5 Things to Keep in Mind When Hiring a Virtual Assistant

Our guest blogger this week is Stephanie Lee of Scratchpad Secretaries. We featured Stephanie in our book in the section about virtual assistants. She’s awesome, and here is some of her great advice!

5 Things to Keep in Mind When Hiring a Virtual Assistant

You’ve finally gotten to the point in your business where it’s time to delegate some projects and tasks. Good for you! It’s exciting to be ready to take that 5 step in partnering up with a virtual assistant to take some of that administrative load off your plate (and your desk!).

If you’ve never worked with a virtual professional before, I recommend (hey, I have a Virtual Assistant business – I get asked these things all the time!) keeping these 5 points in mind when beginning your search for the perfect partnership:

  1. Virtual means exactly that – Virtual. Most virtual assistants only work from their own home and do not work out of client’s offices. Quite often they don’t even do in-person meetings, but instead opt for Skype or telephone. Depending on the projects you are looking to delegate, it may not even be necessary to work with a VA in your own town… or Country for that matter! If you do need an assistant to work out of your office however, even a few hours/week, make sure to add that criteria to really narrow down your search.
  2. Service Agreements. As a service provider it only makes sense to have a contract ready to go to protect both parties. The agreement I use with new clients is more to cover the basic details of contact information, services being provided, fees and payment structure, BUT I also have a full Non-Disclosure Agreement that I send as part of the contract to protect both parties. I also am always happy to sign an NDA the client may send my way as well
  3. Fee structure. Some VAs work on an hourly model only (where you pay for hours worked and may receive a time report with the invoice), and others work on a pre-paid model (you pre-purchase a certain number of hours per month. Quite often, these packages expire on the last day of the month and any remaining hours do not carry over, but if you go over the package amount, the additional hours may be charged at a discount.). Depending on how much work you actually have to delegate will really help in determining which is the best option for you. You can find VAs with packages starting as low as 5 hours/month, and up to more than 40.
  4. Payment systems. This, again, speaks to the ‘virtual’ aspect of a virtual assistant. An online entrepreneur works online, and so it only makes sense that they accept payments that way as well. In Canada we are able to send and receive money via email and that is how most clients pay their invoices with me, however my international clients still pay via Paypal. I have yet to find another easy and affordable system for my international clientele and I have never had an issue with Paypal.
  5. Policies. A good thing to do upfront is simply talk to any potential VA about how they work. How they operate. What is their expected response time to a new task? How far in advance do they plan their days? What about last-minute rush projects? Is there an additional fee for that? When do they invoice? How do they invoice? Is there a guarantee? What are their office hours?  Usually a seasoned VA will either have a link to their policies, or provide a PDF with their welcome package or intro email.

The low-down?  Make sure to discuss the options with any VA you chat with. As a Virtual Assistant myself, it’s very important that I answer any questions a potential client may have to help lay their mind to rest, build trust and ease any stress. You have to make sure it gels and that working together is a fit – for both you AND your VA!

Stephanie Lee is the busy mom behind ScratchpadSecretaries.com, a Virtual Assistant business, and MomsWhoMeanBusiness.ca, a site dedicated to helping other moms find their online calling and training them how to get noticed (and get their bank accounts rockin’!). She has a free weekly tip sheet for hip mamas who want to start, run and grow a successful home based business. Sign up now to receive insider tips & resources designed to help YOU make money from home! (AND? You get the insider’s peek at her “Little Black Book” – the FULL list of apps she uses to run her biz!)

Read more advice from Stephanie and nearly 100 other moms and mom biz experts in our book Mom, Incorporated!

2 thoughts on “5 Things to Keep in Mind When Hiring a Virtual Assistant

  1. Pingback: 3 Tips to Optimize Your Inbox and ROCK Your Business | Mom, Incorporated

  2. Awesome points. Virtual assistants are great help to business owners, I know since I took advantage of their services during those times where I had my hands full. I used to think that I can do everything myself but I guess I was wrong. It was a difficult search, mind you. It’s not actually easy to hire someone competent and reliable enough to help you with important tasks but with a few tries, I finally found my own virtual assistant from the Philippines through Staff.com.
    I hope business owners would also consider those pointers that you presented above so that they’ll realize how convenient it is to have their very own VA, especially with a lot of projects that all needs special attention. Thanks for sharing!

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