Thursday, August 8, 2013

The bottom line, how do I work successfully with a Virtual Assistant and save money?

By Dee Matheson

Now at long last the decision has been made and you’ve found a Virtual Assistant to help you with all those tasks that you’ve had sleepless nights over but does this whole thing actually work? How are you going to save money?
Well think of it like this, what would you do if you hired an on-site employee? How would you start with them and what would you be paying them? Chances are you have a task list a mile long and you need someone to help you immediately and if you are looking for an experienced on-site person, you will very likely have to wait for them because they have a resignation period, you will have to pay an employment agency a percentage of that person’s annual salary and then there are all the overheads, such as medical aid, pension fund and office equipment, to name but a few. Just on this alone, a Virtual Assistant can save you a small fortune because she has already got all the office equipment in place and you don’t have to pay her for any additional overheads and she is very likely available immediately. These are the basics and one thing to remember when working with a Virtual Assistant, she also runs a business and that both of you should treat each other as equals striving for the same goal, to be successful.
All this is quite understandable but now how do you work with a Virtual Assistant? Here are some ideas that might help:

·       What is your budget for a Virtual Assistant? Determine how much time you can afford your Virtual Assistant for, keep in mind that a Virtual Assistant can get a lot more accomplished in an hour’s time than an on-site employee, however, do be realistic and don’t expect the impossible. 

·        Now that you have an idea on how much time you need your Virtual Assistant for, make a list of tasks you need completed in order of importance and allocate a realistic time to these tasks.
 
·        It is vital that you build a good relationship with your Virtual Assistant, she knows that you’re not made out of money, so be clear on what needs to be done and by when so that no time nor money is wasted.  Discuss all the main priorities with her so that she can understand what’s important to you and let her advise you on estimated time as she will very likely know best how long some tasks may take.  For example, if you need your Virtual Assistant to transcribe an interview or discussion, take into account how many people are talking, is there background noise which makes it hard to hear and are there any accents involved. All of this does take time and should be discussed and taken into account.

·        As a Virtual Assistant myself, I find it’s vital to keep my client’s updated all the time. Make arrangements with your Virtual Assistant to give you feedback on tasks as frequently as you would like to be briefed. Not only will you know how the tasks are progressing but you will see if there are any issues that need to be dealt with immediately or any room for improvement.

·        Once you have worked with your Virtual Assistant for a short period you will get a feel for how best to work together. So as time goes on, keep adding to your list of tasks and in no time at all your business will be running smoother and more efficiently than ever before.

·        As your Virtual Assistant is a business owner too, ask for her opinion on a topic or area you are looking for feedback on. Chances are that she will have some valuable information for you and if she does not, she might know someone who does. Virtual Assistants work with lots of other business owners in various industries giving them a wealth of information through their connections and at their fingertips, but remember the confidentiality clause. She might not always be able to give you direct links but can advise you on the way forward, tap into this resource, it’s waiting to help you.
 
·        As a business owner, the hardest thing for you will be to delegate tasks to someone you don’t know, that’s why it’s important to have a trial period with your Virtual Assistant to see if  you can work together and become a team.  I always work with my clients for a 2 month trial period at a fixed rate and negotiate a longer period on a retainer basis once the relationship has been established. It’s the same as employing someone on-site, they also have a trial period before they become permanent staff.

If you need help and are not sure what direction to go in, call me, Dee Matheson on +27 82 925 7757 or email me on dmatheson@worldonline.co.za , no obligation. I’m looking forward to helping you go to the next level with your business.