Free up Your Time AND Produce More with a Virtual Assistant!

It seems like just yesterday when I had a dream of starting a successful home-based business, one that could provide a healthy balance between my work and personal life. But, it was actually 10 years ago already, and it’s no longer a dream. It’s reality. Perhaps it just seems like yesterday, because I thoroughly enjoy what I do. I started an affiliate marketing business with my wife Arlene, and we have been able to expand our business beyond our initial expectations. We have successful websites, a long-time running podcast, speak at various venues, host webinars, and have written eBooks. Having a healthy balance is partly due to working from home. We don’t have to waste time commuting on a daily basis, sit in mandatory meetings, or ‘punch in’ at 9:00 each morning. In fact, having a home office has allowed so much flexibility that Arlene has been able to fulfill her passion of volunteering each week. However, we would not have been able to have it all, a great and lucrative business, as well as a fulfilling personal life, without help. For us, that help came in the way of virtual assistants.

The Virtual Assistant

Today’s technology provides the opportunity to work from remote locations, even as an administrative assistant, or a virtual assistant. The Internet, online conferencing technology, and Skype are all features that make it possible for someone to work in a different location for tasks that were done for many years in a traditional office. Typically a virtual assistant, also called a VA, is an independent contractor who contracts their services out to companies. And, this provides multiple benefits to both parties.

The Benefits of Working with a Virtual Assistant

It was back in 1999 that we took our dream and started to turn it into a reality. However, the growth we have seen could not have happened without outsourcing some help. At least, not if we wanted that balance we were also seeking. We got to thinking, what if we worked with one or two VA’s, could it free up a lot of our time spent on daily tasks, allowing us to produce even more? So, like anything else, we dove into research about it and decided that the perks were well worth looking into. Here are the perks we discovered:

  • Frees up time from not having to do repetitive daily tasks
  • Increased production
  • No extra office space needed
  • Don’t have to worry about payroll taxes
  • Less equipment needed
  • Fewer overhead costs

Each of these perks would be worth working with a virtual assistant just on their own. However, we have experienced all of them as result of working with skilled a VA. For example, when we have a podcast that we want transcribed, it is far more efficient to have someone who can do this quickly, rather than one of us picking at the keyboard. We can then use this time to work on another area that my wife and I are more efficient at.

How a VA helps Our System Run Smoothly

After I set up an article-project, including the specifics for the articles and hiring a writer, I then hand it off to Arlene. She then places the details into a tracking system, and starts to communicate the specifics to the VA, typically through Google Docs. The virtual assistant will then work with the writer to make sure the project is running on schedule, and communicate with them for further information. They will then proofread, check for links and keywords, and then hand it back to Arlene, who double checks everything. The VA then takes over again with submitting the articles. We also utilize virtual assistants for transcribing a lot of our audio work. As you can see, we have a great need for virtual assistants, and are currently working with 3 of them. We knew that if we wanted to make money with affiliate programs, we needed help. And, this is the perfect solution for us. So, how do you go about finding the right one for you?

Free up Your Time AND Produce More with a Virtual Assistant!

How to Find the Right Virtual Assistant

When we first tried working with a virtual assistant, we had a few disappointments. However, we didn’t give up. Knowing it would greatly benefit our business, we took additional steps that would help us to find someone who could work well with a team, as well as on their own. The first thing we did was to determine exactly what it is we were expecting from a virtual assistant. This included the expected hours and duration, as well as what actual tasks we wanted performed. After knowing what we wanted, we decided to post a job posting on Elance, an online business connection. Elance provides the arena for both client and provider to connect with each other for projects. Once you place a job posting, providers have the opportunity to bid. Next, carefully sort through each bid to see the work history of each provider, as well as their feedback and expectations. One important tip in hiring a VA is to start small. Give them a minor task, or two. Find out if they can follow instructions and communicate, before taking them on for bigger and longer projects. Remember, they are not an employee, so you can end the project if it doesn’t work out. However, don’t get yourself into a long-term situation, until you know it will work out. The last bit of advice in finding a virtual assistant is to be available. There will be questions, no matter how well you communicate with them, and how good they are at their job. It’s inevitable. So, to save frustration and possibly alienating a great asset to your business, remain available.

Training and Communicating from a Remote Location

You might be concerned when it comes to training or communicating instructions…or, just in general, when you are in different locations. In fact, you might not even be in the same country. Technology is wonderful. It has changed the business world completely. Arlene utilizes Skype to train a virtual assistant and get them up to speed on our business and what we expect. Now, keep in mind that if you are in significantly different time zones, someone might have to be awake in the evening for part of that conference. So, if you prefer that to be them, make note of that in your communications before taking them on. Be up front about your expectations, and all will be fine.

In Closing

Taking a few hours, or even a day or two to find the right virtual assistant is worth it. It will pay off in the extra time you will have to focus on other projects as well as your down time.

How could your small business benefit from the services of a virtual assistant? If you are already utilizing a virtual assistant what has been your experierence? Share your small biz diamonds in the comment section below.

Have a successful day!