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Mirror, mirror, on the wall – which virtual assistant provider is the best of them all?
Yes, choosing among a virtual assistant company, freelancer, or an agency, to help you balance the multiple burden of work responsibilities and life is a tough question to answer.
So, which among the three options is the best? I hope I can say there is a simple answer to that.
Virtual Assistant Companies
Pros of VA Companies
- You streamline the hiring process
- Access to a wide talent pool
- Training and performance management isn’t on you
The advantages of virtual assistant companies are plenty. First off, hiring the best VA for you can take forever. If you search online in the hopes the search engines cough up the most worth VA candidate, you won’t be in luck. Most of the time, search engines can cough up candidates – but they don’t necessarily make the cut standards-wise. What’s worse is that you will have to exert more hours verifying information and confirming that they are indeed who they claim to be in their resume. Without actual confirmation of their abilities and skills set, you will have little certainty that you can rely on these VAs.
If you seek out a virtual assistant company, they hire the VA who is suited to your requirements and needs. Some VA companies have office-based VAs ready to take on whichever tasks you need to complete while others have home-based VAs who work from the comforts of their home office.
Second, if you require a diverse set of talents for your tasks, VA companies can connect you with a host of suitable VAs who specialize in the field you need help with. Unlike dealing with a freelance VA where you may find yourself unable to delegate some skills and tasks, hiring a VA through a VA company allows you access to a versatile pool of talent. Chances are, you can’t expect to find skills in bookkeeping and accounting in a freelancer who specializes in content writing. With a VA company however, they can hook you up with a VA with the exact skill you need to scale your business.
Third, if you’re a busy entrepreneur, it’s more likely that you will have neither have the time nor energy to train a VA. Ensuring quality and performance of your VA shouldn’t be a priority engagement for you. With a VA company, training and performance management is on them, and you’re free to maximize your time as you see fit.
Lastly, hiring a virtual assistant through a company resolves issues on longevity. One horror story of hiring a freelancer VA is that after you train them, they’ll leave when a more profitable offer comes along. This doesn’t apply to all, but freelancers work under the assumption that everything is uncertain. This is understandable, of course. With a VA company, since they are company employees, the probability that they’ll stick around with you on a long-term basis is high. This affords you consistency and smooth transition as you grow your business.
What’s the catch, though?
VA companies also have a disadvantage. More often than not, you’ll likely to pay more to secure the services of a VA. The reason? Well, overhead costs, mainly. Companies need to bankroll infrastructure, administrative support, payroll processing, and others, unlike freelancers.
Advantages of a Freelancer VA
- Personally selected by you
- Great rapport and partnership
Freelancers abound in the business process outsourcing industry. A freelance virtual assistant could be the perfect fit for you, if conditions are right. The best thing in working with a freelance VA is the degree of personalization. Yes, the hiring may be tedious, but you get to interview them and have a good sense of who they are and their work ethic in the process. You can hire a VA who you feel can get you and your particular needs. This is something that can’t happen if you hire a VA through a company. All you do is specify a profile and they hire for you, complete with a replacement in case things don’t work out.
Upfront, hiring a freelance VA is more time-consuming, maybe. But some business owners say that once they hired the perfect VA, they not only get a competent virtual staff, but also a confidante and go-to person. In the end, that’s what an executive assistant is for, isn’t it?
Also, you don’t pay as much for a freelancer than you do with a VA company. Since there is no middleman and no overhead costs to take care of, there is a substantial difference in cost between a freelancer and VA company.
But some would consider hiring a freelance VA risky. If the working relationship doesn’t function as hoped, then you’re back to square one.
Advantages of a Specialized Agency
The third and relatively new alternative is to hire a specialized agency. The best thing with an agency is that they serve a particular niche and are supposed to be extremely effective in it. For a monthly flat rate fee, you can outsource a component of your business to a specialized agency. Say, you need to work on the content of your website, or you need web design and support, or need assistance with bookkeeping.
There are plenty of agencies that focus on diverse virtual assistant services. These are a few examples:
- Verblio for content writing
- Rocket Lawyer for legal assistance
- Zen WP for website needs
- Design Pickle for design
What an agency does is help you compartmentalize. When you have an agency dedicated to service a specific area you need improvement on, you can optimize your daily bandwidth since you rest easy knowing a competent agency is handling it.
As always, there is a catch. Agencies get payment upfront every month for their service, regardless of whether you get to use their services. However, you save time and overall, is more cost-effective. This choice is ideal if your needs aren’t that massive. For example, if you need to deal with insurance issues, having an agency on retainer to address that is much more cost-effective than hiring a freelancer or VA company.
Well, there you have it. Choosing where to find a high-qualified VA is as tedious as the typical search for any talent. It all depends, really, on some factors such as your availability, willingness to train, and budget. Each of the three options has its advantages and disadvantages. Assess your needs and capacity, and choose wisely!