Your business is finally starting to show signs of growth.
Your clients are happy.
You're just starting to expand your team.
Which is great, except...
Now you've got loads to do.
Far too much to do all by yourself - realistically!
Can you be bothered to go through the rigamarole of meeting and training a brand new PA?
That's another task for the list all itself.
Fortunately, things are a lot easier (and cheaper) these days.
And it's all because of the internet.
...Oh, and virtual assistants, or freelance personal assistants.
Only 5 years ago, one of my clients was just starting out as a small business.
Luckily enough, that small business started growing.
This was all well and good, but there was just one not-so-little problem:
Their to-do lists were getting longer by the hour.
The company laptops were struggling to keep up with the demands.
And my client? They were struggling to find the time to sleep!
There simply weren't enough hours in the day.
Virtual Assistants - a.k.a. freelance personal assistants - changed the way they worked.
Even to this day - a whopping half a decade later - hiring a Virtual Assistant is still one of the best decisions they ever made.
They could finally delegate the tasks that were eating away at the time they needed to reserve for actually doing business.
They received the high-quality support they expected from a trained PA.
But they didn't have to buy a new desk or laptop.
My client's small business witnessed a 27.9% growth in revenue after they hired our Virtual Assistant, confirming the new temporary team member as their favourite trick for getting ahead in business.
So, I've decided to save you the time I spent on researching and leave you with only the benefits.
We're going to look at:
- What freelance personal assistants are
- How to deduce what you are looking for in a virtual assistant
- How to use Virtual Assistant agencies
- How to use freelance marketplaces
- How to network your way to your Virtual Assistant
- How to pick your top-candidate for a Virtual Assistant
It's pretty obvious, isn't it?
They are personal assistants that freelance and works with multiple clients simultaneously.
Previously, personal assistants used to work in the office provide support from there.
But the question is: how can a PA work with multiple clients at the same time?
How can a freelance personal assistant be in two places at once?
Well, this is why they are more often known as Virtual Assistants.
Read More: Wikipedia on Virtual Assistants
Basically, they are remote workers who provide their personal assistant services to different clients via the internet.
But the really great thing about VAs isn't just the fact that you don't have to clear the space for a new desk in your already cramped office.
It's that you can test their skills , and conclude which candidate will fit your business.
VAs tend to take on a mix of roles.
They could focus on administrative tasks or they could be a jack of all trades' - they could even have prior experience in your particular field.
Evidently, finding a top assistant for your business is not as difficult a process as first thought.
Making any business decision is no easy feat.
What if it this new method doesn't work out?
What if this practise is a waste of time? What if that one breaks the bank?
We've all been there.
That's why you need to work out what you are looking for in a freelance personal assistant before you even type virtual assistants near me' into Google.
Only then can you be sure that you'll find the perfect match.
And there are actually 2 types of VA you need to be aware of.
I've compared them to help you make a decision:
|General Virtual Assistant||Specialised Virtual Assistant|
What are they?
This is the most common type of VA, and they tend to take on the daily tasks that are key to run your business.
However, they have no part in running your actual business.
This is someone with a specific skill set.
They are best suited to overseeing a process from which they have specialist knowledge in.
What tasks do they tend to do?
- Managing emails and schedules
- Scheduling appointments
- Data entry
- Scheduling social media posts
- Customer service
- Video editing
- Project management
How best can you use them?
Its best to outsource specific tasks as you need to train them in these tasks
It's best to outsource specific outcomes.
They have more knowledge in that area than you have, so you should tell them what to do, not how to do it.
Keeping these definitions in mind, you need to consider what roles they would take on.
Would you require someone to stay in the remit of administrative tasks?
Or would they transform your social media?
Will they be delegated your data analysis?
Could they perhaps be the face - or rather, the voice - of your customer service?
As with any business decision, you need to consider your business first.
You always put your business first, so why wouldn't you do the same when hiring a new teammate?
Read More: What do virtual assistants do?
You also need to think about:
- The amount you are willing to spend on a virtual assistant
- The amount of time you want to hire a virtual assistant for
Take my client's business:
They were in need of some help; they were in desperate need of a VA.
Thus, they were willing to fork out more money for longer periods of assistance.
