How to pick your perfect Virtual Assistant

How to pick your perfect Virtual Assistant

How to pick your perfect Virtual Assistant

Picking the perfect VA for you is a stressful process, as it is not the same as choosing your “in-house” Assistant. You basically, most probably won’t ever “meet” your VA.

Here are a few tips to help you through the process.

Before you can start with “advertising” the position, you need to have the following information ready – maybe write it down.

1. First things first, what do you want your VA to do?

What tasks do you need the VA to do? In this list include everything, from sending emails to bigger projects such as bookkeeping.

Also prioritise the tasks. Number these projects, what is most important to less important.

Are these tasks time sensitive? Are they ongoing or once-off projects?

2. How many hours are you looking for?

This can depend on your budget, so make sure you know what that is. Does the VA work full-time or part-time? Is he available evenings and weekends (if that’s when you work)? What time zone is the VA located in? While I have nothing against part-time VAs, I found I needed someone who was available during my full-time working hours.

What type of person should the Virtual Assistant be? This is something big to think about. Do you want the VA to be organized, should the VA be super friendly…al these things will influence your decision. If you are not sure, think about the type of work the VA will be doing for you. If the VA is going to call your clients the VA needs to be super friendly. If the VA has to do some bookkeeping, being thorough would be important.

3. What kind of experience does the Virtual Assistant need?

Experience… one of the GREAT thing about VA’s are that they usually a lot of experience. VA’s mostly have more than one client and does various things for these clients. So when thinking of experience, you need to determine how long the VA has been doing this type of work. While it’s helpful to know how long she has been a VA or an administrative assistant, it’s more important to learn how long she has done the tasks that you want her to do. She may have done them for a previous employer for many years. There’s always a bit of a learning curve as a VA learns your particular business, but you shouldn’t be paying for her to learn new skills unless they’re unique to you and your business.

4. Tech skills required

A very important thing to think about is Tech skills because you are hiring a VA – everything is Virtual. The VA you are looking for will either know the software you are working on OR be a quick learner on tech.

Once you have figured out,

What the VA will be doing

What the required skills are

How many hours the VA will be working

…you then can start searching for the perfect VA. Virtual Assistant Companies are perfect, absolutely perfect.

WHY? They have Virtual Assistant lined up for you and they usually have a full list of what their VA’s can do, what skills they currently have. SO you will have a variety to choose from, and they will speed up the process.

This is why you need to hire a Managed Virtual Assistant Agency

This is why you need to hire a Managed Virtual Assistant Agency

This is why you need to hire a Managed Virtual Assistant Agency

The key to your business success as an Entrepreneur, CEO or Founder is knowing when to outsource and when to keep things in-house.

More than likely if you run a SME or startup you are not keen on hiring beyond your office, because you think it’s going to end up being a very expensive exercise. Well, I’m here to set the record straight. You see, VA Connect happens to be Africa’s largest managed virtual assistant agency and we’re here to prove that hiring a VA from a managed virtual assistant agency is one of the best things you could ever do for your business.

We’ve been doing this for many years, which necessarily follows that we have learned many lessons and for sure earned our stripes along the way!

It’s important for you, the business owner and our client, to be safe in the knowledge that by hiring us to provide office support, that we know what we’re doing and ultimately we make life as simple and as easy as possible for you.

I want to share some of the benefits of hiring a VA from a managed virtual assistant agency.

Benefits of a Managed Virtual Assistant Agency

We come with packing punch

With many years of experience under our belts we have a great understanding of your needs, the level of expertise you require and that the Virtual Assistant you hire becomes part of your team. So it’s really important to us that we assign a well-suited VA to your account. Our team comes with great skills, knowledge and attitude to get the job done and for you to start enjoying business again.

Lower cost, less hassles

At the end of the day it works out to be more cost-effective to outsource certain functions than to hire them in-house. As a very well run managed virtual assistant agency we offer great service at really reasonable pricing, which is excellent for budgeting purposes.

