If you’ve never worked with a virtual assistant before, it’s only reasonable that you may not have a solid grasp on how it all works. You’ve probably drawn some of the same, common conclusions about VAs that many others have. But there’s more to virtual assistant services than meets the eye. You’ll be surprised how many of your assumptions are inaccurate. We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 misconceptions about virtual assistants, to help you understand more.
Myth #1: VAs Are Only Good for Administrative Tasks
These days, most employees, across a wide variety of industries, perform their work in front of a computer. And that work goes far beyond just administrative tasks. If a job can be done at a computer, it can be done by a virtual assistant. They can do marketing, web design, and even business management. In some cases, specialized tasks might require a little bit of training. But a good VA will be excited to expand their abilities in support of both your business and their own careers.
Myth #2: VAs Are Only for Big Companies
This is a really common one. People often view VAs as an extra human resource, that big companies can afford because they are big. They don’t know that the reverse is true. VAs are not an extra resource. They are a dramatically more affordable option than hiring in-house personnel. As a result, the money saved by small businesses who opt to hire virtually, frees up financial resources for growth and scaling. The truth is that leveraging VAs as a cost-saving resource is how little businesses become big businesses.
Myth #3: VAs Are Difficult to Work With
Virtual assistants are no more difficult to work with than any other employee. In fact, they are easier in many ways. Virtual assistants are far more flexible than traditional employees. This is especially true if you source your VA from overseas. That’s because the labor standards where you VA lives are different, and the culture is often more hierarchical than the west. Your VA will, within reason, want to please you. That amounts to greater flexibility and a high level of cooperation.
Myth #4: Sharing Sensitive Information with your VA is a Security Risk
Working with any employee presents some security risk. And it’s reasonable to be equally concerned when working with an off-site, or even off-shore VA. But there’s no reason to approach hiring a VA blindly. By working with an agency, you can be confident of security. An agency will have the local clout to screen employees, and to enforce punitive action, should the need ever arise. If you choose a good agency, your VA will be held to the same, and perhaps even higher standards of security than your local employees.
Myth #5: A Virtual Assistant Can’t be Trained
Many people seem to believe that a virtual assistant is an inflexible resource that lacks the ability to improve. However, just like any other employee, they can be trained to do new tasks. In many cases, that can actually be achieved for free, through YouTube videos and online tutorials. Your VA will want to improve their skills, as this develops their own careers. It makes them more marketable. So, your VA will be motivated to learn new things.
Myth #6: All Virtual Assistants Have the Same Training and Skillset
The term ‘virtual assistant’ is very generalized. It simply refers to someone who works remotely to assist you. What this means is that a VA can do anything you want them to do, provided you choose one with the right skillset. There are a wide variety of specialists. Some do focus on administrative work. Others do bookkeeping. Still others can do digital marketing and social media management. Just like any other employee, you have to find the one that fits the job.
Myth #7: Virtual Assistants are a Temporary Solution
Some say that VAs are how you ‘muddle through’ until you can afford to hire ‘real employees.’ This couldn’t be further from the truth. A virtual assistant is a real employee. There’s nothing an in-house worker can do that a VA can’t, and a VA can do it much more affordably. While it’s true that, as you scale your business, you will probably need to hire permanent, on-site employees, you will find that those new workers will be in addition to your VAs.
Myth #8: Virtual Assistants are Just for Short-Term Projects
While the relatively new concept of work-at-home, or remote-working freelancers has sprouted the nom-de-guerre of ‘the Gig Economy,’ you’ll find that your working relationship with a virtual assistant is about as far from a ‘gig’ as you can get. To be an effective resource, a VA has to get to know you and your business. You may occasionally need to take on technical specialists under ‘gig’ arrangements. These might include a web designer or graphic artis, for example. But, they’re not virtual assistants. A VA is a permanent employee who just happens to work remotely.
Myth #9: A Virtual Assistant Will Cheat on Hours
It’s reasonable to be concerned about accountability and billable hours with any employee – even a remote one. But, just as you would monitor check-in and check-out times of a traditional worker, there are ways to ensure accountability for your VA, too. Firstly, there are software tools, like ScreenMeter and Time Doctor, that can be used to monitor and track activity and work hours. Additionally, hiring through an agency ensures an onsite layer of managerial oversight to keep your VA on track.
Myth #10: A Virtual Assistant Won’t Be Effective in My Field or Industry
Once you understand how flexible of a resource a virtual assistant is, you will immediately understand why this is not true. There are specialized virtual assistants that can serve in an unlimited range of capacities. There are specialists who focus on social media, real estate, construction, research, ecommerce, data entry, bookkeeping, marketing and many, many others. What’s more, once you’ve found a good VA, you can motivate them to develop whatever specialized skills your specific business needs.
In short, there’s a lot of inaccurate information about virtual assistants out there. There’s one main reason for these common misconceptions. Simply put, business people who have never had a virtual assistant, simply can’t believe just how productive and flexible of a resource they can be!
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