What Is A Virtual Assistant & Do I Need One? 1

The Need For a Virtual Assistant

With a Virtual Assistant you only pay for productivity

What is a Virtual Assistant?

A Virtual Assistant is an independent contractor who works remotely, usually from their home office. They provide a wide range of services and products. Services range from general administration to website design and products could include how-to books and courses. Virtual Assistants pay their own taxes and overhead, therefore eliminating yours. As technology grows, so does the need for Virtual Assistants.

What are the Benefits to Working With a Virtual Assistant

First let me start and talk a little bit about the most common objections or misconceptions of working with a VA. The very first question I hear as soon I say I am a Virtual Assistant is “I’m not sure about the whole virtual thing” and I often get confused for a Personal Assistant, because somewhere in my introduction the word “Virtual” seems to get lost. Which is why I recently changed my business name to LMS Remote Office Services. With today’s technology, there are new and improved ways of communicating. Email, Skype, and GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts, just to name a few. So you really can have a virtual assistant and it will seem as if she is in the office right next to yours. Next common objection is “I’m not exactly sure what I would have them do”? Here is a suggestion. Make a list on one side of paper write all the things you do daily that are not income generating activities, then on the other side write down all the things that you do that are income generating. Most of the income generating activities that you do are probably going to be the reasons why you went into business for yourself and why you will probably want to continue doing those things yourself. You delegate the things that are not income generating, which in turn frees more time to increase your income generating activities. There you have it! Finally here is the biggest common objection “I’m concerned my VA might misuse my credit card information or other confidential information such as passwords”. This is where you should do a little leg work yourself. Ask for references personal and professional, past and current clients. Make sure that the VA you are considering has in there contract a confidential and privacy policy. If they don’t request one. A really good and experienced VA should require a signed Independent Contract, this protects both you and the VA.

The number one benefit to hiring a VA for your business is that a VA versus a full-time employee is the cost effectiveness. A VA will only bill  for the hours or days worked. Thus you reduce your overhead by eliminating the need for space, employee benefits, salary, taxes, workers compensation, vacation pay, extra equipment, and there are no long term commitments.

Benefit number two is that hiring a VA saves you time. Having a VA allows you to focus on all the meaningful priorities. As I mentioned in the above paragraph, you will be able to fully focus on the income generating activities that made you start your business to begin with. Imagine having extra hours every week to devote to your own clients, marketing efforts or even a little personal time. Let’s face it, personal time is the number one reason why most companies are created to begin with. Wouldn’t you agree?

Finally a VA understands and shares your business goals. A really great VA will listens and strive to understand your unique business goals and will brainstorm and implement effective methods for achieving those goals. Your VA should always be two steps ahead of you; anticipating your needs working towards the same goals.

How do you hire a Virtual Assistant

Hiring a VA can be a strategic and frugal business move on your part. If you do it right you will save a lot of time and money for months to come.

Here are a few steps to consider before your search for a VA

Step 1 Write out a clear job description. Think about how your business is setup and how a VA will fit in. Do you need a full-time assistant, a part-time assistant, or are you looking for several different VA’s to handle each aspect of a project. Or simply a by task basis? Anyway you choose a clearly defined job description is a must.

Job Description

Write out a clear Job Description for your Virtual Assistant

Step 2 Determine what is needed for the job. What requirements in terms of experience, hardware, internet connection. All the things necessary to complete the job, as well as personality traits and skills. Also determine a time frame given to complete the projects.

Step 3 Decide how you will evaluate the new hire. Although it is disheartening to let a new VA go, keep in mind that there are many more out there. Don’t waste your time and money going around in circles.

Step 4 Make a budget. Sit down and crunch numbers. Make sure you can afford a VA and how much you can actually afford. You will need to do some research to find out what most VA’s charge.

When screening VA’s whether a good friend or colleague referred the VA, you should still do a pretty thorough investigation. This is very important. The internet is flooded with VA horror stories and you do not want to become one of them.

Always look for a clear response to your job posting request or request for proposal (RFP). The applicant should clearly detail the skill and expertise he or she has and should be able to clearly define your job request and how he or she will perform the job efficiently. This will show if they are really experienced and know what you are requesting. He or she should also include at least three references. You can request more if you like.

Make sure to check out the VA’s web presence. Is their website clean and crisp, up to date? Do they have a Facebook page, and a LinkedIn profile? Check them out. You will get a better sense of who they are.

Also make sure that you and your new VA sign a confidentiality agreement, as well as an independent contractor agreement. Any great VA will have this available right from the beginning. It will protect you and the VA from any misunderstandings or breeches.


