In this series I’ve been covering why someone would want to become a Virtual Assistant, why a VA might want to join a VA Network and now why a client would use a VA, or VAs.
Generally most business owners start up a business because they’re good at doing something and they want to run the show themselves, instead of answering to a boss. That’s all well and good, but with business ownership, comes all those other things that also need to be done, to keep the business running smoothly, the clients coming in, payments being received and the bills being paid, along with being able to live the lifestyle you choose. And do you take your admin work home to do, instead of spending time with the family?
That means the following also needs to be done on a regular basis:
- promotion of business through several activities: broadcast emails, newsletters, blog posts, social media activity, other forms of advertising
- bookkeeping and payment of bills
- following up clients to ensure invoices are paid timely
- data entry of new contacts into computer or online database
- update and maintenance of website
- phone answering
- quotes being sent out
- word-processing and formatting or documentation
- letters being typed and sent out
- conference notes transcribed
- maintaining contact with key clients through the sending of cards, letters or gifts
There are a number of other items too, but these are a good start. No-one is a true all-rounder. While we all can carry out the above and more, the reality is that we’re usually only really good at a number of things and the rest gets done when we get the time, or if we can be bothered. Which means something has to give sooner or later – and often it’s our access to funds and our business begins floundering.
Enter the Virtual Assistant. All of which is listed above can be carried out by one or more Virtual Assistants. I say ‘more’ because not every VA can do everything that’s needed. But you can, realistically, engage more than one to carry out all that you need to be done. Wait, stop right there! Engaging one or more VAs does not mean you’ll be paying out all your hard-earned dollars. I know what you’re thinking. It’s not costing you anything to do those things, even if you’re slower at them. But think about this for a minute. What is your time worth? Why do those things get shoved aside, or not completed properly? Is it true that you could be spending more time on client work, or promoting for more clients, or networking to meet more clients, if you didn’t have all that other stuff to do? Would you be more organised and more aware of your outgoings and incomings if someone else was keeping it up to date for you? And what about following up those tardy clients who haven’t paid you yet so you can pay your bills? How up to date is your database and when did you last do a newsletter?
When engaging the services of a VA or VAs, there are some things you need to think about:
- Where will that VA be located? Is it important that they’re local so you can connect with them face-to-face sometimes? This is necessary for some but not for all.
- Should the VA be familiar with legalities, taxes, etc where you are located? This would be the case if it was your bookkeeping and possibly other activities.
- Is the VA working in the same daylight hours as you? If they’re answering your phone then this would be a good idea.
- How does the VA handle the phone if they’re going to be speaking to your customers or suppliers?
- What is their written English like if they’re going to be communicating on your behalf by email and social media?
- What are their rates and in what currency?
- What are their abilities and how efficient are they?
- How often are they available?
- What is their experience and skill set?
- Can they commit to long-term support?
- Do they have a back-up plan or support if they’re not available for a period of time?
- How do they bill you – is it on a retainer basis, or do they invoice you weekly, monthly, or…?
There are other things to consider too, such as protection of your IP, your database list and so on. There may be need for a confidentiality agreement to be signed.
The reality is that a VA can be engaged from many countries all over the world. While the industry initially began in both the US and Australia at the same time (mid 1990s), it quickly spread to the UK, Canada, New Zealand and then India, Philippines, Singapore, France, South Africa, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, and I’ve even met a VA online in Brazil. I’m sure there are other countries on board too.
The Virtual Assistant Networks established to help people like you find the right VA for your needs. But not only that, for the growth and development of the industry. They help educate VAs and provide them with resources as well as providing you a way to connect with several in one hit. You can fill out their request form, list what it is you want done, and then receive several responses outlining the experience of each VA, their turnaround times and what their rates are. Remember that often a VA could complete a task that might take you 3-4 hours in a much shorter time frame. And this is a saving for you when you consider you can be spending that time doing something else in, or on, your business instead. Generally the VA Networks also have membership criteria, which means you’ll be engaging support that has experience in whatever the service is that they’re providing. And they will have a back up support team behind them, for when there is the need. VA Networks don’t charge the clients for the service – the VAs pay an annual membership fee to be listed.
Makes sense, doesn’t it? To engage someone who can look after the daily running of your business so you’re free to do what you really started out to do – servicing clients with the very thing that you wanted to provide them. You don’t have to engage a VA for a set amount of time, although some may have retainer packages. It could be for just an hour a week, or 10 hours a month, or whatever works for you. And you can increase or decrease the hours as your working relationship develops and you understand what can be achieved. What a VA charges will often be less than what you charge in your own business. But even if their rates were similar, consider that they will often complete a job that takes you 3-4 hours in a 1-2 hour period, depending on what that thing is. It means your time is being freed up to earn more so that you can develop your business more. Makes sense doesn’t it? Maybe it’s time to start your search right now!