As a busy entrepreneur, what could be more appealing than being able to hire an assistant? Someone who works virtually and whom can manage your every need? Considering the industry continues to grow, I’d say not much.
Sassy Lasses is a Virtual Office and Creative Agency. Part of the services we provide needs our own fleet of virtual assistants. As such, I get asked all the time about Virtual Assistants and how to know both if you need one and if it’s right for you.
Since it’s such a popular topic, I wanted to share my insights with you.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant is someone who provides a variety of services to businesses and individuals. VAs are individuals, or teams, that can operate as a member of your staff, virtually.
While they operate as an extension of your team, it’s important to remember that, often, they are businesses just like yours. Overhead may look different for them however they still have bills to pay. They have programs to buy, update and learn, and more than just one person to answer to.
So, finding and securing the right virtual assistant is about balancing the feel of having an employee while employing a business. It’s also what makes a good virtual assistant so valuable.
How do I know if I need a Virtual Assistant?
You’ll get different answers to this everywhere you go. I usually ask my clients the following:
- Do you have more work than you can physically take on?
- Do you need help but can’t afford a full-time employee?
- Are there tasks that you do as a business owner that is hard or uncomfortable?
- Do you have processes in place for the work you would like to see transitioned?
- Do you feel like you’ve got more on your plate than you can handle?
- Is your work, or clients work, suffering?
If you can answer yes to one or more of these questions, it would be worthwhile to look into how it could work for you.
How do I know who to hire?
You can always reach out to us. We take the guesswork out of finding and hiring the right person by managing it all for you.
Otherwise, we recommend that your candidates meet these 5 points to be considered. I call it, passing the “PROPA” test.
Your Assistant Should be Punctual
The very first thing I recommend you look at is how punctual the candidate is. I’m not just talking on time for meetings, you need more than that. You need someone who can answer emails in a timely and efficient manner, especially yours! You need someone who can meet and exceed deadlines as a standard practice. If you don’t get the sense, through your interactions, that this person can be consistently punctual in all things, take it as a red flag and move on.
Your Assistant Should be Referable
Can the VA give you a list of people whom you can contact who will tell you about working with her or him? You don’t need a list a mile long, but a good VA who has been in the game will be able to drop these on the fly. If their clients are willing to stand up and vouch for them, you can feel more confident in the decision to collaborate.
Your Assistant Should be Organized
Juggling tasks nowadays is vital. As a VA, it’s downright mandatory. If a candidate cannot work with a few projects on the go you might want to move on. It’s appropriate to ask what their workload is like and how much room they have for additional tasks. It’s also wise to ask what experience they have with project management and organization tools. A good virtual assistant will have worked with several, and will likely use something for their own projects ongoing.
Your Assistant Should be Professional
Does the VA answer her or his emails, voicemails and other correspondence in a timely and professional manner? Do they have a firm grip on grammar and punctuation? Would you feel confident in having this individual connect with your clients? While not all work a VA does will be client-facing, you want to make sure those skills are in place. There’s nothing worse than destroying a client relationship because of a misplaced word.
Your Assistant Should be Available
Many of these people work for several people/companies/projects at the same time. Before taking someone on, take a look at your time needs and describe them clearly to your candidate. When selecting someone to work with, you need to be sure they can be available when you need them. By providing an accurate look at your needs to your candidate of choice, they will be able to give you a clearer look at turnaround. Having multiple clients is no reason that you should receive less than what you require.
That’s the PROPA way!
There you have it folks, my 5 point guideline system to hiring a VA. While there are always other things to consider, this should give you a place to start.
Make sure they pass the PROPA test before delving any further and you will find greater success. If all else fails, remember “hire slow, fire fast”. Take your time selecting the individual to match your needs, but never be afraid to release a partnership that’s not working for you.
If you know you need help but you simply don’t know how to approach this, give me a shout. I’ll happily consult with you, no cost, and help you figure out what options will be most supportive to you. We can also provide the services for you, and take the guess work out.
Remember, at the end of the day, it’s about doing what’s right for you and your business. Hopefully this helps you better understand how to harness the power of the virtual assistant.
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