Virtual assistants are independent contractors who operate from their own home or office and typically work on a project basis for small to mid-size entrepreneurs.
Kathy Colaiacovo, marketing director for the International Virtual Assistants Association, says “Of all companies, small businesses are the most likely to hire virtual assistants. A mom-and-pop operation does not necessarily need a full-time assistant, often having only enough work for just a few hours a week.”
Having someone who is qualified with an outside point of view can give insight and expertise that can get a new company back on the right track to being successful, while maintaining workflow throughout any transition, Denise Dukette from Out of the Office Virtual Assistance says. She also reminds us that “The team you have working for your business will make a big difference in the success of your company. Virtual assistants are a part of that team, whether for a solo project or for ongoing support. Make certain you hire the best talent that suits the need for you and your business."
People who hire virtual assistants must be willing to give up some control and be comfortable communicating online. Keep in mind that you pay for what you need, whether that is 5 hours a month or 10 hours per week. You don’t have to pay for office space, a computer or a phone. There are no employment contracts since virtual assistants are not employees, they are contractors and you are not required to pay payroll taxes or insurances.
Here are some guidelines to make sure you are hiring an independent contractor and not an employee:
- No benefits are provided other than pay (no insurance or retirement benefits);
- An independent contractor typically works on a project basis, whereas an employee works under a long-term contract;
- An independent contractor typically sets their own schedule, uses their own tools and equipment and does the job with minimal supervision.
How to Find YOUR Virtual Assistant
Matt Ellsworth, the VP of Growth at Storefront, suggests breaking your project up into pieces and hiring at least 3 VA’s to do the same type of work for comparison. If you can’t break the job up, it’s probably still worth it to have them do the same work so you can compare their efforts. “During this part of the process I spend my time looking for leaders and answering some fundamental questions about the contractors. Do they communicate effectively and follow my directions? If I give them feedback, do they implement it? Are they eager to work on the project and attentive to details? I’ve been lucky to find great leaders this way.”
Dukette says, “Try to avoid those who are overqualified and always avoid who aren’t aligned with what you and your company needs. Before you even start making interviews, write out what the tasks are specifically, so that everyone is on the same page and to ensure that there will be a good fit for the project or task at hand.”
Resist going with the cheapest hire, this is especially important for new and upcoming businesses. While funds might be tight, you need to partner up with someone who can do your project correctly.
What to Delegate:
To know what things to delegate, consider doing an analysis of your business activities over the course of a day if not an entire week, writing down the minor tasks that are taking up time. “Don’t rule out anything as a task a virtual assistant could not do.” Brad Hines President of YumDomains.com recommends, “Ultimately, a virtual assistant is not just another cog in your business machine, but an employee and certainly a human.”
Once you find your VA, avoid delegating dump. “This is when a client dumps tons of various, unrelated tasks to their new partner in business. Build task upon task with your virtual assistant. When you do this, both you and your VA build trust, understand your respective businesses, and the sanity will slowly sink into both of your work days.” Dukette suggests.
Here are some common tasks that Virtual Assistants can do for you:
- Managing Email
- Securing New Business
- Administrative Services
- Social Media Assistant
- Web Site Designer/Administrator
- Marketing Assistant
- Customer Service Representative
Is a Virtual Assistant for you?
- You feel overwhelmed with your workload
- You need help digging out from the administrative pile
- You know you could really “move the needle” if you could focus more on what you and only you can do
- You want to be more productive and less stressed
- You know you need help but can’t afford someone full-time
- You don’t want the hassle of recruiting, hiring and training a physical assistant
- You want – and need – more margin in your life
If you think you are ready for a virtual assistant or want to learn more about our business support services, give us a call or e-mail us today. We have been helping small businesses since 2006. You’d be surprised your company will go from start-up to established when you partner up with a Virtual Assistant.
Best of luck!