Enhancing productivity and profitability by outsourcing

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on September 08, 2009 in: Business - Plain & Simple, Delegation for Success

As a small business owner, getting all of your scheduled work completed in a day can be a daunting task: There is so much to do and so little time to do it. And to make matters worse, new technology and marketing channels and ideas keep popping up, adding an additional challenge of trying to keep up: You’re left not only struggling with an overwhelming number of current tasks but also with an onslaught of potential new tasks!

Outsourcing can be a good option for you. By delegating some of your work to someone else, you can recapture time. Hiring someone to work onsite can be costly and fraught with legal complications and overhead expenses. Hiring a virtual office assistant keeps costs down and productivity higher. Here are five tips to help you as you drive up productivity with a virtual office assistant:

Tip 1: Experience of a Virtual Office Assistant
This should be one of the main considerations when looking at a potential candidate. You need to determine how much experience he or she has working virtually. Unless you hire from a virtual assistant firm, you’ll want to check references. Be sure that the experience listed matches what you are seeking. And don’t forget to consider your business’ future needs. You should never staff only for today but you should staff for tomorrow as well.

Tip 2: Integrity of a Virtual Office Assistant
You’ll be entrusting your VA with proprietary information, so be sure to hire only VA’s whose firms create and adhere to a non-disclosure agreement. You’ll also want to make sure that there are escalation opportunities and quality guarantees in case you receive work that doesn’t meet the standard you were hoping for. But remember: it works both ways, too: You’re asking someone to support your business so it’s important that you deliver timely, quality support and instructions.

Tip 3: Professionalism of a Virtual Office Assistant
Sometimes, your VA can be tasked with customer service or sales activities so it’s important that they display the high level of professionalism you demand in your business. This is one reason I recommend going through a VA firm rather than finding a sole proprietor. Firms should train their VA’s and hold them accountable.

Tip 4: Technical Skills of a Virtual Office Assistant
A Virtual Assistant needs to have all of the software, hardware and technical abilities that are required for the task at hand. In addition, though, you’ll want to make sure that your VA is open to learning new skills and applications that you might use in your business. Trusting your VA’s to competently handle the workload will help you to move tasks off of your schedule onto theirs.

Tip 5: Initiative of a Virtual Office Assistant
It is not likely that you want an order taker. That’s more often the role of a part time minimum wage employee! A virtual assistant is mean to ASSIST, so you want someone who can take your requests and run with them, but you’ll enjoy greater business success if you work with someone who is proactive and who takes initiative. You’ll need to empower your VA and give them the parameters and permission to take initiative on your behalf.

These tips will help you to find the perfect virtual assistant for your business. And when you find that VA, you’ll be able to pass off numerous activities (from administrative to marketing to customer service and support, to sales, and so much more) and you’ll be able to focus your efforts on critical business activities that can build a stronger and more successful organization.

About the author: Heather Villa, MBA CMA MSM, is a Business Coach and Entrepreneur. She helps business owners achieve success in operations, productivity, project management, and social media. Read her other articles at http://hireheathervilla.com/resources/articles/ and visit http://heathervilla.com for more information.

Disclaimer: © 2009 Heather Villa. Permission is granted to repost this article. Article must be published in its entirety, including author bio, and all links must remain intact.

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