How to Hire and Manage a Virtual Assistant for Your Home-Based Business

As the owner and operator of a home-based business, you may have to become accustomed to wearing many hats. While corporations have the funds to hire specialists for every function under the sun, you will have to find a way to be the manager and most of the employees for your business. This could mean learning to use accounting software, honing your sales pitch, creating marketing materials, and of course, handling the tasks that would normally fall to an executive assistant. But there are plenty of resources available to help modern entrepreneurs like you. And if you’re having trouble keeping up with the clerical work associated with your home-based operation, you may find that hiring a virtual assistant relieves your burden at a price you can afford.

But how do you go about finding and managing a virtual assistant? If you were hiring locally, it would be a simple matter of posting an ad in the classifieds and clearing some space in your home office for an assistant to set up shop. In truth, hiring a virtual assistant is bound to be even easier in some ways. You should start by finding websites that cater to businesses seeking employees in the online arena. Options like Odesk, Elance, and generic job boards can do the trick, but chances are you’ll be so inundated by applicants that you won’t know how to weed through them. Instead, you may want to check out a targeted site that can provide you with qualified candidates for your position.

With the right tools at your disposal, hiring a virtual assistant doesn’t have to be complicated. However, you next have to take on the task of managing your new hire, and this can be a bit more complex. In general, all of your communications will be remote, which means talking via phone, text, email, or video chat. But through these means, you should have no trouble delivering instructions and receiving completed work. You could even set up a secure FTP or simply make a dedicated Dropbox account for your business as an easy way to post and retrieve assignments as needed.

As for time management, you may want to pay by the task rather than offering hourly compensation. All you have to do is set a price and a deadline for work. But if you’re looking for someone to field and filter phone calls and emails for you during business hours, in addition to completing other clerical tasks, this may not be feasible. In this case, there are software options to track employee work (through clocking in and out, screengrabs, etc.). Hiring and managing a virtual assistant can offer many benefits for your home-based operation, and it doesn’t have to be hard when you find the right resources to help you get started.

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