As a small business owner you’re probably stacked out right now in the run up to Christmas, trying to get everything cleared before you take some time off with family and friends (if you’re lucky).
So it’s therefore at this time of year when you’re realising just how much you need a Virtual Assistant for some business support. Someone who will free up your time to stop you from working those 15 hour days (or at least to enable you to use those 15 hours more wisely). Someone who’ll take a few of those balls you’re constantly juggling to make sure nothing drops.
As a small business owner you need to be concentrating on the things that will bring in the revenue, not the more menial tasks that take up way too much of your time.
What’s the answer? A Virtual Assistant. We’re the best option in this digital age. We use the latest technology, are aware of the best communication methods, cloud solutions and software, and can be on hand whenever you need. And if those reasons weren’t enough – we’re also your most cost effective solution:
- Pay only for the hours worked and the services needed
- No need to pay employee taxes, benefits or office equipment
- No recruiting or training costs
So how do you find that perfect assistant? One of my earlier blogs concentrates more closely on this specific question (Choosing the Right Virtual Assistant for Your Business) but for those of you that have already made the decision to hire a VA and have narrowed down the list of candidates, the following questions should help act as a guide when interviewing to make sure you select the best VA for your business needs:
- How long have you worked as a Virtual Assistant? Immediately you can gage the experience this VA has. Have they set up their own VA business rather than simply freelancing? If so, they will understand your needs not only from an assistant’s perspective, but from a business point of view as well.
- What’s your background, experience and do you have a specific skill set? Find out what they’ve done. Dig deep to help you start to form some instincts about whether they’re right for you. How did they become a VA? What industry sectors have they worked in? This question will also help determine their adaptability. If they’ve worked across a variety of sectors in differing roles their skill set will be broad, which if you need a good all-rounder who’s not afraid of change or getting new tasks thrown at them will suit your business brilliantly. On the other hand, you may find they have worked in the same field throughout their professional life and therefore bring a wealth of experience and qualifications which may be exactly what your business needs.
- Can you give some examples of the work you’ve carried out in the past? This is a must. If you need them for a specific role, you’ve got to have examples of similar work. If they can’t give an exact example, then it’s up to you whether you decide to continue anyway (because after all part of your decision will come from gut instinct). It’s also important to point out that for some VA’s providing examples of work may be tricky if they’ve signed non-disclosures, so what I’d suggest is asking them to complete a ‘test’ job to help you decide. Most VAs will be happy to oblige if it’s a piece of business they want.
- How many clients do you have? The reason for asking this is just to ensure that they have enough time for you. The last thing you want is to find a fantastic VA who has 20 other clients without any support and is therefore difficult to get meet your deadlines.
- What are you normal working hours? If you need someone available from 8am and the VA in question normally starts at 9am, you need to know this! It may be they would be willing to work from 8am, but will charge a higher rate. Get absolute clarity from the beginning to avoid frustration or disappointment further down the line.
- What are your main communication methods? If you prefer liaising by telephone but the VA prefers email, then it’s not going to be the easiest working relationship. Find out what methods are available to determine if they are suitable for you too.
- May I have details of a work reference I can contact? Ask your own questions and find out first hand what it’s been like for an existing client to work with this VA. This should help put your mind at ease that they are reliable, professional, and trustworthy.
- What is your hourly rate? To make sure it’s not outside of your budget! If there is a pricing structure, make sure it’s clear so you know what you’ll be getting billed each week / month.
- What’s not included in your fees? It’s easy to overlook this one but certainly worth checking because if you need your VA to do lots of phone calls, or posting, and neither are included in their rates, your costs will rack up.
- Are you willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement? As a final question and depending on your particular business, you may require your VA to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Most VAs’ shouldn’t have a problem with this, but it’s worth confirming before appointing.
Once you’ve asked these questions, got the responses and checked out any references, you should be in a good place to make a decision. Oh and don’t forget, it’s OK to give them one job to start, or a 1 month / 3 month probationary period, your VA will probably appreciate that as well. It’s a two-way street. To make it work effectively both parties need to be happy.
And as a final point, I can assure you that once you’ve found a gem of a VA, you’ll wonder why you didn’t hire her before!