Every entrepreneur who wants to develop their business over time reaches a stage when they need support. However, not immediately the number of tasks is large enough to employ a contract worker. In such cases, the ideal solution is to use the services of a virtual assistant. Today, we’ll focus on Virtual Assistants, their role in the business, their skills and ways to find them. If you have never worked with one, that article will definitely help you in selecting the ideal remote worker.
Virtual Assistant – table of contents:
- Who is a virtual assistant?
- What does a virtual assistant do?
- How do you find a virtual assistant?
- How do verify the skills of a virtual assistant?
- What is the best way of working with a virtual assistant?
Who is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant is a remote worker who performs assigned tasks from anywhere in the world using a computer and the Internet. It is a person who replaces a standard office worker. This person can deal with matters strictly connected with running a company from the back office i.e. issuing invoices, contact with wholesalers, or taking care of the website, but not only. The catalog of services offered by virtual assistants is constantly growing and this profession is becoming more and more popular.
What does a virtual assistant do?
The breadth of competencies of virtual assistants, and consequently the catalog of services they offer, is extremely diverse. Still, each of them has their specialization in which they feel most comfortable. Sometimes it is very comprehensive and refers to the whole catalog of tasks or sometimes it concerns one particular skill. That is why when you are looking for a virtual assistant, the key step is to specify the tasks you want to get done.
Many virtual assistants start with simple office work, but with time they undertake further training and expand their competencies. Ultimately, the client gets one employee who performs a whole range of tasks. It is more convenient when one person is responsible for the whole project. Both in terms of consistency and control of effects.
For ease of reference, below is a list of sample tasks that VA can perform:
Typical administrative tasks
These are tasks that a traditional office assistant also performs. These may include taking care of the calendar, scheduling appointments, or handling email. Virtual assistants dealing with administrative matters may also be responsible for issuing invoices or placing orders with manufacturers. Such an assistant will also prepare for you templates of documents or conduct the initial recruitment of an employee. In a word – they will support you in all administrative and office matters related to running your business.
Online business support
This category can include a lot. A virtual assistant who specializes in technical issues may be responsible for creating a landing page for a new online course or setting up an online store. Some assistants specialize in specific programs such as editing or video editing.
Promotion and marketing activities
This catalog encompasses all activities that aim to develop a brand. This includes the creation of promotional materials, i.e. content, graphics, or video, but also comprehensive support for social media or the website. A virtual assistant may also specialize in creating advertising campaigns on a given platform or creating content.
Of course, the list above isn’t complete and doesn’t include all the tasks you can delegate to an assistant. This breakdown also doesn’t mean that one person can’t handle social media and check email at the same time. Often, you’ll find that one virtual assistant will replace employees in several departments. This flexibility is one of the biggest advantages of this profession and the reason why more and more entrepreneurs are working with a virtual assistant.
Although a virtual assistant is exclusively associated with remote work, this is not always the case. In some cases, principals are looking for someone who can also help with onsite tasks such as visiting the office or mailing documents at the post office.
How do you find a virtual assistant?
This profession is becoming more and more popular, but still, not many entrepreneurs know about the possibility of remote cooperation. Even if they heard something about it, they have no idea where and how to find them. There are several ways to start cooperation.
A lot of virtual assistants have their digital business cards in the form of websites. On them, they showcase their portfolios, skills, and feedback from clients they have worked with. However, it is worth remembering that the best-ranked sites always appear in the first search results.
Since it’s a remote job, recruiting is also done remotely. Joining one of the Facebook groups is one of the most effective methods. All you need to do is to add a post with a job offer and a description of tasks, and in response, you will surely receive a few or a dozen interesting offers. Such groups gather virtual assistants, so you can be sure that your offer will go straight to competent people. You can also add an ad on one of the business groups related to the profile of your business. Thanks to this you have a better chance of finding a person who has experience or interests related to your industry.
