It’s likely you’ve set up your small business to live out your dream and be your own boss. Wonderful!

But that dream, if you’re not careful, can easily turn into being bogged down in boring-but-critical tasks like bookkeeping, managing your social media pages, and driving customer service.

That’s where a virtual assistant (VA) can help. The ultimate productivity hack. 

Indeed, they might be just the ticket to give you back your time and allow you to spend your days doing things that grow and evolve your business, rather than just keep it ticking along.

What is a virtual assistant?

Virtual assistant

Simply put, virtual assistants are people who work remotely and assist business owners with various specialized tasks.

They are self-employed (usually) and offer smaller businesses a cost-effective way to get everything little thing done.

Duties of a VA

Depending on their skill-set, virtual assistants can wear many hats. 

They can be an extension of your marketing efforts, a helping hand for your more technical needs, or just the person you lean on to tie up loose ends. The duties of a virtual assistant are numerous.

Things a virtual assistant might do:

  • Email outreach 
  • Lead generation 
  • Meeting bookings
  • Email management 
  • Product sourcing 
  • Meeting and video transcription 
  • Research
  • Bookkeeping
  • Travel arrangements
  • Web design
  • Social media management
  • Digital marketing tasks
  • Slideshow and spreadsheet preparation

And that’s a partial list. You can begin to see how VAs can help you empty your plate of the little things.

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The benefits of delegating your work

Using a virtual assistant comes with many upsides compared to employing someone in-house to help you with daily business tasks. This is especially true when you don’t have the resources to hire another employee.

With a virtual assistant, you free up a great deal of time so that you can focus on making your business thrive. Employing a VA not only helps with business growth but also your own peace of mind.

Compared with a full-time in-house employee, advantages include lower costs, less commitment, and more flexibility. VAs can be sourced from your own country or overseas through online agencies.

But remember, just like recruiting generally, hiring a virtual assistant for your small business requires care and consideration to make sure you find the right person for the role.

How to hire a virtual assistant

Virtual assistant

To this end, ensure that you get the job description right when sourcing your candidates. 

Make sure to list particular details involved in the job. These would include: 

  • The type of tasks they will be working on 
  • How many hours you will need them for each week 
  • What skill-sets they need
  • Any equipment or software that is essential for them to know

Even though your virtual assistant will be located remotely, it’s key to interview them before hiring. You can do this easily over a video chat service like Zoom, Google Hangouts, or Skype. 

Just like any other interview, be sure to ask about anything that may affect your working relationship. This is your employee and you will be working closely with them. Make absolutely certain you will get along.

You can find a virtual assistant through various avenues. Maybe you are networked with people who use a VA and could point you to a particular service or person. Ask around to see what’s out there. 

There are also a number of freelance sites, such as Upwork and Fiverr, where VA services can be purchased. You may not find your perfect virtual assistant right away, but you’ll be pleased when you find the right one.

Be clear about process and pay

The success of the relationship between a virtual assistant and the business owner also relies a lot on good communication and fair payment. 

That’s why it’s a good idea to take care of both these things before you get underway. For instance, be clear about whether you’ll be setting tasks on a daily or weekly basis and what online systems you use. 

When it comes to payment, be firm on whether you will pay your VA on an hourly or fixed-price basis. For fixed-price contracts, set your expectations on what is to be achieved clearly, while if it’s hourly pay, consider using a time tracker.

Culture fit matters

Virtual assistant

Like any working relationship, it’s essential your virtual assistant meshes with your personality and working style. If they don’t, nobody will be happy.

For that reason, start your assistant off with a small project and see how they do on that before launching into more significant ones. 

Once you’re certain they’re a good fit, it’s easy to add more workload and take the relationship forward in the knowledge that you understand each other and are on the same page.

A more productive you

With a virtual assistant on the job, you can more successfully balance work and home while focusing on growing your small business. How fabulous is that?

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