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  • #975248
    Kosta_Kondratenko
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    Does anyone here use a virtual assistant? How was your experience? Here is what I have found:

    1) Big headache initially, but if you can get it working it can be a godsend (not a godsend for me yet)

    2) You can go with a big virtual assistant company or just a person somewhere in front of a computer. I went with the latter option to save some money and get more personalized service, however the down side is it’s hard to setup an Australian phone number.

    3) Obviously you’re giving sensitive information over. So there is that to consider, a good way to get around this though is online reviews on elance or odesk. Hire someone who has a reputation in being reliable and trust worthy.

    4) I guess management skills is what it comes down to, on an extreme level as well because the person is not there. You need systems in place.

    5) It’s important from the beginning to set ground rules on what is expected, sometimes the relationship can quickly spiral to headaches (for example if you ask the PA to be available 9am to 5pm but the PA goes out for an hour to eat twice a day – hasn’t happened to me but you get the idea).

    Personally I found a PA can be useful for routine tasks but you’d want to think twice before putting her in charge of any critical timed tasks that could impact your business.

    What do you guys think?

    #1073197
    bridiej
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    Kosta_Kondratenko, post: 91877 wrote:
    5) It’s important from the beginning to set ground rules on what is expected, sometimes the relationship can quickly spiral to headaches (for example if you ask the PA to be available 9am to 5pm but the PA goes out for an hour to eat twice a day – hasn’t happened to me but you get the idea).

    I’d say this point isn’t important, it’s essential. Unless you have an agreement on these things then you’re in for big trouble. And yes, you probably can request for someone to be available from 9am to 5pm but I’m sure there must be laws that say you need to allow breaks!

    Virtual Assistants can be a small business’ best friend but you need to choose yours carefully. Don’t just pick the cheapest, take some time to research what they offer, what references / testimonials they have or – even better – get a recommendation from a friend or colleague.

    Done the right way you can build a fantastic relationship with your VA and completely avoid point 1 on your list. :)

    p.s. there are other ways to find a reliable VA apart from oDesk and Elance!

    #1073198
    Kosta_Kondratenko
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    oDesk and eLance are my go to places. You have to remember you have past reviews of PA’s, you can actually browse contractors that can assist so it helps a lot with that reference you mentioned before.

    Personal reference is a bit hard because not many use a PA.

    But yeah, I’ve had some problems with time codes and calendar setting (don’t get me started on that potential nightmare :).

    #1073199
    bridiej
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    Kosta_Kondratenko, post: 91885 wrote:
    oDesk and eLance are my go to places.

    Why?

    (just asking cos I’m interested, not trying to start an argument or anything! 😮 )

    #1073200
    Kosta_Kondratenko
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    The reason is, as stated, because I can see past reviews, there is a third party in case of payment disputes (contractors are usually worried about losing their 5 star rating), and there’s a lot of available talent.

    What else is there to use?

    #1073201
    Bob Jones
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    In case you hadn’t heard of this yet – http://www.timedoctor.com/ is a fantastic tool to keep track of the hours your VA’s are working for you.

    I’ve been using it about a year now, and it makes my life easier, and the VAs don’t have to keep a spreadsheet with their times anymore, so they’ve got more time for actual work.

    #1073202
    bridiej
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    Well, this for a start http://vadirectory.net/ :)

    #1073203
    virtualkristy
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    I think it is all very valid and really hiring a VA is no different in the steps you would take to hire an employee. But it doesn’t mean that Elance and Odesk are the only places to find people with good credentials. As the Director of an Administrative Outsourcing business I also have 2 VA’s myslef that help me run my business and I have to say that for the real ‘PA’ stuff I have someone onshore that is virtual but that is in Australia and operates almost like an employee and I certainly have a lot more trust and am happy to give her more sensitive information.

    I use the offshore VA for the more simplified research and social media tasks and find that they work really well for this type of work. Of course there is a big difference in the rates I pay one to the other, but the type of work requires a different level of commitment and expertise. You rwally get what you pay for I believe!

    Besides, there are plenty of very qualified, ethical and hardworking skilled VA’s in Australia that are well worth the money they charge:-)

    Kristy

    #1073204
    Kosta_Kondratenko
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    virtualkristy, post: 92035 wrote:
    I think it is all very valid and really hiring a VA is no different in the steps you would take to hire an employee. But it doesn’t mean that Elance and Odesk are the only places to find people with good credentials. As the Director of an Administrative Outsourcing business I also have 2 VA’s myslef that help me run my business and I have to say that for the real ‘PA’ stuff I have someone onshore that is virtual but that is in Australia and operates almost like an employee and I certainly have a lot more trust and am happy to give her more sensitive information.

    I use the offshore VA for the more simplified research and social media tasks and find that they work really well for this type of work. Of course there is a big difference in the rates I pay one to the other, but the type of work requires a different level of commitment and expertise. You rwally get what you pay for I believe!

    Besides, there are plenty of very qualified, ethical and hardworking skilled VA’s in Australia that are well worth the money they charge:-)

    Kristy

    Agree with everything. Overseas personal assistants can definately help but there’s nothing like having someone around physically especially for errands. I will say though that if you’re really committed and you’re working with the right person you can outsource a lot of work overseas.

    #1073206
    Matt SGS
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    Hi all,

    I lead an awesome group of people at http://www.streamlinegroupservices.com.

    We started the business because we encountered many of the headaches mentioned here, plus we wanted to offer something more than just a regular VA. What we do is offer blocks of time than can be spread across a variety of skill sets including bookkeeping, design, general admin etc. We then insert a six-sigma trained business manager as the contact point who looks at a businesses processes and works to improve them as well as control the flow of work.

    My one big piece of advice as someone who has lived in the Philippines is don’t assume that your VA has understood your directions just because they say so – Filipino’s in general are slow to admit that they don’t understand something – you really need to test for understanding.

    Hope that helps

    #1073207
    Anonymous
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    Hi Matt,

    Just a quick note to let you know that this thread was actually started in 2011, so the request for information is quite out of date now.

    (Sorry for the inconvenience – it was reopened by a spammer, who has since been banished!)

    Thanks for your understanding,
    Jayne

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