First steps to a better life
If you're a small business owner or a busy professional with not enough hours in the day, a Virtual Assistant could be the answer to your prayers. If you've been toying with the idea of getting yourself some help but you just don't know how to go about it, read on to take the first steps towards a better life...
1. Have a clear idea of what you want your Virtual Assistant to do
Whether you have a specific project that you require help with or you need regular general assistance, you need to ascertain just what you want your VA to do. If it's the latter, keep a log of all your day to day activities over the next week. At the end of the week, go through the list and highlight the tasks that you really don't need to do yourself - this is the first list of tasks which you could delegate to a VA. Many of these are likely to be time-consuming, repetitive tasks which will free up your time for the more important projects.
2. Research potential VAs
The best place to start is your own network. Reach out to family, friends and business colleagues, telling them about what you want help with and asking if they have a VA they would recommend. If recommendations aren't forthcoming, the best place you can go to is The Society of Virtual Assistants (https://www.societyofvirtualassistants.co.uk/). The SVA has a very strict set of requirements which every Virtual Assistant must comply with to become an approved VA. This ensures that every Virtual Assistant on the approved list maintains a professional business (not just a pretty website) so this should be your go-to place when you're looking for a Virtual Assistant. The SVA approved list will provide you with full details of each VA along with the list of services that they provide.
3. Screen the candidates for compatibility and professionalism.
Once you have a list of potential Virtual Assistants, it's time to narrow down the list by undertaking a little research. Start by reviewing their websites and social media channels. This should get give you a real feel for which VAs are the best fit for you, narrowing the list down further. You should now be looking to conduct a telephone interview with the VAs left on your list.. You may want to consider the following questions in the interview if these have not already been answered within your research.
• Do you have experience in the tasks I need done? • What are your hours (times, days) of operation? • What are your fees? Do you bill hourly, by project or on retainer? • Do you have the time availability in your schedule to take on my project? • How quickly will you get back to me when I email or call you? • Do you have a team to support you? If yes, will I be working directly with you, or will I occasionally work with other members of your team? • What types of clients are you currently working with? • How long have you been in business?
You might also want to ask for at least two references.
4. Test the water
An approved Virtual Assistant is likely to provide you with a contract/terms and conditions before any work commences - this is common practice. If you 're still not sure that this is the Virtual Assistant for you, you might want to ask them to complete a short project to make sure that you work well together. Be sure to mention this so the contract can be prepared accordingly. Most VAs won't tie you into long term contracts unnecessarily so this really shouldn't be a problem but do let the VA know up front that you’re beginning with a trial project to see how things go.
5. Start as you mean to go on
Treat your Virtual Assistant fairly and your relationship could last a lifetime. You really shouldn't need to keep checking up on them unless the work isn't being completed well and on time. If you're not happy with the quality of work, hitting deadlines or anything else that had been agreed, speak with your VA straight away. It may be a simple lack of understanding that can be sorted out immediately or it may be that you need to part ways. Dealing with these things immediately will be better for all concerned instead of just hoping that things will improve of their own accord.
Hiring a Virtual Assistant really could be the first step towards a much improved life for yourself and your family. Freeing up your time for the nicer things in life could be just what you're after for a better work-life balance.
Go on, you know you want to...