In case the term “Virtual Assistance” is new to you, here’s Wikipedia’s definition: “The professional service of a remote administrative office and other specialised support by a virtual assistant who works with clients in an ongoing, collaborative professional relationship.”
As a provider of “Virtual Assistance”, I see businesses of all kinds, in all states of health. And the biggest source of anxiety I see among business owners is the challenge of ensuring that their support and administrative functions are performed in a timely and professional way. The ownership of a small to medium sized business is usually in the hands of people who understand intimately the products or services the business is set up to provide. But these skills are often very different from those needed to administer the business, manage it’s finances, meet it’s statutory obligations and so forth. This presents principals of businesses with an intractable problem: how to select employees who will efficiently carry out duties they themselves don’t fully understand.
One solution is to dispense with employees for many non-core functions and instead rely on virtual assistance. These days you can quickly and easily find a Virtual Assistant who has a skill set that if the perfect fit for your business – if you know how.
Here are my top eight tips to ensuring that you find the right Virtual Assistant to support your business:
- View samples – Whether you are looking for design work or websites if there is nothing on the service providers website be sure to ask them for their portfolio.
- Read testimonials – Virtual Assistants can be selected on the strength of their reputation. Since they are serving the needs of a wide variety of enterprises, their performance can easily be seen online, where feedback reviews are an increasingly prominent element of the Google results. Be sure to look for cases that relate to you and your task. This way you will know that the business support provider can help you.
- Treat the acquisition of a Virtual Assistant as you would the hiring of a conventional employee. It’s important that you trust your Virtual Assistant and can easily work with them. Ask them typical behavioural questions as you would when interviewing any other employee.
- Check your candidates’ industry certifications and qualifications – usually they will be displayed on their website, but be sure to enquire. This will reveal their level of professionalism and capability.
- When your newly-hired Virtual Assistant starts working for you, treat them as you would a new employee. Set aside some time and energy to tell them how you like things done and get systems and processes in place. It’s a good idea to start by delegating smaller tasks to your new Virtual Assistant to start with. As the first month progresses, build the workload in stages, to see if they are a good fit for your business.
- Be realistic with time frames and deadlines. Unlike the office environment, where you can see what is happening and the workload, remember that they too have a to do list. If you have an urgent task, be sure to check with them first to ensure that they can agree to complete the task by your deadline. A professional will always make you feel important and work with you to ensure delivery.
- A professional Virtual Assistant will have experience with providing clients guidance on effective collaboration. Their experience is valuable – use it to your advantage.
- Confidentiality. A professional Virtual Assistant will be used to working under conditions of confidentiality and should have pro forma confidentiality agreements and service agreements readily to hand. Be sure to ask about these in your first consultation. These will ensure that both parties agree on the working structure.
Above all, whether your Virtual Assistant is a freelancer or part of an agency, make sure that the person is the right fit for your businesses so that you can not only have confidence in their skills, but trust in their integrity.
So, ask yourself – if you could have an extra 5 hours a month or even a week to help you with administrative tasks or marketing support what tasks would you pass on? Join the conversation on Facebook?