Running a small business is a dream come true for a lot of people, but as business starts booming, burgeoning entrepreneurs find themselves face to face with a nightmare: the overwhelming volume of administrative tasks involved in working for yourself. To cope with this reality, many have considered hiring a virtual assistant to help manage some of the day-to-day operations of their business.
However, there’s still a lot of confusion about what a virtual assistant is and what he or she does for business professionals. To answer some of the questions you might and figure out if hiring a virtual assistant might be the right for you, check out the handy guide below.
Who should think about hiring a virtual assistant?
Running a business involves a lot of administrative tasks – preparing paperwork, answering emails and phone calls, keeping up a website. Many small business owners find this kind of stuff to be unpleasant and become frustrated when it begins to interfere with other, more important facets of running the business. If you find yourself increasingly bogged down with phone and computer-based work that you could easily train someone else to do, it might be time to consider hiring a virtual assistant.
What is a virtual assistant and can s/he do for my business?
A virtual assistant, as the term implies, is an office professional that works remotely. While this means virtual assistants aren’t physically present in your business, given the increasingly web-based world we work in, they often don’t have to be. Virtual assistants do the same tasks as traditional assistants, such as:
- Answer emails and phone calls
- Prepare paperwork (invoices, payroll, etc.)
- Coordinate meetings
- Create employee schedules
- Interface with clients over the phone or using Skype
- Create and maintain a company’s website
- Keep up with a company’s social media sites (Facebook page, Twitter feed, etc.)
Where do virtual assistants typically work?
Virtual assistants work from their own home offices, and could theoretically be based anywhere in the world. Because the tasks they do are technology-based, the home base of your virtual assistant isn’t a factor in her ability complete her assignments. One consideration, though: if your business deals with a lot of time-sensitive material, it might be helpful to hire an assistant based in your time zone, for the sake of simplicity when it comes to task due dates.
When do I assign tasks to my virtual assistant?
You and your virtual assistant will have to spend some time working out her schedule and how many hours per week she will be working for you, but virtual assistants are typically flexible and turn tasks around based on your needs. In fact, this is one of the advantages of hiring a virtual assistant over a traditional assistant, whose work hours would be more rigid.
Why does a virtual assistant make more sense than hiring a secretary?
Although the hourly rate for virtual assistants can be slightly higher than that of a secretary or traditional assistant in some cases, it’s generally cheaper to hire a virtual assistant because they are classified as independent contractors. This means that you are not obligated to provide health insurance or other benefits, which can be costly. Also, you won’t have to spend money on office space, furniture, supplies, utilities, etc. for her, since she’s responsible for her own remote workspace.
How do I hire a virtual assistant?
Business owners have a lot of options when it comes to finding a virtual assistant, but before beginning the search, it’s important to figure out exactly which tasks you plan on having your assistant complete; it’s probably also helpful to estimate how many hours you think this will amount to each week. This way, you’ll be able to give the VAs you interview a clear picture of your expectations.
When you’re ready to begin your hunt for the perfect virtual assistant, begin by asking people in your professional network. There’s a good chance one of them already has a virtual assistant and can make a recommendation. Next, advertise the position on your business’s social media sites, especially Facebook and Twitter; a lot of virtual assistants look for work on these sites. Finally, sign on to one of the major websites that connect virtual assistants with those looking to hire. Two popular sites are VA Networking and Elance. If you take all of these steps, you’ll be casting the widest net possible, increasingly the likelihood that you’ll find a virtual assistant who will meet your needs.
Hiring a virtual assistant is a great way to keep your business running smoothly – keep these tips in mind when considering whether a virtual assistant is right for you!