1. I only need one Virtual Assistant
Not true! Whilst there are some very good general administration Virtual Assistants out there, there are also some great ones that specialize in certain areas of business. To get the best advice and service, it is generally better to hire a VA that can specialize in an area you are looking for. For instance a VA that specializes in general administration is going to be great at things like creating documents, proof reading, answering the phone and calendar management but their desk top publishing skills will not be as proficient as that of a Graphic Designer. It is impossible for a general administration VA to keep up on training and skill development in all categories. If you only need a few social media info graphics created, great! If however you are looking to enhance your brand and make sure your image is well represented you should be looking for a VA that specializes in Graphic Design.
2. A Virtual Assistant is so expensive
Well that depends on how much you value your time and your earning power. If you are in a profession where you can command a high hourly rate for your billable hours, then it makes sense for you to work on things that earn you money and hire a VA to deal with all the time consuming stuff that, a) you don’t know how to do so it takes you twice as long and b) you hate doing! Book keeping for instance, a VA specializing in book keeping has a much lower hourly rate than an accountant and once they have a system in place for you may only need a few hours a month to keep on top of your paperwork.
3. I need lots of work available for my Virtual Assistant to do
Virtual Assistants work for more than one person generally. The beauty of a VA is that you don’t have to hire them on a full time basis or even part time. Most VA’s will have an hourly rate and you can hire them by the hour to do certain one off projects. If you know you have a regular amount of monthly work, many VA’s will have a retainer service where you can hire them for the same amount of hours every month. They will usually offer the retainer service at a lower rate than the hourly service.
4. A virtual Assistant can easily steel my business ideas or clients
This can and has happened, so it is important to ensure that you have safety measures in place to protect you against this and also that you have a good relationship with your VA. A reputable VA will put a contract in place at the beginning of the working relationship that will outline of the terms of the working arrangements as well as covering privacy, confidentiality, and ownership of materials produced.
5. All virtual Assistants work from home
Whilst most VA’s do work from home, you can also find some that have set themselves up in an office environment and others that will commute to your work premises for certain tasks.
6. Having a Virtual Assistant is only a part time or temporary solution
It can be a temporary solution whilst you figure out what your long term administration needs are, but there is also the option once you have found a good VA that you bond with to have a more long term relationship in place. For a VA, it is far more beneficial to have several long term clients than it is to constantly take on new and one off projects.
7. Getting a good Virtual Assistant can only happen if I go through a freelance site
Whilst some freelance sites or specialty Virtual Assistant site offer a screening process, many don’t and so the reliability and skill level of the VA is taken at face value. Always do your homework, regardless of where you find your VA. There are some virtual assistants out there that figure it’s an easy job and don’t have the skills and knowledge that others do so if you want to you can ask for certificates, resumes, testimonials and references.
8. Using a Virtual Assistant is more work for me because I have to tell them what to do all the time
You many need to spend some time initially with your VA, explaining exactly what you need doing if you are asking for a specialty task to be done or if you like things formatted in a certain way but after that it should be plain sailing and your VA will just “get on” with the tasks you have asked them to do. In some cases you may not even need to spend a great deal of time explaining things. Generally VA’s have skills that allow them to connect well with their clients and have an aptitude for knowing what you need doing before you do – that’s why we do what we do!
9. A good virtual assistant needs to have degrees or certification
It’s always good to have certifications for training as it shows how committed your VA is in keeping their skill levels up, however, training rarely makes up for experience and many VA’s learn tips and tricks on the fly. Just because your VA doesn’t have many certificates or a degree, doesn’t mean you should write her off! Charles Dickens for instance had no formal writing qualification!
10. Becoming a virtual assistant doesn’t cost anything
For a virtual assistant working at home, start-up costs and overheads can be significantly lower than other business startups, however once again it depends on your VA, if they specialize in a certain area and require any equipment and also how seriously they take their business and education. Some required software can be costly and setting up an office with good equipment is not cheap either. Ongoing education can also be expensive.
11. Virtual Assistants only work for Internet Based Companies
Not true. Whilst it might seem that the “virtual” assistant is best matched to a “virtual” company, many virtual assistants work for premises based companies. Many premises based companies have significant overheads in comparison to virtual companies and so the option of a Virtual Assistant often works out as a much better cost effective solution for administrative work.
12. A virtual Assistant is cheap to hire
Just as virtual assistants are not overly expensive in the grand scheme of things (dependent on their specialty) they are also not necessarily cheap to hire either. You should expect to pay more for a Virtual Assistant than you would for a full or part time admin assistant as you are paying for convenience. Remember though that you will not be paying any employee costs such as tax, vacation and sick pay and insurance for your VA.
13. It’s hard to communicate with a Virtual Assistant
Whilst it might seem strange initially while you get used to not necessarily having someone in the office next door to discuss your administration tasks with, generally Virtual Assistants have set themselves up with great communication tool for ensuring that the lines are fully open. From project management software that keeps track of times and tasks to instant messaging solutions that allows you to contact your VA almost all the time during their business hours, communication should be the least of your worries when hiring a VA.
14. My Virtual Assistant will be available for me whenever I need her
Your virtual assistant, like you should have business hours, so if she does not work weekends and stat holidays, she will not be available at these times and this is something you should clarify when you begin your working relationship. If you are only hiring your Virtual Assistant for 5 hours a week, then that is when she is available to you. Unless you are paying her 40 hours a week she will not be able to drop everything for something you need immediately. Good lines of communication, however and a thorough understanding of your working relationship at the onset will ensure that you get what you need for the most part. Your VA may be able to take on last minute urgent work. This may come at a premium price dependent on what you need but may be an option.
Now that you understand more about what a virtual assistant does and doesn’t do and some of the myths you have heard have been dispelled – go hire one, your business will thank you!