Virtual Assistant: A Definition
A virtual assistant is someone who uses their services to support other businesses remotely. Originating in the 1990s, the term “virtual assistant” was coined as access to high-speed internet and digital document sharing became more commonplace and made working outside the office a reality.
From administrative tasks to technical skills to creative assistance, a virtual assistant can do the jobs any other support staff can (except maybe bringing the coffee). Their purpose is to field the routine activities that keep your business running, but take up valuable time that could be used to grow your business even further.
Who hires virtual assistants and why?
Many business owners invest in virtual assistants because it gives them the most bang for their buck. Virtual assistants are very flexible positions in that contracts can vary: they can be paid hourly as independent contractors or per task just for what you need, both of which can cut out the costs of employee benefits and taxes for businesses. Plus, there is no overhead in hiring a virtual assistant. They provide their own workspace, supplies, and equipment. You can get the productivity of a support staff person, without shelling out as much for it.
More importantly, virtual assistants give you back your most important investment: time. They can save you time by doing the tedious and administrative tasks that eat up your productivity. Taking things off your plates will not only save you time, but it can also reduce the chances of burnout and decrease stress levels for everyone.
OK, I’m convinced. Now how do I hire one?
There are countless virtual assistants who are available to you, it’s just about finding the right one. While some virtual assistants have their own businesses working as one, other small businesses have a team of virtual assistants ready for contracting, and many sites offer access to freelancers with a wide range of experiences and expertise.
Here are some steps when hiring a virtual assistant:
- Make a list of the tasks you would like to outsource. What is eating up your and/or your team’s time that can be better spent doing other things?
- Find the right person who has the experience and skills to do the tasks you’re outsourcing.
- Create a contract that’s right for both of you. Will it be per task or hourly? How long is the term?
With an appropriately experienced and skilled virtual assistant, you can start benefitting from this contract worker almost immediately. No learning curve, minimal training, and now lots of time to grow, not just run, your business.