Friday, November 9, 2007

What is a Virtual Assistant

What is a Virtual Assistant?
A Virtual Assistant is an Administrative Professional who fulfills tasks as needed by the business owner or delegating team within a telecommute arrangement. The idea behind working remotely with an assistant is to ultimately lower the administrative overhead cost that comes with hiring a "9-5" in house. A physical secretary keep his or her supervisor on track by assisting with daily tasks, reporting, handling correspondence, scheduling and much more. A Virtual Assistant operates in the same manner. In many cases, having a high quality VA can be much better than traditional methods of assistance. Statistics show less absenteeism and lower costs in the rising virtual world. Fake, complicated, full of hassle, unpredictable? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! The key is HIGH COMMUNICATION and MOTIVATION. Once you find this in a personal virtual assistant you'll be dropping the word 'virtual' off the title. He or she becomes YOUR ASSISTANT and it seems li! ke that assistant is by your side right there in the office.


How to startup with a Virtual Assistant
A virtual assistant can be extremely beneficial if one realizes how to utilize the human resource provided.

*Get to know your assistant.*

-What is the past employment of this person?
-In each of the past positions, what duties were required of this person?
-What is the educational background of the individual?
-What is the greatest strength and weakness of the person?
-Does this person outsource their work or take all assignments in on their own time?
-What kind of schedule does the virtual assistant maintain? (Explore this deeply and compare to your own. Make the assistant aware of your schedule as well.)
-Obtain their salary history. You will need this information in order to produce a realistic budget. A person may say they are willi! ng to work for $6 per hour but how long will this last? Probab! ly not l ong at all.
-Ask for references.
-Ask for a home office specification sheet.

Getting to know your assistant takes a little time out from your regular schedule. If the nominee is enthusiastic and serious about working with you they will welcome this time out. The results are well worth it in the long term. Ask the candidate for a short bio that includes goals and expectations. E-mail and instant messengers are wonderful tools but phone conversations are in order at the beginning and periodically throughout.

If you do not get to know your virtual assistant you will find yourself in an awkward position to micromanage. Micromanaging can eventually cost a great deal in overhead. It also makes the assistant less confident and less apt to take initiative. Gather all the information you can from the very beginning! In the beginning it is not necessary to give complete instruction sets or detailed scopes of work. If you present every detail of work immediately! you are giving the assistant an opportunity to over exaggerate what they can do. Get their skills and capabilities first and then compare. Once you see what the assistant?s skill sets consist of you are ready to begin analyzing your ongoing needs.

*What do you need out of this new business relationship?*

-How do you over exert yourself on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis?
-Do you believe some of your time spent in tasks would be more beneficial in other areas?
-Make a list of the VA?s skills and capabilities and compare to a list of tasks you would like to delegate.
-Do you see that some business areas are neglected occasionally or even perpetually?

Identifying your needs comes fairly quick because you know yourself and you know your business! Take a quality time out to analyze this area fully. Justify your decision to hire or contract. Some people need to talk this out with someone else or gather second opinions.

*It is time to t! alk. Communication, communication, communication!*

Now ! that you have really put an effort into this process it is time to talk to your nominee about your conclusions. Present the lists that you have made to the VA. Gather feedback from them on everything.

-Can they perform the scope of work with ease?
-Will training be in order?
-Are they still interested at this point?
-Is this person willing to learn new skills in order to meet your needs?

After this phase is complete it is important to discuss payment terms and compensation immediately thereafter. This gets the ?money part? out of the way. Make sure that your offering is suitable for you and the assistant. Quality work and long term relationships derive from happy people. You have a budget to abide by but the assistant has one as well. If you under pay, or over pay, you will not hold a lasting situation. Include time off, hours, expenses, benefits if any, phone charges, time and billing increments, and pay periods in this discussion. is operated by John and Amanda Silverman in West Virginia. The couple serve as Virtual Personal Assistants to business owners world wide. Visit to learn more about the services offered.
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