If you run your own business or work in a high-level position, you’ve no doubt thought about improving your productivity.
Like most people, you probably find that there are just not enough hours in the day to get everything done.
But, take a step back. Think about where all those hours go. Is it answering emails? Setting up meetings? Reviewing documents? Uploading content to your website?
What if you had someone who could get everything organized and handle all your administrivia so you could focus on the work that produces real value?
You can – it’s called a virtual assistant.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant is not a robot or a computer program. It’s a real person who is employed by you but works remotely. Since most of the work they do is online, a virtual assistant could work from anywhere in the world.
Generally, virtual assistants handle administrative tasks, though it is common for a virtual assistant to have a broad skill set and do anything from graphic design to generating reports to answering emails on your behalf.
What Are the Benefits of a Virtual Assistant?
Many entrepreneurs hire virtual assistants when they are starting out and can’t yet afford full-time employees.
If you find yourself working long hours, spending all your time on tasks you don’t like, or losing customers and clients because you can’t keep up with phone calls and emails, then a virtual assistant can help you.
While the specific benefits of a virtual assistant will depend on the work you assign them, overall they can:
• Increase your efficiency
• Accelerate business growth
• Reduce costs
• Strengthen weak areas
Where Can You Find One?
People often recommend that you use a specific platform to hire a virtual assistant, but really you can place an ad on any job site or even LinkedIn.
Another way is simply to put a call out to your network. As with most positions, hiring someone who comes with a recommendation from someone you know is much more likely to be a fit for your business.
How Do You Hire Someone You Can Trust?
If you’re posting a job ad through a website or using a virtual assistant service, it’s worth vetting potential candidates by placing trick questions or other details in your ad.
For example, at the end of the ad instruct the applicant to use the word “banana” in the subject line of the application. You can immediately disregard any applicants that omit this step. If someone can’t follow an instruction this simple, what will happen when you give them something important and complicated?
There are also interview questions you can use to assess what an applicant might value. For example, give them a multiple choice question like: what is the most important quality in an employee: communication skills, honesty, or flexibility? If they give any answer other than “honesty,” you know it’s something they don’t value highly.
In short, a virtual assistant can be incredibly valuable, especially if you are an entrepreneur or run a small online business. In fact, hiring one might just change your life for the better—so why not give it a go?
For more great tips on outsourcing, check out my interview with Trivinia Barber on the Optimized Geek podcast.