A virtual assistant can provide a wide range of services – from general administrative tasks to customer service support – to help you get the job done. In this blog post, we’ll provide some tips to help you see how to find a virtual assistant for your company’s needs.
What’s in this article to help you find a Virtual Assistant?
How to know when it’s time to find a Virtual Assistant
- How can a virtual assistant help?
- How to choose the right tasks to outsource
- Create a Virtual Assistant job description
Types of Virtual Assistants for small businesses
- What qualifications do I need to look for in a virtual assistant?
- How do I find a virtual assistant who is the right fit for my business?
- General tips to help you find a virtual assistant
How to know when it’s time to find a Virtual Assistant
Do you find yourself spending too much time on administrative tasks that could be delegated to someone else? If so, our experience shows a Virtual Assistant (VA) could be the perfect solution for you.
A VA is a professional who provides remote administrative, technical, and creative support to businesses, helping owners and entrepreneurs to find more time in their day. This is a really useful solution for small businesses and sole traders. Why? Because these are the people who have to manage pretty much all their business tasks by themselves. That affects not just their work-life balance, but also their ability to concentrate on the things that they are best qualified to do – sell to customers and grow the business.
You might want to check out this entrepreneur efficiency matrix, to see where you are at the moment, and where you could be if you were more time and task efficient.
How can a virtual assistant help?
The first step in finding the right VA for your business is to consider the amount of time you are currently spending on tasks that could be delegated. By analysing the areas of your business where you need help, you will be able to identify the skills and experience that a VA could bring to your team. This will help you to determine how a VA could help – and make sure that you get the best person for the job.
When searching for a VA, it is important to find someone who is experienced in the areas that your business needs. You should also consider the VA’s availability and the communication methods that they use. It may also be beneficial to find a VA who can work on a range of projects, as this will save you time and money in the long run.
Importantly, you should also think about the business model that you want to work with. Later in this article, we cover the types of virtual assistant services available to you. Take a look at the pros and cons so you can be sure you’ll find a virtual assistant (UK) solution that is right for you. We’ve found there are several reasons why business owners might consider using a virtual assistant here are some of the most common ones:
- If your business is growing and you are struggling to keep up with the workload.
- If you are finding that you are spending too much time on administrative tasks.
- If you are spending too much time on social media management.
- If you are finding it difficult to keep up with customer queries and emails.
- If you are finding it difficult to maintain your work/life balance.
How to choose the right tasks to outsource
Before you think about how to find a virtual assistant, though, you must know how you want them to help you. Think about which tasks are taking up the most of your time, consider which tasks are the most important for your business and decide which of these can easily be done by someone else.
Once you have identified the areas where you need help, analyse the cost of outsourcing each task. It’s important to balance the cost of outsourcing against the cost of doing the task yourself. And remember that the best virtual assistant companies and support services are designed to help entrepreneurs to find more time in their day – so they will also suggest tasks or approaches that might work best for you.
Don’t forget that some tasks can be automated with the right software or tools. In our experience, where this is the case, it’s best to treat this as a separate project – you will need to think about these areas differently, and evaluate the tools available to you. Once you have the tools in place, you might decide that you will still need a VA to help you manage the systems – this is a good thing, because it means you have the automation and the admin support, leaving you free to concentrate on the business.
Here are some of the most common tasks that a virtual assistant can help you with:
Virtual PA services – these are useful organisational support roles that help to free up a considerable amount of your time, and build more efficiency into your day-to-day planning. They include:
- Virtual secretary services
- Diary management
- Email management
- Meeting preparation
Admin Virtual Assistant – these are ongoing support roles that lift the professionalism of your business and ensure customers and suppliers always have someone to talk to – even if you are the only person working full time on your business:
- Data entry
- Supplier management
- Virtual phone answering services
Virtual Marketing Assistant – consistent marketing is essential to your business’s success. So getting some support in these areas is important:
- Virtual research support
- Website admin including support with website platforms like WordPress or Ecommerce sites like Shopify.
- Social media management
- Email marketing management
- CRM management
- Content creation
Sales Support – the level of service your clients receive reflects on your business. So bringing in some sales process support will deliver better service and boost your brand reputation:
- Appointment setting
- Lead generation support
- Customer service
- Proposal and quotation preparation
Finance Support – Many business owners don’t have the time to keep their books up to date. Getting support means you can be confident that you are meeting your obligations:
- Bookkeeping and invoicing
- Credit control
Events and Travel Support – As your business grows, you’ll need to travel, and potentially plan your own client events. Organising these things is time-consuming – so why not outsource to a virtual assistant?
