Virtual Assistant….is a very loose term. VA’s are Administrative Assistants, Marketing Coordinators, Event Planners, Email Campaign Creators, Social Media Strategists, Client Relations Specialists…the list goes on. Almost everything can be done virtually.
I started working for a wholesaler virtually about 18 years ago, before we had the online tools that are available now. I answered an ad in the paper…remember when we used to do that…find jobs through the newspaper? It seems almost unheard of now…and why is that? EVERYTHING is online…even your support staff! No matter what industry you’re in, whether you’re a small business or a sole proprietor, a Virtual Assistant can work for you.
The key is finding a good fit for you and your company…are you looking for someone long term, to help with a project, or maybe fill in during that busy time of year?
Many small business owners and entrepreneurs are used to doing everything themselves, which sometimes makes it difficult to see where you need help. Just because you CAN do everything, doesn’t mean you HAVE to do everything. Sometimes you know you need help, you’re just not sure where to start.
Here’s a couple tips:
1. START A DAILY JOURNAL. Some people keep food journals to track how much they eat; why not keep a “task journal”….it’s the only way you’re going to be able to see exactly what you do each day. You’re going to find a lot of repetitive tasks that can be handed off for someone else to handle. Try this for a week, and at the end, you’ll have a great starting point to figure out where you need help.
2. START SEARCHING. This is the hard part…where do I go and who do I use? If you choose to search yourself, LinkedIn is a good starting point, but be prepared to sift through pages of VA’s. Be sure to check for experience; starting to work with a VA can have a learning curve and it helps if they have some experience for a smooth start. You can also use a professional virtual staffing firm that will match you with a virtual assistant based on your needs.
Once you have narrowed down a few prospects…make contact! Schedule a time to do a conference call or Skype.
3. ASK QUESTIONS….and make sure they are being answered. A good VA or VA staffing firm will have questions for you too. “You never have a second chance to make a good first impression” … this saying goes for both parties. Although the VA is the one looking for clients, you are also looking for someone that will want to work for you.
4. FIND YOUR FIT. How you interact with someone initially speaks volumes. I know from my own experience that first contact you have can make or break the relationship. You want to find a VA who has the skill set your looking for, with the experience and knowledge behind them; or at least the knowledge, drive and energy to learn it quickly! Don’t be too concerned right away with what they charge. You will have a budget to work with…so work with it! Independent VA’s who want to work with you, will find a way to work within your budget. When it comes to VA work, my experience is “you get what you pay for”. It’s like any other profession…there are no goods to be sold, just the knowledge and expertise that comes with experience. If you’re looking for a good lawyer, you’re not going to take the cheapest one, are you?
Make sure when you find your perfect VA, you have a working contract in place. This will not only protect them, but you too. This can be as precise or general as you both agree upon, but don’t get yourself locked into anything long term…month to month is usually a safe bet for both parties. Again, a staffing firm will most likely already have a standard contract they use.
More and more small businesses, entrepreneurs, wholesalers and independent agents are looking to hire virtual help. Don’t get overwhelmed by the idea; set your guidelines and your budget, and find the fit that works for you!