Who is a Virtual Assistant
A Virtual Assistant (VA) is the designation of a service provider who assists in a client’s business operations, often remotely from a virtual office. VAs are independent contractors who, rather than featuring as employees in the payrolls of a client’s company, work on a contractual basis for a short or long-term. VAs connect with their clients through the Internet, Telephone or any other means that enables them to get work done virtually. Entrepreneurs and Small businesses are increasingly outsourcing their time-consuming work to VAs.
How Virtual Assistants are Different from Employees
There are many ways in which a VA is different from an employee; a company would typically deduct taxes from an employee’s salary while a VA is responsible for taking care of his/her own taxes. A company would typically be responsible for providing insurance and benefits to an employee, this is not the case with a VA.
The Kinds of tasks Virtual Assistants can handle
A whole host of tasks can be delegated to VAs ranging from general administrative tasks to the very specialized tasks which can be done by a Virtual Specialist (VS); someone who specializes in a particular field of work. The work you can outsource to VAs usually fall under two main categories; work you do yourself but takes too much of your time OR work you have no idea how to do and need someone with the right skills to help you get it done.
Some examples of businesses / professionals who Hire Virtual Assistants
- Independent Professionals
- Small businesses
- Web-based companies
- Real Estate Agents
- Tutors, coaches
- Job placement agencies
- Marketing and sales companies
Why Virtual Assistants are the Talk of the Day
The world is witnessing an astounding rise in the number of VAs, to the extent that the Virtual Assistance and Business Process Outsourcing industry is a flourishing market. One of the reasons for the increased use of VAs by Entrepreneurs is because there are now a plethora of very affordable tools, services and readily available technology that enables work to be done virtually; reaping the benefits of outsourcing is no longer just for the Fortune 500 companies, even the small guys and gals like you and I can now get all our time-consuming work done by VAs.
Benefits of working with Virtual Assistants
Clients of VAs are typically not responsible for tax issues, benefits, insurance and so on. Moreover, outsourcing work to a VA helps you avoid logistical issues like the need for an office space, tools and equipment etc. Also, it immensely benefits an employer to hire a VA during peak project hours or at other times when extra help is deemed necessary. This is especially convenient as many VAs are able to take up extra work which in turn frees up the employer and/or employees to focus on their core competencies and higher value work. Hiring a VA most often works out much cheaper for a company than hiring an employee. Also, because of the increasing competition, VAs are self-motivated and always strive to produce results of superior quality while maintaining short turnaround times.
How to Hire a Virtual Assistant
As a business owner, it is not humanly possible for you to take care of every aspect of the business yourself. The answer is simple: Hire a VA. With one or a team of VAs, you can now forget about the time-consuming routine tasks and concentrate more on growing your business. It is possible to attract clients and market your products and services with the help of VAs.
Before setting out to search for a VA, there are certain steps you need to carry out to make sure that the process of finding and hiring a suitable VA for your business is done smoothly.
1) Make an Outline of the Tasks: What kind of work do you need a VA for? Do you wish to hire somebody to design or update your website, send out mass emails, make sales calls, write articles for your website or business?
2) Create a Detailed Job Description: Decide and jot down in detail the tasks you would wish the VA to carry out. Also, make a note of the timeline. In case you have a heavier workload that needs to be completed in a short amount of time, maybe you would need to hire more than one VA. Decide how you wish to communicate with the VA; through phone, IM, email, video conferencing or any other means at every step of the project. Make use of the latest technological tools to connect with your VA.
3) Plan a Budget: A VA can charge anywhere between $5-$55 per hour of work depending on the kind of work, the level of the expertise of the VA and his/her location. More often than not, a VA would offer a ‘discount’ if a large volume of work is offered. Also, beginners often charge less in order to build a portfolio for themselves. Work out how much you can afford to and should spend on hiring virtual assistants beforehand.
Where to Find a Virtual Assistant
That’s the key questions. Fortunately, there is no dearth of VAs out there if you know where to look for them. Virtual Assistants are available through Freelance Websites, some VAs work from their homes, some have set up businesses to offer various Entrepreneurs their services and you can also find teams of VAs from Virtual Assistant Service Provider sites. Offshore Virtual Assistants are almost always more affordable than VAs hired from the US because of the power of the dollar compared to their currencies and due to the reduced cost of living in these foreign countries. With the same amount of money you will use to hire one VA here in the US, you can probably hire a team of VAs and a project manager to manage them on your behalf.
This might be a wise idea because English being their official language, Filipinos ensure almost flawless written and spoken English, as well as great comprehension skills. They are also known for their unparalleled work ethics and willingness to work hard. However, understanding cultural differences is the key to your offshore outsourcing success.
Once you have screened and selected the VAs that best fits your requirements, you can then interview them to choose the right VA with the most suitable experience and cost of service within your budget. You can ever make use of Tests make sure you select the right VA for your business. Once you have selected a VA, go over the paperwork with them, and sign a contract based on mutual agreement. Once done, you can now go ahead to delegate the implementation of your new ideas and all the tedious tasks of your business to the VA. Spend the time to train them when necessary and give continuous feedback to enjoy the fruits of the innovation that your VA would often come up with! Using instructional videos to train VAs is a great way to make sure clear understanding of the work to be done by the VA and so, superior quality and higher productivity.
Security, privacy and the need to build trust with Virtual Assistants over time
It is important to remember that in spite of your best efforts, your experience with a VA might not always be rosy. You need to be patient and understand the outsourcing will have its challenges initially; if you persevere, learn from mistakes and give the VA continuous feedback, the results will eventually get better. Here are some useful hints on how to prevent being frustrated with your VA and deal with trust issues with your VA.
If you plan on giving your VA access to information and data confidential to your business, it is very important to learn to keep up the privacy and security of your websites to prevent undesirable incidents. Remember that your trust for your VA will continue to grow over time as you work together.
Examples of how other Entrepreneurs are outsourcing time-consuming tasks in their businesses and working with Virtual Assistants
Real Estate is one of the many fields that is increasingly outsourcing work to VAs. In my interview with Joe Adkins; a successful real estate broker, he shares his own personal experiences creating systems for outsourcing and automating his entire real estate business. He also discusses tips and tricks for hiring and managing a team of VAs.
Also in my interview with Quoc Bui, he explained how he continuously outsources the development of his mobile apps even without any expert programming knowledge.
In conclusion, hiring a Virtual Assistant to outsource the tedious tasks of your business has a several advantages:
- You save on skilled labour cost by outsourcing work offshore
- You can be sure of dedication and hard work by the VAs
- You don’t need to give them office space
- You don’t need to provide VAs with paid benefits
- You get more time to concentrate on business improvement and expansion
- You can hire Virtual Assistants for a short-term, especially during peak project hours
So irrespective of whether you are a big business, medium-sized or small; no matter which field your business deals in, you can hire a Virtual Assistant and reap the reward!
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- The 3 steps you need to take before you spend any time or money on hiring a Virtual Assistant. These steps when done correctly will enable you to Work Less and Earn More.
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