How to Choose a Virtual Assistant

Posted by on Jun 10 2009

For over 15 years I worked with an assistant who came to my home office and helped me with the administrative side of my business. When I moved away from the area 18 months ago, I lost her services.

I had two choices: look for another administrative assistant nearer to my new home office, or delve into the world of “virtual assistants.” A virtual assistant does not come to your office. Instead he or she works from their own office and assists you via phone, internet, fax, and email.

When I looked through the list of all the tasks I wanted an assistant to perform, there was no reason why this person couldn’t be located anywhere in the world. After careful research I hired an assistant who lives 2,500 miles away, and although we’ve never met in person, we’ve formed a strong foundation which helps my business run smoothly.

The Benefits of Using a Virtual Assistant

There are many benefits of using a “virtual” assistant versus bringing an assistant into your home office.

  • You don’t have to share your computer, or set up a second computer, for the assistant to use. A VA uses his own equipment and computers. In addition, you don’t have to set up an extra desk in your office for an assistant.
  • Instead of having a fixed schedule of hours each week, with a VA you only pay for the hours you use.
  • You can hire a VA to work a specific numbers of hours per month on a retainer which guarantees availability. Some VAs work on a per-project or per-hour basis as well.
    You can find VAs with specific skill sets, from certified QuickBooks specialists to those with graphic, internet, marketing, or technical skills.
  • VAs own their own business, so they know what it’s like to be self-employed.
  • A VA works as a consultant, not as an employee. Therefore, you won’t have to pay employment taxes or benefits for your VA. (It’s critical that you understand the government rules about employees versus sub-contractors; in the USA, check out the IRS website for the rules

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8 comments for now

8 Responses to “How to Choose a Virtual Assistant”

  1. Angela

    Thank you for this article Karyn, it’s great to get some insight into the clients point of view on how hiring and working with a VA works.

    As more and more people become educated on how much a VA can do for their business, more and more qualified and professional VAs will be showing up to help them out. 🙂

    Angela Wills

    23 Apr 2007 at 9:20 pm

  2. Robin

    For anyone interested in learning about how VAs work and can help your business in ways you never imagined, check out a book called “The Obsolete Employee, How Businesses Succeed Without Employees – And Love it!” by Michael Russer ( The foreword was written by Michael Gerber and is one of the most powerful endorsements of a book I’ve ever seen! This book will open your eyes to an whole bunch of possibilities for your business – and it gives some great insights to VAs on how to market themselves to small businesses too.

    05 Jun 2007 at 3:03 pm

  3. Right-Hand-Man Virtual Assistant Services

    This is a great article. It is refreshing to see a client talking about Virtual Assistants.
    Your article is one of the best descriptions of what a VA does and is and how to get the right one for you. I also like that it is from the client’s perspective. There is so much online from the VA’s perspective.
    Thank you for promoting our industry.

    06 Jun 2007 at 12:13 pm

  4. Angie Hartford

    Karyn, I love having a proper name for the job I love. It’s an interesting niche, being self employed and having self-employed clients. While I don’t mistake the client’s business for my own, I promise everyone that I will treat their business, and clients, as if they were my own. My ultimate goal: do what it takes to help people make tons of money, and live the life of their dreams. When remembering this, the rest falls neatly into place!

    15 Jun 2007 at 4:28 pm

  5. Heather Nelson

    Hello Karyn,
    As a VA, I am often asked how to find a virtual assistant (VA) that will be a good fit for business and personal work style.
    The best ways to find a good VA are by referral or finding one who is a member of a larger virtual assistance organization, such as the International Association of Virtual Assistants VA’s who are active in industry-specific organizations tend to have more resources available to them to get a job done well. Also, additional certifications can help indicate the credibility of a VA. Champion Assistants, for example, has achieved the Ethics Check IVAA certification as well as the Real Estate Support Specialist IVAA certification.
    When first contacting a VA, instead of e-mail being your first contact, invest the time in calling that person. When you have them on the phone, ask a few questions about their experience, familiarity with the project you have in mind, availability, and most importantly, who will do the work. Some VA’s work in a team, as Champion Assistants does. If the work is going to a team member, ask about the qualifications of that person. It is essential to build trust and a solid rapport with your VA since this could become a lasting relationship. Always keep in mind; your VA wants your business to be more successful. The more they are kept informed of goals, the more input and suggestions they can provide, and the more they can make your life easier!

    Kind regards,
    Heather Nelson

    Founder, Manager
    Champion Assistants
    phone: 1-206-499-9674
    Your business-savvy virtual assistants!

    05 Nov 2007 at 9:09 pm

  6. […] research last night I ran across this blog post from Karyn Greenstreet of Passion for Business, How to Choose a Virtual Assistant. It made some interesting points and had great tips for small business owners who are in the hunt […]

    22 Apr 2010 at 11:27 am

  7. […] night I was researching and surfing the net for ideas and ran across this article from Karyn Greenstreet with tips and ideas on finding and working with a virtual assistant. In this article she talks […]

    23 Apr 2010 at 4:21 am

  8. […] or a shared workspace) streamlines the work process and thus can streamline your overhead. Click HERE to learn more about virtual assistants and how to utilize one in your […]

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