Often times when entrepreneurs and start-ups start running low on time, do they realise the importance of doing things on schedule. But such is our world that requires us to do a thousand different things every day that many times we don’t even find time for the mundane things, let alone the insignificant ones. And the result? Overflowing inbox, messed up appointments, certain reservations that need to be made and your ‘to do list’ which isn’t going anywhere. So, what’s the solution? Virtual Assistants.
What are Virtual Assistants?
Virtual Assistants are independent workers hired on contract basis for providing administrative, creative or technical support services. It basically means handling the office-related tasks from a remote location, most often from the comforts of a home office or from a leased office space of their choice. They are currently in high demands among entrepreneurs and start-ups who need help managing certain tasks but aren’t ready to bring in-house staff to their work location.
How can a Virtual Assistant be useful?
There are plenty of ways a Virtual Assistant can be useful for your business. In fact, he can do almost every task any other support staff does (except for bringing coffee though he can place an order with a home-delivery coffee service). And their services are not only limited to clerical work, let’s see the list of tasks Virtual Assistants do to understand the full scope of their potential.
a) Schedule bookings/handle incoming calls
b) Data entry/writing board reports
c) Handling social media accounts
d) Manage calendar/schedule meetings
e) Carry out tasks related to web designing
f) Processing email newsletters
g) Debt recollection/account receivable tasks
h) Writing content for website promotion
i) Make travel reservations
j) Handling proposals/meeting materials
And the list goes on…
There are simply no restrictions on what a Virtual Assistant can’t do. And now since you have a vague idea what a virtual assistant can do for your business, let’s move forward to the qualities you need to look out in Virtual Assistants if you’re planning to hire them.
What qualities to look out for while hiring a Virtual Assistant?
Willing to go the extra mile to add value to your business, watch out for ones that have a habit of doing only minimum amount of work they can get away with.
1) Always consider the behavioural component of your qualifying candidates quite seriously and watch out for any red flags that may lead to a difficult relationship in the future.
2) A good Virtual Assistant has the ability to work his way around a problem, in short, being resourceful.
3) Determine the level of competencies in your prospective candidate regarding fundamental (proficiency in net-browsing, emailing, certain software etc.) and technical matters (such as social media).
4) It’s important to check beforehand how effectively your prospective VA is at time-management.
5) Effective communication skills not just regarding the level of English proficiency in writing and speaking but also how the prospect conveys or relays his message.
6) Enquire about their passions in life which will give you a fair idea as to whether there is an alignment between vision, purpose and value or not (important factors when it comes to establishing an effective work relationship).
7) While qualifying prospects, make sure they are subjected to tests that require specific instructions to follow. It’s a great way of knowing whether they are prone to details or not.
Where Can You Find a Virtual Assistant?
Now, the last important question you might be having is where I can find the Virtual Assistants or more importantly, how I can find the one with all the above-mentioned skills. The answer is, there are only two possible ways you can hire Virtual Assistants. You can either seek out freelancers on your own which is a tedious job as it involves sifting through hundreds of options available in the online market to get to the right person who often times as it turned out, is not the right one for your business.
Your next best option is hiring the services of a 3rd party contractor or an outsourcing firm to support your various business-related tasks which can not only put highly-skilled Virtual Assistants at your disposal within no time but also allow you the liberty to replace him/her for no additional charge if the assistant’s performance didn’t meet your expectations.