- Event planning
- Travel planning
The above are some of the most common ways a virtual assistant can help. When you’re searching for, or looking to contact a VA, please check the other ways they can help – this will allow you to see if you will be able to scale up your support down the line. For example, some of the best virtual assistant companies offer a much wider range of services than a single freelancer might be able to deliver.
Create a Virtual Assistant job description
Finding a reliable and experienced virtual assistant can be a daunting task. With an ever-increasing array of online services, it can be difficult to know where to start. We’ve learned a lot about how businesses select a VA, and so here are our top tips: Ask for recommendations from colleagues or other professionals in your field. Many people have had success in finding a virtual assistant by asking for referrals from people they trust. This is also a great way to find someone with good references and a history of successful work.
Another way to put together a list of virtual assistants and VA agencies is to use a search engine. Using popular search terms such as “virtual assistant,” “freelance virtual assistant,” “find a virtual assistant uk”, “where to find a virtual assistants’ business” or “remote virtual assistant” will yield a vast array of potential candidates. Narrow these searches down by adding your geographic area – ‘virtual assistant in Oxfordshire’ – or by task ‘virtual assistant for bookkeeping’.
It is important to take the time to read through the profiles and reviews of each potential virtual assistant – whether they are an individual or a company to ensure that they have the necessary skills and experience for the job. Then you can start to talk to each person or business to see if they are the right fit.
Finally, social media is a great tool for locating a reliable and experienced virtual assistant. By searching on platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook you can find a wide variety of virtual assistants who have the skills and experience you need. You can also use social media to ask for recommendations from friends and peers and to read reviews from past clients.
By taking the time to build an accurate job or task description and then thoroughly researching potential candidates, you can ensure that you find the perfect fit for your company.
Types of Virtual Assistants for small businesses
The first thing to consider is the type of virtual assistant you need. There are a few different options to choose from, including:
- Sole-trader, freelance virtual assistants
- Platform VA service
- Agency freelance virtual assistants
- Franchise virtual assistants
- Overseas virtual assistants
- Call-answering VAs
- Dedicated virtual assistant businesses
Sole-trader – often also known as freelance – virtual assistants work for themselves and take on clients to work with directly. This may seem like a good way to build a relationship with a single person, but be aware that a single person will only be able to offer so many hours a month to clients, and may not have the capacity you need as your business grows.
You should also think about who will support you if your freelancer is ill, or on holiday, and whether they have the range of capabilities you need to support your business properly. It’s also important to check that your freelancer has the insurance, IT security and other regulatory compliance – such as meeting bookkeeping regulations – that you need.
Using a platform VA service is a popular choice, but comes with a number of risks. Platforms such as Fiverr and Upwork host VAs and other freelancers, and you simply put in the type of work you are looking for and freelancers bid for your work. This is often a cheap option, but there is no quality control, no refining of your needs (so you might be asking for something you don’t really need, but no one will tell you), and no certainty of supply. And, of course, you have to spend time doing all the search and selection yourself.
Agency freelance virtual assistants represent another option for small businesses. These assistants might be vetted and approved before you start working with them. They might also be able to work in teams (if they can work together but this may not always be the case), making them capable of handling larger volumes of work and providing a wider range of services. As the name suggests, however, agency VAs are likely to still be freelance workers, delivering their services under the agency umbrella.
They often have to pitch to the agency to win your work, and may not have all the skills you might need over time. So if you want someone to manage your bookkeeping, your social media and your diary, you might end up with three separate people. You should also check that any insurances and IT security cover all the freelancers used, and not just the agency’s head office.
Franchise VA businesses are becoming more established in the UK, and often seem like a good option for businesses. But remember that franchise models are often not about the customer, but about either recouping investment into a franchise, or maximising profit for the franchise company. Franchisees are often disconnected from the customer and, if the franchise isn’t working, they are likely to pull out, leaving you with no support, or having to move to another franchise and start all over again.
Overseas virtual assistants can be a popular choice – they are often cheaper. But consider important things like time difference, language issues, cultural differences, technology competency and the ability to build a good relationship that benefits your business in the long term. If you’re hiring an overseas VA to help with bookkeeping, for example, do they understand the UK’s regulatory requirements, and can they work to them?
Call-answering VAs can be extremely useful, but they are limited to managing your telephone calls. If you have a range of tasks to outsource, you probably need a VA with a wider service offering, which will help you to keep costs down and get the quality of service you need.
