What’s a Virtual Assistant?
Virtual assistants are independent contractors who provide administrative assistance to multiple clients. Unlike regular assistants, they work out of their homes rather than at your business’ physical location.
For small E-Biz owners, using a virtual assistant offers numerous advantages:
• Location. If your business is home-based, you don’t have to worry about finding a place to put an employee.
• No Overhead. They provide their own office supplies, desk, computer, software, and phone lines.
• No Benefits. They’re not your employee, so you aren’t responsible for paying social security or income taxes, holidays, insurance, vacation or sick pay.
• Flexibility. It’s significantly easier to find a virtual assistant who can work evening hours or weekends — after all, they’re working from home. And you can give them more or less hours as your needs change.
There are virtual staffing companies that pair virtual assistants with small and home-based businesses who need help running things.
How Do I Know What I’m Getting?
Gayle Buske is the president and CEO of virtual staffing agency http://TeamDoubleClick.com. Her clients are often concerned about hiring someone without ever seeing their face. She reassures them that, because the agencies don’t get to meet the people they send to their clients — often they’re in different states — their hiring processes are far more stringent than those of a normal staffing agency. In fact, Buske admits, “We turn away about 70% of the people we interview.” Those who pass the 9-part interview process are trained extensively, and certified.
Virtual agencies will try to match your business with an assistant, based on your particular needs. They look at qualifications, personality, work style, and hours of availability — both number and times. Whatever your unique requirements, they’ll work to find a good fit.
Common Client Concerns
• How do I know that my assistant is actually working the hours I’m paying them for?
To allow you to track their progress, many agencies have their staff send daily activity reports. They may say how many inbound calls they received, how many outbound calls they made, how many appointments they set, what documents they worked on, as well as how many hours they put in for the day, and their cumulative hours for the week. These reports can also help you stay on budget. If, for example, you see your assistant has already worked the total hours you planned to pay them for this week, you can push other projects back until next week.
• How hard is it to work with someone from a remote location?
Buske points out, “There’s so much technology now that facilitates working virtually. It’s as simple as hitting the speed dial instead of the intercom, or attaching files to an email rather than walking them to the next room." Most of your communication will be via phone, fax, and email. There are also meeting programs, like http://GoToMeeting.com, that let you give online demonstrations and presentations, such as for training purposes.
Virtual assistants' skills run the gamut — everything from accounting to marketing to graphic design. Whether you need someone to answer incoming calls and do mailers, or someone who can manage your entire business when you’re away, you can find staff with any skill levels. If your business has grown to the point that you need to outsource some of your responsibilities, virtual support offers a simple, low-risk solution. With hand-picked help, you can relieve your busy schedule and focus your energies on your personal strengths.
Product Sourcing Radio is Created and Hosted by Chris Malta and Rob Cowie of WorldwideBrands.com, Home of OneSource: The Internet's Largest Source of Genuine, Factory-Direct Wholesalers for online sellers. Click Here
for FREE E-Biz & Product Sourcing info!