Full disclosure: I am CEO and founder of Time etc a Virtual Assistant service - however I have written this guide impartially - staying away from specific service provider recommendations.
When you're looking for a Virtual Assistant service you'll find that there are lots of Virtual Assistant services out there to suit ever possible need and budget. They have different selling points, advantages and disadvantages.
Here are three simple things that will help you to narrow your search:
Decide on purpose first
Although the industry uses the blanket term "Virtual Assistant" in reality Virtual Assistants can be wildly different. It's a bit like saying that a junior admin assistant is the same as an executive assistant with years of experience in big companies - they're both great, but suitable for very different types of work.
One of the most important factors in establishing which Virtual Assistant service to go with is to establish what the purpose of you wanting to hire a Virtual Assistant is.
Do you need to do low value back office work like data entry? If so, a lower cost Virtual Assistant based overseas might be a suitable answer for you. Whereas if you want a Virtual Assistant that's going to help you achieve your goals you're probably going to want to hire a Virtual Assistant with a strong background and years of experience relatively locally to you.
Different Virtual Assistant services sell their services in very different ways - but now that you've decided on the purpose of your Virtual Assistant requirement you should find it easier to decide whether you want to go with a low cost overseas Virtual Assistant service or a bespoke, tailored and more expensive Virtual Assistant service with local Virtual Assistants.
Then decide on budget and country
When you've decided on purpose, the next thing to do is work out how much you're prepared to spend and whether or not the country that your Virtual Assistant is based in is important to you.
If you need an assistant to do simple back office type work you may decide you don't want to pay a premium and you're happy to compromise on communication, quality and timezones by placing the work overseas with a low cost provider.
I'll write another article about why choosing a Virtual Assistant in your country is a good idea (in my view) for a number of important communication, legal and regulatory reasons.
If your purpose for a Virtual Assistant service is to support you in accelerating towards your goals you're going to want to bear that in mind when setting your budget. What will it *really* be worth to you to find an experienced Virtual Assistant who could make a big difference in whether or not you achieve your goals this year?
Experienced Virtual Assistants based locally aren't cheap - however something to bear in mind is that they typically only charge for the work they do. Because you're not paying for tea breaks and downtime you are almost always guaranteed to save a considerable amount of money vs hiring, even if the Virtual Assistant's hourly rate appears high.
A small note: When considering whether to use an independent Virtual Assistant rather than a Virtual Assistant Service remember to ask what backup they will provide in the event that they are ill or on holiday and therefore not able to do the work you need. Many Virtual Assistant services build this into their service - and other safety measures like money back guarantees.
Finally, read reviews
One of the crucial steps involved in finding a Virtual Assistant service you can rely on is to read reviews. Thankfully there are several good Virtual Assistant review websites with hundreds of reviews from happy and unhappy clients. One I recommend is VirtualAssistantAssistant.com - run by Nick Loper who will even help you find the right Virtual Assistant based on your requirements too.