When you hear the word ‘Virtual Assistant’ are you somewhat puzzled? Don’t feel bad – you aren’t the only one. We quite often get that puzzled look and message quite often from our potential clients. But if you are a small business owner, consultant or anyone needing administrative support on an as-needed basis, you should consider ‘outsourcing’ to a Virtual Assistant.
Why Outsource to a Virtual Assistant?
Do you need administrative support to perform a specific function that you simply don’t have the time to do? Perhaps you don’t do certain things because you don’t know how to (or don’t like to do). That’s where a Virtual Assistant can help you: from paying your vendors, balancing your checkbook, completing your tax reports, creating your monthly newsletter, updating your blog and maintaining your social media presence.
A Virtual Assistant will do pretty much whatever task you want them to do, but most tend to work in a specific niche. For example, Lissa Duty focuses on Social Media Marketing and Michelle Mangen handles bookkeeping. Hiring a VA can give you more time to do what you do best! In essence, a Virtual Assistant works in your business, while you work on your business.
Download this checklist to help you decide if you need to hire a Virtual Assistant.
If you are thinking, “A virtual assistant sounds just like an Administrative Assistant”, you are exactly right. The main difference is that Virtual Assistants work from their office verses working in yours. You save money on office space, equipment, printers, Internet connection, payroll taxes, health insurance, vacation, sick pay and holidays (and the list goes on). Plus Virtual Assistants are already trained administrative professionals.
Considerations when Outsourcing to a Virtual Assistant
#1: What a Virtual Assistant IS and IS NOT – When considering partnering with a Virtual Assistant it is important to take into consideration what a Virtual Assistant is and what a Virtual is not. The most common misconception is that Virtual Assistants are employees and therefore we must simply be “standing by” our email, phones, Skype, IM, etc. waiting for our clients to send us our next assignment.
#2: Outsourcing Relationship – Do you want to work with a Virtual Assistant on an as-needed or project basis to fill in the gaps when you need extra support or do you want to set up a monthly retainer and integrate the Virtual Assistant into your internal team?
#3: Business Readiness – How ready is your business to work with a Virtual Assistant? Do you have a set schedule of tasks and projects or do you manage by crisis? Most Virtual Assistants work with numerous clients on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. We must manage our workload and time in order to deliver projects by promised deadlines, which means scheduling out requests 2 to 3 days in advance.
On the other hand, we are well aware that sometimes “emergencies” happen. These unexpected and unscheduled requests may require other commitments we have to be pushed back and when that happens most Virtual Assistants will charge a “rush rate”.
#4: Skill Set Requirements – Because skill sets vary and Virtual Assistants tend to specialize, you may need more than one Virtual Assistant. When you interview potential Virtual Assistants, have a standard list of questions so you can compare “apples to apples” and find the Virtual Assistant(s) who best fits your needs and business model.
#5: Budget – Just as skill sets vary widely so do the rates that Virtual Assistants charge for their services. Factors that impact the rate include skill set, how many hours per month, if it’s a short-term project or a long-term arrangement and so on.
#6: Communication Style – How do you communicate? For not too technical, you can have phone conversations to go over tasks for the week. For the tech savvy, Skype or email may work best. Each Virtual Assistant will have communication preferences. It’s important to choose a Virtual Assistant whose preferred method of communication closely matches your own.
The most important consideration when outsourcing to a Virtual Assistant is fit. If you get along with your Virtual Assistant and your personalities work well together, the outsourcing relationship is sure to be a profitable one for both of you! Download this checklist questions you may want to ask to help you interview prospective virtual assistants.
This blog post was written collaboratively by two Virtual Assistants, Lissa Duty and Michelle Mangen. You can connect with us on our websites — LissaDuty.com and Your Virtual Assistant. Connect with us online on Facebook – Lissa and Michelle and Twitter – Lissa and Michelle.