Outsourcing isn’t just for corporations anymore.
With modern technology, it has never been easier for small businesses to hire skilled workers from around the world. They’re called virtual assistants and these work-from-home employees can fill small gaps in your workflow without the expense of full-time help.
How? You pay only for time spent on projects. You don’t provide health and retirement benefits. And they don’t require office space.
Traditionally in small businesses, nearly every employee has to be a jack-of-all-trades because there’s so much to do and so few people to do it. But with virtual assistants, you can hire multiple specialists for the price of a single full-timer.
For example, you might hire a marketing guru to spend five hours a week on social media and hire an accountant to spend 15 hours a week on bookkeeping. Then you’ll round it out with a sales-experienced assistant to spend 20 hours a week cold calling and following up on sales leads.
Try finding a full-time employee that can excel at such a wide variety of skills.
Specific Definable Tasks
If you start reading online reviews of virtual assistants, you’ll find a mix of negative and positive experiences.
Much of your success will be determined by whether you have true, definable needs for an assistant. Too many companies hire one without having specific tasks in mind, which weakens the hiring process and makes it difficult to set expectations.
There’s a lot of things you can outsource, but leadership and management aren’t one of them.
Interested? Here’s where you find one:
Upwork and Freelancer act as intermediaries between you and your assistant. It’s free to post a job and receive bids, but they charge a commission that’s deducted from your assistant’s pay.
With Zirtual and TimeETC, you choose a specific flat-rate package that includes a set number of hours per month and they choose the employee for you. The benefit is you’re hiring their company rather than an individual, so you don’t have to take the time to search through resumes and call references.
Another way many entrepreneurs find virtual assistants is through their own social network. Sometimes all it takes is a post on Facebook and you’ll locate an old college friend or even a friend of a friend that’s interested in taking on extra work from home.
The same hiring minefield you encounter with regular employees exists with virtual workers, so plan to perform just as much due diligence.
Phone or video interviews are important since you’ll want to ensure you can communicate effectively with applicants, particularly those that are international.
Many entrepreneurs complain that job candidates apply to multiple jobs at once without reading full job descriptions. This is why it’s a good idea to hide a litmus test in your job post (like, all applicants must type “success” at the bottom of their resume) so that you can quickly weed out those who aren’t serious about your specific position.
Most importantly, start all virtual assistants with a paid trial period so they can prove their skills and work ethic.
After all, you won’t be able to monitor them as easily as a traditional employee.
Using a virtual assistant isn’t for everyone, but if you’re mindful of the time and money you invest in the endeavor, you might just find out why outsourcing is so popular among big businesses. And you might finally have the time to make it home for dinner every night.
Bank does not endorse third party services.
Adam Lucas holds a Finance degree and an MBA from the University of Kentucky. His work has appeared in many major outlets including AARP.org and GoBankingRates.com.