Virtual Assistants (human and intelligent devices acting as personal assistants) are increasing in value and popularity these days. Article after article abound on the internet confirming the value of VAs.
While electronic personal assisting devices, like Alexa, are cool and convenient,
The value of a busy solopreneur or small business having a reliable, advanced multi-skilled, human virtual assistant in your pocket is immeasurable. Unlike intelligent devices, the right VA is an extension of you.
A Good VA Is Sometimes Hard To Find
Have you ever asked your fellow entrepreneurial peers, “Where can I find a good VA?” You know, one that is reliable, flexible, able to anticipate needs, with multiple advanced-skills that can serve to project manage your daily business life?
Who has access to such elite level assistants? How much do they cost? What questions should business owners ask to vet potential VA agencies or independent freelance VAs to ensure their skills really are premium and not over-promises?
Where Can I Find an Exceptional VA?
Be of good cheer. There are thousands of advanced-skilled level VA’s ready and able to serve all over the globe. The internet has made a tremendous amount of talent available to you. Where you find them depends upon your goals and budget.
If you are on a tight budget or just need basic VA services (typically off-shore talent), then online sources like Upwork, and Fiverr, are good places for entrepreneurs to start their VA search. Be prepared to kiss a lot of frogs. Although, it is very possible to find the right VA if you persevere and have time to trial and error.
Virtual Staff Finder is, also, another reputable agency that vets a large pool of, mostly, off-shore talent and provides general VA’s to entrepreneurs at an economical cost.
Although, emerging in the market are boutique VA agencies and independent freelance VA’s (a few listed below) who are raising the bar. These agencies and independents have surveyed the current VA market offerings and recognized gaps in service quality and turnover.
They heard the cry of high-growth, go-getter business owners seeking more than just traditional administrative skills (e.g., data entry, emails, customer service, appointment setting). They are seeking critical thinking, tech savvy VA’s who are capable of owning and performing a range of responsibilities–like facilitating product launches, creating a lead magnet offer and landing page, or project management. They want less turnover, longer-commitments, and a solid fit for their business culture.
What Does A Premium-Skilled VA Look Like?
Since each VA has nuanced super powers that make them a rock star and each business owner has unique needs, there is no one size fits all template. However, you will know you have an advanced-skilled VA (or VA agency supplier of advanced-skilled VAs) when you experience the following:
The Agency (or independent VA) takes great pains to “match” you with a complimentary VA. Their goal is not to quickly “fill a position” with candidates they have on their availability roster. They ask you a lot of thoughtful, untraditional questions in order to get at your nuanced core personality and business needs. And, they do the same with their VA candidates.
They are resourceful, proactive, critical thinkers. Some advanced-skilled VA’s are visionaries as demonstrated by their ability to connect, quickly, with your company’s vision. This vision guides them as they complete a specific task, anticipate future needs, and seamlessly become an extension of you. The quality of their work demonstrates they listen well and have integrated themselves into the company vision.
They have demonstrable technical and traditional skills. They know their way around the WordPress Dashboard or other CMS. They are able to show you relevant work they’ve done (e.g., sites they’ve built or manage, guest posts they’ve landed for former clients, copy or posts they’ve written, results from an ad campaign, references from former clients, etc.)
They have a lust for learning. They are interested in your business and see how it translates into their personal growth. They have a “can do,” “give me a second, I will figure it out” attitude. You will find them continuing in their education (e.g. free courses, YouTube tutorials, conferences, or paid enrollments) to stay technologically relevant.
Finally, premium skills could include help with lead generation, lead follow-up, prospecting, product launches, event planning, project management, ideation, strategy, bookkeeping, sales, course creation, web design, copywriting, ebooks, funnels, etc.
How Much Do They Cost?
Again, it depends. It depends on what you want, where you live, and how much time is needed. Although, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. If you want what’s described above, be prepared to invest at least $25-$35 bucks per hour for an independent freelance, premium-skilled VA and double that for an agency who specializes in staffing this caliber of talent in the U.S. You can also negotiate a set monthly fee for certain a’la carte tasks or projects.
Note also, such quality VAs are not above the basic everyday tasks of appointment setting, email management, customer service, etc. These tasks are assumed to be default in addition to the premium skills they provide.
That said, it would be intellectually dishonest to not acknowledge that not all solopreneurs or small organizations need premium skill level—especially if they are hiring their first VA. They may just need the basic traditional or a’la carte services.
And again, the cost depends upon a number of variables.
Such basic VA services could run owners in the range of $15-$20.00 per hour in the U.S. The other good news is that there are many independents and agencies who specialize in staffing at this basic but good quality service level–like Elance & Fiverr.
3 Tips to Find & Keep Premium VAs & Get ROI
Now that you know where to find the broad pool of talent, what do business owners need to do to ensure an ROI from their VA investment and, consequently, keep this valuable asset in their pockets long-term?
1. Have a vision, goals, and objectives. Know what you want and need. If you are not sure what you want or need this puts the VA at a disadvantage as they will be unable to meet or exceed expectations. Not being clear on what’s expected and why leaves room for confusion which will breed low work morale, which breeds friction and frustration, which contributes to turnover. At the very least, business owners should have a clear vision so your VA can begin to help you organize the pieces of your goals and objectives and set priorities—where necessary.
2. Have a budget and timeline. What exactly can you afford? Do you need a long-term VA or short–term? Some business owners make the mistake of hiring support staff, too soon. Or, they expect a lot of premium level services at a discount price. Please know what you can afford and let your timeline and scope of work reflect your budget before seeking to hire a VA.
3. Commit to the process. While business owners hire VA’s to save them time, VAs are not mothers, babysitters, or psychic mind readers. They are your business partner. There will be times when the VA will need the undivided attention of their business owners so as to provide feedback, respond to questions, set priorities (e.g. calendar, project timelines), or to communicate clear instructions for certain tasks. Please be committed to being available to give your VA what they need in order to ensure your ROI.
Hiring an advanced-skilled or premium virtual assistant is an affordable answer for solopreneurs or small organizations desperate to clean off their plates to free up valuable time to focus on what they do best—make rain (i.e., make sales and close deals).
3 Potential VA Sources of Premium-Skilled Talent
Belay: A bigger box but high-quality agency that offers a range of industry specific services for entrepreneurs. Their mission is to equip their clients to climb higher and scale at a comfortable pace. Belay would be a good choice for clients wanting to test the waters and hire their very first premium skilled VA. Belay offers solutions that help entrepreneurs staff for very specific needs e.g., need only a virtual bookkeeper or only a web designer.
Priority VA: Boutique VA Agency serving high-growth online entrepreneurs (some famous) with a rigorous selection process that’s sprinkled with a very warm and intimate experience for owners and their VA team members. Priority VA is a good service for the seasoned entrepreneur or business owner seeking level-up and hire someone to plug in for the long-haul. They specialize in “matching” VAs for high growth business owners.
The Rainmaker Assistant: A new service run by a well-rounded, multi-advanced skilled independent freelance VA. She brings a lust for learning and prefers to show vs. tell—under promise and over-deliver. She believes she can do almost anything if given a few minutes to read up on it and some space to practice. She is looking for 1-3 long-term clients. Industries of interest are Software Solutions, Real Estate, Personal Finance, Health & Wellness, or Christian Ministries.
Disclosure: This post is inspired by Latisha Grady, The Rainmaker’s Assistant. Latisha is also a blogger and independent freelance virtual assistant team member for Priority VA. This post is NOT sponsored by any named agency.