At this point in my life, I like to think that I am highly skilled at hiring a new staff member. I have learned from my mistakes. And throughout my career, my mistakes have been plenty. Biggest lesson? There are no short cuts. Hiring a good employee is a tremendous effort. Recruiting, hiring and training an employee is a commitment of time, money and resources. However, it must be done right. As tedious as it can be, firing that person is infinitely worse. Especially if you have to then begin the whole hiring process again.

I was originally attracted to the idea of using a Virtual PA because I liked the idea of someone else vetting a new hire for me, and if it wasn’t done to my standards, being able to move on with little fuss. I’d started a new company. The hiring process was daunting, without even taking into account offering fringe benefits as well as related overhead. I was feeling swamped and just wanted someone good to step in and help me clear out some administration swiftly and skilfully.

I’d heard about virtual personal assistants and before taking the plunge, did a bit of fieldwork. I find that my Entrepreneur’s Organisation is a brilliant place to do a bit of casual research. My findings: A small percentage of entrepreneurs I spoke with employed a full time, physical assistant. Surprisingly, however, they never saw their assistants. The beauty of being an entrepreneur is the flexibility of choosing where and when you want to work. So these entrepreneurs tended to communicate with their PA’s via email and on the phone. Doesn’t that mean that their personal assistants were virtual anyway?

My line of questioning and discovery has intrigued quite a few people, and the more individuals I speak to, the more people agree that hiring a virtual PA is the way forward.

Here are some reasons why.

  • Hiring a virtual PA means you have flexibility in determining the number of hours you receive assistance. You don’t run the risk of hiring a full-time employee who is underutilised.
  • A dedicated virtual pa can deliver results within both a deadline, and a budget.
  • You know that your virtual PA will be of a high quality, depending on the source, because they will have been vetted, tested and trained in ways that you simply don’t have time for at the moment.
  • There’s no reason to worry about fringe benefits like health, dental, life insurance and retirement plans.
  • You don’t need to provide office space, office equipment or an office supply budget. Employment legislation, NIC’s, PAYE, holiday and sickness costs also don’t come into the picture.

Here is a list of things that my virtual PA does for me

  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Conducting online research
  • Screening and managing email
  • Organises my social and work calendar
  • Database entries
  • Travel research
  • Booking travel and reservations
  • Making calls on my behalf
  • Managing my expense reports, credit cards etc
  • Arranges household things like deliveries, bills etc

When is the right time to hire a virtual PA? Before you need one! We normally leave it until we are snowed in and its affecting our work and life before we take action. I did just that, I spent 6 months trying to justify getting a PA but just could not as I did not need one full time and could not justify the costs. Getting a virtual PA with the flexibility they offer was just want I needed. I started off with just 20 hours a month but now I use Meg for 80 hours a month.

Here are a few more signs now might be the time to get a virtual PA.

  • You simply can’t find enough hours in the day to get jobs done
  • Certain jobs require experience or skills you don’t have in house
  • Your staff is complaining about certain tasks that are simply never completed
  • You find yourself distracted by administration rather than focusing on high pay off activities
  • You find your work/life balance is distinctly off-kilter, and you need to free some time to focus more on life outside of work
  • When you need help alleviating bottlenecks in your business

Hiring a virtual PA is a move that has caught on quickly in my social network. Especially for entrepreneurs, facing the many challenges of today’s ultra-competitive business world, virtual PA’s provide the ideal way to manage cash flow and conserve your own valuable time while getting jobs done skilfully and efficiently. It has also greatly affected the quality of my personal relationships as I have more time to invest in them.

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