Hiring virtual assistants may help businesses save up to 78% of their expenses. The decision to hire a virtual assistant (VA) could very well be one of the highest ROI decisions you make as a founder.
But only if you get some key VA fundamentals right.
To get the most out of hiring a VA, you should first understand what a VA is, what they can do for your business, and how to find and hire a virtual assistant.
This guide will cover all of those topics we’ve learned over many years of using Virtual Administrative Assistants so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not hiring a VA is right for your business and from where you can hire the best one for yourself.
What is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant is an online contractor who can help with a variety of daily tasks, from social media to customer service to calendar management to Project Management. And a given VA can fill any role between remote administrative assistant, virtual secretary, and personal assistant.
As the name suggests, a Virtual Assistant works remotely. Because they can be based anywhere in the world, they also often work asynchronously, which means they can be working away while you sleep.
The benefit of hiring a remote worker is that you don’t have to worry about office space. In some cases, you don’t have to pay benefits either (check with the local labor laws where your prospective Virtual Assistant is based though as not all localities are the same).
And the best part? You can hire a virtual assistant for as little or as much time as you need.
Why Should You Go for Hiring a Virtual Assistant?
If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you wear a lot of hats. You’re the Founder, Co-Founder, CEO, CFO, COO, the entire marketing department, and in today’s world, you’re probably the janitor, daycare provider, and chef.
If you’re lucky, you’ve got a great startup co-founder, but there is only little one or two people can do.
At some point, you have to delegate some of your time-consuming administrative tasks if you want your business to grow and if you want to sleep at night!
And the best place to start with delegation is to outsource tasks that are necessary but don’t bring in much money in and of themselves, administrative tasks you don’t like doing or aren’t that great at, and tasks that don’t require your unique skills.
Only you can provide the vision for your business. Pretty much anyone can do the day-to-day admin.
Tasks of a virtual assistant
What can a virtual assistant do? A question with a shorter answer might be ‘what can’t a virtual assistant do?’. Because, depending on where you look, a Virtual Assistant may do almost everything. They are not required to hold a university degree for the work that they are given.
For example, many people go for hiring a virtual assistant to perform things like administrative tasks, digital marketing, social media management, project management, Calendar management, and data entry. Even you can do this to find your next virtual office manager.
You might also consider looking into a virtual personal assistant to perform domestic time-consuming tasks like making dinner reservations, finding vendors for your kid’s birthday party, or comparing vacation packages so you can finally get away once you’ve begun delegating all of these tasks!
A general Virtual Assistant isn’t going to do your bookkeeping and accounting, they’re not going to design a product for you, and they’re not going to plan out your marketing strategy for the next year.
But most virtual assistants can enter receipt information into your accounting software as you digitize your business, they can create social media management or graphics to promote your new product, they can help create slides for a venture capital pitch deck, and they can schedule and publish the digital assets developed as part of your marketing strategy or they can do your day to day calendar management.
How to Hire a Virtual Assistant: 7 Simple Steps
Hiring a virtual assistant can be a great way to get help with your business tasks, freeing up your time to focus on more important things. But how do you go about hiring a virtual assistant? Here are a few steps to get you started:
1. Define Your Needs for Hiring a Virtual Assistant
Before you start looking for a virtual assistant, it’s important to take some time to think about what tasks you need help with. Make a list of all the things you need assistance with, both big and small. This will help you narrow down your search later on.
2. Do Your Research
There are a lot of different virtual assistant companies out there, so it’s important to do your research before you choose one. Read online reviews, ask for recommendations from friends or colleagues, and compare prices.
What is a virtual assistant company?
Virtual assistant companies are businesses that provide various administrative, creative, or technical services to their clients remotely. They do this by providing VAs and managing their work, which can take a lot of the headaches of how to hire a virtual assistant off your plate.
3. Make a budget for Hiring a Virtual Assistant
Think about how much you’re willing to spend on a virtual assistant. hourly rates can vary widely, so it’s important to have a budget in mind before you start looking.
Some VAs/companies charge by the hour, while others have monthly or project-based rates. Some have no contractual commitments and other virtual assistant companies require you to give several days or weeks’ notice if you need to terminate your VA.
And keep in mind that you may need to hire many virtual assistants if you have a lot of tasks that need to be delegated. Also, it’s usually cheaper upfront to recruit a VA on your own, but working with a virtual assistant company or agency could save you a lot of time, both in recruiting for your VAs and managing your virtual team.
In general, contracting a virtual assistant is a cost-effective solution. VAs and VA companies tend to charge an hourly rate, which can range from as little as $3/hr to as much as $50+/hr. When you factor in benefits, taxes, and other fees, an employee can cost as much as 50 percent more than a virtual assistant.
