Running a business is not easy. Everything starts with a dream, but it requires hard work to make those visions come to life. And as your business grows, you might realize you cannot do all the tasks on your own. Eventually, you will need help making phone calls, responding to customer concerns, managing social media pages, designing marketing materials and business websites, etc.
If you are looking for extra helping hands, hiring a virtual assistant unburdens you of the usual tasks and allows you to grow and improve your business. This post will discuss the important roles of a virtual assistant in a business, the benefits of hiring one, and what important qualities of a VA to look for.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
Virtual assistants or VAs are either employed professionals or independent contractors who remotely provide general support to a business. They may have their own office located in a different country, while freelancers may offer their services via freelancing platforms or through their professional networks. Freelance VAs or independent contractors can choose their workload. Likewise, they have the freedom to work with other clients and their endeavors as long as their schedule permits.
Here’s how to distinguish between VAs, independent contractors, contract workers, and temps. The latter is short for temporary staff that companies hire through a personnel firm or placement agencies. A temp works for the company and is paid by the agency or firm they represent.
On the other hand, contract workers are those that companies directly hire as employees. They carry job titles and are given a temporary workspace and equipment to do their tasks, while some are given projects remotely using their equipment and workspace.
Meanwhile, VAs who are independent contractors render services via freelancing platforms or through referrals of their professional networks.
VAs usually offer a variety of services to their clients such as:
- Scheduling appointments
- Cold calling
- Blogging or video script writing
- Video editing
- Graphic designing
- Event planning
- Email management
- Catering to different types of customer service campaigns
- Updating databases
- Medical or audio Transcription
- Accounting or bookkeeping
- Managing websites and social media pages
Although these tasks are often repetitive, they are still essential to businesses. As such, companies hire VAs to help with these functions.
Benefits of Hiring VAs
Small business owners can greatly benefit from hiring a VA. Most of them do not have the time or financial capabilities to hire and train employees.
Hiring a VA can also help you remove the burden of the usual repetitive tasks, so you could focus on growing your business. These are the other ways VAs can help your small business:
Offers skills and experience
Most VAs offer specific skills and the relevant experience that small business owners require. By hiring a VA, you can delegate tasks and attain the results you want.
Helps improve your digital presence
Nowadays, businesses must strengthen their online presence and widen their customer reach. Hiring a skilled VA is a great solution to achieve these goals. Learning how social media works may take some time, and having someone to assist you can benefit your business. Some tasks a social media VA usually does include:
- Posting compelling photos, graphics, and ad copy
- Engaging with followers in the comments section
- Responding to DMs
- Tracking insights and other valuable data
Builds a good working relationship
Newly hired virtual assistants usually start with simple tasks such as email management, scheduling appointments, or data entry.
As the VA builds experience and enhances their skillsets, the working relationship and trust between them and business owners strengthen over time. They can take in more tasks to help you with your usual business operations. At the same time, VAs can build their portfolio and become more confident with their personal and professional skills.
Offers 24/7 customer service
It could be challenging to cater to customers if you are not located within the same area. Working with a virtual assistant can be a big advantage, especially if you manage a global business. You can opt to hire a VA from other time zones to make your business available around the clock and provide exceptional customer service 24/7.
Allows for more time for other endeavors
Running a business can be demanding and challenging. During the first few years, you have to do things yourself – responding to emails and removing spam, handling customer complaints, setting meetings, and managing your website and social media pages, among others. These never-ending tasks would eventually consume your free time, which means less time for more important business matters and personal endeavors.
What to consider in hiring a VA
VAs can be beneficial for businesses. They relieve the burden of repetitive tasks and help you focus on more important aspects of your business. At the same time, business owners help people worldwide get jobs, develop skills, and improve their confidence and self-worth. Indeed, working with a VA is a win-win for both parties.
However, finding the right VA is another story. It is different from the usual hiring process because it is done virtually. Before hiring one, you should also know what to look for in a VA. But first, consider these factors when hiring a virtual assistant:
- What is your preferred VA management or communication tool (Email, phone, Skype, etc.)
- What tasks do you want to delegate to the VA as soon as they’re hired (Graphic design, social media management, appointment setting, blogging, etc.)
- What core tasks do you want to focus on after assigning tasks to the hired VA
- What productivity tools will you need to monitor the VA’s performance (Hubstaff, Slack, Trello, Asana, etc.)
As to where to find a VA, some companies have a pool of virtual assistants, such as VirtualAssistants.com. If you prefer hiring offshore VAs, you can check out VirtualStaff, OnlineJobs, or MyVirtualWorkforce.
You can also find VAs and freelancers on social media groups and Upwork. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to perform a thorough candidate screening to ensure they are a perfect fit for your business.
Other things you should consider when looking for a VA are the following:
How efficient are they?
Most VAs are paid by the hour, so you should ensure they are efficient to maximize the work they do for you. Even if they already have the skills to take on the job, it’s in your best interest to familiarize them with your workflows and provide them with training.
Since communication and tasks will be done online, VAs should also be adept at using the latest technology to perform their jobs well, including apps, tools, and systems. You can have the candidates perform trial tasks during the interview process and send the output on Google Drive or Dropbox.
Can they work in your time zone?
Most VAs adjust their schedule to their clients’ time zone. If it’s daytime and you’re located in the U.S., and your VA is located somewhere in Southeast Asia, the VA will be working the graveyard shift. You must find a VA willing to work on your work hours. Some clients allow time flexibility that lets VAs work their hours as long as they meet the deadlines and comply with the expected output.
Do they have a pleasing personality and a good work ethic?
Besides having a stellar work performance, your VA should also have people skills and professional work ethics. How are they when dealing with customers and clients? You can also administer the DISC Personality Test to determine the candidates’ personality types and whether they are a great fit for your business.
Are they trainable?
Once you already have a newly hired VA, it is time for the usual introductions and task orientation and training. It could take several hours or days to get the VA officially on board.
Training is important to help VAs boost their skills and confidence and create value for the business. You should not only rely on your VAs’ current skills but should also invest in enhancing their skills to enable them to contribute to your business’ success.
What else do you need from them?
Aside from job expectations, candidates should also be aware of the following:
- How many hours are they expected to work in a day? VAs usually work 4 to 8 hours a day. However, some companies allow them to work less than 4 hours a day depending on the tasks.
- Do they have a stable internet connection? What is their alternative power or internet source in case of blackouts?
- Do they have an area at home where they can work without distractions? Do they have a noise-canceling headset and other tools needed?
- Is the rate acceptable to the VA? Depending on the tasks and responsibilities, VA rates usually range from $4 to $36 per hour. The VA should also know the cost of missing work and the possible disciplinary actions if this happens.
Is hiring a VA the best solution for your business?
Hiring a VA may be a new concept for many business owners. However, it could be a strategic decision for your business’ growth and success. VAs can remove the burden of doing repetitive tasks you’re your end and allow you to focus on functions that directly relate to growing your company.
At the same time, you give job opportunities to those who need them and provide room for personal and professional improvement. Perhaps now is the time to find the right VA who will be your company’s best asset and who will lead your business to success.
Chris Mcdonald has been the lead news writer at complete connection. His passion for helping people in all aspects of online marketing flows through in the expert industry coverage he provides. Chris is also an author of tech blog Area19delegate. He likes spending his time with family, studying martial arts and plucking fat bass guitar strings.