For many business owners, the art of delegation doesn’t come easy. To save money, they often try to wear too many hats, overworking themselves to a point where they end up straining their personal lives, sacrificing their holidays, and still feeling inadequate. As important as it is to be committed to growing your business, a key quality of any good entrepreneur is knowing when to ask for help.
If you are a business owner overburdened by responsibilities, but you don’t want to commit to hiring a full-time employee, a virtual assistant can be a good option to consider.
What is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant, or VA, is a professional who performs various tasks from a remote location. They often operate independently and work on flexible contracts with businesses or individuals who pay for their services. Whether you need help answering your emails, making travel arrangements, performing administrative tasks, scheduling appointments, or managing your social media accounts, it’s likely you can find a virtual assistant to help. There are many versatile professionals out there who can assist with either day-to-day tasks or specific projects, depending on your business requirements.
Why do you need a virtual assistant?
While there are many perks to hiring a virtual assistant, these are the five that top the list:
1. They save you money
Hiring a virtual assistant is often less expensive than hiring a full-time employee. Virtual assistants usually charge by the hour, so you’ll only have to pay when you need specific work done. You don’t have to commit to paying a weekly/fortnightly salary along with overhead costs, taxes, or employee benefits. You can also save money on office equipment and the operational expenses that come along with it. This can be especially helpful when your business is just starting out, and you want to gradually expand without spending excessively.
2. You can focus on high-priority tasks
For business owners, it’s common to get bogged down overseeing a lot of small tasks. This can leave you with little time to focus on more important aspects of your business. With the help of a virtual assistant, you can easily offload time-consuming, low-priority tasks and focus on critical operations that have a bigger impact on your business growth.
3. You can work with skilled professionals
A great advantage of hiring a virtual assistant is that you get the freedom to choose and work with different professionals based on your specific requirements. While employees can be good multitaskers, it’s not likely that they will excel in every area. By hiring the right virtual assistant, you’ll be able to work with various talented individuals who are experts in their respective fields.
4. They save you a lot of time
Unlike with full-time employees, you don’t have to spend hours or days onboarding and training virtual assistants. A good virtual assistant will be able to take on responsibilities and get the job done on time with little intervention—as long as you provide clear instructions for the task or project.
5. You have greater flexibility
Whether you want someone to help you a few hours per week or several hours per day, you can easily coordinate with a virtual assistant to adjust working hours based on the scope of the job. If you’re displeased with your virtual assistant’s performance, you can easily replace them with a better-suited professional without going through many legal processes.
Where to look for a virtual assistant
If you’re convinced that hiring a virtual assistant will make your life easier, an online freelance marketplace is a good place to start your research. Since virtual assistants function similarly to freelancers, you’ll find many of them pitching and promoting their work on these platforms. You can either take your time to sift through the profiles, or post about your requirements and let the candidates come to you. Many virtual assistants maintain an active social media presence to educate their audiences. So, you can also take your search to platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.
If you don’t want to dedicate much time to this process, you can approach a virtual assistant agency for help finding the right expert based on your requirements.
Things to keep in mind while hiring a virtual assistant
Set clear expectations
A key necessity when hiring a virtual assistant is setting the right expectations. From deciding on the mode of communication, to determining payment structure, tasks, and deadlines, you need to be very specific about your needs and plans for the position. Use a written contract or agreement to avoid any confusion or misunderstandings.
Make an effort to connect
Whether it’s a short or long-term commitment, the virtual assistant you choose is going to be a part of your team. That means it’s a good idea to avoid communicating solely through texting. Connect over a call or virtual meeting at least once to develop a good rapport with your virtual assistant.
Avoid delegating critical tasks
Unlike with your in-house employees, you can never control the devices your virtual assistants use or the security of their environment. When hiring a remote worker, you should avoid giving them tasks that require them to work with sensitive or confidential information.
Check for client testimonials
Never settle for someone just because they are the cheapest resource you could find. When looking for a virtual assistant, always choose to work with someone who has a good number of client testimonials or referrals. This indicates they are a skilled and reliable person to work with.
No matter how skilled a virtual assistant may seem at first, there are many factors that determine how well they fit into your business. When you choose a virtual assistant, begin with a short-term commitment and extend the contract based on how satisfied you are with their work.