Ever dreamt of becoming Superman as a kid?

No wonder you grew up to be an entrepreneur!

Jokes apart, as an entrepreneur, you’re probably not too different from Superman. From running operations to developing strategies, analyzing market trends to competitor movements, acquiring customers to managing a team, you do it all.

And that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

But there’s a catch. No matter how skilled or determined you are to shoulder a mountain of responsibilities all by yourself, you need help.

Trying otherwise is a sure-fire recipe for disaster.

A mantra every successful entrepreneur swears by is learning the art of delegation. Your vision isn’t enough. Working towards it needs a smart delegation of responsibilities that frees your bandwidth (both intellectual and emotional) for focusing on core business.

But hey, no small business owner has an enviable bank balance. So hiring full-time employees to pick up your slack may just not be an option.

So what do you do? Hire a Virtual Assistant!

Smart entrepreneurs know that hiring remote employees is the first, and perhaps the most important, stepping stone to success.

Hiring a virtual assistant means hiring an efficient professional at a fraction of the cost of a full-time, in-house resource. Say goodbye to stressful days and embrace productivity, scale, and growth.

What is a Virtual Assistant?

A Virtual Assistant (VA) is a skilled professional that works for your business remotely. A VA can be hired from anywhere in the world, as long as they hold the skill set you need and can communicate effectively. No matter the task you want to be performed, the educational background or experience you need, a qualified VA awaits you.

So what is a virtual assistant exactly? While VAs are typically engaged for non-core business tasks (think administration, research, data entry), businesses are now building teams for core business functions. This is especially true of freelancers, travel bloggers, and digital nomads who don’t need a full-fledged office and full-time employees to begin with.

VAs differ from traditional employees and freelancers in the sense that they are mostly generalists – they are capable of taking on routine tasks of some complexity, but cannot manage an entire business function. For example, they may be able to research and create fresh content, but may not be able to edit well enough to make the piece publication-ready. They are, however, resourceful and experienced, and able to follow your instructions to the letter.

So what is a virtual assistant exactly? VAs are contract workers. As such, they are paid a stipulated amount for their services, typically an hourly rate. Their compensation is agreed upon at the time of hiring and is disbursed on a monthly basis. No more, no less. This makes them an affordable alternative to full-time employees who must be paid benefits and medical insurance apart from a fixed salary. And meeting these huge expenses may not make sense for your small business.

Both hiring and letting go of a VA is simpler and less tedious compared to a full-time employee. Onboarding them is as easy as signing up on a VA platform. Because VAs are trained in different areas, you can begin work immediately. Moreover, they can be easily replaced, as you have access to a global pool of talent. For an entrepreneur dreaming of becoming the next big thing, hiring a VA is the right step towards growing their business.

What tasks can I delegate to my Virtual Assistant?

VAs excel at performing routine and repetitive tasks which come with a clear set of instructions, guidelines, and the desired outcome. So you can easily outsource all administrative tasks to a VA. Be sure to communicate your expectations clearly and have them perform some test tasks before you begin your relationship. So long as the task requires reasonable intelligence, speed, clarity and communication, it can be delegated to a VA. Even tasks which require a certain level of education such as paralegal services can be handled quite competently by a VA.

Here is a sample list of tasks which a VA can perform for you:

  • Customer service – Responding and resolving customer queries on email or calls
  • Research – Browsing through credible sources and compiling a dossier of facts presented in an easy to understand format
  • Social media – Keeping a hand on the pulse of all the social media accounts of a client, replying to queries and comments, posting entries and so on
  • Bookkeeping – Making entries of data from primary sources into the system
  • Errands – Both business and personal. For example: sending a “Happy Anniversary” card to an important client, or booking your dentist’s appointment

It’s clear that a VA can add immense value to your business and ultimately your life.

Are you ready for a Virtual Assistant?

For an entrepreneur, their venture is both their brainchild and baby. Initially, it can be difficult to trust others of doing the job as devotedly and competently as you. However, you cannot do it all by yourself. That being said, a VA is a skilled and extensively trained professional who’s adept at handling a variety of tasks.

