Do you need some assistance to get or keep your small business running efficiently? You could go through the labor-intensive process of hiring or even training another employee. But there’s a better option, one that many small business owners have found to be just what they needed. Perhaps you should consider enlisting the help of a virtual assistant. In this post, we’ll go over how a virtual assistant can help your small business, the pros and cons of using such a service, as well as important considerations when hiring one.
How a Virtual Assistant Can Help Small BusinessesHow Could a Virtual Assistant Help You?
Virtual assistants generally assist with administrative, technical, and creative tasks. Most virtual assistants can handle a wide variety of responsibilities including:
Email, calendar, and file management
Appointment setting and receptionist duties
Social media setup and social media marketing
Blogging and blog management
Various forms of research
Recruitment and project management
…and more. A virtual assistant is like a multi-purpose tool for your small business!
Of course, their wide range of abilities is a big plus. But are there any other pros to hiring a virtual assistant? And are there any cons?
Reasons Why You Should Hire a Virtual Assistant
Consider 4 reasons why a virtual assistant is an excellent option for you.
1. It’s Cost-Effective
Virtual assistants are most often self-employed. Therefore, you’re not required to offer benefits or foot the bill for necessities such as office space, internet, and utilities. In other words, you’ll spend far less than you’d have to if you decided to hire an employee.
2. Organization and Efficiency Are Priorities
Many virtual assistants have a background in formal business settings. Therefore, they’ve seen firsthand the challenges that disrupt efficiency. In their current roles, then, it’s a primary goal to provide organizational assistance and explore all avenues that could improve workflow efficiency.
3. It Saves You Time
Running a small business is no easy task; it’s hard work and requires a significant time investment. At times, you and your team might feel like you’re spread too thin. That’s what a virtual assistant is for—to lighten your load! That way, you’ll have more time and energy to devote to your most important job roles.
4. Flexible Scheduling is Available
Depending on your needs, you may require someone who can work an “alternative” schedule. Let’s say, for example, that you want someone to handle live chat support for your customers overnight. It wouldn’t be hard to find a virtual assistant to accommodate (whether due to preference, availability or time zone)!
Things to Consider Before Hiring a Virtual Assistant
As with everything and although there are many benefits, there are also a few drawbacks to having a virtual assistant. Fortunately, in this case, there are ways you can minimize the impact of these minor disadvantages.
1. Collaborative Challenges
Collaborating with someone who works remotely is a challenge in itself. You don’t have the benefit of physical interaction, which is closely tied to the quality and clarity of communication. If you throw different time zones or other factors into the mix, collaborating virtually can be a challenge.
Yet, with a plan and the right tools, you can still work unitedly with your virtual assistant. For example, you might choose to start each work week with a video call so that you can thoroughly discuss upcoming tasks, taking into account body language and other cues. Then, throughout the week, you might use asynchronous communication such as email to keep updated on how the work is progressing.
2. Data Security Risks
Giving up personal information and data regarding your business is a risk, especially with the internet involved. However, again, you can take steps to minimize the risk. For example, to ensure that your assistant will keep your information safe and private, you may require them to sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA). You might also make sure that they have security software that would prevent any data breaches.
3. Divided Attention
Most virtual assistants work with several clients at a time and thus their time and attention are divided between projects. Of course, it would be ideal to be their sole focus. Yet, if you go through a careful vetting process, this divided attention may not be a prominent, detrimental issue. Find yourself a virtual assistant who is highly organized and reliable despite having other clients.
That raises an important question: How can you go about finding an exceptional virtual assistant?
What to Consider During the Hiring Process
Here are 4 vitally important things you should think about as you look for a virtual assistant.
Without clear and consistent communication, all other assets are less valuable. Before hiring, you’ll want to be sure that you and your virtual assistant are able to reach an understanding on what needs to be done, when, and how. If you struggle to accomplish this, things will be no smoother during a contract. The opposite is also true.
One sign of a good communicator is asking thoughtful questions. Of course, irrelevant or basic asks aren’t a good indicator. However, if your potential virtual assistant comes up with relevant questions that really get to a heart of a pressing issue, you should consider moving forward with him or her.
It goes without saying that you want a responsible person who you know you can trust to get things done. Yet, there’s more to accountability than just that. You also want someone who’s willing to own up to errors and apply feedback to improve the quality of their services.
Of course, you’d also want to take ability into account. Either the person should have prior experience with the tasks at hand or have some knowledge that could be applied effectively.
4. Personality Type
This has nothing to do with prejudice or making snap judgments about whether or not you like someone. The fact is that some personality types simply don’t mesh; they don’t work well together. To prevent tensions and disagreements, it’s best to trust your gut when it comes to personality type.
Start the Search For Your Virtual Assistant
As discussed, a virtual assistant can offer some significant advantages to your small business. If you choose wisely who you’ll work with and have a plan to meet challenges successfully, you’ll be able to enjoy those benefits!