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The Ultimate Guide to Finding a Virtual Assistant

Barnaby

Barnaby Lashbrooke

Founder and CEO of Time etc, author of The Hard Work Myth

10 minute read

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Life as an entrepreneur can be incredibly fulfilling and rewarding, but it’s not without its challenges. With so many things vying for our attention both at work and at home, you’d have to be Superman to be able to manage all your responsibilities and execute all your plans—let alone find any time for a well-deserved break.

This is why increasing numbers of entrepreneurs and business owners each year are realizing the value of having someone on hand to lighten their load and help them keep things ticking over in the background, freeing up their attention for more meaningful and impactful work in their business.

What is a VA?

A virtual assistant is an independent professional who provides support to their clients from a remote location outside of their client’s business.

For many modern professionals and business owners, virtual assistants have become essential parts of their operation, providing a much-needed extra set of hands to help with the growing demands of their ventures.

With the annual salary of an experienced executive assistant averaging at £33,478 in the UK and $64,535 in the US, businesses don’t just save time with virtual assistants, they can save a considerable amount of money, too. When you hire VAs you only pay for their productive time working on your tasks, making it up to 90% cheaper than recruiting a full-time employee. Just think of what your company could achieve with that extra budget…

Five Signs You Need A Virtual Assistant

You Feel Stressed And Overworked

Does your to-do list seem to grow longer every day, yet you can’t seem to cross anything off? Does it feel like you’re always working, but you’re not seeing the results you want? Feelings of overwhelm and prolonged workplace stress can lead to burnout, which can not only affect your mental and physical health but your ability to work and run your business.

There’s much to be said for the value of hard work, but not when it's at the expense of quality of work or life. A virtual assistant can help relieve some of the pressure so that you can breathe easier with fewer jobs on your plate to worry about.

Your Work-Life Balance Is At Risk

Being your own boss and running your own business can be incredibly fulfilling, especially when you are passionate about your product or service you provide. It’s easy to be consumed by something you’ve put so much blood, sweat, and tears into, and while you may love your job and all that it entails, it shouldn't define you as a person or your life as a whole.

If you find yourself always working evenings, weekends, or major holidays, or if you’ve ever brought your laptop to work during a vacation, you're doing yourself a major disservice. A virtual assistant can help you strike a healthier balance between your work and home life so that you can get the most out of both.

Your Day Is Filled With Time-Consuming And Distracting Tasks

Simply put, your time is your most precious resource. No matter how much you hustle, you can never make up for a lack of time. Common tasks like checking emails, scheduling meetings, posting on social media, invoicing, and preparing documents can be much bigger drains on your time than you think. Take emails, for example. The average full-time employee in the US spends 28% of their workday reading and replying to emails. When you realize that’s roughly 2 hours and 14 minutes per day, 11 hours and 10 minutes per week, or nearly 45 hours per month lost to one task alone, just think about all the other areas where you could be losing valuable time.

While all these tasks may need to be done, they don’t all need to be done by you. With a virtual assistant, you can make sure all bases are covered.

Important Things Are Falling Through The Cracks

Having to juggle multiple tasks and manage lots of different responsibilities can be a huge strain on both your time and your mind.

How often do you find yourself running out of time to get all your work finished, so you put some of your work off to do the next day (but then the same thing happens the next day, and the day after that…)? Have you noticed the standard of your work slipping as you’re rushing to get as much done as possible? Have issues been raised that have gone unresolved due to a lack of time? Do you have so many things on the go that it’s hard to stay organized? Are you struggling to meet deadlines or remember important events?

If you answered “Yes” to any of the above, a virtual assistant could be just what you need to help avoid costly mistakes.

You Lack The Time And Energy To Drive Your Business Forward

If at the end of another long, busy day you feel like all your efforts are just keeping your business ticking over instead of meeting your goals, it can be incredibly frustrating.

There are only so many hours in a day, and your own energy (both physical and mental) is in limited supply. As the head of your business, you need to make sure your time and energy are used in the most efficient ways and to make the biggest impacts on your growth.

How a Virtual Assistant Can Help

In most cases, virtual assistants have many years of professional experience under their belt and can skilfully manage a broad range of tasks.

Some of the common tasks that virtual assistants can provide support with are:

  • Managing your schedule
  • Managing your inbox
  • Sorting your expenses and receipts
  • Data entry
  • Editing or formatting documents
  • Transcribing audio or video
  • Booking travel and accommodation

But we know that these aren’t the only jobs that can eat away at your time and hold you back from focusing on more important business-critical tasks. No matter what industry you're in, if it’s not the best use of your time as the head of your business, chances are it could be handled by a virtual assistant.

  • Sales admin
  • Keeping your CRM or database up-to-date
  • Creating and sending invoices
  • Following up on late payments
  • Researching
  • Writing, proofreading, or publishing content
  • Updating your website
  • Managing social media accounts
  • Creating email campaigns
  • Creating marketing and sales material

Some entrepreneurs and business owners are resistant to the idea of delegating items on their to-do list, it might feel like they’re losing control or that doing “less” work reflects poorly on their work ethic. But there is no shame in enlisting help with your workload. Whatever your reason, you owe it to yourself—and your business—to be able to make the most of your time, focus on what matters the most, and maximize your success.