A great Virtual Assistant will have no problem signing a Confidentiality Agreement

The best sites to find VA’s are right here LMS Remote Office Services specializing in all your administrative and Social Media needs. There is also IVAA.org International Virtual Assistants Association, VANetworking.com, Elance/odesk. They are easy sites to maneuver through and you can find a VA for just about every niche of your business.

What Tasks Should You Outsource

Because every business is unique in its day-to-day tasks, I will only make a few suggestion about what you should outsource to get your thought process going. I will also give a few suggestion on working with and communicating with your VA.

A few tasks that can be mundane and in mundane I don’t mean that they are not important tasks they just can take a lot of your income generating time. They are as follows:

  • Email management/filtering
  • Setting up autoresponders
  • Following up with clients (sending thank and happy birthday emails)
  • Receptionist duties (answering occasional calls)
  • Calendar management
  • Set-up social media accounts (Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn)
  • Manage and update social media accounts
  • Create Newsletters and blog post
  • Manage Social Media Posts and Engagement
  • Manage contact database

As I stated above these are just to name a few tasks and these tasks are geared for a General Virtual Administrative Assistant (GVA) There are several different VA’s in niche markets, such as website design. Graphic design, Social Media Marketing, and so much more. Whatever your business needs I’m sure there is a VA to help.

Working and communicating with your VA is vital for your business and your sanity. Some of the ways to clearly communicate with your VA is to have your VA setup and email address where you and your VA can send and receive instructions and documents. Set up a message system that will not confuse you and your VA for example:

  1. Instructions should be labeled as instructions and should refer to a specific job
  2. Feedback should be labeled as feedback, also referring to a specific job
  3. In the case your message is a mixture of both, separate the instruction set from the feedback set. Always refer to a specific item on the task list

File names should always refer to a specific task so it will be easy for both of you to refer to instructions and track down feedback.

Communicating in real time is valuable, as well. Make sure that you and your VA have the necessary tools needed so you can make calls to each other directly. By this I mean Voice and Web Cam communication equipment. There is also software applications like Skype. Make sure to make a list of the items you want to discuss with your VA. Having a list helps to maximize your time and makes you both stick to what really needs to be discussed.

Clear communication from you to your VA is key to a great working relationship. Remember if you did not communicate it, it does not get done. So please, please, please make sure to have clear communication.

How Much do You Pay For a Virtual Assistant

Start off by thinking about what you would pay for this service if the person worked in-office with you as a full-time employee. Remember that on the reasons for hiring a VA is that it eliminate overhead cost of a full-time employee. This mean that if you end up paying a VA more than you would pay a regular employee you are defeating your purpose.

The VA will often come with his or her own set of rates. If this is more than you can afford, don’t give up too soon. There still might be some wiggle room, talk with him or her. If your choice comes down to two or three candidates and one’s rates are way below the rest, don’t be too fast to hire him or her. Sometimes the lower rate indicates that the person has determined that his or her skill level is not high  enough to be able to charge any more than that. Many times you really do get what you pay for. Sometimes you can get a top rate VA at a low price. This is especially true if they are new and just starting out. They want to keep their prices low to get clients. The ole adage is true “If it is too good to be true, then it must be bad”. Investigate more, find out why their rates are so low. Demand references and previous samples of work.

There are several types of VA’s. A General VA or GVA does general administrative tasks such as email filtering, transcription, research, data entry,  and calendar management. A GVA’s rate may range from $15.00 per hour to $45.00 per hour depending on the circumstances of the tasks requested. An Article and Content Writer rates would probably range the same. An SEO and Web Marketer rates might range from $350.00 to $1,000.00 per project depending on the complexity of the project and a Web Developer rates might range from $500.00 upwards to $3,000.00 per project depending on the complexity of the projects.

Most VA’s that I know like to charge by blocks of time 8, 15, 20, 30, and 40 hours, or use retainer plans. Most VA’s will also charge by the hour on a per task basis if that is what the client requests. I prefer to put complete packages of the clients needs together and charge monthly on our agreed price.

I really cannot give you any exact rate. You will have to do your homework as stated above. You and your knew VA will iron out the math upon signing of the Independent Contractor Agreement or Virtual Assistant Agreement.

That’s it for now. Thank you for reading I hope that you found this post informative and helpful. I hope that you will consider me as your VA real soon!

Please visit my website at http://www.lmsremoteofficeservices.com. Should you have any questions, feel free to email me lisa@lmsassistyou.com.

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