Your business workload is getting overwhelming—but you’re not quite ready for the headaches and hassles of hiring full-time staff. What’s an entrepreneur to do? If little administrative tasks like sending invoices, scheduling client meetings or sorting through endless emails are what seem to eat up all your time, consider hiring a virtual assistant.
Virtual assistants work off-site, and can be located anywhere (even in another country!), so there’s no need to worry about finding space for them. Technology has made dealing with virtual assistants easier than ever. However, there are still some tips you need to know before getting started.
1. Assess your needs.
There are many options for virtual assistants, from workers in India to workers in your own backyard. To find the right fit, start by figuring out exactly what tasks you need your VA to do. These requirements will help you determine whether you want someone local who you can meet with if necessary, someone across the country or someone in India (which can be very affordable, but also has the potential for communication issues). Elance, oDesk and Staff.com are three reputable sites to start your search.
2. Check them out.
You won’t be interviewing your VA in person, but during your phone or videoconferencing interview, ask questions as carefully as you would for any hire. Note the person’s level of energy, enthusiasm and responsiveness. Get samples of his or her work. Ask for references—and contact them! Last, but not least, do an online search on the person’s name to make sure they have a good professional reputation.
3. Communicate clearly.
It’s important to communicate your expectations to the new VA from the start of the relationship. Make sure the two of you are in agreement about details such as whether the VA needs to be available during certain days or hours, your rate of pay and how the VA will be paid, project or task deadlines and anything else that will affect your satisfaction with the arrangement.
4. Tap into technology.
Harnessing technology is essential to creating a smooth working relationship with your VA. Experienced VAs may have certain programs or tools they like to use, but they should also be willing to work with your preferences. Videoconferencing tools like Skype or GoToMeeting, instant messaging solutions so you can do quick chats, and cloud storage and project management tools such as Basecamp or Google Drive can enable the two of you to work efficiently and effectively together.