Last month I attended Be The Change and talked to several entrepreneurs who were still trying to do everything themselves. The two things I kept hearing were, “What can a Virtual Assistant/Online Business Manager do?” and “I don’t know what to send to a VA.” And there were one or two entrepreneurs who had never heard of a Virtual Assistant, so we’ll start with what a VA is.
According to International Virtual Assistants Association, “A Virtual Assistant (VA) is an independent entrepreneur providing administrative, creative and/or technical services. Utilizing advanced technological modes of communication and data delivery, a professional VA assists clients in his/her area of expertise from his/her own office on a contractual basis.”
So what types of tasks can a VA perform? This varies by the Virtual Assistant firm, but can include:
- client concierge
- online marketing activities
- shopping cart setup and maintenance (some may specialize in Infusionsoft, 1Shopping Cart, etc.)
- website design and updating
- project management (general projects, virtual events, online telesummits, etc.)
To determine what you’re currently doing that a Virtual Assistant or Online Business Manager could do for you, track your activities for a week. Keep a list of everything you’re doing. Now, what can ONLY YOU do? These are the obvious tasks like talking with clients, creating new products or services, and networking. Can the rest on your list be outsourced? Stop…before you say, “No, I’d have to do that myself” or “There’s no possible way someone else could do that,” talk with colleagues and VAs! You might be surprised at what someone else could do virtually.
Another common self-talk is, “It only takes me five minutes to do that. It’ll take me 20 to show someone else how to do it.” But how many different five minutes does that take? It may be five minutes this morning, five minutes this afternoon, tomorrow, the next day… Those add up and even though it may only take five minutes to do, it distracts you from the money-making activities you should be doing!
Okay, so now you have your list (even though you’re not sure someone else could do some of the items), how do you find a Virtual Assistant/Online Business Manager? Talk with your colleagues! Ask for referrals. If you don’t have those resources available, you can search the directories of Virtual Assistant trade organizations, like International Virtual Assistants Association. You can also submit Requests for Proposal on the VA trade organization sites.
Look at the website. Is it professional? Are there testimonials provided? Is it free of typos and grammatical errors?
Set up a consultation. Here are some questions you’ll want to ask during your call:
- “Why did you decide to become a VA?”
- “What types of clients do you work for?” Some VAs specialize in specific areas, like supporting coaches or public speakers. Personally, my clients are all across the board, and I enjoy that. It gives me a lot of variety and I learn about different industries.
- “What hours do you work?”
- “How do you organize your work when working for multiple clients?”
- “What do you enjoy doing?”
- “What do you dislike doing?”
- “How do you keep track of your time?”
- “How does your billing work?”
- “What types of payments do you accept?” If you know you’re going to be paying by credit card, and this VA doesn’t accept credit cards, you can take her off the list.
For a newer VA ask: “What has been your past work experience?” You want a VA who is experienced as an upper level support, such as administrative assistant or legal secretary and not someone who was a receptionist or filing clerk.
After you’ve talked to everyone, you can make a pros and cons list…and then bottom line, trust your gut! There’s a lot of personality involved with working with a Virtual Assistant. And if the first one doesn’t work out, don’t give up! Try again!
Do you have other suggestions for working with a VA?