Finding the right virtual assistant for your business can be intimidating. The right one can help you relieve some of the day-to-day stresses and help your business grow by giving you the necessary time to focus on income-generating activities.
If you have moved beyond the point of hiring for “one-off” tasks but don’t have the consistent day-to-day workload that requires an on-site administrative assistant, a virtual assistant (VA) is a great way to facilitate the growth of your business.
Guest blogger (and virtual assistant) Sheryl Paulson-Price breaks down the 10 important considerations to help find the right virtual assistant for you!
1. Areas of Specialization:
Before you hire a virtual assistant, make a list of the tasks you want to hand off. Do they all fit neatly into one category, or are they broad in scope? You’ll make the best use of your investment by choosing an assistant who specializes in any specific areas (social media, bookkeeping, calendar management). If you need someone who can do a bit of everything, you will need a generalist (a more traditional administrative assistant).
2. Project Tracking and Accountability:
If you are hiring a virtual assistant, chances are you’re feeling a bit out of control with the myriad projects facing you on a day-to-day basis. Because you won’t see this person face-to-face, your virtual assistant needs to have a structure in place that allows you to communicate tasks, track progress, and confirm completion. Is there a project tracking platform that will be utilized? Are tasks easy to find and review? Will your virtual assistant remind you if there are things pending your input and approval to move forward?
3. Means of Communication:
Do you prefer phone, email, or text message? It is important to set that expectation with your virtual assistant. As with direct employee relationships, remote ones need clear expectations and parameters, too. A mixture of methods will likely be used, but if you are someone frequently in and out of meetings, you may find an email or text easier to address than a phone call. Conversely, if it is easiest for you to articulate your needs via phone, you need to know that your calls will be answered and returned in timely fashion.
4. Time Tracking:
This can be one of the more confusing points when considering your virtual assistant needs. Many virtual assistants will offer packages of hours for your use during a given period of time. How they track their time will impact how far your investment will stretch. Do they charge for actual time or by the task? If actual time, is there any rounding involved? If you don’t use all of your hours in a given time period, are there any rollover considerations, or are you simply paying an amount based on an “up to and including” number?
When entering into an hours agreement, it is a good idea to start small and scale up. You can gauge your virtual assistant’s efficiency as you begin to settle into the idea of delegating items. It takes time to fall into a comfortable routine of delegation and cooperation.
5. Turnaround Time:
Unless you are in an arrangement where your virtual assistant is available to you during a specified period of time each workday, it is important to know what sort of turnaround you can expect on the items you assign. While most virtual assistants will seek to complete a task as soon as reasonably possible, the size and scope of the project will determine how fast it can make its way back to you. Having the conversation regarding what to expect before entering the relationship will help you avoid later disappointments.
Also, always remember timeliness is a two-way street. In order to maintain a good working relationship (and keep your virtual assistant), tasks and all necessary elements need to be provided with as much lead time as possible. This will keep the end product from being rushed and lessen the potential for error.
6. Billing and Payments:
As with any remote worker, the way you pay for the work provided can vary. If you have contracted through a virtual assistant agency, you are likely paying that agency per your contract.
Given that you will be dealing with a remote worker, payments will typically be processed as Automated Clearing House (ACH) or credit card. Be sure that you are provided a secure gateway through which you can pay your invoices. Most large payroll companies can also process contractor payments on your behalf.
7. References and Recommendations:
Though there are some businesses who may want to keep their virtual assistant a closely guarded secret, you should be able to find testimonials or obtain references from current or past clients when considering hiring a virtual assistant.
8. Location of Business:
Your virtual assistant is working remotely, so should location matter? In a word, YES! Though the scope of tasks and projects you delegate will determine how great an impact location has upon your agreement, time zones matter. In circumstances where your virtual assistant handles projects and preps items, time zone may not hold the same sway as if your virtual assistant is handling client calls and interactions. Closer time zones will increase the likelihood that those calls are not missed or interactions put off. Similarly, it will be easier to reach and get timely communication from one another if you are not separated by an International Date Line.
9. Quality Control:
The importance of project management was discussed earlier, but it is important to know how your standards will be met and what the process for corrections will be.
The ideal virtual assistant is a partner. Many are small business owners in their own rights, so they become invested in you, your clients, and your overall success. They can be accountability partners. Nothing focuses a person like a deadline, and having someone consistently following up with you regarding your goals and projects will help keep you on track and on target.
Any additional considerations to add? Share with me in the comments below, or join the party on my Instagram and share there: https://www.instagram.com/katrina.widener/
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ABOUT OUR GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
Sheryl Paulson-Price is the owner of Cirrus VA, Inc., which provides virtual assistant services to a variety of small businesses. Having started her career in the fine arts before moving into corporate structures, she is able to communicate business concepts in plain English or pop culture references, whichever her clients prefer. She can be found at www.cirrusva.com. // Insta // Facebook