Do You Need A Virtual Assistant? Three Things To Consider

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If you've ever despaired that there aren't more hours in the day, have an ever-growing stack of unread and unanswered emails in your inbox, or regularly almost find yourself missing meetings, flight connections, and other scheduled tasks, you may benefit from a virtual assistant. This helpful role can benefit any entrepreneur, business owner, or professional who finds themselves too physically and mentally exhausted to focus much time and energy on planning, scheduling, replying to emails and messages, and making travel arrangements.

Virtual assistants are often more flexible than administrative assistants with regard to the hours worked or breadth of tasks assigned. But finding someone to fit this role in your personal life can be a challenge. Read on for three things you'll want to consider when starting the search for a virtual assistant.

1) What Type of Help Do You Need?

As this job is primarily conducted online, some of the best places to find a pool of virtual assistant candidates are online job platforms, local online classifieds, and your own social network. But before you begin your search in earnest, you'll want to identify most of the primary tasks you expect the person filling this role to perform. Some virtual assistants work just an hour or two a week with their clients, handling basic scheduling and travel arrangements upon request. Others are much more proactive and may take on a more time-intensive role in your business as essentially an online administrative assistant.  

Having some concept of the services you'll need will make it much easier to interview potential candidates, as you'll be able to screen for the skills that are most important—great phone etiquette, assertiveness, or the ability to talk anyone into offering a great deal—and ensure that everyone is operating on the same page. The last thing you want to do is go through the hiring process only to realize that you and the person you hired have dramatically different expectations of the number of hours per week or the scope of services to be provided.

2) How Do You Foresee This Person Fitting Into Your Life? 

Unless you're looking for the bare minimum of virtual assistant services, it can also be worthwhile to envision how this person will fit into your business or even your home life. Will this be a temporary position in which moderate turnover is just fine? Or are you looking for a permanent addition to your team? Will you have clear demarcations between your business and personal life, or do you want your virtual assistant to be someone who can make Valentine's Day hotel reservations for you and your spouse, write and sign a sympathy card for an acquaintance who has suffered a loss, or order flowers to be delivered to a loved one "just because"?

Opening your life to a virtual assistant can be challenging for many, so if you're hoping for a virtual assistant relationship that goes deeper than just a screen name, you'll want to make this known at the outset. 

3) What's Your Budget?

Because virtual assistant services can be performed from anywhere with an internet connection, there's no dress code or commute, and this position usually permits other freelancing opportunities, high-quality virtual assistants can usually be hired for far less than an administrative assistant. However, you'll still want to have a general budget in mind.

Most virtual assistants charge an hourly rate. When setting a rate, you'll want to consider both your maximum per-week budget and the amount of hours you'll need. In some cases, expecting a virtual assistant to be on call for 40 hours or more per week may be less expensive than dividing these services among more than one assistant.