It’s not easy trying to conquer the business world solo.
How many times have you wished you had a clone of yourself to carry out all the work involved in the marketing tasks of your business — while you work on the more critical tasks?
Is there an economical solution to this challenge?
You bet there is — it’s called the Virtual Assistant, or VA.
A VA is a self-employed person who provides technical, administrative, or creative assistance to clients remotely from a home oﬃce.
You can have your VA work through your to-do-list while you focus on the more important or tasks at hand. Once you’ve shown your VA how to upload a mailing list, post ads to Craigslist, or return phone calls, they can keep repeating those tasks as your needs dictate.
A VA can also be perfect for other marketing tasks, because these tasks tend to be repetitive and lend themselves to step-by-step processes.
“Virtual Assistant: a skilled asset who organizes your chaos!”
Advantages Of Virtual Assistants vs. Local Assistants
So what are some of the key advantages of virtual assistants over local assistants?
Taxes are simpliﬁed. It’s a lot easier to prove your assistant isn’t an actual employee if they work remotely.
The costs are usually way lower. With some good homework, it’s possible to ﬁnd decent VA’s for less than $5 per hour working from less aﬄuent countries.
There can be a higher degree of talent. You can often ﬁnd a ﬁrst-class MBA graduate in India for less cost than a high-school graduate in many areas in the US.
A time-zone diﬀerence can accommodate your work ﬂow. You might ﬁnd it more effective or efficient to have your VA working while you sleep. You can then base your work on what the VA has completed.
There’s a lot of ﬂexibility with VA’s. You could have two or three VA’s working for you one week and then have just one VA the following week as your operational requirements dictate.
The main disadvantage of a VA is the inability to perform physical tasks.
In other words, your VA is not on hand to run out and mail a package, or take the company car out and run the odd errands for you.
Evaluate Your Needs
It’s not easy to source a good assistant if you’re unsure of what you exactly need. You need to consider the repetitive tasks that are necessary to market your business eﬀectively.
Do you require someone that can cold call or close a sale? Or do you just want someone to carry out basic admin, manage your diary, screen emails or set up appointments?
Maybe you’re in need of someone to post classiﬁed ads and return phone calls. Or perhaps you’re looking for a someone to build web sites and handle internet marketing. Your ideal VA might require familiarity with social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
The array of potential tasks that a VA can perform for you is almost limitless. It’s important however, to understand how you can ﬁt a VA into your business plan. You can then look for someone who meshes with your goals and can assist you with completing a variety of required tasks.
Sourcing A Virtual Assistant
There are numerous ways for ﬁnding and assessing a VA.
It’s a tad more challenging to assess someone without seeing them in-person, but it’s not too diﬃcult to ﬁnd an A-grade candidate.
What are some of the approaches you can explore when searching for a VA?
The do-it-yourself approach is likely to be the most cost eﬀective. Although it may be cheaper to ﬁnd your own VA, it’s also likely to take more time.
When you search for a VA on your own, you’re likely to ﬁnd many qualiﬁed candidates.
You can post ads and search through what’s on oﬀer at sites like Upwork, Freelancer, or Guru.
You can also post classiﬁed ads on Craigslist. Almost everyone uses Craigslist these days and many qualiﬁed professionals are looking for extra work.
Put the word out — ask around. You may ﬁnd that you have friends or family that could provide the assistance you need. They might also know the perfect person for your needs.
Use a virtual staﬃng agency. There are many services that can tee you up with a great VA.
One example of this type of service is virtualstaﬀﬁnder.com.
Consider using a dedicated VA service. These are companies that actually employ VA’s and will charge you for using one of their VA’s.
Hire several at ﬁrst. The best way to ﬁnd an excellent VA is to hire a few of them and give each of them a few tasks that will allow you to assess their skills. After a brief trial period, you can then go ahead and hire the best one for your needs moving forward.
How To Manage Your Virtual Assistant
Managing people is never easy, but trying to do it remotely can be even more challenging. This is where the real work begins.
What are some tips to ensure you and your VA are on the same page?
Establish tools that make communication easy and eﬀective. Some of these might be obvious, and others less obvious.
Create an email message system that decreases the opportunity for communication breakdown.
Establish a way of communicating in real time. There are numerous client chat and web camera communication systems available these days. You may want to get at least two up and running so you’ll have a backup in the event that one breaks down.
From the onset, assign clearly deﬁned tasks that require minimum deciphering from the VA.
Ensure clear expectations about your requirements and deadlines. If certain items have a higher priority, make this clear to your VA.
Create speciﬁc deadlines and stick to them.
Be realistic. You might think that a task takes you 45 minutes, but in reality it actually takes 90 minutes. Time yourself completing the task you’re planning to assign and then be fair.
Be cognizant of language diﬀerences. If you’re looking for a VA to work in a business that uses English, be mindful that your VA’s ﬁrst language may not be English — normally the case. Important to note too, that American English can be diﬀerent from Indian and British English — so again, you need to be mindful of such differences.
“In your business, do what you love and outsource the rest. Remember, you’re the boss!”
A VA can take on those repetitive and step-by-step tasks that prevent you from spending your time on the more critical tasks of your business.
Find a VA that possesses the skill-set you’re after.
Create a list of tasks that need to be performed.
If you’ve selected a competent VA, you’ll ﬁnd yourself spending less time on the repetitive work and more time on the critical tasks — that is, on the tasks that matter.