The virtual assistant space has grown dramatically in the world of the You Economy. The numbers continue to expand into many niche-focused areas to assist individuals with tasks, content, business finances, and everything you might imagine.
“There are more than 5,000 virtual assistants listed on Upwork, 74,000 on Guru, 26,000 on Freelancer, and 5,000 on PeoplePerHour. And freelancing platforms don't include VAs who have their own websites or offer their services through other methods. (2017)” Lana Bandoim
The following information is from my personal experiences specific to hiring a virtual assistant and teams for my tasks. It may offer some insights to your own business or specific needs.
Finding a Virtual Assistant: I first read the widely popular book by Tim Ferris, The 4-Hour Workweek in 2009. If you have not read this book, it’s a must for business owners, adventurers, solopreneurs and any one looking to expand their life experiences. (I am a bit bias as I have been a fan of Tim Ferris and all his books and podcasts). This book exposed me to the thoughts of what would happen if I outsourced my bill paying, database work, and possible assistance with brand building. Tim listed several firms in India for virtual assistants and this is where I started and after a bit of “weeding out”, I found a good firm resource to handle some of my tasks.
Today, it’s much easier to find virtual assistants in country or out of country. The platforms have expanded as I noted above, but when I started searching the vast majority of firms were in India.
Why Would You Need a Virtual Assistant – I looked at my time throughout the day and analyzed time that could be better used to grow my business with sales vs. the minutia of actually handling so many tasks. When you start your business and bootstrap it, surely you will do everything, including sales, accounting, marketing, execution of product or service, customer services, etc; however, I highly recommend looking at the low-cost approaches to outsourcing simple repetitive tasks to a virtual assistant. Your focus growing any business is to increase sales. It’s that simple – without sales you have no business. Improving your productivity is the key.
Where to Hire?
You can hire locally, regionally or within country for specific tasks. Personally, I have experienced great success with my team in the Philippines. There is very little communication gap (English), which is concern with some countries. They handle a host of tasks from marketing, campaign launches, communications, CRM management and posting of articles.
I also use a team in India with labor-intensive activities of database management, website design and technical support.
It’s important to build a trusted relationship with your team and just like a regular full-time employee. Figure out what motivates them along with building tools that can continue the learning process with ongoing education. Consider additional bonus compensation, gifts, additional projects as tools to retaining a virtual assistant team.
Mistakes of Hiring a Virtual Assistant
You need to be specific to the exact task and process you need completed – this is crucial. Many virtual assistants who offer value can provide recommendations to streamline your processes.
If you produce consistent content (newsletters, blogs, articles, books), don’t have your virtual assistant write the copy. Editing, posting, etc. for sure and perfect for your virtual assistant, but you still need to speak with your own voice to your customers through content (audio, text or video).
Clear communication and expectations must be established in writing with an understanding by both parties of who’s responsible for what and the tasks or instructions. Also, consider monitoring the production and time from your virtual assistant for the first month of engagement.
If you don’t know how to do the specific task you want to outsource, don’t outsource it and have a hope for the best mindset. You must know how to do the task and clearly communicate the process to the virtual assistant. This is one area why so many individuals get frustrated and give up on a virtual assistant.
Biggest mistake of the Goal of Increased Productivity
What do you do with your free time? How many times have you heard that question with respect to your business or family? Having a virtual assistant will free up time; however, without a PLAN on what you will do to be more productive with the time, then it becomes a waste of financial resources. It’s crucial to develop a well thought out plan on how this additional time can be converted to growing your business or other aspects of your life.
Everything is negotiable, so there is no set cost or hourly rate. Plan on the following based on geographic region based upon my experiences hiring virtual assistants.
US – hourly rates from $18 - $40 per hour (depending on tasks and experience)
India – hourly rates for database management, searches/research, website design - $7 - $25
Philippines – hourly rates $4 - $15 for a multitude of tasks including posting of content, managing CRM system, social media, brand building, etc.
You may wonder how some individuals seem to get so much done during the day in their business and for many, the answer is they have a great team of virtual assistants.
My personal experience has been exceptional with my virtual assistants (there have been challenges for sure). My measured productivity has increased 10 fold over the last 10 years using virtual assistants.
Hiring a virtual assistant is not for everyone (especially if you tend to be a micromanager) but if you want to grow your business and/or have more focus on your life experiences, it’s a worthwhile endeavor. Change your mindset of the negative: “I don’t have the money to pay someone to do basic tasks.” and think about the positives – “I can free up my time from mundane tasks”.