Hiring an internet virtual assistant can be one of the best things you can do to grow your business online, or it can be a disaster. Fortunately, it’s really not that difficult to get a high quality virtual assistant for pennies on the dollar if you have guidelines to follow and know what pitfalls to look for.
What are the benefits of an internet virtual assistant? Well, imagine for a minute that you could get unlimited, high quality, low cost help in your business. Could you get more done? Would you have more sales?
And what if you could get this help without the hassle of employee benefits, payroll taxes, workers comp, and paperwork? What if you could add more help quickly when needed or reduce hours when business slows down?
Sound good? And did I mention you can get this help for less than $5/hour for most tasks? I have had great experiences using virtual assistants in my online business, and I know others that have too.
But it can be a nightmare if you don’t approach getting an internet virtual assistant in a systematic way. You need to outsource the right tasks and then you need to find the best virtual assistant. Take the time up front to identify the right tasks to outsource and find the best assistant for your tasks, it will save you time and headaches.
In this article, I’ll cover
- How to determine what tasks you should and shouldn’t outsource.
- Where to find an internet virtual assistant.
- How to evaluate virtual assistants
- How to work with an assistant effectively
Selecting Tasks For Your Internet Virtual Assistant
In general, you should outsource tasks that are repetitive, tedious, not mission critical, or that requires a skill you don’t have. The more of these tasks you outsource, the faster your business will grow and the more income you will generate.
To grow and prosper, you need to make sure you are doing tasks that have the highest value to your company and are the best use of your time. Focus on income generating tasks. Things like strategic planning, setting up systems and automation, talking with customers or potential clients, marketing, and relationship building.
Focus your time on tasks that return $100/hour, not $10/hour! Outsource anything that has an ROI less than $100/hr.
Outsource tasks that require skill sets you don’t have like HTML or graphics. Or outsource tasks that you don’t like to do or aren’t an effective use of your time.
Where To Find Internet Virtual Assistants
There are many ways to go about finding a virtual assistant. There are services like elance.com, 99designs.com, and RentACoder.com. Some services target a specific skillset or market. For example, 99designs is focused on design work so you would go there if you needed a logo or website design. RentACoder specializes in software outsourcing.
When writing up your project, be specific and detailed. Say exactly what you are looking for. Take your tasks and identify the skill sets and technologies you need and make sure to list the specific skill sets that are mandatory and ones that are nice to have.
How does it work? In general, you write up a description of your project and open it up for bids. After receiving a number of bids you review the prospective virtual assistants and select a winner.
Criteria For Selecting A Virtual Assistant
The selection process is critical to your success with outsourcing. Take the necessary time to make sure you select an assistant that is a fit for your tasks. Here are some guidelines that can help.
Look at reviews from previous clients. Are the ratings stellar? Is there a history of communication and schedule issues? If there are red flags then pass on them.
What is their track record? If they have not done other project through this service and don’t have a track record, do not take a chance. They may be a little bit cheaper, but the risk is much higher. If they don’t work out you’ve lost time and money and have to start over again.
Do they have repeat business with clients? How does it compare with others that have bid on your project?
Is their profile complete and professional? Do they have a portfolio so you can see their work?
Will they be available for communication during your working hours, which could be 12 hours different from their normal work day? If not, you may have to be available late night or early morning.
Do they have the right skills for your project?
What is their cost? Be careful not to rely solely on their hourly rate. Ask how long it takes them to do specific tasks. They may have a lower rate than another assistant but if it takes that 2 or 3 times as long to do a task they may be more costly in the long run.
After selecting your assistant, negotiate on the price, specific duties and expectations, working hours, communication frequency and methods, rules, etc.
Communicating With Your Internet Virtual Assistant
Optimum communication with your internet virtual assistant is critical to your success. There are 4 ways I communicate with my virtual assistants: e-mail, skype (instant messaging and conversations), google docs, and webinars. Skype is great for quick messages, checking to see how things are going, answering quick questions, etc.
Any requirements should be captured in a document, which can be shared and collaborated on using google docs. Make the terms very clear and stay in touch often. As much as possible, keep it simple. Clear and mutual expectations are key. And don’t make the mistake of thinking no news is good news!
You can use a spreadsheet to track tasks and hours worked. Use one spreadsheet to track tasks and task status, and another one to track hours worked on a daily basis, with a weekly summary.
When starting out with a new virtual assistant, I start out giving them a small task to find out how they work and how they communicate.
I spend some time getting to know them to establish a relationship first. I ask about their business, family, goals, etc. and I share the same for myself. This helps to establish a high level of trust.
When setting milestones and expectations it is important to prioritize tasks to be done first. Work together to determine how long they should take, and then follow up regularly but be careful not to cross the fine line and micro manage.
You need to take 100% responsibility for the level of communication. When specifying multiple tasks, provide the requirements for each task in a separate email. Write all requirements down! Provide pictures and diagrams as much as possible. The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is definately true here.
If you need changes to web page layout, provide an image marked up to show the changes. Better yet, make a short video where you talk and show what changes you want. Project Jing is a free video screen capture and video hosting service that works great for this.
When giving new tasks, don’t assume the person that did your tasks last week will do them this week, unless you have an agreement with your outsourcing service to have specific personnel work on your tasks.
Be sure to give frequent and constructive feedback. Give lavish praise when they do a good job. Provide constructive correction when they make mistakes. If your internet virtual assistant is not working out then don’t let the situation go on too long. Be slow to hire and fast to fire.
Even in the early days of your business when you do not have a lot of income yet, outsource as much as possible and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your business will take off, along with your income.
To Your Massive Online Success,