What Is A Virtual Assistant (VA)?
A Virtual Assistant (VA) is a home-based independent contractor (self-employed) who provides business support needs from a distance via email, fax, telephone, etc. Depending on the needs of the client, a VA may also provide onsite services.
In most cases, a VA is the CEO of his/her own company, like many of the clients he/she supports. Often, we become the long-term “power partner” of our clients, providing administrative support, accounting, customer support, or other more-specialized services such as web site maintenance and data management, or even consulting.
Why Choose A Virtual Assistant?
Independent professionals or small businesses that don’t yet need a full-time assistant or office manager can benefit from using a Virtual Assistant (VA). The VA can take on those nitty-gritty tasks like secretarial work, project or data management, and customer support that keep you from working “on” your business rather than “in” your business.
For a start-up company or small business, a VA is the equivalent of an out-of-the-box solution. There is no equipment to purchase, no need for office space, and no need for excessive employee training costs. VAs are skilled independent business professionals that offer a level of support to fit the needs of the client. You and your VA may meet regularly or may simply communicate via email, phone, or other virtual methods.
If you are spending a considerable amount of your billable time, personal time, or money performing any of the following tasks and are ready to make a change then it may be time to employ a Virtual Assistant:
- Data Entry
- Content Creation (blogging, video editing, etc…)
- Writing Proposals
- Hiring Consultants (Business-minded VA’s can act as consultants, mine does, and he’s AMAZING. Hint: My VA is the one writing this in third-person, so he may be biased)
- Product Development
- Competitor Research
- Managing people
When your budget for support is on the line, and limited, your best option is a VA who, as a small business owner themselves, has pride of ownership and a business ethic to uphold. The VA’s reputation as a business entity and the possibility of referral and repeat business is your insurance that the job will be done to a level you can be satisfied with.
Why Not Use A Temp Agency?
You may be thinking “why not use a temporary agency to fill your needs?”
In many cases, a temporary agency employee will have limited skills and may not have the level of accountability for their work product that a small business owner needs in their support staff. At times an “It’s not my job” or “it’s only a temporary gig” mentality comes with the territory when going the agency route.
As previously mentioned, VA’s have a reputation they are trying to build and, if you hire the right one, they can be extremely driven to accomplish whatever your goals are.
A GOOD VA will view the arrangement like a partnership, NOT like it’s a job that’s going to go away in 6 months.
Why Not Hire A Regular Employee?
Your other alternative, besides a VA or using a temp agency, is to hire an in-house employee or team to accomplish your goals.
Creating jobs by hiring employees is a GREAT thing, BUT… there are some downsides.
In general, when you hire someone as an employee, there is a certain expectation that you’ll continue to provide them employment. If you have the intention of keeping them on board for the long-term, then this is a moot point, but if not… then a VA is going to be more open to temporary employment.
Aside from that, when you hire an employee, chances are they’re going to view the work as a “job”. Don’t get me wrong, there ARE people out there who have amazing work ethics and they excel at their “jobs”, BUT… if you’ve ever had a job before… you’ll probably understand how rare that actually is.
Most employees start off caring about their job, and then they get bored and complacent. That’s just how people are…
VA’s are the best of both worlds. They have the open-minded approach to employment that allows them to view temporary employment as “their shot to make an impression”, without the “this is just temporary” attitude, AND they view their service as building a career, not “a paycheck”.
Virtual Assistant Needs Assessment
Now that we’ve determined what a Virtual Assistant (VA) is and how a VA can help a small business, it’s time to decide if you need your own VA. The following assessment is a thought experiment designed to help you decide if contracting with a VA can help you grow your business.
All you have to do is download this pdf and fill it out on a per-task basis.
It’s really quite simple, it just requires you to change your mindset slightly to be focused on finding ways to work ON your business instead of IN it.
Once you start thinking about your tasks as delegable, money-making opportunities, you’ll be in a much better position to grow.
Where To Find A VA
So where are you going to find your next VA?
You have some options here.
Your first option should be asking other people in your network if they know anyone who can help. That way, they have already vetted the person, assuming you can trust the person you asked in the first place.
I found my VA in a local Facebook group. It was super random, but he posted some ideas and I liked them, so I offered him a job. It’s working out great!
(Disclaimer: The Fiverr link below is an affiliate link. If you use it to sign up for Fiverr you will receive 20% off your first purchase and we will receive a commission.)
Freelance sites, like Fiverr, are full of VA’s looking for work, although the quality can vary. Try to find VA’s with reviews instead of going with the cheapest one.
Or, you can look on LinkedIn. Or Craigslist. Or Reddit. Or the newspaper.
Honestly, you really just have to look and you’ll find that VA’s are all over the place, you just don’t notice them if you aren’t looking.
Quality-wise, you may come across a bad apple once in a while, but overall my experience with them has been worthwhile, so don’t be scared.
What If A Regular VA Can’t Help Me
There’s a VA out there capable of pretty much anything you could ever need, but realistically, you may not be able to find the right one to solve the problem you are having.
For example, I’m a marketing and automation consultant, which can get VERY technical VERY fast. That kind of skill set isn’t going to be readily available from everyone you come across.
So you may need to get professional help for certain issues, that’s just how it is.
(Disclaimer: The Keap/ Infusionsoft link below is an affiliate link. If you use it to sign up for Keap/Infusionsoft, you’ll receive a discount and we will receive a commission)
Otherwise, enjoy your new VA, and enjoy your day!
Editor’s note: If you recently attended the Keap Automation Hour and you’re looking for the Hiring Workflow Campaign Template, copy this code: GradyGotYou50 and head over to the Campaign Page!
About the Author,
Michelle Bell is a Marketing and Workflow Automation Expert and Keap Certified Partner with a passion for creative solutions. She excels at identifying needs and resolving them, creative and genuine communication, understanding business process efficiency, simplifying the complicated, facilitating relationships, and being herself in all things. She began her career in finance, later moving into regulatory affairs for the local public utilities, before finding her passion for working with small businesses and coaches. Michelle is all about family and believes you build work around your life, not vice versa!