A virtual assistant can make a huge difference to your businesses productivity and effectiveness, but there is no ‘one size fits all’ VA out there! The term ‘Virtual Assistant’ covers a wide variety of remote working business support professionals offering services as diverse as diary management, bookkeeping support, marketing assistance and web development – to name but a few!
So how can you find the right VA for you? The first step is to make sure you know exactly what you want or need help with, as there’s no use taking on a bookkeeping specialist if you need technical edits made to your business website! Many VAs offer very specific services, but if they can’t help you with the work you need it is likely that they will know (or work with) someone who can help, so don’t be afraid to ask! Once you find someone who can help you, feel free to ask them about their experience in that particular task – they may have a portfolio of work that they can show you (particularly if they offer creative services) but even if they don’t, they should be able to give you an indication about their practical experiences of carrying out a specific type of task.
Another important idea to factor into your search for the perfect VA is to establish that they have a professional and responsible business; Ask about their professional indemnity insurance and insist on a contract that details your working relationship so that you know exactly what to expect from your VA (as well as what your responsibilities are). If your VA is offering services such as bookkeeping, it may be that they need to be registered for HMRC’s Anti-Money Laundering Regulations, so do your research to ensure that they are appropriately qualified for the work you are asking them to carry out.
A very important and often overlooked part of the quest for the perfect freelancer is to actually talk to a potential candidate and make sure that they are the right personality fit for you. Although it would be wonderful if we could be friends with everyone, it’s a fact of life that some people just don’t float your boat – and that’s fine! They could be the world’s most fabulous web developer, but if after 3 minutes of talking to them you want to shut your head in your laptop then it is likely that you aren’t going to have the most productive business relationship. Even if they do seem like your cup of tea, make sure that you ask them about their working preferences before signing up to work with them; some freelancers may expect guidance and reassurance on a regular basis to ensure that they are carrying out your work appropriately for you, whereas others may be virtually uncontactable (which could work for you!), so make sure you find the right balance for your business needs.
Finally, I highly recommend taking a look at a freelancer’s testimonials to get an idea of how successfully they have worked with fellow business owners in the past. Admittedly, some freelancers are hopeless at requesting feedback from their customers, but most should be able to obtain one or two relevant testimonials for you to review. You could also ask your own network for their recommendations of great freelance business support professionals, as then you can ask more detailed questions about cost, quality of work and turnaround time.
If you’re looking for a remote business support professional to help your business work more efficiently and productively, get in touch! I’d be happy to talk through your requirements and point you in the direction of a fabulous freelancer if we don’t offer the services that you are looking for.