Small Business Tips Blog
A virtual assistant, as defined by Wikipedia, is an independent contractor who is “generally self-employed and provides professional administrative, technical, or creative (social) assistance to clients remotely from a home office.” They are growing in popularity, and with the ever-increasing functionality of online work spaces, outsourcing tasks to virtual assistants has never been easier.
However, this increasingly popular contracting is often met with trepidation. Hiring a virtual assistant comes with uncertainties such as prioritizing the tasks to be delegated, identifying the right time in a business’ development to contract those tasks, and locating someone reliable and trustworthy.
There are a number of resources to optimize this process for your business’ benefit. Alina Dizik, freelance writer and contributor at entrepreneur.com, proposes a helpful, though certainly-not-comprehensive list of tasks that can be delegated to virtual assistants to your benefit: bookkeeping, online research, database entries, data presentations, managing email, social tasks, travel research, scheduling, chasing business, and industry knowledge prep.
Relinquishing control of task management can also be a difficult step for new delegators. Part of the unease associated with virtual assistants exists in trusting a new and unknown party with the “Things to do” list. That said, Mathew Carpenter at sixrevisions.com offers some cogent advice on how to maximize your outsourcing experience and reduce any accompanying anxiety. Among other points, he advises to shop around and be patient when searching for a quality virtual assistant. For the sake of safe-guarding your business, he also recommends increasing the duties of your assistants gradually and to never rely on just one service provider.
When is the right time to outsource a virtual assistant? Entrepreneur Ryan Lee, ryanlee.com, recommends having a target financial goal in mind before you begin the outsourcing process. By giving your business an established baseline first, one that you’ve proven to be able to consistently achieve, you’ll make the hiring process more comfortable and prudent for your business. “What gets me crazy,” he pleads, “is seeing someone hiring an employee before they’re ready for it. And they start losing money quickly.” Don’t jump too soon – a little hard work out of the gates will yield more rewarding hiring opportunities down the road.
Some Virtual Assistant Resources: guru.com, elance.com, odesk.com, ivaa.org, freelancer.com.
Writing on the Wall
10 Things to Outsource to a Virtual Assistant - http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/225318#comments (Alina Dizik)
The Reality of Outsourcing and Virtual Assistants - http://ryanlee.com/outsourcing-virtual-assistants/ (Ryan Lee)
8 Tips for Using Virtual Assistants and Personal Outsourcing - http://sixrevisions.com/project-management/8-tips-for-using-virtual-assistants-and-personal-outsourcing/ (Mathew Carpenter)
11 Freelancer and Virtual Assistant Outsourcing Sites - http://smallbiztrends.com/2011/09/11-freelancer-virtual-assistant-outsourcing-sites.html (TJ McCue)