How Can Hiring a Virtual Assistant Benefit Growing Businesses?
If your company has outgrown your managerial capacity and you no longer have the resources to deal with the increasing scope of administrative tasks single-handedly, the time has come to consider expanding your staff.
But suppose you have not quite reached the point where a full-time, on-site personal assistant would be a wise investment within your hiring budget. What do you do? Do you continue to slave away 15 hours a day, trying to get everything done yourself? Do you delegate some part of the administrative work to your employees who might lack experience or qualifications to take it on? Or do you give in and hire a person to work in your office for a full day, even if it’s still too early to make that kind of commitment?
None of the above makes as much sense as getting a virtual assistant (VA) who is a self-employed individual contracted by businesses to perform a set of specific administrative functions remotely – usually from their home-based office.
The Advantages Having a Virtual Assistant Can Bring Your Business
Many small business owners feel reluctant to invest in hiring a virtual assistant – or any assistant for that matter – since they cannot see the immediate benefits behind such a decision. Indeed, how hard can it be to answer your own calls and emails or schedule a couple of meetings per day?
What they might not understand is that seeking VA’s professional services helps free up the most valuable asset a businessperson can have – time. The bigger a business gets, the more time its management requires. A VA’s main job is to make sure you allocate this resource wisely, but, that is not the only thing an assistant can help you with:
Manual data entry. Whether it’s moving data from one spreadsheet to another, entering data into the system, or duplicating data between the different program tools – the process of manual data entry is still one of the biggest roadblocks for your workplace productivity. Outsourcing these tasks to a VA can help save tons of your time for something more creative and meaningful.
Handling phone calls. How often do you need to schedule a meeting with a customer but dread calling them because you know that it will likely trap you in an hour-long conversation about nothing? Delegating this task to a VA will help you get the job done efficiently and free you up for other pressing engagements.
Dealing with potential customers. Talking to new leads is an essential part of your work, since if handled properly, they can bring future profits for your business. However, it also happens to be one of your most time-consuming responsibilities, so outsourcing it to a well-trained VA can make sense.
Managing emails and social media alerts. Much like manual data entry, handling emails and social media alerts is a task that a virtual assistant can be entrusted with. Upon screening and sorting out this information, your VA will report which requests need your further attention.
Travel preparations. Making travel arrangements is an extremely time-demanding activity. The busier you get, the more inconvenienced you are by having to plan your trips. An experienced VA can take care of booking a hotel, renting cars, purchasing tickets, and much more, while leting you concentrate on the work at hand.
How to Pick and Hire the Right Virtual Assistant?
Now that you are sure a virtual assistant is the jack-of-all-trades your business so desperately needs, how do you pick the right person? Here are a few tips that will help you recruit the best VA out there:
Put their skills to the test.
Just like you won’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive first, you should not invest in hiring a VA without checking out their skills. Arrange with a prospective VA to complete a short paid probationary period of a few hours to see how efficient and productive they can get during that time. Can they solve problems on their own? Do they manage the time allotted wisely?
Test their social skills.
Handling your business communications is going to be an essential part of a VA’s job description, so make sure the candidate is good at talking to people, knows how to get their ideas across, and can express their thoughts most efficiently.
Provide clear goals.
Each business has its unique expectations towards VA, and making these expectations clear to the candidate helps find the person that is just right for you. Create a short document that instructs a prospective VA what they have to do and how you want them to do it, and then pick the person who paid the best attention to the details you outlined.
Seek VAs in the right places.
Good VAs are hard to come across, but there are places where your chances of meeting them are better. The best freelance hiring websites give you access to hundreds and thousands of verified profiles containing testimonials from previous customers.
How to Start a Virtual Assistant Career
If you find yourself on the other end of the hiring spectrum, seeking to land a job as a VA, there are things that can facilitate your search:
- Work on your soft skills – there are plenty of online courses that can help you.
- Equip yourself with all the right tools to do your job efficiently – remote working software, collaboration communication tools, a virtual PBX, etc.
- Create a professional business presence for yourself – a website, an email address, a LinkedIn business profile, a Skype account.