Contracting a Virtual Assistant is one of the smartest things you can do for your business. More companies and entrepreneurs are working with virtual assistants to keep their businesses profitable even during times of economic uncertainty.
Before looking for a VA, you should separate the wheat from the chaff. There is a wealth of information out there on the merits of virtual assistance but not all of it is factual. Much of it could be marketing fluff that merely strokes the flames of VA mythology.
Here are 10 myths uncovered about working with a Virtual Assistant:
1. They are Miracle-Workers
A Virtual Assistant has the experience, skills, and competence to get your business moving on the right track. But like all first- time personnel, they have to deal with a learning curve. The learning curve is at its steepest at the start and starts to slope downward as you gain more experience and confidence. For example, if you run a health and fitness consultancy business and hired a candidate with 5 years experience as a real estate virtual assistant, she will need time to firm up her understanding of the industry and your services. VA's are not miracle workers, but give them time and they’ll take your business to the next level.
2. Contracting a VA Will Not Save Costs and Improve Productivity
Outsourcing services to a Virtual Assistant will do more for you than just cut costs. As a self- employed worker, a VA is responsible for his or her costs of business such as Internet, power, and utilities. You only pay for productive hours. By delegating work to a VA, you can increase productivity by allocating more hours to the key functions of your business. You also tap into new sources of talent, establish a key strategic partnership, and lower your risk of business expansion. Collectively, contracting a VA means higher profitability.
3. Virtual Assistants Do Not Need Training
Even with their experience, you should always provide training for your Virtual Assistant. Even if you hire one with experience in the industry, you have to orient her with how you want to run your own business. As a matter of fact, even those who have provided virtual assistance work for years need continued training and orientation. Training is important to ensure your VA is up to speed with changes in the industry as well as your business model.
4. VA’s Do Not Review Their Work
Keep in mind that many virtual assistants are paid per productive hour. If submitted work reveals errors and inconsistencies, this cannot be accepted by the client. Thus, for the mutual benefit of both parties, the Virtual Assistant makes it a point to always review work before submitting it. There is always the possibility of an oversight, but trust that the VA will have it corrected according to your preference.
5. Any Virtual Assistant will Do Just Fine
Like any other profession, you have your good VA’s and bad or not-so-good VA’s. The industry has opened itself up to more candidates so the quality of work and service can possibly be diluted. This is why you should not hire the first candidate who responds to your job post. Create a short list of 3 to 5 candidates and subject them to a qualifying process that includes the following:
- Paid Testing Period
- Due Diligence
Always remember to qualify every candidate before hiring.
6. VA’s from Remote Locations are Problematic
The Philippines and India are the consensus top 2 destinations for global outsourcing. Both remote locations offer competitive pricing which lowers the overall cost of outsourcing. However, the prevailing myth is that the added cost savings will not be worth it because working with people from remote locations offers more problems than solutions. These problems include:
- Dealing with social and cultural barriers
- Problems in communication
- Societal and political unrest
- Poor infrastructure
Although there are truths to these problems, they are nothing that cannot be addressed with effort, creativity, and resourcefulness. Simply take the time to research about cultural and traditional practices of the remote location. Implement one-on-one discussions with your Filipino or Indian Virtual Assistant, and seek feedback instead of a “Yes” or “No” answer.
7. Virtual Assistants are Limited to Admin Work
The high demand for virtual assistance work has created diverse job openings for virtual assistants. They are no longer just limited to secretarial or personal assistant services. Today’s version can handle a variety of work:
- Web Design
- Social Media Marketing
- Digital Marketing
- Content Writing
- Graphics Design
You can find a VA for any type of task your business needs.
8. VA’s Cannot Maintain Client Relationships
There are limitations in the virtual world compared to shared space collaborations. But these limitations can easily be mitigated by technology and experience. If you are in the real estate business and want someone to follow up on your prospects, leave the job to the Virtual Assistant. She knows how to build rapport, give important and useful information that will move your prospect further along the sales funnel. Contrary to popular myth, VA’s can be excellent in cultivating strong client relationships.
9. Freelance VA’s Are Better Than Agency VA’s
Certainly, there are pros and cons to both sources of virtual assistants. Contracting the services of a freelancer may be more affordable but an Agency VA has the credentials and referrals to back up his or her pricing. Freelancers may not dedicate themselves fully to your project, but those appointed by an agency will be beholden to you. It is also easier to replace an underperforming VA from an agency than a freelancer. An Agency VA provides better value proposition because the agency has the scale to help you expand your business without losing time and money.
10. You Provide Required Software for Your VA
As stated earlier, a Virtual Assistant is responsible for his or her cost of business. This includes all software and hardware needed to run your campaign. However, if you want the VA to use your proprietary software then you will have to provide this yourself. Otherwise, the agency or the freelancer will provide the software on their own.
Virtual assistants can be a valuable asset for your business. But on their own, they cannot take your business from failure to success. You will also have to do your share in qualifying candidates, providing training and support and taking the time to get to know them better.