How do you pick the best Virtual Assistant for your business? First of all, what is a VA? A Virtual Assistant is generally self-employed and provides professional administrative, technical, or creative assistance to clients remotely from a home office. With that being said, this is certainly one of the industries which have exploded in South Africa since 2020.

To you Mr. or Ms. Business owner, you might have heard about VA’s and possibly though that it might be a good idea to look at outsourcing some of your mundane tasks to a VA. It definitely makes financial sense to only pay for actual work done (virtually) and not for all the other non-work breaks that go hand in hand with employing someone.

What should one keep in mind when looking for your ideal VA?

Firstly, is the person a good fit? Keep in mind however that as much as the VA needs to be a good fit for you, finding a good fit goes both ways. The VA needs to fit in with your business just as much as you need to fit in with the VA. Another question you need to ask is, do your values align? Apart from what was mentioned, it is important to keep the following points in mind during your selection process:

    • Communication
    • Rates
    • Experience
    • Confidentiality
    • References

VA’s are business owners

Virtual assistants are essentially business owners. It takes time for a VA (or any new business owner) to make the mind-shift from employee to business owner. However, as a business owner, the VA should be able to provide a list of services or a company profile, not a CV/Resume. A CV is for someone looking for full time employment.

Experience                           

You may find someone who decided yesterday to become a VA, for whatever reason. You may also find someone who has been a VA for a couple of years. When deciding which to pick, the choice is yours. What are the kinds of tasks you will be handing over to the VA? You need someone who can take direction very well. There is no rule that you have to use the services of an experienced VA. If you find a VA who has little experience at rate which suits your pocket, and you have the time and patience to train and guide them, then you will have a formidable virtual partner to grow your business with. If you don’t have the patience and need someone to hit the ground running, then look into someone with more experience and who will likely come with a higher rate. When you’re barely keeping head above water with your workload, consider the value an experience virtual assistant will bring to your business.

Communication

Clear communication is key in any relationship and even more so when you’re working with a remote person. Clear communication saves time as the VA will know exactly what is expected and therefore in turn provide the quality work which you envisioned. If your VA continues to ask questions, then you might want to have a look at your communication style and consider changing your approach. However, it can also be that the VA does not have the necessary experience… which brings us to our next point;

Interview

Have an introductory or discovery call – even a video conference if you are unable to meet face to face, to get a feel on whether you are able to connect with the VA. What is your first impression? How do you feel when talking to them? This is someone you’re going to be working with for a while, constantly needing to communicate with and rely on, so it matters how you feel when engaging them and the impression that they give you. Here’s an idea: ask them to set up the meeting and see if they can manage this first task as a test of their capabilities.

Rates & Payments

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying; ‘when you pay peanuts, you get monkeys”. The same can be said of the VA industry or any other industry honestly speaking. SAFREA rates are used as a guideline although more experienced, technical/specialized VA’s will ask a higher hourly rate as they work faster and have the experience to do what is required. Virtual assistants can have different packages that they offer. Does a potential candidate have an hourly rate that is considered a low rate? Some VAs charge per hour, some work on a retainer or a package for X amount of hours. You can be expected to pay upfront for this, most might also include some discount – that’s something you can ask.

In this post we’ve covered half of the key points that we felt you need to look at before signing with your new VA.

In my following blog we will continue with Part 2 of this topic, looking at some of the other topics that needs to be considered as you embark on the search to find the best VA for you and your business.

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