There is a wide range of costs for VAs. Of course, highly qualified VAs will cost more than those who are just starting and prices usually depend on where your VA will work.
US-based VAs who perform administrative support, for example, will cost much more than VAs based in the Philippines. According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual Work From Home Virtual Assistant Salary in the U.S. is $67,115, or $32/hour while the average wage for a Filipino virtual assistant is $7,300 (Onlinejobs.ph).
So you can see that if you don’t need native English speakers, you could essentially hire an entire virtual team for the same wage as one person in the United States.
4. Interview Potential Candidates
Once you’ve found a few virtual assistant companies you’re interested in, it’s time to start interviewing potential candidates. Ask them about their experience, their strengths and weaknesses, and what they think they could do for your business.
5. Make Your Decision
After you’ve interviewed all of your potential candidates, it’s time to make a decision. Choose the virtual assistant that you think will be the best fit for your business needs.
6. Set Up a Trial Period
Once you’ve found a few potential candidates, it’s time to start setting up trial periods. This will help you see how well the virtual assistant works with your specific needs. Make sure to give them clear instructions and deadlines, and provide feedback along the way.
7. Make Your Final Decision
After you’ve completed the trial period, it’s time to make your final decision. Choose the virtual assistant that you felt worked best for your needs, and start working together on a more regular basis.
How to find virtual assistants
So if you’re feeling overwhelmed and could use some help, a virtual assistant may be the answer. But virtual assistants are not magical people and they don’t appear out of thin air.
Unfortunately, you need to do some work to find them. And that work can bring on a whole new source of overwhelm.
The good news is that we’re here to make this easier and more manageable for you. With so many VA companies and different ways to source virtual assistant talent out there, it can be hard to know where to start.
You may hire a VA on your own or you may go with a VA firm that will take care of many of the responsibilities of how to hire a virtual assistant for you. However, doing so comes with an additional fee.
So we’ve done the research for you and compiled a list of 10 ways to find VAs so you can get the help you need in your business and life.
The Top 10 Best Places to Begin Your Research and Find Virtual Assistants
The virtual assistant industry has recently exploded, especially since COVID, and there are many options to consider when considering how to hire a virtual assistant. Here are some options when going to hire a virtual assistant:
1. Task Bullet
TaskBullet is a virtual assistant company headquartered in the Philippines.
At TaskBullet, you buy a bucket of hours and delegate tasks to your dedicated account manager who then sources the best virtual assistant for the job. Then they manage your specialized virtual assistants for you.
It’s like having your virtual team without the hassle. Your VA pulls from the hours in your bucket while they perform your work — you can even ask them to do both personal and professional tasks.
There are no contracts or long-term commitments and they have a 60-day money-back guarantee. Prices range from $6.75/hr to $12/hr depending on how many hours you purchase.
Fiverr Marketplace is the world’s biggest online marketplace that connects businesses with on-demand freelance talent. It’s considered a “micro-task” site, where you can do relatively quick one-off tasks that they call “gigs.”
On Fiverr Marketplace, you must do the legwork to find your virtual assistant talent. You can either post “orders” or search “gigs.” Like Airbnb, you and your virtual assistants can rate each other so that you can read reviews before hiring someone.
Fiverr Business is the Fiverr platform designed especially for larger groups and enterprises, Fiverr Business offers features like collaborating on a single project, using a common payment method, monitoring the project’s development, and gathering feedback all in one place.
Onlinejobs.ph is the largest online marketplace for finding and hiring Filipino virtual assistants and employees.
They don’t take a commission out of workers’ rates as other sites do. Instead, there is a low monthly fee that you can cancel at any time. This results in significantly lower costs for employers.
The site has lots of content that is worth reading even if you hire someone from another site.
4. Virtual Latinos
As the name suggests, Virtual Latinos is a service for hiring virtual assistants from Latin America.
One thing that I love about Virtual Latinos is that they hand-pick a selection of candidates for you. If you’re in North America, a huge benefit of hiring from Virtual Latinos is that they’re either in your time zone or within a minimal difference.
Like Task Bullet, at VL you get a dedicated customer success agent. However, unlike Task Bullet, at VL you choose individual VAs and there’s a minimum of 20 hours/week.
On Upwork, you can find all sorts of professionals who are experts in their respective fields and have a wide range of skills to offer, including virtual assistants.
You can also post your services and be found by clients from all over the world — this can be helpful especially for solopreneurs to bring in extra money while building their startup.
You can post a project/job with a clear job description and potential candidates would apply.
This privately held American company provides assistant services to professionals, entrepreneurs, and small corporate teams.
They find and train US-based virtual assistants who are college-educated, and “ready to work from day 1.”
7. Fancy Hands
Also, US-based, Fancy Hands operates on a recurring subscription model and they offer an affordable alternative when looking for a task-based virtual assistant service in the USA.
