August 26, 2013

Hire a Virtual Assistant to Improve your Business

Source: Suzi Ratcliffe is the managing director of Timeforge, a company that connects businesses worldwide with virtual assistants.

As a businessperson, you know one thing to be true: there is never enough time to get everything done.

Rather than continue down this path, day in and day out, you may want to hire a virtual assistant to help with a variety of tasks.

It doesn’t matter if you are a freelancer, small business owner, or executive in a larger corporation, if you need a little bit of help this is an idea that should cross your mind.

Benefits of Hiring a Virtual Assistant

Even though you may have some interest in hiring a virtual assistant, until you learn more about the benefits, as well as the process for doing so, you may find yourself afraid to move forward.

This is why we reached out to Suzi Ratcliffe. She shared quite a bit of information on everything from the benefits of working with a virtual assistant to finding the right person for the job:

1. Can you share, in your opinion, the three biggest benefits of working with a virtual assistant?

  • Saves you time/Increases Productivity – Delegate the things you don’t need to do, don’t want to do or don’t have the know-how or inclination to do, leaving the business owner free to focus on core business activities or have more ‘down time’ and having peace of mind that those tasks are being dealt with, and not sitting in the to-do list waiting to get done.
  • Saves you money – No in-house staff that needs equipment, office space, resources, time off for holidays and sickness, employment contracts, insurance, tax, motivation, etc.
  • Flexibility – Gives you the support you and your business needs on your terms, i.e. you need 10 hours this month and 40 the next – that’s fine.

2. What process should somebody follow who wants to hire a virtual assistant?

  • Know what you want to achieve from hiring a VA, such as more free time, reduced costs (i.e. using a VA instead of an employee), and reduced workload so you can focus on core business activities etc.
  • What is it that you need your VA to do? Will this change in the future? Planning ahead can save you a lot of time, money and headaches. Ideally, if you can hire a VA that can deal with your current and future needs then you can have a long lasting business relationship, rather than having to move on when your needs outgrow what your VA can do for you.
  • How much time is this task/s currently taking you? How is this impacting on your essential core activities? Knowing where your time is going can help you see what you need to outsource.
  • Do you need your VA to be local, regional, national or offshore? There are many options.
  • Do you need a work from home VA or a VA team/company that can cover any sickness, holidays etc.?
  • Ask for recommendations – does anyone you know work/has worked with a virtual assistant?
  • Do your research. Use the internet and use social media to check out profiles, updates, connections, websites, etc.
  • Make a shortlist.
  • Speak with the VA’s – who do you have a good rapport with, who can meet your needs and expectations – ask questions.
  • At this point hopefully you should have a good idea of who you might like to work with. Check out their website and talk to them about what their process is for becoming a client. Each VA might have a different way of doing things at this point.

3. What would you tell people who feel that hiring a virtual assistance is unsafe?

Different countries have different rules about data protection, with some being a lot more stringent then others.

The confidentiality of personal and business information should be a top priority for ALL virtual assistants. However if the correct research has been carried out then you will know whether your VA has previous recommendations, character references, is registered with the relevant Data Protection agency for the country they work in and whether any insurances are in place. These factors should hopefully settle ones mind and with information being readily available at the click of a few buttons, a lot of this research can be done online.

Non-disclosure agreements can also be drawn up and signed by the VA as an additional method of agreement that all information will remain confidential.

Things you might want to ask:

  • How your information will be stored?
  • How you will be able to obtain copies of the information stored?
  • How is information transferred? i.e. shared filed on Dropbox, email, etc.
  • What are the data protection rules for the country your potential VA works in?
  • What security measures does the VA take in protecting your information? i.e. would they readily release info to a spouse if they contacted the VA (they shouldn’t – unless the spouse has authorization)?
  • Where are passwords stored?

Final Thoughts

Hiring a virtual assistant is a big step for your business. It is also a step that could immediately increase productivity, leading to higher profits and less stress in the near future.

If you have been on the fence, this advice should help you make an informed and confident decision.

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