When you start to look for someone to help with running your business, there are several options: Hire a permanent member of staff, look for secretarial help, give administrator tasks to someone else in your business or invest in a Virtual Assistant. Each of these options is distinctly different, and you’ll get wildly differing value for money, depending on your choice. So why is a VA the best thing to pick?
Reasons to hire a Virtual Assistant
There are lots of valid reasons for hiring Business support. Perhaps you are spending too long on day-to-day tasks that could be more usefully and efficiently done by someone else. Perhaps you are in a development and growth phase and you need to be out of the office meeting new contacts and holding client meetings. Perhaps you are already paying someone to handle your administration but that person lacks the skills to take on some of the other tasks you need to offload.
Whatever the reason for looking into this type of business support, you want to make sure that your money is being well-spent and, in most cases, that means working with a flexible, multi-tasking service that can handle a wide range of virtual assistant services, including:
- Business travel management
- CRM management and data entry
- Diary organisation
- Email management
- Events planning
- Expenses administration
- Email marketing support
- Meeting co-ordination
- Sales support
- Credit control and invoicing
- Social media support
- Telephone answering and telemarketing
- Time management support
- Website updates
Whereas a standard secretary service may offer transcription, word-processing and data entry, when you hire a Virtual Assistant, you are giving yourself the opportunity to get professional, experienced support across a wide range of tasks and skills. This means you can be completely confident in leaving tasks in their hands, giving you the chance to get on with building your business.
How to hire your Virtual Assistant
One of the biggest problems you’ll face when you start to look for outsourced support is the number of people who offer a ‘Virtual Assistant Agency’ service, but can’t live up to the expectation. Often, a service that is branded in this way is just offering online PA services, which are very different and much more limited than the broad range of tasks that a true Virtual Assistant can handle. So here are some things to check out:
- Range of tasks covered – if you have already identified the tasks you want to hand over, this is a good place to start. Don’t forget, however, that you may want to add extra things to that list as time goes by. Rather than start with one online secretary, only to have to change when that person doesn’t have the skills for your additional needs, start with a service that offers everything.
- Flexibility – by their nature, the best Virtual Assistant companies are sought-after. That means they will have a client base and be handling tasks for more than one business. So you need to know that they are flexible, organised and reliable, getting your tasks cleared efficiently and effectively.
- High standards – a good quality Virtual Assistant business is likely to have a team of dedicated people offering a range of skills. This means that you are always working with someone who knows exactly what they are doing and can offer you the support and skills you need to get things done. When you’re choosing an agency, ask them how they recruit and assess their team so that you are confident in the quality of work they carry out.
- Familiarity – this is especially important if you are outsourcing tasks like bookkeeping, time-management, database management or social media. You need to be sure that you find a Virtual Assistant service that is familiar with the applications and software you use. This might include Sage, Xero or Quickbooks for your accounts, and Slack, Google, Basecamp and Toggl for task management. It might mean ensuring that they are up-to-date with the latest on Facebook business pages, or how to make the most effective use of hashtags on Instagram. The benefit of an established agency is that they will be working across all these platforms all the time – and in some cases will know them in greater depth than you do.
Get it right first time
Changing suppliers is expensive. Good business is about making smart, informed decisions, so if you’re thinking of outsourcing some of your everyday tasks, investigate the services offered by a Virtual Assistant. You’ll find that a good agency can adapt, flex and grow with your business, always helping to support your plans and offering experience that you couldn’t afford to have as a permanent fixture in your business at this point.