All About Virtual Assistants

Many solopreneurs work the way they do because they want total control over all aspects of their business (See Gerber’s business roles – Manager, Entrepreneur & Technician).  But many of us cover all these roles because we love the challenge and the variety they entail.  Then at some point, we realize that this no longer makes good business sense and we look for help that is manageable and affordable.  All About Virtual Assistants (VA) is provided to give you an overview that should help you decide whether it’s your time to hire one. 

When is it time to consider a VA?

  • You are very busy with a lucrative long-term project;
  • Something needs doing where you don’t possess the know-how;
  • There are details that you find very boring to do;
  • There are tasks that you constantly avoid;
  • Your business is growing and there just isn’t enough time to cover it all;
  • Your life feels like all work and you need to build in some balance;
  • You have concluded that it’s time to expand ever-so-slightly but don’t want to get into office expansion or HR headaches.

 What is a VA anyway?

A VA is a self-employed person usually working from a home office that has any number of skills (administrative, technical, creative, social) they wish to offer to create an income.  The “virtual” part means they are able to do their work efficiently online.  Some are interested in one time tasks, while others prefer on-going activities.

What tasks can they do?

  • Bookkeeping and invoicing
  • Online research
  • Database entry
  • Data into presentation
  • Editing
  • Managing e-mail
  • Social tasks (personal notes, making appointments etc.)
  • Travel research/arranging
  • Scheduling
  • Promotional activities such as trade shows
  • Handling/responding to on-line reviews
  • Industry knowledge updates
  • Phone reception
  • Social Media posting
  • Event planning
We know that many of these tasks can be mechanized but when your business requires a personal touch, hiring a VA may be the answer.

 How to Find a Good One

  • Do a Google Search – There are directories of skilled people on-line such as CanadianVirtualGurus and Upwork
  • Ask around – get referrals from members of your local and on-line networks
  • Think about your past workplaces – is there someone whose work you admired and who might enjoy the challenge?
  • Look for reviews (Google Business listings), testimonials (on their website) and recommendations and endorsements (on LinkedIn).

 How to Hire One

  1. Think through the project
  2. Put your thoughts in writing “Scope of Project”:
    1. Task and/or scope of the work (on-going, one-time)
    2. Desired outcome
    3. Timeline
    4. Budget
  3. If this is an on-going project, what reporting will you require?
    1. Time in-time out
    2. Tasks performed
    3. Outcomes
  4. How and when you want to maintain contact
    1. Weekly face-to-face  (Google Hangout, Zoom or Skype)
    2. E-mail
    3. On-going texting (Google Hangout or phone-based)
  5. How and when you want to receive invoices
  6. What method you want to use for payments
  7. Now is the time to speak personally with your candidates
    1. Seek proposals from at least three VAs
    2. How will you test compatibility?  What qualities are you looking for?  How will you measure integrity and your level of trust?
    3. Ask for their written reaction (with pricing) to your Scope of Project document.
    4. Ask for examples of their work for your review.
    5. Ask for references you can speak with.
    6. Try something very short-term to begin with, so that you get to observe their ability to deliver.

 Mindset Monday Challenge

 Look at what needs to be accomplished in the remaining three months of this year in your business.  Is there something you could outsource that would lighten your load and make life/work more pleasurable?
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4 thoughts on “All About Virtual Assistants”

  1. Dear LA,
    Thank you for the reminder and the excellent guidelines. During the really busy times as a solopreneur we may feel like we carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. A VA is a cost effective solution.

    Reply
    • Janice – Interesting that I suddenly thought of you as I was writing this – especially when I remembered to add “event planning”. Glad you dropped by.

      Reply
  2. Thank you Lowell for this very useful post. We have deemed the necessity of the services of a VA every time we launch a new startup. They are actually a great help especially if we still lack the resources and staff to help run our businesses.

    Reply

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