Expertise and knowledge

We’ve done the legwork, bumped our heads a few times and walked away with many business lessons. Because of this we come with expertise that cannot be learned from a book. We have surrounded ourselves with exceptional people and we are blessed to have such an amazing team to work with.

HR is our problem

One of the biggest blockers in any business is the HR department. That is a separate skillset, being able to manage people, recruit the right staff and keep them motivated. One of the greatest benefits of hiring a Virtual Assistant is that you don’t have any HR problems. If you work with a managed services virtual assistant agency and you’re experiencing issues with your VA, the agency will replace them. If your VA is off-sick or on annual leave it is up to the agency to find a stand-in.

Bringing it together

Do your homework when you are in the market to expand your team. Compare the cost effectiveness of keeping everything in-house vs outsourcing certain functions of your business to a virtual assistant. You may be surprised at how easy it is to on-board a VA and that minimum training is required to get them fully integrated.

It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks by Annie, Virtual Assistant

It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks by Annie, Virtual Assistant

It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks

When my company closed down, I found that I was looking for something to do to help keep my grey matter active.  I was lucky enough to be offered the chance to be a virtual assistant.  They say when someone has been in a job for a long time you stagnate, in that you use the same skills all the time and never stretch your brain to its full capacity.  Well in the last two years, boy has my brain been stretched!

Who would have thought that I would have learnt so much?  I have gone from being an Executive PA in the shipping industry for more than 40 odd years, to now regularly researching topics that I did not even know existed before.  Throw is some computer programming and writing up business plans and synopsis’s and all of a sudden there is a serious need for upskilling oneself.

Having been exposed to new fields, I have realized that in order to do a great job for my client and to fly the VA flag high, I have needed to ensure that I keep up to date with all the new trends in specific markets.  Before I would have just looked everything up on the internet and been quite proud of my efforts, however, working as a Virtual Assistant, one does not have the luxury of running into your boss’s office with a question at any given time.

Have the right mind-set

Just the other day I was asked to prepare an online survey, my first thought was HELP!  The difficulty is that my client is a very busy man and leaves me with set tasks to do within a specific timeline.  I had to research and teach myself how to program a couple of online surveys for him, not only the survey but to get the survey to calculate specific responses and tally them thus connecting them to other screens.

If you had asked me to do this before I became a VA I would have looked at you sideways, however, now I rise to the challenge.  After completing the surveys I gave myself a pat on the back for upskilling myself, only to find that the next challenge coming hurtling towards me!  This time, my assignment was dealing with finance and brochures.  So again I needed put my big girl knickers on and upskill myself in the world of Board Meetings and Award Winning Brochures.

Up-skill yourself as a Virtual Assistant

Apart from my regular upskilling I have realized that I need to take advantage of the free courses offered online through webinars and websites such as Alison and Typeform to name a few.  They say education opens up doors and the mind.  Here’s hoping that my new found skills will lead to more opportunities. My mind is continually being stretched, and because of this I am able to offer more and I am more confident in myself and my abilities.

My new motto is “Bring It On!”

Being my own greatest best friend!

Being my own greatest best friend!

Being my own greatest best friend!

This is a topic that hits very close to home and one that my best friend and I have to continuously remind each other about. It is something that i have had to teach myself and my daughters, through my own experiences, that if you feel people use you, take advantage of you, or break their promises to you, then you need to make some new choices. It’s time for you to do a self-check.

I did one, and I discovered that I have amazingly positive, wonderful, loving, supportive good people in my life. They have been with me for years, some for decades. They are 100 percent in my corner. They challenge me, chasten me, correct me, adore me, build me up, give to me, and they are loyal to me as I am them. Our relationships thrive and soar because we are the same.

All this is possible when you start treating yourself as if you are fabulous, terrific, and wonderful, you don’t allow others to walk over you. When you start believing that you’re a magnificent limited edition of one – unique in every way, you put out a different energy in all your relationships (business, personal or friendships).

