Since the trend in business ventures have shifted to complement the development of technology and the internet, the outsourcing industry has also gained popularity among companies and startups.
A particular service which businesses love within the industry is the support provided by virtual assistants. Many businesses opt to hire VAs due to its efficiency and lower cost.
But despite its popularity nowadays, it is surprising that a lot of businesses or startups still have very little idea about the industry of outsourcing, specifically about the range of services that virtual assistants can offer.
They are still bounded by the traditional culture of only hiring in-house workers. There is nothing wrong with such choice but with the expanding range of what VAs can offer, owners of startups and more established businesses might have to consider re-evaluating their decisions.
Virtual assistants are a trendy choice today, especially for small businesses. This is because hiring virtual assistants is both cost-effective and practical.
It provides a solution to the finance and productivity-related problems often encountered by small companies or businesses with limited manpower.
It is crucial for a startup to maintain and increase productivity with the lowest cost possible. Since it is only starting to establish its name, they must not expect a high profit or ROI, yet.
The question now is, how can startups access virtual or remote assistant services? What are the benefits it provides that makes it highly popular to big and small businesses?
Here are 5 important steps on how businesses can set-up and manage a virtual assistant service:
1. Determine Business Needs
First and foremost, before actually hiring virtual assistants, businesses must initially evaluate the specific needs of their company.
Be specific in listing down the tasks that need to be done and the people or job description required to accomplish the said tasks.
Try focusing on the question, ‘What are the specific skills needed to be able to perform such tasks?’
Upon making a list of the tasks that a company needs, assuming that it would be assigned to a VA, business owners should assess whether the employment of a VA would be cost-effective or not.
Can a VA perform the required tasks with minimal supervision? What are the benefits that it could possibly bring to the company?
A tip on listing the tasks is reflecting on the daily activities and routine of the office likewise helps in gauging the appropriateness of hiring a VA.
Put on the top of the list the tasks that take too much time. Owners can also consider the weekly, monthly, and occasional tasks that may come in the evaluation.
Finally, locate the tasks that they think a virtual assistant can perform and finish, and those that they cannot. Also, remember that even new employees, whether remotely hired or not, can learn and improve.
Perhaps, in the long run, a VA can already handle more complicated and delicate tasks depending on their performance and the evaluation of the startup owner.
Tip: VAs from abroad charge less than VAs based in the US.
2. Choose Between A Freelancer Or An Agency
It is crucial for every company to understand and compare the pros and cons between hiring freelance virtual assistants and employing a VA agency.
It is true that on a one-on-one basis, freelance VAs really cost much less than the rates offered by agencies due to overhead costs.
But, arranging virtual assistants according to tasks may be arduous. With freelance VAs, it is the business owner’s responsibility to personally allocate them to different tasks.
Additional work can also be very expensive because of the additional compensation that a VA may ask since it is not within his/her skill set, for instance.
This is where agencies come into the picture. They will arrange a system that will fulfill the given task list by their clients.
It is more likely that they will use multiple virtual assistants for smoother work. It may cost more, but it can also assure more efficient work.
On the other hand, hiring freelancers who are not affiliated with any agency tend to foster a more personal touch, particularly in the work relationship between the business owner and the remote assistant.
They can talk to their VA personally and explain the type of work they expect them to give. Also, consider that if VAs are abroad, they do work in a different time zone.
In some cases, it may affect their output since they work depending on the time zone on where the business is located. This is especially true if the business owner allows the VA the freedom of choosing a convenient time when they can work.
3. Create A Detailed Job Listing
An important step in hiring virtual assistants is creating a job listing. As the employer, it is vital to create a specific listing of the job description and/or requirements according to their preferences and needs.
Once a list of tasks needed by the business is prepared, it is now time to find the perfect person to do the job. Once again, the list should help decide whether a company will hire freelance workers or consult an outsourcing agency.
With freelancers, owners might have to breakdown the tasks depending on the skillset of the particular VA they’ve chosen.
Upon circumstances of having VAs who are not capable of doing some of the tasks included in the description, owners are compelled to either increase the basic pay or hire additional workers.
It is also a choice that the virtual assistant can undergo additional training to be able to work for a particular task. All in all, situations like this can be exhausting for business owners.
On the other hand, when businesses choose to work with an agency, it is part of the latter’s work to arrange things according to the needs of their clients.
Despite having a slightly higher cost, it will surely lessen the task and efforts on the part of the startup owner. With stricter screening of qualified applicants done by the agency, better output and performance from the VA is also more probable.
4. Hiring The Assistant
The actual hiring of a virtual assistant is the thrilling part of the process. The hiring team must assess all of the chosen applicants for review.
To be specific, they must list down all the applicants, review their qualifications, conduct a personal interview, provide an examination, and review their past work experience to ensure that they possess the necessary knowledge and experience needed for their tasks.
Such procedure measures and tests the ability of the VA in handling language barriers, pressure, and task-related questions.
Once the process of hiring is done, there are also things that should be made such as maintaining a good communication and having an exhaustive contract.
Proper and stable communication between the employer and the virtual assistant is important. Since they are only able to talk through online platforms, businesses must secure a stable platform where they can communicate better.
Video calls can be a more transparent and personal way of communicating because it allows actual conversation with a face-to-face interaction.
It likewise facilitates eye contact, a great way to establish rapport between the startup owner or HR and the applicants.
For freelancers, companies may ask for a scheduled call depending on the preference and free time of both parties.
When working with agencies, it is recommended to ask if the startup owner is able to talk one-on-one to the VAs recommended for the job to discuss other important matters related to the job.
A contract is also important in every business transaction. It defines the boundaries of the company and the VA according to the law and the rights of each.
It is fundamental for the employer to create a contract that has all the specific details such as rules, tasks, rights, incentives to ensure that none of them will take advantage over the other.
All in all, before getting the benefits of hiring a VA, it is upon the company’s hands to find the perfect remote staff for them.
5. Managing The Virtual Assistant
Once a virtual assistant starts working with a startup company, it will surely help lessen the burden and workload of the business. But before that, assigning them to their tasks is the business owner’s duty.
It should be allocated smoothly, effectively and efficiently to get the highest productivity and benefits from the VA.
After that, employers must be specific in explaining the tasks to be given to the virtual assistants. It is in anticipation that eventually, they will learn to adjust according to the style of work desired by the owner.
VAs will also likely have questions about the business or routines involved in their tasks, and business owners or their assigned supervisors will have to answer it.
Be specific with tasks, tools, and setting examples of the output and attitude required by the company. Share a weekly or monthly work calendar to help VAs understand better what the company’s goals are.
Likewise, remember to set up the necessary accounts and software needed in order to help make work go smoothly for both the hiring company and the virtual assistant.
There are several online virtual assistant tools that can be used for a better work output. It is also healthy to ask for feedback from the virtual assistant to discover key areas where the business can improve, particularly in terms of managing employees.
More importantly, trust will always crucial. As such, it is the sole decision of hiring companies whether to entrust private data such as passwords, and important crucial tasks to a VA or not.
Building and expanding a business can be really stressful and hard in the beginning. Nonetheless, it is for the betterment of the company.
Just make sure to know what to expect from the services of a virtual assistant, and formulate a feasible strategy to achieve the business’ core goals.
Have you tried hiring a virtual assistant before? We’d love to hear about your experience! Don’t forget to head to our website to learn more about our range of Virtual Assistant Services!