Virtual Assistant Agencies
Some agencies work with virtual assistants. This solution has its advantages and disadvantages. The biggest advantage is that the person in charge takes care of selecting the best employee. It is only up to you to come up with a list of specific duties that you want to outsource. The person in charge of the agency knows exactly who they are working with and who is worth assigning a specific type of task to. In addition, all assistants went through a recruitment process, so they had to demonstrate their skills.
In these cases, you are signing a contract with an agency and not with a specific assistant, which is also a plus in some situations. First, your responsibility will not be to control the work. What matters for you is the result, and the rest is taken care of by the agency. The major disadvantage, however, is the price, which is higher than in the case of direct cooperation. Still, if the budget is not an issue for you, go for it.
An increasingly popular form of searching for various types of specialists is adding ads on sites associating freelancers such as Upwork. Just add an offer and describe a specific position, and after a while, you will receive a bunch of responses from all over the world.
Recommendations are also a good way to find virtual support. It is a good idea to ask friends who work in similar industries or run their businesses if they have used this type of solution. Virtual assistants often work with several entrepreneurs at the same time, and hiring by recommendation is one of the best ways to find the perfect employee.
How do verify the skills of a virtual assistant?
A well-known form of initial skills verification is to prepare a recruitment questionnaire. This is a good way to select the best candidates already at the initial stage and at the same time a much better method for getting to know the candidate.
Properly selected questions will reveal much more than a CV or cover letter. An interesting addition to the recruitment questionnaire may be situational questions, in which you can describe sample situations in which the company found itself with a request to solve a problem. Such answers allow us to assess whether a person thinks in similar patterns and what values they are guided by. Sometimes the questionnaire is also accompanied by a short recruitment task, which consists of preparing graphics in a specific program or writing a short text.
Besides the basic verification of skills, such surveys have another advantage. It takes a bit of willingness and commitment to answer them, so you have more confidence that the person sending their offer is interested in working with you and is confident in their skills.
After an initial analysis of the offers sent to you, you need to select a few best candidates. A video interview conducted online with each of them will help you make the final choice. There are many platforms that serve this purpose like Google Meet or Zoom.
What is the best way of working with a virtual assistant?
There’s one answer to it: it depends.
When it comes to the type of contract itself, it is most often B2B, as virtual assistants run their businesses or work with business incubators or other types of companies that allow you to invoice them for their work. In some cases, however, entrepreneurs prefer to sign a standard civil law contract. It is also worth remembering about additional documents that should be signed if the cooperation requires it, such as a confidentiality agreement.
Cooperation with a virtual assistant may be long-term or it may be a specific task to be performed, e.g. conducting research for a particular order or introducing products on a website.
When it comes to billing, the situation is no longer so simple. There are several options available. Some virtual assistants have hourly packages that an entrepreneur can purchase. The package can include 10 or even 40 hours of work. Most of the time, it is valid for 30 days and the entrepreneur has to decide the size of the package at the beginning of the month.
Such a method works best when the scope of cooperation with a virtual assistant is large but irregular, e.g. an entrepreneur needs support in customer service, but the community is so small that it is a task for only an hour a day, and the tasks of a virtual assistant also include creating posts on social media. Thanks to this she can freely allocate her time to particular tasks and the client pays only for the real hours worked.
In case the cooperation is based on a specific task, a better form of settlement may be a settlement for the created work. At the beginning of the cooperation, you will agree on the final amount, e.g. for preparing an advertising catalog or putting together an ebook. In this case, it is not important how much time your assistant will spend preparing it. What matters is the effect – the finished product.
Working with a virtual assistant is a chance to find an employee while not making a long-term commitment. It’s great for growing businesses or companies that only need support seasonally. The financial aspect is also a huge advantage. The entrepreneur incurs costs only when he needs them. He pays for real-time work, not for sitting in an office or taking a coffee break.
The advantages of virtual assistance also include versatility. On the one hand, an entrepreneur can ask for support in simple things that take him/her a lot of time every day and gain space for creative work and development. On the other hand, he can count on help with issues that go beyond his competence, such as technical support for programs. After all, a business owner does not have to know everything.
That’s all you need to know about working with a virtual assistant. Read also: 11 reasons to hire a virtual assistant in your business