But when you need help, we know you don’t want to wait around. You want your solution to be as quick and easy as possible.

Finding The Right Virtual Assistant For You

Once you've decided that hiring VAs is the way forward, what happens now? Whether it’s a virtual assistant for small business needs that you’re after, a virtual secretary, or executive assistant remote support, it can be tricky to know where to start.

We know exactly how much of a precious asset your time is, so to save wasting any time through trial and error, here are the crucial things you should nail down before you begin your search to help you get the best person for the job…

Why?

Think about why you want to hire a virtual assistant in the first place. What problems are you trying to solve? What are you hoping to achieve? It may sound simple, but answering those questions will help give you a clear understanding of what you will need, or not need, from an assistant. This leads us to…

What?

What will you want your assistant to do? What are the pain points in your to-do list that you need relieving? What would make your life so much easier if you didn’t have to worry about it anymore? Write a list with clear descriptions of the tasks you would like to offload and the skills and experience they would require.

Where?

It’s estimated that there could be up to 25,000 virtual assistants working around the world today, so while you may not be short of options, virtual assistance isn’t a one-size-fits-all system and what might work for one business might not work for others.

We explore this in more depth in our Where to find a Virtual Assistant? article, but to help you get started, here is a quick run-down of the main routes people use to hire a virtual assistant…

  • Online marketplaces - Platforms like UpWork, Freelancer, or PeoplePerHour serve to connect businesses with freelance professionals for short or long-term work. Their vast communities of freelancers offer you the potential to tap into some of the best talent from around the world, but to find the best person for the job, it might take time to separate the wheat from the chaff. Some platforms have tighter screening processes than others, and the competitive nature of freelance marketplaces means that it’s common for applicants to mass-apply for multiple jobs per day using stock templates and without reading the job description.
  • Overseas outsourcing - In countries like the Philippines, India, and Malaysia there is a well-established market for remote assistance, and many overseas firms have a lot of experience and a strong understanding of business requirements. The lower price point is what attracts many users, you can find perfectly competent assistant options for around $3-$10 per hour, and your dollar can go very far if you get lucky with the right agency or assistant. But while hiring overseas can be very cost-effective, sometimes, as with anything, you get what you pay for. Another aspect to consider is security. Many countries have different regulations when it comes to handling personal and financial data, so it’s always wise to do your homework before you go down the overseas route.
  • Independent VAs - Many virtual assistants advertise their services independently, you can typically find them online or through a job board. As with any new hire, it’s important to do your due diligence. Any trustworthy and legitimate VA will be more than happy to provide evidence of their experience and skills, and reviews, testimonials, and references can help let you know you’re bringing the right person on board. If you choose to hire an independent VA, you will need to come to your own arrangement about payment. A clear agreement upfront on rates, hours, and payment methods should save you some headaches down the line.
  • Premium fully-managed services - The cost for these services is higher than you could expect to pay for hires overseas, but many freelancers or independent assistants may seek a similar level of compensation. The main benefits are solutions to the issues you may encounter with the other options. These services are very selective with the assistants they bring on board, making sure they are skilled and experienced enough to provide a high standard of service. But if a bad egg slips through the cracks and your experience is less than satisfactory, you can speak to your provider or account manager who will be able to solve any issues.

Who?

A common misconception when finding a VA for hire is that because you’re unlikely to ever meet them in person and they spend fewer hours working for you compared to a full-time employee, not as much care and attention needs to be paid during the hiring process. But finding a virtual assistant who is the best fit for your business is key to achieving a sustainable and successful experience working together.

What’s The Bottom Line?

It's hard to get ahead when you're doing everything yourself. Outsourcing some of your tasks to a virtual assistant is a great solution to reduce stress and reclaim valuable time in your day. Virtual assistants are an invaluable resource for businesses and professionals alike, so don't be afraid to explore the possibilities. By finding the right virtual assistant for your business, you can save time and money while being able to focus on what really matters.

Are you ready for a less stressful, more successful life? Are you ready to take back control of your time?

At Time etc, we’re dedicated to helping you find the best virtual assistant for you and your business. On average, only the top 2% of assistants pass our rigorous 10-stage application process to join us, so you can be safe in the knowledge that you’ll only ever work with an experienced professional that’s dedicated to providing quality support.

If you’re ready to join the 22,000 busy people that have already used a virtual assistant from Time etc to do more, achieve more, and earn more, try a virtual assistant for free or speak to our team.

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About the author

Barnaby
Barnaby Lashbrooke is the founder and CEO of Virtual Assistant service Time etc as well as the author of The Hard Work Myth, recently recommended by Sir Richard Branson. Barnaby is a Forbes Columnist on productivity and is also an accomplished entrepreneur, selling more than $35 million worth of services.

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