The following is a guest post by Kathrine Farris, Owner of Strategic Office Support a virtual assisting company.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
Virtual Assistants (VAs) have been around since the 1990’s, providing off-site administrative support to busy entrepreneurs. They work from essentially anywhere in the world using the latest technology to communicate and assist their clients with a variety of functions.
Recently the popularity of VAs has increased due to an economy that has not fostered confidence for hiring, increased government regulations on employment as well as an increase in the number of unemployed skilled professionals.
Why use a VA?
A Virtual Assistant is an independent contractor, running a professional business with multiple clients. This eliminates the need for complex payroll and expensive tax payments. This will also eliminate overhead expenses equipment expenses training time and costs benefit costs and downtime.
In addition to saving money, you gain a lot of benefits with a VA. Because Virtual Assistants are business owners and entrepreneurs like yourself, they have a better understanding of how to support you than the average employee may have. They are driven to stay aware of market trends and new technology so they can help their clients find the best solutions and improve efficiency.
How to choose a VA
Because there are a variety of skill levels among Virtual Assistants, it is important to research and interview a VA before hiring them. Many Virtual Assistants even have specialties to offer or work within a specific industry in order to further increase their level of service.
Some things to look for in a Virtual Assistant:
- A professional website- As a virtual business owner their website should provide a good representation of their company.
- Testimonials – request references from past clients that you can contact.
- A contract-As a professional business owner a VA should have a client contract outlining terms and conditions such as privacy and payment details.
- Education- While it is not required to become certified as a VA, continuing education certainly shows initiative and pride in their business.
- Experience-Even a new VA should have a resume that describes past employment history and experience to validate their abilities.
In addition to these basics, you will want to understand your own needs before searching for a VA.
Questions to consider when searching for a VA:
- Does their time zone matter?
- What skill level does your VA need?
- What specific programs will you need help with?
- Do you want your VA to be proactive or reactive?
- What do you expect from a VA?
It’s important to understand your needs and expectations in order to get the best support for your needs. You could be very disappointed if you choose a VA who is great with simple tasks such as email or calendar management and you spend hours training them on updating your e-newsletter only to find out that you need a VA who can also help with more technical tasks. Similarly if you choose a VA with a strictly secretarial background and no management experience; you could be disappointed if you expected them to be proactive and help you improve your business rather than just operating at status quo.
What’s the moral of the story?
No matter what the economy is doing or how complicated regulations get, business owners still need to be able to operate; and as technology advances the business needs to operate with increasing efficiency. Virtual Assistants can help!
With a Virtual Assistant you can choose the skill level specialties experience and commitment that will best suite your needs.
About the Author: Kathrine Farris, Owner & Virtual Business Professional behind Strategic Office Support (formerly Office Solutions ME), a Virtual Assisting company that specializes in supporting Professional Speakers Authors Consultants as well as Business and Life Coaches. Kathrine has over 13 years of experience in Administrative and Managerial tasks including customer service finance retail sales higher education non-profits and small business. Kathrine’s background is well-rounded including; formal education and training employment experience and participation in various organizations and events.
In 2009, she started her own company seeking to use and share her skills and experience to help Maine businesses become more efficient productive and successful by outsourcing their administrative functions.
Today, Kathrine manages a team of Virtual Assistants who provide a variety of professional business support to entrepreneurs around the world allowing them to delegate effectively increase their productivity and improve their business.