The Virtual Assistant has become an integral component in many businesses over the last 15 years. Yet, you can’t help but notice the term “Virtual Assistant” still conjures misconceptions from some people that remain popular until now. These misplaced and unfounded opinions have stopped people from hiring the secret weapon of many successful entrepreneurs such as Tim Ferris, Michael Hyatt and James Schramko.
Here are 10 myths that stop people from hiring virtual assistants:
1. Anyone Can Be a Virtual Assistant.
Virtual assistance is the same as any other profession. If you want to excel, you must have the following qualities:
- Technical and fundamental expertise in a number of core competencies;
- High- level proficiency in navigating the Internet;
- Knowledge in a variety of software;
- Great organizational skills;
- Effective communication abilities;
- Team- Oriented;
- Goal- Driven.
Becoming a Virtual Assistant may seem easy because you can work from the comforts of your own home. But you still need to consistently deliver high- quality work if you want to maintain your client base.
Unless you are committed and dedicated to accomplishing your tasks on time every time without issue, then virtual assistance is not for you.
2. Virtual Assistance is Just a Fad.
People who believe virtual assistance is just a fad probably has not come across the word outsourcing. Or if they have, they probably did not think to delegate work to virtual assistants constitutes outsourcing.
Contracting a Virtual Assistant is outsourcing on a smaller scale but the principle is the same. You are transferring a set of responsibilities to a third party in order to meet the following business objectives:
- Reduce costs
- Increase productivity
- Improve the quality of work
- Introduce business flexibility
- Lower risks of business expansion
- Build long-term strategic partnerships
If virtual assistance is just a fad, how come more US companies are integrating virtual assistants into the workforce?
Currently, according to SmartVirtualAssistant, 37% of US workforces are composed of virtual assistants. This number is expected to increase to 50% to 65% in 2020.
3. Virtual Assistants are Just People Who Can’t Get Regular Jobs.
It used to be that people who were laid off or couldn’t get regular jobs became virtual assistants to have a means of income.
But since the occupation was professionalized by Stacy Brice and life coach Thomas Leonard in 1996, becoming a Virtual Assistant took a whole new different meaning. Virtual assistants played an important role in managing the daily workload of the law firms managed by Brice’s virtual assistance company.
It used to be a job associated with women. But with the increase in demand for outsourced work, the industry opened the doors of opportunity for men as well.
Today, more people are crossing over from the brick- and – mortar world to the virtual world. Many people have found successful careers as virtual assistants pulling in 6- figure incomes every year. These include:
- Michelle Dale; founder of Virtual Miss Friday
- Sherry Carnahan; founder of Total Office Inc
- Michelle Mangen; founder of Your Virtual Assistant, LLC
4. A Virtual Assistant is Just a Secretary.
In the early days, VA’s were contracted to do personal assistant and secretarial work. But as the industry exploded in popularity in the new millennium, you can find a VA for virtually any skill your business needs:
- Website Design
- Social Media Marketing
- Content Writing
- Graphics Design
- Human Resources
- CRM Administration
The industry has become more dynamic that VAs are alternatively referred to as freelancers, home-based workers and telecommuters. Collectively, they all mean the same thing: professionals who work from home.
5. You Can’t Have Effective Communication When You’ve Gone Virtual.
If you’ve contracted a Virtual Assistant for the first time, you will notice the difference between virtual and shared space collaboration. It feels unnatural at times not to work with someone in the same place.
But it does not mean you cannot have effective communication when you’ve gone virtual.
There are many online tools you can use to overcome the lack of shared space collaboration:
- Project Management software – Asana, Salesforce
- File Sharing software – Dropbox, Accellion
- Communication – Skype, Slack, Viber
These programs allow you to create virtual conference meetings and seminars. Simply schedule a day in the week to get together with your VA for one hour and discuss work-related matters and concerns.
You could also schedule one- on- one meetings, consultations or counselling sessions with your VA so you can build a stronger working relationship.
6. You Can’t Be Productive Unless the VA is Full- Time.
Most businesses only schedule their Virtual Assistant for 20 hours of work per week. This is because virtual assistants are all about increasing productivity.
Virtual assistants are usually paid on a per productive hour or project completion basis. Many are given milestones or targets to accomplish every week and these tasks on the average take only 20 hours to complete.
Some clients who need telemarketing services hire 2 VA’s which each one working only 4 hours every day; the first one works in the morning and the second in the afternoon.
This set up allows the client to have 8 hours of continuous telemarketing work. Because each VA only works 4 hours, they are less tired, work with greater focus and are not required to take 30-minute breaks.
On a 22-day work schedule, this set up adds 11 more hours of productivity for the client.
7. I’ll Run Out of Things to Do for My VA.
If you want to maximize the value of your Virtual Assistant, you can ask her or him to take a more active role in your business.
They are not just contracted workers. Many VA’s worked in brick- and- mortar offices before they became remote workers. They have acquired extensive experience, training and expertise through those years working a regular day job.
They are also entrepreneurs who are proprietors of a business that offers virtual assistance business. They know what it takes to manage a business and make it profitable.
Consult with them on business matters and don’t hesitate to give them a larger role in your organization.
8. A Remote Virtual Assistant Will Just Be a Virtual Headache.
Remote locations such as the Philippines and India are home to some of the best virtual assistants in the world. This is why the Philippines and India are the 2 top destinations for global outsourcing.
For sure, you will have issues on the following matters:
- Cultural and Traditional practices and beliefs;
- Communication barriers;
- Time zone differentials;
- Internet stability.
But these are concerns that can easily be mitigated by undertaking the following steps:
- Research and learn everything that you can about their culture and practices;
- Instead of phrasing questions as answerable by “Yes” or “No”, request for feedback;
- Review your operations and figure out which services you need. For example, time zone differentials will be to your benefit if you need customer service. They can work while you sleep;
- Require your VA to have a second Internet provider.
Remote workers from these countries not only provide more affordable services but they consistently render high- quality deliverables.
9. It’s Impossible to Track Work with a VA.
Similar to the software programs mentioned earlier, there are programs and applications that will help you monitor the work of your VA:
There is other software available that can help you keep track of the time spent by the VA as well as the amount of work done.
10. I Can Get Better Productivity with a Full-Time Employee.
According to a study published by Life Coach, Steve Pavlina, the average American office worker only puts in 90 minutes of productive work per day. That’s only a productivity rating of 18%.
When you contract a VA, you pay only for the hours productive work is rendered. This is why many are given milestones or targets. You can be assured that once the VA logs in, he or she will start working to achieve those milestones.
On the other hand, because full- time employees are paid a fixed rate with benefits on a monthly basis, they can take their time and still earn income.
In an 8-hour work shift, you pay every time your full- time employee surfs the Internet, checks his social media, takes a coffee break, chats with office mates near the water cooler or goes on extended bathroom breaks.
If you are unsure of hiring a Virtual Assistant, do extensive research first. Talk to people you know who have used VA’s, join focus groups in social media and interview a few virtual assistants to get an idea of how they work.
The Virtual Assistant will continue to rise in prominence in the next 3 to 5 years as business conditions become more uncertain. Stay ahead of your competition by overcoming these myths and hiring a Virtual Assistant now.
You may also like: 4 Must-Have Components of a Virtual Workspace
About the Author
Felix helps small businesses hire affordable virtual assistants at Smart Virtual Assistant.