A virtual assistant (VA) is someone who provides your business with administrative support services from a remote location. Virtual Assistants are desired by entrepreneurs and small businesses, who need help but don’t necessarily have the resources to bring another employee into their location. Even those businesses that are just starting out and do not have a location to bring an employee to will benefit from a VA. This is because having a virtual assistant frees up the time that an entrepreneur usually takes to do important, but menial, tasks throughout the day. An entrepreneur can effectively use that new time to work on larger picture projects and processes that help scale and grow a business.
What does a Virtual Assistant Do?
In theory, a Virtual Assistant can do anything any other support staff does, so long as the task can be done remotely. This has been made extremely easy in the past 20 years, thanks to the inventions of high-speed internet, document sharing, and other improvements. But their duties do not need to be strictly limited to menial and clerical duties. Many successful entrepreneurs, such as Ryan Stewart (a partner with SEO firm I’m From the future), uses virtual assistants to do other tasks that are extremely important for their business, but still extremely tedious. For example, Ryan uses his virtual assistants to help do technical SEO or outreach for link building.
Some Virtual Assistants specialize in a specific skill set. For example, there are virtual assistants that specialize in marketing or PR, and others that specialize in Real Estate work. If you have work that you’re looking to outsource that requires a specific knowledge on a subject, then it’s probably best to outsource it to a Virtual Assistant that specializes in that subject. Otherwise, as long as you have your systems and processes in place, practically any virtual assistant is capable of completing valuable time saving tasks for you and your business.
How to Hire a Virtual Assistant
When looking to hire a virtual assistant, you have to assess the needs of your business. First, you should look at the tasks that you or your employees are doing that could easily be outsourced to a VA. For example, if you operate a drop shipping company, and sending orders every day to the manufacturer has become a tedious part of your day, then you can easily outsource it to a virtual assistant.
Next, you should analyze those tasks and determine if there are any specializations that may be required in order to be successful. If there aren’t any specializations required, then you should work to develop processes that can make hiring a VA easier.
The idea behind developing processes is to make a step by step set of instructions for your VA to follow for every task that they will complete. This maximizes efficiency and keeps all of the work uniform. Most of the work that can be virtualized and outsourced has the capability of being broken down into set processes. If it cannot, then that would be an indication that you need a specialist.
Once you have your processes in line, look for a company or individual that has the VA services that fits your company the best.
I Hired a VA. Now What?
First thing we can say is “good job!” You are taking one of the many steps that it takes to help get you working on you business, rather than in your business. It’s at this stage that you can really begin to look at your business and see what needs to be done, what could be done better, and execute a plan to make those things happen.
What you’ll probably want to do is figure out ways to track what your virtual assistant is doing. We don’t necessarily condone micromanagement, but activity tracking and efficiency are key to staying lean. When you have a virtual assistant, you don’t have the luxury of having them in the office with you where you can inquire about progress through a project.