Guest Blogger Angela Wills on Outsourcing and Hiring a Virtual Assistant

Guest blogger and Virtual Assistant Angela Wills shares information about how to outsource your way to making more and working less.

To get a good idea of what people wanted to know about outsourcing and hiring a virtual assistant, I went to forums and asked people what questions they had.

There were some great questions, and what I’ll do is answer as many of them as I can here.

A virtual assistant (VA) is a contractor who works independently to provide administrative services to independent business owners and work at home entrepreneurs.

You can get VAs that do pretty much anything your business needs done. From bookkeeping to transcription to internet marketing. Work is assigned and carried out completely virtually.

Here are some of the most common questions people want to know about working with a virtual assistant:

What Types of Tasks do Online Business Owners Generally Outsource?

Business owners have such a wide range of tasks to outsource. There literally is a Virtual Assistant out there to help with just about every task you can ever think up. Some of the most common tasks to outsource are:

  • replying to emails
  • bookkeeping
  • article writing
  • article marketing
  • transcription
  • customer service
  • press release writing and submissions
  • shopping cart systems
  • newsletter setup
  • blog installations and maintenance
  • web site maintenance

Some Virtual Assistants specialize in just one area, such as blog installation and customization, while others have a broad range of services such as General Administration. It’s a good idea to know what you need help with first before you begin to seek out a VA.

How do you get in Contact With Virtual Assistants?

One of the best ways to find a Virtual Assistant is to find a colleague who has a Virtual Assistant they are happy with and ask for a referral. This is a great way to find someone who’s trustworthy.

Other ways to find virtual assistants are:

- Through business related forums
- Membership or Mastermind groups
- Virtual Assistant Associations such as IVAA.org
- Submit a RFP (Request for Proposal) to VANetworking.com
- Sites like Elance.com & Guru.com

How Do You Find a VA That is a Good Fit For You?

Finding a good VA is almost like choosing a good friend, and I would suggest you go about it in some of the same ways. You want someone who you ‘click’ with, who you can speak with comfortably. This is so important because you will be working together a lot and you need to be able to communicate effectively.

Another important trait of a good virtual assistant is reliability. It’s a good idea to test out your new VA to see how reliable she is by starting off slowly, with tasks that take a short amount of time. Set a deadline and some specific tasks and see if your Virtual Assistant meets those tasks on time and with everything complete.

What Should I Ask a Potential Virtual Assistant When Looking For One?

Here are some great questions to start with:

· How does the VA prefer to correspond?
· What are the rates and package plans?
· What services can the VA provide?
· How much time does she have available?
· Does she have any contracts and non-disclosure agreements that you can set up?

I know a lot of people feel like outsourcing can be an overwhelming task and that you need to sit down and get really organized before you can do anything. There are so many things you can do now to start working with a virtual assistant.

You can start by heading over to StarVA to grab your free copy of the Outsourcing Checklist.

Angela Wills
Virtual Assistant

StarVA.com

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Discussion

  1. One of the things that is important to me is finding someone that is self-motivated - that keeps me on task more so than relying on me to keep them on task.

    I have had employees and assistants in the past that caused me more work in keeping them on task and double-checking things than it was worth to me - so this is something I look for specifically.

    One of the things that I like about working with you Angela, is that I can send work to you and 'consider it done'. That is a HUGE plus. I also like the fact that you check in with me when you dont hear from me, because I am very much an 'out of sight out of mind' type and so it keeps things rolling smoothly.

    You mentioned feeling the need to 'get organized' before you can begin outsourcing, and that's something that I can relate to. I sat down and really analyzed my current business model and prioritized my task list so that I could see how a VA would benefit me most long-term.

    It's interesting when you assign values and priorities to tasks and begin to realize that the statistic is true: 20% of what you do creates 80% of your results. Its wise for any business owner to sit down and analyze their business model and look at ways to automate, outsource and otherwise make more efficient use of your working hours.

