How to Hire a Virtual Assistant

How to Hire a Virtual Assistant

As small business owners your world is fast paced with hundreds of tasks landing on your plate, leading you to work evenings and weekends. You have quickly discovered that this new life is not sustainable and look to outsourcing various tasks.

Usually, you want to hire a Bookkeeper to take those tedious tasks off your plate, next, is your administrative tasks. Removing data entry, research, calendar management, email management, travel booking and ensuring that meetings go smoothly with an Assistant who doubles as a meeting assistant. Now that you are looking to outsource, an Administrative Assistant, virtual Assistant (VA) or virtual Executive Assistant (VEA) become search terms you are familiar with. However, what is a VA, or virtual EA and how do you hire one?

Shaking Hands

What is a Virtual Assistant or Virtual Executive Assistant:

A VA or VEA takes over tasks much like an Administrative Assistant, however they are strictly online. A VA will have less experience and generally requires more hand-holing and back and forth. A virtual Executive Assistant is highly experienced working with c-suite executives and business owners. Our clients usually call us because they are doing the tedious, time-consuming tasks that don’t require their attention. Those tasks can be travel booking, invoicing, setting up rules and filters in your email to remove junk or spam before it reaches your inbox, CRM management an countless other tasks on your to-do list.

What to do Before Hiring a Virtual Assistant:

Recognize how much your time is worth and tasks that are draining your energy. If you are unsure of where to start, our onboarding process helps create a plan of action over the next 6 months to ensure your launch with VEA is successful. Our Onboarding Concierge asks pointed questions to draw out your needs, your loves, your hates, your dreams for your business and discusses them with your virtual Executive Assistant before you begin with us. The last thing any of us wants is to waste time for weeks discovering the gameplan as we go, let’s create it before we start and tweak it along the way.

How Much Does a Virtual Assistant Cost:

That all depends on experience. If you don’t mind handholding for the first few months and waiting 24 hours for a response, hire overseas. This is usually the start for companies looking to hire for only a few hours a week. If you are looking for a highly experienced Assistant who will be client facing, the price can go up. If you are hiring a less experienced Assistant, the price can range from $5-$30 USD per hour. If you are hiring an experienced Assistant, the price ranges from $35-$60 USD per hour. Most of these Assistants will be hired on contract so you don’t have to worry about benefits and perks.

How to Hire a Virtual Assistant:

You need to first discover what you are looking for and how many hours you need. Once you have your gameplan in place, it is easier to discover more tasks to hand off and how many approximate hours you need. From there, decide whether you want someone experienced or inexperienced, this factor will most likely be determined by your budget. If your budget is lower a lot of these factors like location and experience will be decided for you. A higher budget comes with more experience and on shore Executive Assistants, where a lower budget (under $750/month) will take you offshore with less experienced virtual Assistants.

How Many Hours Does a Virtual Assistant Work:

This is all based on how many hours you need and can limit the pool of Assistants. If you are looking for only a few hours a week or close to full-time, you may have a harder time finding or keeping a VA. Most VAs are remote and prefer to control their hours, having close to 40 hours a week makes that harder for them to be flexible with their schedules. Hiring someone around 2-3 hours a week makes you less of a priority and normally means you have 0 hours for them in one week and 5 in the next. With the unpredictability or hours and pay, many VA’s end up firing you as a client. At VEA, we have 20 hours a month as a minimum to ensure that you are consistent with your EA and their hours are guaranteed. If you need full-time, we offer that as well. Our team of over 70 virtual staff are all over the map with their desired hours, ensuring that we have someone experienced to fit your needs.

Hiring a Virtual Assistant, Again:

We’ve heard the many reasons why hiring a virtual Assistant hasn’t worked in the past. It is why we created our new onboarding process complete with your own Onboarding Concierge. If you’ve tried and failed in the past the main reasons, are you didn’t have enough work for them, your communication was sporadic, you didn’t know what to hand-off or they were too inexperienced. If you are giving it a go again, ensure you have tasks assigned to them. For example, every time a new client request comes into your inbox, they set them up in the CRM and schedule the call/appointment. Having your virtual Assistant managing your email is also a time-saving task that keeps you in front of what is important. By handing off repetitive tasks, you ensure that your VA will have work to do and keep the relationship going.

Conclusion

If you are looking for highly experienced virtual Executive Assistants, meet VEA. Our EA’s have over 5+ years, but must have 10+ years of experience, working for C-Suite level executives, business owners and Entrepreneurs. If you have tried alternative routes and failed, our onboarding process will give you the perfect jump start you need to make this time around successful. Book a call with VEA to get those time-consuming, energy- draining tasks off your plate so you can get back to what is important.

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing at VEA

How an EA Transforms Businesses

How an EA Transforms Businesses

If you’re a business owner, hiring an Executive Assistant can be a game changing addition to your work life. You might not have an Executive Assistant yet, but there will likely come a time when you should consider investing in one.

Are you able to perform many daily tasks efficiently and on your own? Of course you can. After all, you’ve probably been doing them all since the early days. But your company is bigger now, or you’re trying to grow it, so it could be time to consider the opportunity costs of going it alone.

