It is no secret that operating a small business can be challenging. There is so much to do and only so many hours available each week. To cope, many business leaders these days have embraced a now popular approach: hiring a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant is an independent contractor, not a full-time employee, who is hired to help with a myriad of administrative and operational tasks. It is a very flexible role that can work 20, 30, 40, or any varying number of hours a week to suit the needs of the business and works remotely, typically from a home office.
Why Hire a Virtual Assistant?
The reasons to hire a virtual assistant include:
- Reduce operating costs. Instead of hiring a full-time employee, a virtual assistant can handle the work needed on an hourly or per task basis. And, that work will be done without paying for office space or equipment, and without the cost of employee benefits. Also, there will be no employee training costs.
- Save time and improve overall efficiency by outsourcing tasks that are non-core, allowing the in-house team to focus on more essential activities.
- Enable a business to scale more quickly.
- Provide customer service 24/7. This can be especially important for a business that is spread across time zones or that requires constant customer access.
- Free-up executive time for strategic thinking and high-value work instead of constantly dealing with “the small stuff.”
What Can a Virtual Assistant Do?
A virtual assistant can do many things to increase a company’s productivity:
- Calendar management. This includes scheduling and coordinating calls and appointments. Confirming and providing appointment reminders, enabling schedule changes, protecting the boss’s time, and communicating out-of-office plans.
- Communications and contact management. This can include screening emails, adding people to a contact list, doing light receptionist work, and transcribing voicemails.
- This can include researching flights, transportation options and hotels and scheduling them, plus arranging appointments or events.
- Business development. This can include researching leads, finding contact information, and helping design presentations.
- This can include maintaining the ledger, creating and sending invoices, and collecting receivables.
- Personal errands. This can include making purchases, making reservations, and securing gifts.
- This can include taking meeting notes, filling out forms, converting files, doing research, and proofreading.
How to Hire a Virtual Assistant
Hiring a virtual assistant requires some concerted preparation to avoid a “swing and a miss,” as they say in baseball:
- Develop the job details, including what tasks need to be (and can be) outsourced, how many hours of work will be needed, what skills will be required, and what equipment the assistant will need to have.
- Develop a budget.
- Post the opening in the right places.
- Sort through the applications.
- Conduct selected interviews and choose the assistant.
- Solidify the work and payments.
- Start with a small project.
There are freelancing websites that offer individual solutions. Here are some good ones:
Additionally, there are virtual assistant companies acting as online agencies. They can save a lot of time and effort. Here are several:
- Worldwide 101
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