A dedicated virtual assistant business solution might be a good fit for you. A dedicated VA business employs all the virtual assistants they use, so you can be confident that the business has a much greater degree of control over each VA who is fully vetted and approved before they start working with you.
A VA business will have all the necessary insurances and IT security to be able to provide you with evidence that they will manage your data securely and work professionally with you. If you are keen to do things properly from the start, these might be the best virtual assistant companies for you to choose.
What qualifications do I need to look for in a virtual assistant?
Finding a reliable virtual assistant can be a daunting task. Especially when you are looking for someone who can meet all of your needs. To ensure you find the best virtual Assistant, there are certain qualities and skills you should look for. Firstly, good English language skills are essential to understand and communicate with your virtual assistant. They should be able to communicate clearly and effectively.
Secondly, the virtual assistant should have a natural ability to quickly adapt to any type of business software that you use. Of course it’s advantageous to already know how to use commonly used types of business software but it’s even better if your VA has the ability to adapt quickly and efficiently to any software you use, which might be less commonly used elsewhere. This will help them to complete tasks quickly and efficiently. You might also want your VA to be comfortable with other software applications, such as social media, accounting or CRM platforms and again the ability to adapt quickly will be a significant benefit.
A virtual assistant should have the ability to take the initiative and be proactive. This is necessary for them to be able to complete tasks without needing constant direction from you. It is also important that the virtual assistant has experience in the type of work you require. This will ensure they have the necessary skills and knowledge to complete tasks efficiently and to a high standard. This is particularly important for regulated tasks such as those involving finance.
Good time management skills are essential. This will help them to complete tasks in the time frame that you require and ensure deadlines are met. The virtual assistant should also be able to work with minimal supervision. This is important as you will not always be available to give direction or feedback.
Additionally, a professional attitude towards work is something you should look for. You want to work with someone who respects you, represents your business well and who you can rely on.
Finally, attention to detail and the ability to work quickly and efficiently are key qualities for a virtual assistant. This will help them to complete tasks accurately and promptly.
How do I find a virtual assistant who is the right fit for my business?
How to find a virtual assistant is the first step – finding the right virtual assistant can be a daunting task. To ensure you find the right one for your needs, here are some tips:
First, research the different types of virtual assistant services available and decide which one would best suit your needs. When you do this, think carefully about what you want for your business – an overseas VA might be cheaper, for example, but you might want the confidence and security that comes from working with a UK business that meets professional requirements.
You should look for a virtual assistant business that is reliable, trustworthy and has a good track record. Ensure their rates are within your budget and that they can work within your timelines. Have a meeting – either face to face or online – with the virtual assistant, or business development contact, to discuss your expectations and to establish a working relationship. Establish clear terms of service and payment terms and you may want to ask for a trial period before committing to a long-term agreement.
We know this works because of the feedback we’ve had from our own clients:
“I have no hesitation in recommending Oneresource most strongly. Having worked previously with a number of virtual assistants, I know that Oneresource is special. The combination of their experience and team culture enables them to be highly effective in everything they do for me.” Managing Director, Real World Strategy LLP.”
- Research virtual assistant businesses in the UK and read their reviews to find a reliable service that fits your budget.
- Ask potential independent virtual assistants for a portfolio of their past work and references or if a business, agency or franchise how rigorous is their process to ensure their VAs will be the right fit for your needs
- Have a video call or in-person meeting with your potential supplier to discuss your expectations and to make sure you can build a good working relationship.
- Ensure the virtual assistant is proficient in the tasks you need and can work within your timelines.
- Establish clear terms of service and payment terms and ask for a trial period before committing to a long-term agreement.
- Make sure the virtual assistant can provide a secure, insured and confidential service for your business.
General tips to help you find a virtual assistant
Finding the right virtual assistant is a critical step to achieving your business goals. A virtual assistant can help you save time, money and effort as you manage your business. To make sure you get the most out of the relationship, you must find the right person for the job.
When searching for a virtual assistant, make sure the virtual assistant is experienced in the services you need now and in the future as well, has a good track record, and strong communication skills.
It’s important to do your due diligence. Ask for references and read reviews from past clients. Verify the virtual assistant business’s security and privacy policies. Make sure they are available to work with you and is transparent and open to feedback.
Are you ready to find a virtual assistant?
We’ve taken you from wondering how to find a virtual assistant to a blueprint for hiring the best person for your needs. With the right approach, you can find a valuable and helpful assistant who can help you take your business to the next level.
If you would like to know more about our full range of virtual assistant services feel free to call us on 0800 994 9016 or click here to request a free consultation.