A skilled Executive Assistant can be the backbone of your more efficient operations. Their primary purpose is to perform a range of administrative tasks, like managing schedules, making travel arrangements, and organizing your inbox–so you can focus on strategic decision making and other higher-value responsibilities. More specifically, a virtual Executive Assistant can swiftly adapt to your changing needs, because they are skilled at using digital tools to handle tasks, manage schedules, and provide crucial assistance without needing to be in a physical office.

Butterfly in Flowers

Curious about what jobs you should hand off first? Here are some guidelines about what we recommend you outsource first to a virtual Executive Assistant.

Case Stories

Rather than talk about the benefits of hiring a virtual Executive Assistant, the following case stories exemplify how two of our clients at VEA have incorporated these skilled practitioners into their businesses in the real world.

 

Case Story: Improving the Intake Process

One client regularly sends multiple intake forms to its customers. For years, these forms were attached to emails and sent to individual users. Not only did customers often forget to attach and send back completed forms, but gathering was a manual process, leaving the door open for human error.

Using a combo of Microsoft Office Suite, Power Automate, SharePoint, and Power apps, our VEA Executive Assistant created online forms that could be updated in real-time and sent out as a simple link. Fewer attachments translated into fewer mistakes and a welcomed uptick in customer compliance.

Versioning issues are a thing of the past. Information is digitized, eliminating all that copying and pasting that was eating up employees’ time. An error-prone system was cleaned up, and since all data is stored in one place, our client can run reports and learn more about customer behaviour. With just a few small changes, so much was gained.

 

 

Case Story: A Better Billing System

Our professional services client needed to streamline its time tracking system and invoice clients more efficiently. Under its legacy system, they were still creating all invoices manually. It took two whole days to compile information and send invoices!

Working in partnership with a VEA Online Business Manager, the virtual Executive Assistant successfully implemented new digital tools to improve processes and meet newly formed goals.

Using a mixture of Clockify, Excel, and business analysis, this virtual Executive Assistant was pivotal in reducing the billing process from two days to just two hours, saving the client 14 hours per month in labor. Freeing up time by creating better processes enabled the business owner to grow without a lot of added administrative muscle to make it happen.

 

Business Gets Personal

Do you ever feel like your personal life seeps into your workday? It happens to the best of us. At VEA, our virtual Executive Assistants not only handle administrative jobs, but they are also happy to take on personal assistant duties, like arranging social plans, ordering household basics, and even sending flowers and gifts, all in the pursuit of giving you more ways to stay in the game rather than getting yanked to the sidelines throughout the day.

 

An Executive Assistant can even drop work blocks into your schedule, giving you permission to simply focus rather than be pulled into last-minute meetings that sabotage your flow. They can also help you strive for “inbox zero”, a productivity strategy and philosophy that seeks to declutter your mind by decluttering your inbox through methodically deleting, sorting, and clearing incoming emails.

Is it Time for an Executive Assistant?

The right virtual Executive Assistant can truly transform how you structure your week and make it more productive. VEA prides itself on hand matching business owners to their Executive Assistants to ensure a good fit from the onset.

Give VEA a call to talk about your virtual Executive Assistant options. Our team can explain what to expect and then walk you through our tried-and-true onboarding process that ensures you and your virtual Executive Assistant work together as an indispensable team.

Book a Call or email me directly at  [email protected]. I am always happy to help.

 

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing

Busting Top 5 Myths About Outsourcing Bookkeeping Services

Busting Top 5 Myths About Outsourcing Bookkeeping Services

I say it all the time, 99% of business owners did not get into business to do bookkeeping, you got into business to sell your products and services. Bookkeeping is usually the first task to get pushed down your to-do list and the task that gives you the most headaches. Which means, it is the first task that should be outsourced.

But it shouldn’t be outsourced to anyone, the bookkeeper you hire should be experienced and you should understand the fundamentals of bookkeeping. A good bookkeeper will help you understand your financial statements but before you hire you probably have a few questions (or hesitations) about how bookkeeping works, how to find a great bookkeeper and where to even start the process. Let’s break down the top 5 myths of outsourcing bookkeeping.

Image with a calculator and spreadsheet in the background and "myth" written on the front

Myth #1: A Business Owner Should Do Their Own Bookkeeping

True…and false…A business owner will probably start by doing their own bookkeeping but if you don’t complete your bookkeeping according to standardized accounting practices’ and don’t know how to read the financial statements, you should hand it off immediately. Most business owners who engage us to do their bookkeeping usually have the same story: They are spending evenings catching up on receipts, categorizing expenses wrong and spending thousands more on an accountant who has to tidy up at year-end.

If you are not making mistakes and understand how to read the financial statements, great, but your time is still better spent elsewhere doing high-level tasks that grow your business. Your bookkeeping can be done by a professional who checks in to ensure you are sending the documents they need so that when it comes time for you to meet with them to review the statements, they are accurately prepared.

Truth #1: A Business Owner does not need to do their own bookkeeping, however, they do need to hire someone qualified and understand how to read the financial statements.

