Saturday, January 15, 2011

Top 10 FAQs about Virtual Assistants (VAs)

1.       What is a virtual assistant?

A Virtual Assistant or VA, as they are more commonly known, is a person that helps you in your business but works from another location.  Many larger corporations have begun to adopt hybrid versions of this concept where the assistant works from home part of the time.

2.       How can you work with someone who is not near you?

With technology, all things are possible.  Today working across the country from your assistant is as easy as working in the same room.  Here are a few examples.

Using the Internet, you can:

·         Hold a phone conversation without having one on Skype or Google Video Chat.
·         Email and instant message while you are on the phone.
·         Hold video meetings with GoToMeeting or other web conferencing services.
·         Transfer large files with FTP services like
·         Work on group projects in real time.
·         Use customer-relationship-management services like to stay in sync whenever contacting a customer. 
·         Find phone services that easily allow the answering and transferring of calls as seamlessly as it’s done in a large office.
·         Give your small business the feel of an efficiently run corporation, complete with the personal touch of a warm, friendly, knowledgeable VA.

3.       What kind of tasks can I delegate?

What’s on your plate that you are willing to give up?  What kind of things really don’t require you?  While some things are obvious like calendar management, airline reservations, and calls, if you have an assistant with top notch skills you can begin to trust them with anything you would trust an in-house assistant with.   The problem I find is that many people don’t see the vision when they hire an assistant.  They should hire someone that they would want as a business partner.

4.       How can a VA help my business grow?

Most business owners can’t get to what they really need to do to grow their business because they are inundated with tasks.  Hire a competent VA who is experienced enough to handle the tasks you need with a minimum of direction.

5.       What should I look for in a VA? 

Look for someone who is highly skilled with experience in both the physical and virtual world.  Working virtually is not the same as working in an office.  It demands resourcefulness, adaptability and a solution-oriented mind with a calm personality.

6.       How can I trust a VA?

Check the background of your virtual assistant thoroughly through references even criminal investigation services if you need to.  Remember that you are going to be entrusting your life to this person.  Err on the side of caution.

7.       Where can I find one?

Referrals are the best way, but just like finding one-in-a-million assistants off line, you’ve got to do your due diligence and research.   Know what you want and need, check references and be willing to pay a competitive price.

8.       How much should I pay?

Here is where the greatest mistake is often made.  This old adage stands true today.  You get what you pay for!  There are many sites where you can get VA’s to bid on a project and the price can get down to $5 an hour, but what are you getting?  The VA you want is one highly skilled in their field with a great work ethic that wants to be with you for the long haul.  Invest in quality. 

9.       How should I pay?

Payments can be made in many ways like PayPal, check by mail, direct deposit, etc.

10.   What does working with a VA have in common with marriage?

Like marriage, if you have the most important basics you want in your VA like skill, experience and personality, communication, patience and respect will be the key to a long, happy, profitable relationship.

Gayle Santana is a Professional Virtual Assistant with over 9 years experience helping small business owners to focus on the bottom line.  Want to breathe easy tonight?  Call Gayle now at (917) 371-8339 or email her at