So when they hired their favourite VA - Natasha - they knew they could afford 12 hours a week for 2 months.
But before all this, they worked out that they wanted to spend around £100 a week to ensure the high quality support they needed.
And that made the search so much quicker.
Once you've asked yourself these questions - and hopefully have some answers - you then have 3 paths to follow when it comes to finding a freelance personal assistant:
- Using an agency to choose between a variety of virtual assistants,
- Using freelance marketplaces to sift through potential VAs yourself
- Networking to discover your ideal virtual assistant.
If you're looking for a quick solution, check out our comparison of the 3 methods:
|Using an agency||Freelance marketplace||Networking|
Length of search
Super quick, and super simple.
I just typed in what they was looking for, and quick as a flash - there was Natasha.
There is instantly a huge pool of talent to choose from at your fingertips.
But it was that process of choosing, and interviewing that was eating into my client's 9-to-5.
There is a huge pool of talent, but it's a few clicks away from being at your feet. And by that I mean it required a lengthy search.
They were asking friends, navigating LinkedIn, tweeting the world...
The fees for these high quality agencies did increase the hiring price of our VAs, but you know that the service will be well worth the cost.
The fees did increase the price of the hires, but this wasn't as much as much as high-quality agencies.
No agency or marketplace fees makes this the cheapest option.
Quality of service
As there is a vetting process put in place, we were guaranteed a high quality VA from the second we clicked sign up.'
And you can be sure that they aren't scamming you for your cash.
All too frequently, employers fall for scammers.
(Heck, we lost ||$||32||$|| to one of them.)
As many of these websites fail to provide the vetting you need to find a high-quality VA, it is a hit-and-miss situation.
There are noticeably less scammers when networking, but as you do not have a third-party there to check for quality, we had to place more importance on testing their skills.
This is by far the easiest path to take when it comes to virtual assistants.
And let me second that.
This is also my top solution to finding a top assistant.
Agencies allow you to vet the skills and experience of your potential VA, and many guarantee a high-quality service.
For example, most have a minimum number of years of experience.
Take Virtalent : this agency requires at least 8 years of professional experience.
As we could compare different virtual assistants, we knew that we could find the best one to fit us.
It also meant that I could save on the time researching a VA myself, and I didn't have to face the threat of your VA disappearing without a trace.
If they did happen to resign their role, I knew that I could easily be supplied with a new assistant.
You can also get free consultations and free trials.
To save you time on working out which of these agency is for you, we've compiled and compared some of our top-rated Virtual Assistant agencies:
It was often noted that there was a lot of VAs to choose from. Whether you're a start-up, or standing strong in the FTSE 100, they have the VA for you.
The reviews noted that you are allocated an assistant by lining up their skills with your business' needs.
Sounds easy and effective, right?
Clients loved that there are no joining fees, no commitment fees, and no long term contracts.
||$||211.68||$|| per month for 10 hours
||$||96.22||$|| a week for 20 hours
||$||114||$|| a month for 3 hours of work
They decline 200 applications for every one they accept!
So, if you're looking for high quality assistance, look no further.
This agency really does cover anything for any company.
From office support to content creation , there is no shortage of skills here.
This might be a small agency that can only take on a few clients at a time, but if you want a task-based service, this is an option for you.
They specialise in this kind of work.
Clearly, agencies take the hard work out of looking for a VA.
You can be guaranteed the high-quality freelance PA your business deserves, and you won't have to spend your own time searching for them!
Freelance marketplaces are teeming with Freelance Personal Assistants.
And while they're a useful resource to compile all the options, you'll be the one that has to go through them!
You'll have to sift through the potential VAs, and won't be guaranteed the high-quality you expect.
This is very typical of using one of these marketplaces.
(You post the tasks you need done, and potential VAs respond with their rates and information.)
On average, most posts by employers get between 25 and 100 responses.
Now that's a lot of time wasted looking through all the candidates!
And guess what? They even tend to be more expensive than networking your way to a VA.
As the contractors - the VAs - have to account for fees to be on the marketplace , they will include this in their rates.
Maybe you want to deal with a VA directly?
Perhaps you want control of the whole process?
