Small businesses are increasingly under pressure to function as more nimble versions of large companies, producing equally stellar results with far less resources. In today’s world, the most successful small businesses are starting to virtualize both core and non-core functions to remain competitive — but what do you virtualize? And how do you go about executing it effectively?
Know Your Needs
Small business owners know their businesses inside and out. With years of hard work and dedication invested in growing and nurturing a business, the aim is to eventually reach a point where the business outgrows the capabilities of the owner and his or her core team. This means opening new channels and uncharted territory and trusting new key players to add value in areas unknown to the owner.
Given the depths of today’s virtual resources, it makes total sense that small business owners are virtualizing functions rather than expanding their in-house team. They can create a virtual team unique to their needs, and draw upon expertise and efficiencies without opening up to the risks of hiring direct full-time employees.
Understanding your needs is paramount to putting together the right virtual team. Some key players will be needed on an ongoing basis, such as a bookkeeper or social media manager. Others may be project-based, such as a graphic designer or ghostwriter. Regardless, your team will likely be comprised of a mix of personas and skill sets, and you will need the right framework for building your team.
Compiling the Dream Team
Start by making a list of all the goals, projects and tasks you plan to achieve. Everything from “need logo” to “weekly reconciliation of accounts payable” should be on this list. Group it into the personas you expect to handle the tasks to get an idea of how many people you are looking for. While it is probably unrealistic to find a good graphic designer, who also does bookkeeping and can answer customer enquiries in French, you’d be surprised at how many tasks can be combined.
You will also need a basic idea of the amount of time you think the tasks will take so that you know roughly how many hours per week you’ll need people to work. It doesn’t need to be perfect it is just a rough idea to get you started. Don’t forget that the beauty of virtual teams is that they can also be fractional teams; if you only need someone for a few hours a week, no problem.
Now it is time to find the candidates. The biggest mistake small business owners make is trying to find virtual help completely on their own. It isn’t that you can’t determine who is or isn’t a good fit for your needs (though the aptitudes required for a virtual employee are different than hiring in house employees and understanding that will save you many headaches). Rather you likely don’t have the time required to sift through the onslaught of applications and evaluate candidates.
While there are a plethora of freelance sites available for your perusal or posting, such as Elance, Guru and Odesk, most leave a lot of the responsibility to vet and hire candidates up to you. As a small business owner, you need a more efficient process that removes the risk of a bad hire. The last thing you want to do is go through a laborious process of posting, interviewing, hiring and training only to find out that the chosen candidate is not a suitable fit.
Treat Hiring a Virtual Assistant as You Would Other Key Business Arrangements
Like any other business deal, when you hire a virtual employee you are looking for the best quality to price ratio, at the lowest risk. While hiring virtual team members directly gives you complete control of skills, personality and price, it doesn’t protect you against potential risks.
By comparison, working with a virtual assistant company that offers a personalized approach and can match you with one of their skilled team members, not only gives you precision in skills and personality but gives you solid risk protection as well.
The best virtual assistant companies offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee, vetting and background checks on team members, and the added benefit of holiday and sickness cover – something you don’t get if you are hiring directly. They can also give you access to the full range of skillsets you need under one roof.
A good virtual assistant company such as Worldwide101 will be able to take into account your individual requirements from skills to the amount of time needed for tasks and they’ll help you translate it into the right virtual hire, the very first time.
Virtualizing non-core functions is likely a major step in advancing your small business and getting it right can boost your business in ways you can only begin to imagine.