If your business requires you to be on the road most of the time and/or you find yourself needing assistance to get secretarial and administrative things done then a Virtual Assistant (VA) is what you need.
Why a VA?
In this day and age where everything is mobile, having a VA fits the bill perfectly. Compared to having a traditional locally-based administrative assistant, VAs are often more economical (I can attest to that!) You also save on office space and equipment expenses as you don’t have to provide for it, except of course, if your business requires output from custom software.
However, I have found my VA – Rai, who hails from the Philippines, to be better skilled and have more initiative than some, not all, of the local Support Staff I have used in the last few years and that is where the real value is added.
The additional benefits of having a full time Assistant, when previously I could only realistically afford casual help, are myriad. I am always finding new ways for Rai to help me in my business.
I use Rai for general business support and article writing but I know of others who have hired VA’s with detailed technical skills & knowledge e.g. Web design, SEO and social media. The choice is yours as there a plenty of options.
But the benefits aren’t one-sided. In fact, a VA saves a lot of time and money too by working as a VA.
Benefits of Being a VA (from Rai’s point of view)
From a VA’s point of view, being employed as a virtual assistant is more beneficial than being employed locally (and I say this from experience).
Before working online, I was a Sales Agent and had to spend way more than 8 hours to finish my day’s work. When I added extra work time and commuting I barely had time for other things and I sacrificed a lot of extra time – time that was supposedly for my young kids (I have 2 and am a single mom). I got stressed a lot and realized it wasn’t worth it since the pay didn’t get any higher. So eventually, I quit that job.
In my search for other opportunities, I stumbled upon the site that changed my life (www.onlinejobs.ph) I was eager to look for a well-paid, full-time job that I could do at home so I could be there for my kids every day. I found what I needed by being a VA – I found my life balance. I am paid well, save time and money by working at home – cutting transportation and other unnecessary costs.
Pitfalls of Hiring a VA
Hiring and working with a remote assistant who is a million miles away is not at all perfect. In fact, sooner or later you are bound to encounter a few pitfalls in this kind of working relationship. But don’t get dismayed, with proper communication you and your VA can find solutions and work around these pitfalls.
The most common pitfall English-speaking employers experience with a VA is the language barrier. Most VA applicants from outsourcing sites are based in countries where English isn’t the first language. Therefore, it is crucial for you to screen your candidates with their English speaking and writing abilities if you want the best VA and a smooth working relationship.
This is one of the great benefits of hiring a VA from the Philippines as they all speak excellent colloquial English – this makes communication a breeze.
The next one is Forex Rate. Since you and your VA aren’t from the same countries, expect that you don’t have the same currency. As the employer, know the equivalent of your currency in your VA’s location and negotiate a win-win deal. Consider and include money transfer and currency conversion fees (especially if you’re using PayPal) when calculating pay for your VA as these cost can be quite high and cut into the net wages for your VA.
Another drawback is time difference. Lucky for Rai and I, we only have a time gap of 3 hours so communication delays aren’t a big issue. But for those with greater time difference (8 hours or more) be sure to list tasks ahead of time so your VA will have things to do while your offline or having a good night’s rest. Then you can just check results in the morning.
Using online tools like BasecampHQ, online CRMs and Google Docs can really assist in communication with your VA. They allow for better collaboration than sending docs backwards and forwards through email. I also use Camtasia to make short instructional videos (published in private on my YouTube Channel) to provide better quality instructions on more complex issues in less time than writing an instructional email.
Other issues that may come up are holidays, electricity and internet connection issues. Be considerate and open-minded as these things happen. Ask about national non-working holidays and observe them. Also whenever necessary and imminent, your VA will need some time off to take care of personal issues (e.g. sickness, family matter).
Overall, encourage transparency so you and your VA can work around any issue that may come up.
Russell – Having a VA works well for me so I highly recommend it to any business owner who needs assistance with work-related stuff. I certainly couldn’t get through my current workload without Rai’s support.
Rai – Being a VA works for me because I can work from home with no commuting and extra costs. Russell gives me the freedom to manage my day and this gives me flexibility as well as a good wage. It’s a win-win!
What have your experiences been with hiring a VA?