At Fancy Hands, small business owners submit requests by phone, web, text, email, or an app and they handle the rest for you.
Persona places remote executive assistants, but only after putting them through a rigorous candidate vetting process. According to their website, Persona only hires 1 virtual assistant for every 1000 applications they receive.
This ensures that their clients always receive high-quality service and support. Persona strives to provide an exceptional experience for both its clients and employees.
If it helps with the sales and support that you need, then CrewBloom might be the right choice for you. CrewBloom offers competitive pricing, thorough candidate screening, and a risk-free trial with no contractual obligations.
10. Random Dude from the Internet
Did you know that 50% of new hires fail?
Let’s face it, hiring is hard and you’re bound to make mistakes even when you think that you have the toughest vetting process possible. Even when you have all of the information on how to do it, hiring virtual assistants can be a time-consuming pain in the neck.
So why not hire the next random VA who messages you on LinkedIn? I decided to try that approach for my most recent virtual assistant hire and guess what? He is one of the best hires I’ve ever made.
His name is Shiva and he rocks! I started by assigning him small, as-needed, tasks and now he takes on more responsibilities as our relationship grows. He’s mainly handling my cold email outreach and inbox management. Hit us up on Instagram if you want an introduction.
1. How Can You Decide Which Virtual Assistant Company Is Right for Your Business Needs?
To decide which virtual assistant company is right for your business needs, you should consider the following factors:
- The size of your business: If you have a small business, you may not need all of the services that a larger virtual assistant company can provide. Conversely, if you have a large business, you may need a virtual assistant company that can provide more comprehensive services.
- The type of industry you are in: Some virtual assistant companies may specialize in certain industries, such as design or admin. If you are in a specific industry, you may want to consider a virtual assistant company that specializes in that industry so that they are familiar with the terminology and processes.
- Your budget: Virtual assistant companies can vary greatly in price. You should consider how much you are willing to spend on virtual assistant services before you start looking at companies.
Once you have considered these factors, you can start to look at different virtual assistant companies and compare their services. Make sure to read reviews of each company so that you can get an idea of their reputation.
You should also contact each company and ask them specific questions about their services to ensure that they are a good fit for your needs.
2. If I Use An Agency, Can I Have A Dedicated Assistant?
There are a few different types of virtual assistant companies that you can work with.
The first is an agency, which is a company that provides assistants to multiple clients. This can be a good option if you need someone with specific skills or if you want to have a dedicated assistant.
The downside is that agencies can be more expensive than other options.
An upside, however, is that you can have a dedicated client success manager, or a relationship manager, and agencies generally have backup assistants in case your virtual assistant becomes unavailable.
3. How Do I Know If I’m Ready to Hire A Virtual Assistant?
It’s not just feeling overwhelmed that makes you know that you’re ready to dive into the world of virtual assistants.
This article assumes that you’ve got the budget and the cash flow and that you can define clear expectations and job descriptions.
If you’re not quite there yet, that’s okay too. You can work your way toward it in whatever manner you choose.
Just keep in mind that you’ll need to have a plan and some guidelines in place before you can start outsourcing your work. Your job description should clearly outline what you’re looking for in the candidate.
Also, if you’re not already using a project management tool like Trello or Asana, now would be a good time to start. These tools will be invaluable in helping you keep track of tasks and deadlines. They will also help you communicate better with your team.
4. What Are The Legal Considerations When Hiring Virtual Assistants?
The excitement of launching a startup can inspire immediate action, and hiring a team can seem like a sign of growth. But bringing on new team members brings the potential of new and unforeseen liabilities. While hiring VAs from service providers may mitigate some of your risks, you must stay abreast of employment laws.
As an experienced founder for the last 25 years, I’ve learned that when it comes to building a team, you must be compliant with local, state, and federal labor laws. The sound of legal costs might sound scary but a small investment now could save you hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars later. Trust me – been there and done that!
These days there are some affordable options. My go-to startup attorney, who I refer my clients, is Garza Law, which also has some educational content on its website about hiring startup employees.
When you make virtual assistants part of your team, remember that they are human beings. As John Jonas of OnlineJobs.ph says, VAs are not magical beings. As you start building your team, you’ll need to learn how to manage them.
Here are three of my favorite reads on the topic:
How to Be a Great Boss by Gino Wickman and Rene Boer
Radical Candor by Kim Scott
It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson of Basecamp
Hiring a virtual assistant can be a great way to free up your time and focus on the things that you’re good at. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before you hire someone.
Make sure to do your research, create clear expectations, and use a project management tool to help you communicate with your team. You should also be aware of the legal considerations when hiring virtual assistants. Remember, VAs are not magical beings, so manage them accordingly!
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