I often get asked what I do as a virtual assistant. Many people are mystified about the whole “work from home” situation and more often than not, people say “I could never do that.” It’s true, this isn’t for everyone. You really have to be able to multitask and be aware of everything that’s going on.
The title of this blog is a bit of a misnomer. There really isn’t a “typical” day for a virtual assistant, but I thought I’d share my day with you so you can kind of get a behind the scenes tour of what happens.
Things aren’t always going to work out between you and your Virtual Assistant. We all know just wanting something to work isn’t going to make it work. I’m not talking about money issues, personality issues or even capability issues. I want to talk about the three key problems that will kill your relationship with your VA that are all your fault. (Sorry!) The great part is that these three items are something that you can (and should) address even before you hire your assistant.
You want help for you business. You need help. You haven’t had a break in weeks and you’re just about to hide out in the basement for a day or two to have some quiet time and evaluate this whole “be my own boss” thing. How can you possibly hire a virtual assistant? You’re not in “millionaire” status yet. Heck, you’re not really even in “thousandaire” status. But you just can’t do it alone any more. How can it all work out?
Virtual Assistants Aren’t Full Time
They can be, but most virtual assistants have a book of clients just like you who are just getting help when they need it. And truly, that is the best part about hiring a virtual assistant. You don’t have to have someone sitting there, getting paid, waiting for work to show up.
Hire on a Per Project Basis
There is no requirement to hire a VA at an hourly rate. Start with one project. Set limits for the time, the dollar amount, the task. If you tell someone you want them to do as much research as she can for $200, then you don’t have to worry about what the project will cost. It’s already there, and you can plan your budget accordingly.
Hire for a Set Amount of Time
Another way to keep within a budget you can afford is to hire a virtual assistant for a certain amount of hours per month. Plenty of assistants provide package deals. This way you know that every month it is going to cost you X dollars. Once it’s built into your budget, it becomes part of your regular expenses.
The key to being able to afford a virtual assistant is understanding the financial benefit you can achieve from it. Would you rather be trying to cobble together social media posts, or researching leads, or would you rather be trying to talk with and sell to potential clients?
If a virtual assistant could free up one hour of your time each week to allow you to sell to potential clients, what would that be worth to you? If one sale was $500 and one hour of a virtual assistant’s time cost $25, I’d say that’s an amazing ROI.
It’s scary to invest when you’re counting every penny, but when you look at the big financial picture, you’ll see that you can’t afford not to hire a virtual assistant. (And you won’t need to hide out in your basement!)
The hiring process is a daunting task. You have to determine what you need. You have to determine the kind of person you’re looking for. You have to post a job. You have to review resumes. You have to schedule time to do interviews. And when you finally get to the interview, what questions should you be asking your potential virtual assistant?
There are a lot of simple, generic questions that you will ask after reviewing someone’s resume: Why did you apply for this position? What’s your hourly rate? But if you’re going to hire the best assistant for your needs, you need to ask these three questions.
How much time do you have to devote to me/my business?
If you need someone 20 hours a week and she is already working 40 hours between other clients, you may be put on the bottom of the To Do list. I have interviewed hundreds and hundreds of candidates for positions my client was hiring for, and there are plenty of people that are happy to work 60-80 hours per week. Still, this can affect how your tasks get done.
Perhaps you need someone to be available during normal business hours to answer calls. How will they be handling that if they’re already working for other clients during normal business hours?
It’s important that you understand how the virtual assistant handles her work and her workload between clients. You should always feel like you’re first in line, even if she has a thousand other clients.
Do you outsource your work?
I have spoken with so many different people who told me they hired someone, and then later found out that that person wasn’t doing the work. That’s a problem. When you’re interviewing, the expectation is that the person that you are speaking with is the one who is doing the work. Here at Your Gal Friday, potential clients always speak with me, and I always disclose the fact that, not only will I be working for them, but my entire team will be, too. And clients can choose to only work with one person that they can be in constant contact with, too.
Find out if the person you’re interviewing is a solo virtual assistant, has a team that will be helping, or if they just work with other virtual assistants around the world to share work. You should always know who is handling your work, and you have every right to interview those others as well as the primary virtual assistant.
Can you provide references to current clients?
It is critically important that you check professional references. This gives you the ability to find out from other professionals how this virtual assistant performed tasks, how well she communicated, kept to deadlines, and worked with other team members. Being able to speak with current references will give you a lot of insight into your potential hire, and you’ll be able to spot red flags during the call.
Ready to Ask More Questions?
If you are ready to ask more questions and find out about hiring Your Gal Friday as your virtual assistant, contact us today.
There are a lot of virtual workers out there from many different countries. If you’re a US business, you’ll find that your in-country VAs can charge anywhere from minimum wage up to $25 per hour or more. The “offshore” worker will charge you $1-$3 per hour. If it was all a numbers game, you know who you’d choose. But I’m here to tell you there’s a lot more than numbers at stake.
I bought a roll of plastic wrap while out grocery shopping. I had a million different choices in wrap, but I decided to buy the cheap one that happened to also be on sale. As soon as that roll made it to my kitchen, I knew I had made the wrong choice.
My husband opened the box…which didn’t really open. It bent. It tore. And then he struggled getting the plastic out to pull. And it never really pulled. It stuck together. And when you finally got a decent length to cover up some leftover food, it would become bound and mangled on the cheap metal teeth (that were bent along with the box). So you had a stretched out wad of plastic instead of a nice sheet. The worst part was that you had to tear the plastic up toward you, instead of down, like I was always used to.
Day after day, we’d grumble each time we’d have to wrap something up. I got the idea to take the plastic roll out and put it in another box (my wax paper no longer has a home). That sort of worked, but it never really fit well into the box, and it doesn’t pull out the way it should.
So the last time I was in the kitchen fighting with this plastic wrap, it occurred to me that plastic wrap and virtual workers are a lot alike. (I make some of the weirdest connections of things!) There are a lot of choices out there when you’re shopping around. And it’s easy to go with the cheapest offer, because who doesn’t want to save money? But what happens when you do? You get stuck with something that’s not quite up to par. It’s not what you wanted. It’s not what you expected. But you’ve already bought it, so you’ll struggle through to try and make it work.
And then eventually, you’ll just go out and buy the expensive plastic wrap that does exactly what you need it to do. Which means you’ve paid twice for something you just needed once.
You need someone that will understand your language, your business nuances (business functions differently in different parts of the world) and will “get” all the little idiosyncrasies that make up you and your business.
It doesn’t necessarily pay to be cheap. I’m not talking about a couple of leftover chicken legs. I’m talking about your business.
25+ years of business experience. 12+ years of virtual experience.