I love the idea of virtual assistants. They usually work from home (saving on real estate costs, computer expenses and furniture). They aren’t employees, they’re independent contractors (no benefits). They usually result in your costs being variable and not fixed.
Most importantly, they are, usually, the Chief Executive Officer of their own business. They see you as a customer, not a boss. They are their own boss. That makes a huge difference in performance.
But, life is not a bed of roses with a virtual assistant. It’s a complex relationship requiring different skills than are required to manage an on-site employee. You’ve got to be good at delegating, at explaining what you need and at managing at a distance.
I’ve used a virtual assistant with great success. It works. When I was doing it initially, I thought of virtual assistants as an interim step to fill the gap before being able to keep a full-time employee busy. But, I don’t see it that way anymore. I think an entire practice can be managed by and with virtual employees. It’s an option to consider.
Lots of people have put loads of time into thinking about how to manage virtual assistants. They’ve come up with systems and procedures that will help get you started and keep you going with your virtual staff. The most helpful material I’ve found is by Jeff Widman. His post Virtual Assistant Needed: How to Hire And Work With a Virtual Assistant is fantastic. He will get you thinking and you may find that you can simply cut and paste most his materials to create your own system.
Think about the things you might delegate to a virtual assistant. Find someone and give it a try. You can always change your mind and walk away if it’s not working. More likely, however, is that you’ll quickly become dependent on your new help. You’ll free up time enabling you to do more valuable and lucrative work. It’s an idea worth exploring.