need that support:

You spend all day crossing things off your ‘to do’ list, but it never gets any shorter.

The minute you finish one task and have the satisfaction of crossing it off your list, another one rears its head. You feel like a hamster on a wheel.

It’s time to learn the art of delegation before you burn out.

You’re drowning in paperwork and you spend hours dealing with your emails.

Close your eyes and imagine the desk you’d like. Now, open them and look at what’s in front of you. Are there piles of papers to be signed, read, dealt with, or thrown out? Do you have post-it notes and lists everywhere?

A good VA will get you organised in no time. They’ll put useful systems in place which will reduce your paper mountain.

Think how much more free time you’ll also have if a VA deals with your emails for you.

You’re missing phone calls.

Wish there were three of you? One to network, one to answer the phone and emails, and one to deliver the work?

Many entrepreneurs know the feeling. If you find a VA who will field your calls and free you up to concentrate on sales and delivery, you won’t be missing sales leads and business opportunities.

Remember, one missed call could lose you thousands of pounds in business – and an answerphone message just won’t cut it for many people.

You’re working on evenings and weekends to keep up.

That can’t go on. We all need down time and you’re no different. You need to spread the load.

You’re missing deadlines.

This will have a corrosive effect on your business reputation. Your clients need to know they can trust you. If that know, like, trust path breaks down, they won’t buy from you for much longer.

You need back-office help to free up your time.

The quality of your work is suffering.

This is bad business. A quality product or service is what differentiates you from your competitors.

Once that’s gone, why would they choose you?

The last thing you need is to have to slash your prices to claw back your customers.

You forget to send out your invoices.

Cash flow problems are small business killers. If you don’t send out timely invoices, that will just add to any money woes you may have.

VAs will send out invoices and ensure your clients have received them.

You don’t have time to chase overdue payments.

The longer this goes on, the worse it will be. If you don’t chase your payments, how seriously will your customers take paying you on time?

Your VA will chase payments in a professional but firm fashion.

You don’t have time to work on your business because you’re too busy working in it.

How can you plan, decide on business strategy, or make informed decisions about your pricing, marketing, customer experience, and supply chain if you’re constantly firefighting?

You’re so busy treading water that you can’t move forward.

This is the best benefit a VA can bring to your business – freeing up more of your time to be an entrepreneur and helping you do what you love.

How has a VA helped your business? Tell us by leaving a comment below.