Guest Blog: Tips for Hiring a Virtual Assistant for Your Business

Remote work has become a major part of today’s business landscape. According to a State of Workplace Productivity Report, 65% of full-time employees believe remote work would allow them to be more productive. Another study conducted by Stanford University found that, after a 9-month project that followed a team of scholars, there was a “13 percent increase in the remote workers’ productivity with more time per shift or fewer sick leaves and breaks.”

If you’re considering hiring a virtual assistant, these remote work statistics should help put things into perspective for you. People are happier and more productive working from home, and adding an employee to your team that can enjoy those benefits can be, well, mutually beneficial.

Not only that, but a virtual assistant can do wonders for your bottom line. Often, we don’t realize how much of our tasks and daily routines can be streamlined to maximize productivity. We’re too busy focused on task after task after task to understand that we have tunnel vision. With a virtual assistant, you can eliminate unnecessary tunnel vision and gain a bird’s eye view of all your operations. With that in mind, here are a few tips for hiring a virtual assistant for your business.

Do You Need a Virtual Assistant?

One of the first things you’ll ask yourself is if you even need a virtual assistant at all. It can be difficult for you to let go of aspects of your business, especially when you don’t feel confident with someone else handling your tasks and getting the job done well. But there are some telltale signs that you could use an assistant:

You spend too much time on administrative tasks. The mundane tasks you have on your to-do list can easily pile up, and before you know it, you’ve spent two hours of your morning doing basic tasks that are easy enough for someone else to handle. Always keep in mind that these low-value tasks are transferable, with the business building is not.

You’re losing leads or customers because you can’t keep up. Whether you’re in the real estate industry or in the marketing industry, it’s important for you to always be following up with your leads and current customers. One missed opportunity could really hurt your bottom line, as well as your reputation. Once you start realizing your lead management is falling to the wayside, it’s time to bring in some additional assistance.

You’re overworked. As with any career, you need the right work/life balance to truly flourish. If you work yourself too hard, you can easily start to become frustrated with your load, and the possibility for mistakes and oversights increases.

Benefits of Hiring a Virtual Assistant

The biggest benefit of hiring a virtual assistant is outsourcing some of the mundane or daily administrative tasks so that you can focus on building your brand and bottom line. But there are plenty of other benefits to consider, too.

1) Higher level availability for your business. With a little extra help, your business will be available to your customers nearly 24/7, even on the holidays. This is especially true if you hire VAs that are on different time zones, and can service client needs around the clock.

2) Virtual assistants—especially those based out of international countries—are cost-efficient. You can find a great VA on Upwork for around as $10 per hour (and even lower, depending on the skills you need from your VA). Of course, there are some services that charge anywhere from $25 to $50.

At the higher end of the pay grade, you’ll likely get a U.S.-based, college-educated assistant who can do much more than simple tasks. Depending on your budget, you can make something work for you. You also don’t have to pay for taxes, benefits, office space, and other costs associated with hiring a traditional employee.

3) It saves you time. As previously mentioned, you can shave several hours off your week with a virtual assistant. With a VA, you don’t have to stress over the simple things. This way, your business is more likely to run smoothly without any interruptions.

4) Have a better online presence. Far too often, when you run a business, your marketing and social presence becomes less of a priority. Your virtual assistant can help you strengthen your relationships with your customers through social media by posting regularly and commenting accordingly.

What can a virtual assistant do?

Simply put, a virtual assistant can do anything you ask of them that can be achieved remotely. Of course, this all depends on your assistant’s skillset.

For example, if you owned a company that designed some of the best real estate websites, then you might want a virtual assistant who has experience in the real estate industry or with generating leads. Or, if you were the founder of a graphic design company, perhaps you’d want a virtual assistant with graphic design skills.

No matter what you need help with, there’s a virtual assistant who can get the job done. Here are some other tasks you can delegate to your VA:

  • Turn your business cards into digital business cards
  • Answering customer service emails
  • Updating inventory in your online store
  • Scheduling and posting blog and social media posts
  • Researching
  • Updating your website
  • Organizing files
  • Managing Excel sheets and other reports

Finding Your Virtual Assistant

Because you won’t be meeting your VA in person, it’s important that you take extra precaution in getting to know them and choosing the best candidate. There are several ways you can approach the hunt for a great VA.

First and foremost, you might ask around your personal networks for a recommendation. You never know who your colleagues know, or they might be using a service that you could benefit from, too.

One of the most popular platforms for finding VAs is Upwork, a freelancer platform that connects businesses with freelancers. There are dozens of categories to choose from, and “Admin” is one of the most popular. It’s free to post a listing, and you can invite potential candidates to apply for your positions. There are thousands of employees to choose from, and you can filter your search results by rating/reviews, English skill level, hourly rate, and much more.

One of the benefits of using a platform like Upwork is that you’re protected as an employer. Assistant log hours through a “Work Diary” application that works similarly to time management platforms like TimeDoctor. Through the Work Diary, you can view screenshots of on-the-clock work, as well as monitor the efficiency of your staff. Any disputes between yourself and your hire are dealt with directly through Upwork.

Lastly, there are agencies that eliminate the guesswork for you by connecting with their own staff, who have already been vetted and qualified.

Tim Ferris, author of the best-selling book, “The Four-Hour Work Week,” dedicates an entire section of his book to detailing how outsourcing can be hugely beneficial.  Ferris contacted Brickwork, an Indian-based company that offers remote executive assistants.

Ferris says, “…When I flip on my computer, my email inbox is already filled with updates from my overseas aides. It’s a strange feeling having people work for you while you sleep. Strange, but great. I’m not wasting time while I drool on my pillow; things are getting done.”

There are plenty of other companies with services like Brickwork, too. These include Habiliss, Efficise, and AskSunday,

Vetting the Candidates

When you’re using a platform like Upwork—or any other freelance platform—it’s important to check out reviews and/or previous work. Field your candidates by asking them questions pertinent to the job description. Ideally, you can get on the phone or a video conference call with them.

Check references as well. It can be difficult to gauge a candidate’s work ethic through a resume or CV, but references allow you to hone in on an individual’s assets (or flaws). If you’re using a freelancer platform, you can easily check reviews on their profile written by previous clients.

You should also check their LinkedIn profiles or professional websites, if they have them. Lastly, you can also choose to hire 2-3 virtual assistants on a week trial basis and choose the candidate that works best for you.

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Guest blog post written by:
Emmanuel Lao | CEO + Creative Director
SQUARE 1 GROUP
square1grp.com

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