    Great post, by the way! I imagine there will be questions, which should make for a great discussion. Thank you again for taking the time to post these helpful tips here at ClickNewz!

    ~ Lynn

  2. Great post Angela! And I'm on board with you, Lynn. I've had many a "VA" (graphic designers, writers...etc) that I had to keep on in order for them to stay on task...those people eventually lose me as a client 😉

  3. Genesis Davies says:

    I have never hired a VA, but it is something that I might consider in the near future if things keep going the way they are. Thanks for a great post.

  4. Angela Wills says:

    So glad you liked the post, it was truly my pleasure!

    I actually am in the process of looking for a VA myself, both for my own business activities and someone to partner with as a backup... even a VA needs a VA 🙂

  5. As a client of yours, I love the idea - it offers everyone involved room to expand.

  6. I'm currently a VA right now and just wanted to add a couple things--

    Lynn is absolutely right about analyzing your business and using that information to assign tasks, to yourself and your VA.

    While it's important to have initiative and help your employer stay on task, it's also crucial to remember that your VA needs:

    --goals
    --deadlines
    --clearly stated expectations (what does the employer want, when do they want it, how do they want it)
    --clearly stated schedule (you work on your business 24/7...is your VA expected to as well? Will you be displeased if he/she isn't available on weekends?)

    Constantly and effectively communicate to refine the above. Both need to offer constructive and kind criticism. Working together effectively in the "real world" is hard enough--imagine doing it virtually! Body language and lack of face-to-face contact can be as constraining as it is freeing, at times.

    If you do not clearly state what it is you expect from your VA, and modify as you go along, both you and your VA will end up feeling frustrated.

    Offer feedback on a regular basis. Don't forget positive and redirective feedback: "Those sales reports are great--but I'd work much better if I could have then on Fridays instead of Mondays", for example. Your VA needs to know what they're doing right, what they're doing wrong, and what you'd like to see changed.

    Your VA may or may not be entrepreneurially-minded. A typical "assistant" is usually very structured and detail-oriented--and there's nothing "wrong" with that. However, this may NOT be what you're looking for. If you have an entrepreneurial mindset you may tend to be more random, skipping from project to project without quite finishing ones previously assigned. This can totally overwhelm and frustrate a VA that doesn't think the same way.

    If you are looking for a VA to anticipate your needs and help you develop your business, consider personality/work styles before hiring. You may need someone who is more of a "consultant" mindset than straight "assistant".

    The real key in my opinion is to remember that a great VA is more of a MATCH than a specified SKILLSET.

    If your VA is NOT meeting your needs, then it's time to move on. It's business, after all. Treat your VA the way you would want to be treated and get on with your success!

    🙂 Cate

  7. Excellent advice, Cate!

  8. Alva Christine says:

    A Virtual Assistant is a person who does the job for a business concern but virtually. He provides administrative assistance services which include typing work, mailing service, organizing meetings, preparing invoice, planning events, etc. He can do any work for you.
    You can find for a Virtual Assistant from either business forums, Virtual Assistant Association, by submitting a Request for Proposal or from websites such as Elance.com and guru.com.
    By working with a Virtual Assistant you can gain advantage. A Virtual Assistant is at all times available at your service whenever desired. He can very well aid you with any business activity. So you need not hire a person and pay him high salary and other benefits. You need not hire extra staff to complete your project works. You only need to pay for the task that is outsourced.

    We have outsourced our service to VServe Solution (www.vservesolution.com) and Diksha research from India which are best at its service and I would gladly recommend these outsourcing companies. The service provided by the company is cost effective and reliable and they make sure to complete the project on time. They provide absolute service to their clients by constantly contacting the clients to get up-to-date information from them. You can outsource any service to these companies and see that the job is done with perfection and dedication.

  9. AS a virtual assistant for almost 4 years, working with lots of project (Freelance) is very tiring specially if you caters a wide range of services like internet marketing, social marketing, SEO jobs and everything. Would it be possible to be hired by a legit company that looks for a lifetime online employee??

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