Have you been thinking about hiring a virtual assistant as a flexible, cost-effective way to grow your business? Great idea!
But before you go in all-guns-blazing, I want to make sure you get the right person on board for your circumstances. With so many assistants out there to choose from, taking the time to consider my “4 essential factors” will ensure the success of your new virtual partnership:
1. Business goals
If you’re thinking about hiring a VA, it’s really important to first consider what your overall business goals are and, specifically, what you hope to achieve from your virtual partnership. Your answers will help you to determine the type of assistant you need, based not only on their skills but their personal qualities as well.
For example, you might be looking to hire someone purely to free up your time from basic administrative tasks so that you can increase your billable hours, in which case you want someone reliable, diligent and reactive to your instructions. However, if you’re objectives are growth-oriented, perhaps you would see even more value in hiring a collaborative partner; someone who is able to take initiative, who has an entrepreneurial mindset and whose expertise you can leverage for your success.
2. Skills and knowledge
The next stage is to consider the skills and knowledge you will require your assistant to possess. Think about the specific tasks that you hope to delegate. Some, like website design and maintenance, might require technical know-how or specialist training. You might decide that it would be beneficial for your assistant to have knowledge of your industry, or of one which you hope to break into. Or perhaps you just need someone with solid administrative experience to manage the paperwork.
Despite the fact we’re considering a virtual relationship, location is our third essential factor. Where your VA is based can have a significant influence on your suitability for each other as partners. Think about:
Do you need to stay in contact with your assistant during standard UK business hours? Or, conversely, would it actually suit you to have work turned around overnight?
Does the work you need doing require a high standard of business English? For example, will you ask them to undertake a lot of writing or telephony?
VAs based in a different part of the globe may have a different working culture and this should be taken into consideration, particularly if you’d like them to integrate with other team members.
Knowledge of peak traffic hours and travel times might be useful in appointment setting; understanding local dialects and colloquialisms might be important in conducting telephony; and familiarity with local place names and postcodes will mean a data entry project is completed more efficiently.
As small business owners, budget is always going to be one of our top considerations. Every penny counts, and we want to make sure we’re getting value for money from our investments.
There are assistants out there to suit every budget; just remember that the cost of a VA should be balanced with your other priorities, like their skills, personal qualities and geographical location. It might also be pertinent to calculate the cost of the alternatives to outsourcing. How much more would it cost you to hire a permanent staff member? How much more money could you earn in the time you save by delegating admin tasks? If you have thought through your business goals and skill requirements, this should help you to work out the true value of a virtual assistant to your business.
Take the time to think through these 4 essential factors and you will be well on your way to a successful virtual partnership!