August 8, 2015
Venturing into the world of business, which is brutally competitive, may seem to be cakewalk; but then sustaining oneself is for sure not a cakewalk! If you’re just getting started, learning scenarios and trends becomes the utmost priority. In fact, you need to have enough time on your hands to get hold of market trends. Now, the question is how to get that “adequate time” to explore and understand the ever-changing business sphere.
If you have just started or are in the process of taking your business to the next level, new and unforeseen challenges tend to pop up. You constantly have to be on your toes to handle these challenges and carry on with the routine operations effortlessly. Hiring a virtual assistant will create windows of time to allow you to get back to the business at hand.
In such a situation; you certainly need a “helping hand” who can take care of the trivial-sounding, yet important activities and share your responsibilities. A virtual assistant is that helping hand: the one who effectively handles administrative and other operational activities on your behalf. This will certainly help you to focus more on your core competencies, especially when you are trying really hard to make your startup a big time success, in brutally competitive market.
Consider some of these pointers while you hire a virtual assistant in order to optimize cost and time:
Ascertain if a virtual assistant suits all the needs of your new startup
First and the foremost thing that you need to do is to figure out the tasks that you would want to assign to a virtual assistant and determine whether it will be cost-effective or not. Make a proper analysis of the business and operational activities that you perform the entire a day and are actually time consuming. Analyzing it for an entire week may be a bit tedious, but in that case you can note down minor or less important tasks that sometimes take up more time. It is always advisable to not rule out anything as a task that a virtual assistant cannot do. And then pass on the proper listing to the intended candidate so that you are both clear as to what are your expectations. This will make it easy for both parties and you can avoid any tangles in the future. Also consider that a US based virtual assistant may earn about $15 an hour and an offshore virtual assistant can be hired for as little as $3 to $6 an hour.
Hiring a freelance virtual assistant or from an agency: pros and cons
It will be costlier to hire a virtual assistant who’s working for an agency, but an agency might arrange for an entrepreneur to use multiple assistants to smooth over gaps in availability or in skill sets. A freelance virtual assistant who is not on contract with an agency can result in more personalized attention, however, not to forget that he/she is the only person on the gig. In such cases if it’s an agency they might rotate in multiple virtual assistants for one assignment or pull one away at a whim. Also clearly understand the geographical location of the virtual assistant you are planning to hire, as you would certainly want him to be awake while you are working.
Do your homework properly before creating a job listing
When preparing a detailed job listing for a virtual assistant, always keep a call to action since it merits a response to determine if the applicant has read and understood the description. For example, you can ask the virtual assistant to provide you some sample or example of their latest assignments. This will help to gauge their capabilities and hence prepare the task accordingly to ensure the assigned job is done without any issues.
Keep your eyes and mind open while hiring the assistant
Go through the applications and work profiles of the virtual assistants; get reviews from any references of their previous clients. Thorough interviews needs to be conducted. If you are hiring remotely; having a video conference interview becomes a must and will serve a few purposes. Interviews will reveal the person’s command over English and you should identify the setting that they will possibly be working from. This will help you to determine whether the person is suitable for the job or not.
Last, but not the least, it is all about effective management of assistant
While hiring a virtual personal assistant you can definitely spare your time and share your responsibilities by allocating tasks (it needs to be done smartly and effectively to make it happen.)
Generally speaking, the more lucid and eloquent you are explaining the tasks, the better!
Ideally, good management results in virtual assistants getting enough time to learn and grasp your working style; making them take initiatives leading to an outstanding performance.
Ask your assistants to come up with their feedback; this will give more cordiality to the remote-work arrangement. This is in fact the first step towards flawless management.
Now, when we talk about building good and warm relationships with the client; the decision to trust your assistant with sensitive information like passwords lies solely with you. And in case you are entrusting these details, be cautious and start out with small things, like granting access to social-media accounts.
Lastly, if it is possible to meet your virtual assistant at least once in person; go for it; and if not possible; try to have a video conference at least once in four months.
Startups are like infants; they need constant care and you have to give your blood and sweat to nurture it. In order to pay more attention on the areas of core competencies, passing on the responsibility of non-core, yet crucial task to virtual assistants is the best way.
Image Credit: Flickr/plantronicsgermany
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