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3 TO DOs before hiring a virtual assistant

Written by: Sandra Lewis

Hiring a virtual assistant means you can reclaim many hours from your working day to focus on what really matters: creating business opportunities and boosting profits! However, knowing which tasks can efficiently be outsourced to a VA is tricky for someone used to doing all the work themselves.

Answering the following three questions will help you discover the areas where a VA could be your answer:

1.       Where do I need most assistance?

Take a step back to view the ‘bigger picture’ of your current work load, and then identify the areas which could be outsourced. Below are some suggestions if you’re stumped:

•   Scheduling: The proliferation of online scheduling tools means VAs can manage clients’ calendars and the associated tasks of scheduling appointments, sending alerts about upcoming deadlines, assisting in event planning and making appointments/setting up meetings.
•   Bookkeeping: VAs are invaluable in keeping tabs on bookkeeping tasks, including following up on billing issues such as outstanding bills and outstanding invoices.

•   Data-capturing: maintaining up-to-date databases of customer or product information is one of the top tasks delegated to VAs.

•   Travel Arrangements: whether it’s researching accommodation, mapping out itineraries or booking the most affordable flights, this is another invaluable area for assistance by a virtual assistant.

•   Online research and presentations: Accumulating and summarizing research date into a Word document, or organising data into an effective PowerPoint presentation will save an enormous amount of your time and elbow-grease with meeting preparation.

•   Email management: So much time is squandered on emails, but a VA can prioritise the most important emails and filter out those they could reply to on your behalf. Be sure to brief them with clear directions, and make sure they always copy you in on the emails.

2.       What is my budget?

Examine how many hours you think the VA’s tasks would save, and compare this with your outsourcing budget. A helpful tool is to track your time expenditure on admin tasks versus actual ‘work’, and to calculate the value of this based on your own hourly rate. Then ask yourself, are you paying too much for general tasks? Remember that a virtual assistant’s role can be specifically designed to meet your unique needs – and budget!

3.       Is video-Skyping efficient enough for meetings?

Decide just how ‘virtual’ your VA needs to be. i.e. If you feel that Skype video-conferencing isn’t nearly as effective as a weekly face-to-face meeting, then make sure to recruit a VA within easily commutable distance. However, some clients and their VS’s communicate so effectively via Skype and email, that you could be lunching in London, while your VA dines on strudels in Vienna!

Having clarified all of the above, you can now outline a crystal-clear, detailed job description to find the virtual assistant that best ticks all your boxes and who will free up your time and grey matter so you can get back to making real business happen!


Updated on January 5th, 2014

About the author: Sandra Lewis is the Founder and CEO of Boldly. She's passionate about helping founders move their business forward with the right skills and resources. Setting an example of the efficiencies gained working virtually, she manages her entire team on a virtual basis.