If so, marketplaces are the path you should follow. And to make your life a bit easier, here is a list I've compiled of the most well-known ones, the net over...
Customers disliked the poor customer service and problems with payment.
There are mainly claims of scammers using their website.
They are rated highly for their clear, safe and reliable platform.
Employers pay ||$||1||$|| on services up to ||$||20||$||, or 5% of the total fee on purchases above ||$||20||$||
2.5% handling fee every time they pay an invoice for a job done.
||$||0.73||$|| and a 10% processing fee per job.
Or, you can purchase packages that range from ||$||12.22||$|| to ||$||1587.96||$||.
With over 3 million contractors worldwide , you can be sure to find a VA for you.
It gives you access to the files you need to use, and it even has a time tracker of your freelance hours.
This freelance marketplace is trusted by small businesses mainly.
As you can see, some of these sites don't receive super high rates of satisfaction.
Certainly not the high rates that your business deserves.
Personally, my client avoided this route due to the threat of scammers.
And no, we weren't the only ones to lose money to them.
And that's exactly why you should use agencies instead; you won't have to waste time sifting through scammers, and praying that the job you need done actually gets done.
Agencies can fulfill the promise of high-quality VAs.
But if you're interested in keeping your costs down - and want to take control of every inch of your business - freelance platforms with a good reputation are the place to start your search.
Everything we do these days seems to flow through some form of social media.
So why would hiring some help be any different?
That's why using social and professional networks to locate a VA is one of the most popular paths to follow.
Word of mouth might get you far in day-to-day business dealings, but it won't cast a wide enough net to get you the perfect Virtual Assistant.
Fact is, the whole work is linked nowadays.
There is a whole sea of international talent just waiting to tick those tasks off your to-do list.
And you can't do this through your 40 connections on LinkedIn.
Some suggest using LinkedIn , others Facebook.
And sure, this process will require a greater depth of research than with agencies or freelance marketplaces
You'll have to assess their work history yourself.
Oh, and then you'll have to confirm that they actually did this work, and aren't trying to scam you.
However, if they've been referred by friends or colleagues, this will provide the vetting that you can only get with agencies.
Whether you're asking at a local networking group, scouring groups of field-relevant seminars, or sending out a tweet - this could be an option...
Let's say you've found a freelance personal assistant.
Or maybe you've just brought together a few of your top contenders?
If so, you want to make sure you've made the right decision, and that you really take on the right candidate.
It's no surprise that if you've never worked with a virtual assistant, you might be hesitant to use this brand new method of outsourcing.
My first tip is this: use a trial task to vet your potential candidates.
The main reason they hired Natasha was because of how she handled their data-entry trial task.
It's all well and good to have 20 years of administrative experience under your belt, but what if they can barely make sense of Excel?
If they produce work that is up to - or even above - your standards, then great.
Go ahead, and click hire'.
My second tip doesn't stray too far from this: use a trial period.
Most jobs utilise this to ensure a high-quality hire, so why wouldn't a virtual assistant operate under the same conditions?
You are perfectly within your rights to hire temporary VA's and then let them go when necessary.
If they aren't doing the job, don't waste anymore time or money paying them for it.
They had to fire 2 virtual assistants until they landed on a new - and perfect - teammate.
The first was through the dreaded freelance marketplace, and nabbed ||$||32||$|| quid without even opening Excel.
And the other? She simply couldn't work at the speed they needed her to work at.
With agencies, you can easily stop hiring them, and be provided with a replacement who will serve your needs better.
No awkward confrontations and no guilty feelings - the agency do all the hard work for you.
Lucky for you, most virtual assistant agencies hire and train their virtual assistants for the tasks they should be proficient in.
This ensures the service you need for your business is up to scratch.
So, by now you should know how to find the best virtual assistant for you.
We know that a new hire is always a scary prospect:
Will it work out?
Will they provide the quality of work you hope for?
Am I certain this isn't all just be a waste of money?
I can tell you from experience: yes.
That's why using an agency - or using a lengthy process of monitoring your VA - is our top-rated method of finding the top assistant for you.
Now it's over to you:
What method are you going to use for finding your new freelance personal assistant?
And what tasks will you delegate? Better start that to-do list