Thinking of hiring a Virtual Assistant? Not sure if a VA is right for you? Hiring a Virtual Assistant requires a different mindset, a change in how you normally handle your business. It’s a change from working in person with employees and or assistants to working virtually – where most of the time your only contact is by phone, email or online web conferencing. If you can adapt to an ever-changing environment and would like to be competitive and grow your business, hiring a virtual assistant is the perfect solution.
Benefits to Hiring a Virtual Assistant
- More time: Outsourcing the time-consuming administrative activities will free up time that you can spend more productively expanding your business.
- Higher productivity: Available time can now be spent on creating new or improved strategies to boost your profit producing products or services.
- Increased satisfaction: Spending more time on those things you like doing the most and that you are good at will allow your business to grow faster.
- More flexibility: You are not bugged down by routine administrative tasks anymore, but are flexible to spend your day to its greatest potential.
- Control: You control the type of tasks you need the VA to handle, so you won’t lose sight of the outsourced activities.
- Improved quality: You can get away from the trap of becoming a jack of all trades and a master of none. Your virtual assistant is a professional with specific knowledge, experience and skills to do your administrative tasks to a higher quality standard.
- Enhanced Technology: Through virtual assistance you have access to world-class equipment and technologies without increasing your expense budget. Any serious VA makes use of leading on-line processes and computer technology to aid your business.
- Reduced stress: The knowledge that a professional partner is assisting you provides the opportunity of having a better work-life balance. You can now make active progress in your business and enjoy activities you like, e.g. spending more time with your family.
- Improved profitability: combining the above benefits can result in long-term success and sustainable profitability of your business.
Review your Budget
- Will you be able to afford the services of a VA?
- How much are you willing to pay? Remember that VA pricing structures depend on the type of service they supply.
Balance the initial monetary outlay in hiring a virtual assistant, against the following:
- Profitable benefits that you may gain in terms of saving on total cost to company expenses when hiring a permanent employee.
- Non-tangible benefits of utilizing your time and energy more effectively.
When comparing the costs of hiring a permanent employee vs hiring a virtual assistant, you should base your calculations on the total cost to company between the two options. Hidden costs such as employee benefits (e.g pension, medical aid, leave etc) for permanent employees can amount to almost 30% of a permanent employee’s base salary.
Complete a list of all the tasks and projects you need to complete. Now review your list, what tasks need your specific attention and what can you outsource? That time-consuming, non-core tasks and projects can a Virtual Assistant complete on your behalf?
Based on the tasks that you need to outsource, you will be in a position to decide if your VA should be located close-by (in the same city), or nationally/internationally. The term “virtual” indicates that your VA can be located anywhere in the world. Consider all aspects that can impact on the partnership such as your specific needs, time zone differences, communication preferences and language of choice before making your decision.
Begin Your Search
Search for Virtual Assistants online and visit their websites to get a feel of what each has to offer. Submit an email inquiry about rates and packages on each site. You may also visit professional virtual assistant organizations online and fill out the RFP (Request for Proposal). The RFP allows you to specify your requirements that will reach and attract a more targeted VA audience.
Visit Virtual Assistant directories. They provide databases of available VAs online. Most directories are grouped per specialization field and/or geographic area. Don’t forget to mention your needs in discussions with friends, colleagues, business associates etc. Someone might just recommend a VA or know someone who is already making use of such services. Word of mouth and personal recommendations are the best references for hiring a virtual assistant.
After you have narrowed down your list of potential candidates, you need to gather important information on each potential VA to make an informed decision of whom to hire.
Contact your candidates and arrange for a time and date to have an initial consultation. The purpose of a consultation is to discuss your requirements and expectations and to assess the abilities of your potential VA.
A few things to take note of during the consultation include the following:
- Does the VA conduct the consultation in a professional manner?
- Is she polite, friendly, does she listen carefully to your requests and respond accordingly?
- Do you feel comfortable speaking with her?
- Do you have similar values in how you conduct business?
- Will she have discretion when working with your sensitive information?
- How will she handle privacy and confidentiality?
Realistic and Honest
- Does she have the ability to admit that she is not 100% knowledgeable on certain aspects of the work that you might request?
- Does she however give you the assurance that she will find out about it?
- Are you comfortable with her pricing methods?
- How long is she in the VA business?
- What was her experience prior to becoming a virtual assistant?
- What services does she provide?
- Does she have a proper understanding of basic business principles?
- What systems does she have in place to prioritize client’s needs?
- How many clients does she have already?
- What are her working hours?
- If you need your VA to use specific software/equipment, verify that she is proficient in utilizing it.
- If not, will you be satisfied if she is willing to obtain the necessary knowledge/skills?
- What are her rates?
- What procedure does she use for to invoice and receive payment?
- Does she offer any retainer agreements, special promotions and/or discounting?
Making Your Decision
You had consultations with a number of potential VAs and decided on the one that you are most comfortable with and whose services suite your needs the best. Now is the time to finalize the partnership between you and your virtual assistant.
Negotiate the contract details. It should at least include the scope of work, time frame for completion of projects, payment terms, confidentiality clauses, material ownership etc. Your prospective VA should have a basic contract template that can be adjusted to suit your needs. Keep a signed copy for your own reference. Discuss and decide what will be the best communication system to facilitate secure exchange of information.
To secure a long-lasting partnership between you and your virtual assistant and achieving the goal of making your business a success, it is important that your VA has a good understanding of the details about your business. Provide her with information about the specific targets, projects and deadlines that are critical to your business. It will give her a better understanding of how she can optimally support you.
Have regular contact sessions. Frequent, timely discussions have the benefit that both parties can give feedback, check the progress and review quality of the work. Be sure to set goals and share them with your VA, it helps to focus your combined attention on the final destination of making a success of your business.
When a virtual assistant becomes your virtual partner, a whole new world of possibilities opens up. This partnership unfortunately does not merely start from only hiring a virtual assistant; it requires hard work from both parties and are built on open communication channels, mutual trust and respect.
It starts however with you. It is your duty as business owner to make sure that you and your virtual assistant are on the same wavelength about your company. The sooner she grasps the underlying principles of your business, the faster you can start focusing all your attention on growing your business.
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