So, the decision has been made to hire a virtual ... your business needs and clearly defining them will be the first step in the process. A good virtual ... (or VA) will be aski
So, the decision has been made to hire a virtual assistant...
Knowing your business needs and clearly defining them will be the first step in the process. A good virtual assistant (or VA) will be asking you these questions and having the answers ready will get your project moving in the right direction faster.
Truly assess your needs. You may find that your current needs and future needs are different. An honest evaluation of these needs will lead you in the right direction as some virtual assistants can offer services that are specific to your current needs, but may not have the skills for further demands. This is not a negative thing, however, you should keep this in mind when interviewing your perspective VA. If that VA can not provide, do they belong to a network of virtual assistants, or associations that they could pull help from?
Translating Budget Goals...
Most of the time you will not be pleased with the answers to questions like “How long is SEO going to take?” and then the answer... “we charge $x.xx for that service.” WHY SO MUCH?! These answers can be the wrong answer to you and your perceptions of the VA could be distorted unless you know your budget. The business owner usually thinks in terms of total costs, the VA usually thinks in terms of hourly rates. Set your budget, then take a look at the hourly rate: $25 an hour translates into $1000 at 40 work hours. How many hours will your job take to do? Add in the extras and you can determine how much you are ready to spend. Is the service an ongoing service, or a “one-off”? What is the industry standard for the work you need done? The more prepared you are with your budget and how the budget relates to an hourly rate, the better your search for a VA will be.
Learn the Lingo…
Excuse me? What are you talking about? What is a SOHO and do I need one of those in my home office? Trade jargon can confuse you or even be intimidating. Being in a position to make an uninformed decision is not where a businessman needs to be. You can loose the pace of your interview when having to ask what an acronym means, or why you might need whatever it is the VA is talking about.
You can do a simple term search on Google or any search engine, start with the type of work you need ( i.e. “search engine optimization”) and then look for unfamiliar words or phrases. Look these new terms up and you will be a more informed and prepared to contact a VA. Most of the time you will find other useful tidbits like standard rates and how much competition there is for the service.
Sometimes it would be nice to just to dump the project onto the VA and forget it, hoping the work is in competent hands, but that can lead to disaster. You could be charged for services you don’t need or are too complicated and difficult to maintain if your relationship with that VA ends (for what ever reason). Your VA may not even be able to provide the service needed. For this reason it is wise to at least get familiar with the technical details and language.
What can be said about word-of-mouth referrals, other than they can not always be trusted but are better than a blind pick out of a directory. Having said that, you can trust a referral if you have done your research, set your budget and feel prepared to discuss your project needs. I am including this information because a referred VA might still not be the right virtual assistant for you or your business.
Armed with this information, your search for a virtual assistant will be easier and in the end, the match you make with be a better fit for your needs.
2004 World Wide Virtual (http://www.world-wide-virtual.us)
Damian Hons is World Wide Virtual, a virtual assistant practice that offers a wide variety of services from Word Processing to Search Engine Optimization. His web site can be found here - http://www.world-wide-virtual.us