Are you thinking you might want to hire a virtual assistant (“VA”), but don’t know where to start?

I’ve been working with several virtual assistants for quite a while now, and they are an integral part of running my business. In this post, I would love to share my view and tips on hiring and working with virtual assistants.

First of All: What is a “Virtual Assistant”?

A virtual assistant (typically abbreviated to VA, also called a virtual office assistant) is generally self-employed and provides professional administrative, technical, or creative (social) assistance to clients remotely from a home office. (from Wikipedia)

In short, they are freelance administrative assistants who remotely work for their clients. A VA is NOT an employee and typically works with multiple clients.

Here is a short video on what a Virtual assistant is:

What are the benefits of Hiring a Virtual Assistant?

Since the early days of my business, I’ve always opted to work with VAs instead of hiring employees. People have different reasons for working with VAs; here are some of mine:

  • Depending on your needs, you can efficiently hire virtual assistants already skilled in the areas you need help with. In my case, I have a team of VAs, each with unique talents and passions. I believe in getting the right people into the right seats on the bus to run a successful business, and working with VAs makes it easier for me to do that.
  • Because of the above, they normally do not require a lot of training time.
  • You pay them only for the actual time they spend on your business.
  • They work from their own office, using their own equipments (computer, phone, etc.), so you do not need to provide those.
  • As they are self-employed, you do not need to take care of their insurance, payroll tax, and other hassles that come with hiring an employee.
  • They can help you build your WordPress website and collaborate with you on it!

Where do I look to Hire a Virtual Assistant?

First, I recommend asking your other business friends.  Chances are, somebody in your network is already working with a virtual assistant. Ask for referrals, or ask how they found their VAs. When you go to in-person networking events or trade shows, you may find one, too.

If you are looking for a VA who is familiar with a specific tool, check with the provider or the training organization of that particular tool. For example, some companies like Infusionsoft provide a list of the VAs who went through their certification/training programs and are available for hire.

There are also VA training/networking organizations that offer free referral services. Here are a couple:

How do I know how to hire a Virtual Assistant who is right for me?

In my opinion, hiring  a VA who is the right fit is so important! Make sure you interview as many candidates as needed until you find the rightHire a Virtual Assistant VA for you. A dream VA for your friend, Mary, might not be an ideal VA for you. It’s your job to go through an interview process to figure that out.

Observe how he/she communicates via emails and also over the phone. Don’t be afraid of asking tough questions. Listen to how the he/she will handle them. Also observe how comfortable YOU feel while talking to him/her.

You might be tempted to ask their fees at the beginning, but I strongly recommend not to use their fees as the biggest determining factor. When you work with a right VA, the ROI could be so much higher regardless of the fees. Plus, a good VA could easily finish a task in much less time, essentially reducing the cost to you, compared to a slow VA with much lower fees.

You might have heard this expression, “Hire slowly, fire fast!” I think it really applies when you hire anybody for your business. With the right members on your team, your business can transform. So however you decide to find your VA, don’t rush into a relationship. It’s not a speed dating! Remember to take time to find the right person for you and your business.

(This article first appeared here in May of 2015)

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