And having 2 young and impressionable daughters watching my every move, my every interaction, listening to my calls, the way I speak to people has made me realise that my self check, is not so much about myself but also about my daughters. You teach people how to treat you means that it all comes back to you. It’s up to you to allow or not allow certain treatment. It also means that you have to first get clear about how you want to be treated. It means that you have to take responsibility enough to write your own owner’s manual. And you are accountable for living by your owner’s manual. For some of us, it may be the very first time we ever even gave this any thought.

I read somewhere, “Remember that accountability and responsibility have nothing to do with blame. They are an entirely different energy and intent than blame. Blame seeks to shame and belittle. Responsibility seeks to un-victim you.”

If this is something that you can’t believe right now, then becoming your own best friend is really important. Because if you feel good about yourself then other people will treat you with respect.  Remember: we teach people how to treat us by how we treat ourselves.

Be brave and selective, live by your values and standards, and watch what you do attract. You might be scared. But you won’t be disappointed. And if you need some more motivation, you can find it in the freezer in a variety of flavours!

The 5 best things to do in Durban, South Africa, by T. Barkus, Virtual Assistant

The 5 best things to do in Durban, South Africa, by T. Barkus, Virtual Assistant

The 5 best things to do in Durban, South Africa

As a Virtual Assistant based in Durban, South Africa I wanted to share what’s best about living in this vibrant and culture rich city that I now call home.

Durban is situated in the KwaZulu Natal province on the Eastern coast of South Africa. It is known for its African, Indian and Colonial influences and offers a range of sites and activities for both locals and tourists.

Here’s my top 5 recommendations for things to do in Durban.

  1. Hit the beach

Durban has beautiful stretches of beaches on the Indian Ocean. The main city beach called the Golden Mile, underwent a dramatic upgrade and transformation for the 2010 Soccer World Cup and is today still very well maintained and popular amongst day trippers, sun bathers, surfers and swimmers. There is also a lovely promenade for cycle rides and walks. 10 km out of Durban, Umhlanga Rocks offers another stretch of beautiful beach. As its name suggests, it is more rocky and provides a great place for children wanting to explore the rich sea life in the rock pools (be sure to check the tides).

  1. Take a trip to the Valley of 1,000 Hills

A 45 minute drive out of Durban is the beautiful terrain of The Valley of 1,000 Hills.  A typical visit to the area might consist of watching a Zulu ceremony and dance at PheZulu Cultural and Safari Park, having a pub lunch with a view, seeing crocodiles and snakes at the Crocodile and Snake Park and generally taking in the beautiful scenery and enjoying some relief from the humidity of Durban.

  1. Visit Moses Mabhida Stadium

The stadium was built for the 2010 World Cup held in South Africa and is now used for local soccer and cricket matches, live concerts and other performances. It is also home to the local soccer team AmaZulu. The stadium features an arch extending over the length of the field and offers visitors the opportunity to ride the cable cart to the top for fantastic views of the city. For thrill seekers, there is the Big Rush Swing which is a bungee free fall swing that hangs from the centre of the stadium’s arch.

  1. See Durban’s historic city centre

Although a lot of decentralisation has occurred over the last 20 years or so, the city centre is still worth a visit for the diversity of the markets, historical colonial architecture and an array of interesting museums. Of note is Durban’s City hall – also known as eThekwini City Hall where you will also find the Durban Art Gallery and Natural Science Museum.

  1. Enjoy fun in the water at uShaka Marine World

Last but not least, we are back to the water. uShaka Marine World comprise of uShaka Sea World Aquarium, uShaka Wet and Wild waterslide park, uShaka Village Walk (shops and restaurants) and uShaka Kids World (including Africa’s biggest jungle gym).  It is a haven for kids and the young at heart alike and offers a full day of entertainment for all.

These are just a small selection of what is available to see and do in Durban and although not as well-known as the cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg, Durban is well worth a visit for both local and overseas visitors.