Most business operations can be done online these days, so it’s no surprise that more businesses are relying on virtual assistants. Part of growing your business is reinvesting in leverage and talent, but there are also some costly mistakes you want to avoid.

If you’re ready to grow your administrative team and are considering virtual assistants, here are some things you should know.

Budgeting for an assistant

The maximum you should allocate to fixed costs like administrative talent is 12 percent. You may find a full-time assistant who requires more, but in that case, consider paying 12 percent for salary and then make up the other 4 percent in structured bonuses.

Paying a virtual assistant $7-30 per hour is more cost-effective depending on their expertise and the task.

The different types of virtual assistants

The first type of virtual assistant is from a generalized VA company. These companies employ many different VAs who can do lots of different tasks and charge per hour. You can purchase a package that comes with a set number of hours per week or month.

You might use this type of VA for general tasks such as document editing or research.

The second type of VA is project-based. These are companies or individuals who specialize in specific tasks and charge more for their expertise.

You might use this type of VA for a project that requires a specialist who can do the task faster or better than your in-house team. For example, social media graphics, video editing, or web design.

How to find the right VA for you

First, decide if you need a VA in your geographic location and time zone. If you need to be able to reach them during working hours, having a VA in your city or state is more effective than having one in another country.

Second, confirm that the VA company pays their workers fairly. If you are going to spend your hard-earned money at their business, ensure that their values align with yours.

Third, do your research. Read testimonials and ask for references. Speak to previous customers and if they don’t recommend the company, don’t work with them.

Tips for hiring a virtual assistant

There are several red flags to be on the lookout for when hiring a VA individual or company. These tips will help you avoid those mistakes.

  • Always go month-to-month with your contract. Don’t get locked into a year-long agreement.
  • Insist that a two-week notice clause be added to the contract that ensures you are notified if the VA working on your project will be leaving and replaced with someone new.
  • Don’t give them access to your social media accounts, payroll or billing accounts.
  • If they want to charge you an onboarding/set up fee, question it.
  • If you pay for a monthly package of hours, ensure that your contract states that your unused hours carry over to the next month.
  • When hiring VAs to handle your calls and emails, test them first. See how they perform on the phone and in writing.

Should I hire a part-time assistant or a VA?

If you aren’t sure if you should hire a part-time assistant or a VA, assess the tasks you need them to do. A specialized, expert VA could do the task better and faster than an in-house part-time assistant, and for less money.

Plus, if the tasks you need to be done are below your current administrative team’s pay grade or they don’t have time, a VA can tide you over until you have enough required work for another full-time employee.

Virtual assistants can fill in the gaps in your operations until you’re ready to invest in full-time talent. Remember, hoarding your money and doing all the work yourself doesn’t grow your business. Investing in talent, like administrative employees and virtual assistants, does.

Mary-Anne Gillespie is the CEO and owner of Red Apple Coaching and Consulting in Canada. Connect with her on Facebook or Instagram.

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