You have made the decision to outsource certain tasks or activities in your business that either take up too much time or, quite frankly, you find tedious!
Where do you start?
A plethora of information swamps you.
There are many choices of what you can outsource and who to that it becomes a chore that you retreat to your shell and just ‘carry on’.
It does not need to be complicated.
Yes, there is an abundance of information that you can find, however, if you tailor it to what you need and be clear in your objectives, the rest will follow more easily.
You may not, and probably should not, have all the answers so going in armed with a list of questions is a sure way in finding the right person for you.
A checklist of what you should consider is helpful.
Check them out!
A Virtual Assistant’s website is their shop
window. It should give you a flavour of what they do and what they might be like. If it is less personal, it is unlikely they had much to do with it and that might be something you see as important.
Testimonials / Kind words / Word of mouth
A website might be the first place you find testimonials about them.
Whilst a Virtual Assistant is not going to publish negative information on their website, the number of testimonials and the variety content which is written about them is an important consideration to note.
Recommendations are a great way to find the right Virtual Assistant for you.
People will often use words or phrases that resonate and align with your values.
Dare I say that it is often the case that people are more likely to complain than commend; and so the recommendations and testimonials you hear and see are a fairly good indicator that someone has gone out of their way to promote someone and their services.
Reviews on Google are also a good indicator of a Virtual Assistant’s credibility.
Check them out and leave a positive review for them if deserved as it all helps with their rankings.
A lot can be obtained from a Virtual Assistant’s social media.
- Do you get a sense of them, their values and beliefs?
- Is their ‘voice’ and messaging consistent?
- Do they bring value in what they say?
You can get a good sense of who a person is and what makes them tick - and if they appear to be authentic.
It is quite easy for someone to buy a laptop and a phone and call themself a Virtual Assistant.
Are they qualified to do what they say they can though?
Although a person needs no qualifications to be a Virtual, Personal or Executive Assistant, the career minded Assistants are likely to have achieved a formal qualification through Pitman or similar.
Whilst qualifications are not everything, experience is.
It is worthwhile understanding how much experience the Virtual Assistant you are proposing to engage with has.
How long did they work in the corporate world for?
What is their business background?
How does the experience they have suit your needs and requirements?
SVA (Society of Virtual Assistants)
Set up to improve the reputation and promote best practice in the industry.
To be an approved member of SVA, a Virtual Assistant needs to be compliant with set standards that include:
- being a Virtual Assistant for a certain length of time.
- having a domain specific email address such as: email@example.com (not @gmail.com or @btinternet.com).
- securely backing up data offsite.
- responding to communications including phone calls and emails within a timely manner.
- remaining professional and only taking on work they are capable of and hold suitable professional indemnity insurance.
- being based in the UK.
- holding a valid data controller registration via the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). A Virtual Assistant’s ICO registration number can be found on their website.
- positively contributing to the industry.
- displaying the approved SVA logo on your website and linking it back to theirs.
FSB (Federation of Small Businesses)
Any Virtual Assistant who is a member of the FSB demonstrates their understanding that support and backing of them as a small, self-employed business is key to their success.
The FSB has been in existence since 1974 and can help start, run and grown a business in the UK.
So much can be learnt from their wide range of programmes and events including networking both in person and online as well as the legal expert advice and expert professional sessions offered.
(So strict that their logo is prohibited from being used!)
All Virtual Assistants are likely to process personal information and are therefore required to register with the ICO, an independent body to uphold information rights and covers a number of acts and legislations.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-and-the-eu/data-protection-and-the-eu-in-detail/the-uk-gdpr/ came about from the UK’s implementation of the Data Protection Act 2018 https://www.gov.uk/data-protection with responsibility being placed on anyone using personal data to follow strict rules called ‘data protection principles’.
AMLS (Anti-Money Laundering Supervision)
If you are looking to appoint a Virtual Assistant to deal with your finances or accounting, they should be registered for Anti-Money Laundering Supervision.
It can be viewed as a grey area (the website provides a percentage of work that Virtual Assistants so the best way to be sure of avoiding a hefty financial penalty for not complying is to ensure your Virtual Assistant has covered themself.
Insurances and Policies
Make sure the Virtual Assistant you work with is sufficiently covered by the relevant insurances and that they implement robust policies.
They should have any insurance certificates readily available for your review should you require.
Make contact / Get in touch
Check out their communication methods and message them!
This is a great test to see how they respond and when.
Just some ways might be by:-
👩🏼💻 Online form
🤝 In person
Get a sense of them
First impressions count for a lot but it’s worth finding out more.
Can they fulfil the hours you need?
Do you sense synergies? Does their style of working and personality complement yours?
Do your initial findings of them match what they say?
Can they demonstrate they are an expert in their field when you discuss the topics covered above?
A few other points to note are from a housekeeping perspective.
Do their systems and procedures work with yours and you?
Does their invoicing system and procedure fit in with you?
Does their onboarding proposal meet with your expectations?
Does their communication channels work with yours?
Whilst not an exhaustive list of what to look for and how to engage with the right Virtual Assistant, this should give you food for thought.
Doing in-depth research will uncover the wide variety of skills and expertise out there for you and there is definitely a Virtual Assistant out there to help support your unique business needs.
You don’t need to go it alone.
In fact, there comes a time that not being supported by experts in their fields can slow your business down and create a less positive, and sometimes, negative effect.
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