Years ago, an assistant would entail of coming to the office, organizing files, speaking with customers, scheduling appointments and using the company’s computer equipment. Fast forward to the present, assistants no longer have to be on-site as they can be stationed in the comfort of their own home using their own equipment.
Known as virtual assistants, or VAs, these professionals are important to any ultra busy professional or company. They perform all of the daily tasks that need to be completed, whether they’re 2,500 miles away or five blocks down the street. Indeed, virtual assistants have become incredible assets to companies, particularly if they operate primarily online.
There is an abundance of advantages to hiring a virtual assistant as opposed to an on-site one. For instance, businesses can hire a VA for a fixed set of hours or on a per-project basis. Furthermore, with a global marketplace of labor at the fingertips of companies, they can hire a VA with specific skills. Finally, VAs are consultants or contractors rather than employees so the applicable taxes and regulatory mandates are not required.
If you’re interested in tapping into the services provided by VAs, here are seven ways to select the right virtual assistant for you and your enterprise:
1. What does my business need?
Before undertaking a headhunting endeavor, it’s imperative to determine what your business needs are exactly. By outlining a number of items that need to get done on a daily basis, you can find out what things a VA can complete and what equipment and skills they’ll need to perform the job well.
2. Labor market research
Many VAs own and operate their very own businesses and offer an array of services, such as data entry, editing, database organization and much more. These companies can be discovered through a Google search. There are also freelance websites, like Elance and oDesk, and peruse the plethora of freelancers. Some businesses decide to utilize outsourcing companies that are located all over the world.
A VA will maintain a profile that contains in-depth details regarding their experience, price and list of services. This will likely be the destination to make the decision whether or not you wish to approach this particular VA. The profile will also include their contact information, which will lead to the next step...
Before moving forward with a partnership, it’s imperative to speak with them either over the phone or over the Internet through something like Skype or Google Chat. Some professionals say there will be an automatic "click" between the two parties that can lead to a tremendous partnership in the future. Remember, the way a person depicts themselves on the Internet can be a lot different as to how they portray themselves in a live-interview.
Some Internet entrepreneurs believe they can work as a VA because they have a computer. However, in order to be a professional VA, one needs to have a computer, telephone line, printer, fax and many other things. If your VA does not have at least a computer, webcam and home phone then consider using somebody else. A VA must maintain a suite of computer applications.
6. Minor things
Does the VA write professional emails omitting various text-speak language (c u l8ter, LOL, OMG)? Does the VA use proper spelling and grammar in documents, emails and texts? Does the VA respond almost immediately by phone or email during the established hours? Maintaining these traits are what separate some VAs from some of their competitors. These are minor things that can help a company or professional to determine if this VA is the right person for the job.
Payment is often the most difficult aspect to determine. The average pay can range between $20 and $50 per hour depending upon what needs to get done, what the hours are and if the demands are quite heavy. The VA will usually have the price available at the beginning, but there can be negotiation between both parties, especially if this is a long-term agreement.
The days of a personal assistant have greatly evolved. With advancement in technology, there have been new opportunities for both individuals seeking work and businesses seeking cost-effective solutions to completing their work. VAs will prove they can be an important element to the private enterprise.