March 16, 2010
Is Getting a Virtual Assistant Right for You?
BY John Paul Narowski IN Productivity, Small Business 0 Comment
The constant development of the Internet, globalization and outsourcing has created an army of virtual assistants who can help you with any task you don’t have time or desire to do. But how do you know that getting a virtual assistant is the right move?
A virtual assistant is a person who helps your with administrative or other tasks and is not physically located in the same work space as you. Typically, these workers are used by small businesses, online ventures or other people who have to pay for their own assistants.
The term Virtual Assistant (VA) has become synonymous with outsourced foreign workers that you’d meet when your computer malfunctions or as a telemarketer, but that is not always the case. Stay-at-home moms, college students, the recently unemployed and full time professional VAs all make up this work force. Just like any other industry, there are a wide variety in skills, prices and expectations for VAs.
What Can a Virtual Assistant Do For You?
Virtual assistants are perfect for the busy work that you don’t want to attend to. If you’re running a small business, you’re better off spending your time getting things done and making the big decisions – not sitting around filling out paperwork. In this case you can hire a virtual assistant to answer phone calls, set appointments, send and answer emails and so on.
Some have more specialized skills that might apply more specifically to your business. There are VAs for each of these fields:
- Website content & copy
- Graphic design
- Website design
- Handle your accounting
- Aid in marketing campaigns
- Much more
People also commonly use virtual assistants like real assistants and have them attend to non-work matters for them. This might include scheduling social functions, returning phone calls, arranging for gifts to be bought, dealing with mail, reminding them about loved ones birthdays or anniversaries and many others.
Price vs. Quality
Like anything else in this world you get what you pay for. Many developing nations like the Philippines, India, China, Pakistan and others supply a lot of VAs to the businessmen and women in this country. They are usually inexpensive and can be hired for as low as $3 an hour in some cases.
Compare this to the $10 to $35 dollars a U.S. VA might cost you, and you’ll think you’re getting a deal. However, you may find that the extra price is worth it in the long run. There are often social, cultural and language barriers that make business more difficult to transact for foreign VAs.
If they are offshore, you will also run into time zone differences that may affect your bottom line. Plus, even though you’re trying to save time with a VA, you may also find yourself constantly checking their work if there are quality issues.
Try One Out
If you are considering adding a VA to your team, the only way to know for sure if they can help you out is to give it a whirl. After-all, it won’t cost you much. Go to Elance.com or Guru.com and post a job for a virtual assistant and see who offers their services. These sites have extensive reviews from people just like you so you can get a good idea of what they are capable of. With a minimal investment you can try a couple and see what works and what doesn’t.
Without having to worry about insurance, taxes, the overhead of new equipment and other new employee expenses, you can get an assistant involved in no time at all. The best part is, if you run out of work you just stop using their services.
At some point in your business career you’re going to have to let go and bring others into the fold. If you’ve started a new business and you’re working out of your basement, a VA might make you seem more professional. By implanting a VA into your daily routine, you can become more efficient and effective with your business proceedings.