Myth #2: My Accountant Can Do My Books

At a premium, absolutely they can! Accountant rates are at least double the price of a bookkeeper and many accountants hand-off the bookkeeping to a trained bookkeeper anyway but still charge the accountant rate. (Not so fun fact, many Accountants don’t know how to do bookkeeping.) As mentioned above, if you are using an Accountant to do your books, it is usually done at year-end which gives you 12 months without proper data on how your business is doing. If you prefer higher rates and no financial picture for 12 months, hire an Accountant instead of a Bookkeeper to do your books.

Truth #2: An Accountant can do your books at a much higher rate.

Myth #3: A Bookkeeper Isn’t Trustworthy with My Bank Accounts

No one should have direct access to your bank accounts unless you absolutely trust them and review bank statements separately on your own. A Bookkeeper should have access to your bank account but with limited permissions. By giving them limited permissions this protects both of you. If a Bookkeeper is eager to have your username and password without limited permissions, you should find another Bookkeeper.

To get around having complete access to your accounts, Bookkeepers will receive your financial statements through software like QuickBooks Online (QBO), Zoho or Sage. This is outside of having limited permissions, but using a proper software and giving your Bookkeeper limited permissions means less work for you.

Truth #3: A Bookkeeper doesn’t want or need full access to your bank account.

Myth #4: Virtual Bookkeepers are Less Experienced

True and false. This should be a concern for you so only hire a Bookkeeper with years of experience, comes with references and never sign a long-term contract. Go month to month and if you don’t like what they are doing or feel they don’t know what they are doing, remove their access and move on to someone else.

At VEA Office Professionals, our Bookkeepers have at least 5, but most have 10+ years of experience working with business owners. They have seen it all and are not afraid of messy books. Our team will have your books up to date with financial statements coming out every month, so you know exactly where your business stands financially. Our team is also located across North America, so they understand the expectations of the federal government when it comes to bookkeeping. Whether you need a Bookkeeper in Calgary, a Bookkeeper in Toronto or a Bookkeeper in New York, our team knows the ins and outs to keep you on track and within the laws.

Truth #4: The right Bookkeeper is experienced and will help you grow your business.

Myth #5: I Can’t Send My Receipts to an Outsourced Bookkeeper

With the software that we use, you never have to send a physical receipt to anyone ever again. Dext allows you to take a picture of receipts or forward email receipts or invoices. From there it syncs up to your bookkeeping software, meaning those shoe boxes full of receipts are great but basically obsolete.  It also saves your Bookkeeper time from having to reconcile all your receipts, which saves you money.

Truth #5: You don’t need to send your receipts to your Bookkeeper.

Conclusion:

You should be hesitant about hiring anyone, let alone a virtual Bookkeeper, but you should also be vigilant about ensuring who you hire is certified, experienced and up-to-date on local regulations. If being clear on the financial picture of your business, not having to hand off receipts and not staying up in the evening to complete your books sound too good to be true, book a call with VEA to get back to high-level tasks while trusting that your books are well taken care of.

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing

 

 

Why Are You Still Doing the Administrative Tasks?

Why Are You Still Doing the Administrative Tasks?

If you are finding it difficult to scale your business, or if it’s moving fast but you can’t quite get to the big-picture actions it takes to grow – it could be time to delegate administrative tasks to an Executive Assistant. 

Administrative tasks are highly important to running any business, but in our experience, they are not typically where a business owner contributes the most value.

Hiring an Executive Assistant to help with the endless to-dos means you’ll have more time to focus on income-generating tasks and to work on long-term goals.

A bunch of menial tasks on a buiilding backdrop

What are the most important administrative tasks you can hand off in order to scale? Here’s a list of our top picks:

  • Bookkeeping
  • To-Do List Management
  • Travel Booking
  • Event Planning
  • CRM Management
  • E-Mail Management
  • Calendar Management
  • Inventory Management
  • Appointment Setting
  • Order Processing
  • Communicating with Suppliers & Vendors
  • Staffing a liaison between your supplier or vendor
  • Account Management
  • Follow-up Phone Calls or E-Mails
  • Data Entry
  • WordPress Administration
  • Image Research
  • E-Mail Newsletters
  • Content Scheduling
  • Landing Page creation
  • Graphic Design creation
  • Social Media Management
  • Blog Post Writing
  • Content Writing
  • Document Organization
  • Team Meetings Scheduling
  • Reports & Analysis
  • Cash Flow Forecasting
  • Accounts Receivable Follow Up
  • Expense Tracking/Reporting
  • Invoicing
  • Sales Tax Filing
  • Budget Tracking
  • Expense Management & Reporting
A bunch of menial tasks on a buiilding backdrop

And this is just the beginning. Check out our Executive Assistant page to get a better idea of all the ways an Executive Assistant can handle administrative work. Doing so will free up your time to double down on your strengths and give attention to areas where you provide the most value. 

Did we miss anything on the list up top? Is there something pressing that needs your attention now? Let us know so we can help! Reach out anytime to start the conversation.

Derek Burbidge, Manager of Sales & Marketing

VEA Pros