It can Open up Limitless Opportunities to any Business Owner.
Hiring a Virtual Assistant requires a different mindset, a change in how you normally conduct your business.
It requires a change from working face-to-face with employees and assistants to working virtually – where most of the time your only contact is a voice over the phone.
If you are a business owner that can adapt to an ever changing environment, wants to remain competitive and grow your business to its full potential, hiring a virtual assistant might be a good strategic solution.
If you haven’t made up your mind yet and are unsure if hiring a virtual assistant is the right choice for your business, I encourage you to first read the section “what is in it for me”. You can also review the section on benefits and concerns of hiring a virtual assistant.
If you already made the decision that a VA is the best solution to your situation, below are a few tips to keep in mind during the process of hiring a virtual assistant.
Where to start.
You are in business to make a profit. Start the process with an in-depth look at your
Ask yourself a few questions such as:
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 prospective…
profitable benefits that you may gain in terms of saving on total cost to company expenses when hiring a permanent employee.
non-tangeble benefits of utilizing your time and energy more effectively.
Tip:Remember, that if you want to compare the costs of hiring a permanent employee vs hiring a virtual assistant, you need to 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.
Do some financial projections. It may help you make the decision.
You can review the section on what is in it for me. to refresh your mind on how the combined benefits of hiring a virtual assistant can actually assist you increasing your profit.
2. Task list
At this point you probably have a pretty good idea of the areas that you want to outsource.
Prepare a list of all the tasks that you would like a virtual assistant to handle.
Tip: Many business owners often think they can do specific tasks better and faster than anybody else. It might be true, but the question is not whether you can do the tasks better and faster, but if you should be the one doing it.
Take a step backwards and have a holistic view of all the activities you need to take care of. What tasks require your specific attention and what can you outsource? That time consuming, non-core activities should go first.
Then, decide if you require someone who is a specialist in your industry or do you just need some routine assistance.
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 situated 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.
4. Begin your search
At this point you’ve considered your budget, your needs and where your VA should reside. It is now time to start searching for the right candidate.
Visit professional virtual assistant organizations on the web. Get a feel of what each has to offer and fill out the RFP (Request for Proposal) on each site. 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.
Mention your needs in discussions with friends, colleagues, business associates etc. Someone might just recommend a VA or know someone that is already making use of such services. Word of mouth and personal recommendations are the best references for hiring a virtual assistant.
First Consultation – Things to consider
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 invoicing and payment?
Does she offer any retainer agreements, special promotions and/or discounting?
Make 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 finalise the partnership between you and your virtual assistant.
Negotiate the contract details. It should at least include the scope of work, timeframe 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 suite 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.
The way forward
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 regarding 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, evaluate progress and review quality of the work.
Set common goals. It helps to focus your combined attention on the ultimate destination of making a success of your business.
Winston Churchill said that:
“If we are together, nothing is impossible.
If we are divided, all will fail.”
This is also applicable to a partnership situation and crucial for business success when hiring a virtual assistant.
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 build on open communication channels, mutual trust and respect.
It starts however with you. It is your duty as business owner to ensure that you and your virtual assistant are on the same wavelength regarding 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.