Once you've figured out what is a virtual assistant, here is how you can tell if the time has come for you to hire a VA:

  • There is a not-too-complicated business process which you have already performed and mastered end to end. Now you are ready to teach another person to take it on
  • You can see yourself performing other more important tasks if this particular one can be efficiently handled by someone else
  • You think the opportunity cost is too high
  • A task you currently perform which annoys and drains you, and which can be better performed  by someone else to save you the hassle
  • You're having trouble maintaining a healthy work-life balance and feel on the edge of a burn out

Hiring a VA frees you up to pursue larger profits and bigger goals. When a cost-benefit analysis is performed, you will see that hiring a VA is hands-down a winning option.

How much do I need to pay my VA?

Once you know what is a virtual assistant, you naturally want to know how much it's going to set you back by. A virtual assistant can be hired by the hour, or per project. Some may accept a basic rate for a certain period. Some factors that will decide your VA’s remuneration are - tasks a VA performs, their complexity and level of education required. For example, hiring a VA to perform customer service will cost you less than hiring one who can perform inventory management functions.

What you pay will also determine the quality of applications you receive. Since the internet has opened access to a nearly limitless global talent pool, make sure to scout on international platforms too. As long as your potential hire is qualified for the task, can understand instructions correctly and communicate effectively, there should be no problems.

No matter the tangible remuneration you pay, you must not disregard the intangible benefits created for your business. If you invest time and efforts in nurturing and managing a solid professional relationship, you might be able to convert a VA into right-hand man/woman, who can perform both routine business and personal tasks for you.

Hiring a Virtual Assistant

Here is a step-by-step process for hiring a virtual assistant:

Documentation – Write down/record the process you want to be performed in detail. This makes it easy to teach, and also acts as a ready reckoner of guidelines in case of confusion. This way, you can also ensure fewer errors are committed and your desired outcome is reached quickly. In fact, if the task involves standard, predictable interaction with clients, suppliers or customers, you can even provide scripts with canned replies or the best course of action to follow.

Platform – Choose the right virtual assistant platform carefully. It’s easier to vet your prospective VA if they are listed on a reputed platform such as Wishup, where previous employers rate and describe their work experience with a VA.

Job description – Similar to hiring full-time employees, the job description should correctly describe the scope of duties, skills and experience required and other terms and conditions clearly. Some details to include for hiring a VA:

  • The business description and scale
  • Past experience needed
  • Tools they need to be familiar with (Example: WordPress or Microsoft Excel)
  • Language and proficiency level (spoken and written)
  • The typical list of tasks to be performed per hour/project
  • Terms and conditions of service
  • Whether a Non-Disclosure Agreement needs to be signed

Vetting – Interview any potential candidates over Skype and have them perform sample tasks. Go through feedback from previous clients to determine the quality of performance in the past.      

Things to keep in mind

A virtual assistant, no matter how efficient and competent, is still a stranger to you. Before working, you need to decide on whether you can trust this person, both their performance and conduct. In any case, take some steps to protect your confidential data. Some of these can be:

  • Try to assign restricted access and user permissions as far as possible
  • Avoid handing out login details to important accounts
  • Make your VA sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement to protect your customer, employee, and vendor data (especially if sensitive) from leaking to competitors
  • Time track your assistant's performance to determine the number of hours actually spent on a task

Grow your business with a virtual assistant

In your journey as an entrepreneur, knowing when and where to exert control is just as crucial as understanding when to take a step back and get perspective. A business must have a robust foundation and reliable processes in place, but these should be designed so that they are able to function without constant, compulsive helicopter parenting by the owner. When you leave your business in capable hands, you must be confident that it can flourish just fine in your absence.  

Giving up even a tiny bit of control or oversight may seem unnatural to many entrepreneurs, but is the only way to scale while remaining sane. Trying to do everything at once ensures only one thing – half-hearted, hurried efforts and sometimes total, abysmal failure.

Save yourself the stress and hire a VA. Focus on crucial elements and delegate the rest. Spend more time with family and loved ones and come to work refreshed every day. Dream big and plan how to bring your vision to life. Enjoy spending the day doing what you relish most – growing your business!

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