Since Jennie has joined The Outsourcing Way, there have been some frequently asked office support questions on our forum. To try and help as many of you as possible, we have put 10 of your questions, plus Jennies’ answers together below:

What is a virtual assistant?

A Virtual Assistant is somebody who works remotely to the client, providing a range of admin and assistant services. It can be very similar to having your own PA in an office, just without the hassle of employment. It is also really cost effective as you only pay for the hours worked as opposed to having someone on the payroll who get paid regardless of output. Some VA’s will come and work in an office, or have face to face meetings with you if that is practical too.

What does office support mean?

This can come in many forms and can be as regular or ad-hoc as you like. As entrepreneurs we have to be jack of all trades and sometimes that just isn’t possible – so getting in some office support in whatever format that comes is a perfect solution to that. Whatever it looks like, it should be designed to make your life easier, your working hours more effective and free you up to do the most valuable parts of your business.

What are some examples of support I can get for my office?

You can literally outsource every aspect of office life – cleaning, filing, diary management, appointment making, travel booking, organising dry cleaning/laundry, present buying, card sending, research, email management, call answering, mailshots, website management, social media – to name but a few! Honestly – if it needs doing then someone else can always do it.

What are the benefits of getting a VA?

VA’s come from all sorts of backgrounds with a whole range of experience. You can therefore use a number of different VA’s for the work you have, for example one who specialises in a CRM system, one who is trained in marketing, one who is registered for Anti money laundering so can do your accounts. You can also agree an hourly rate or a retainer rate so that you know exactly how much

How much should I budget for office support?

It is important that you set your own budget for what you can afford. You can start off saying you only have £50 as month to spend and the right VA will help you make the most of that budget. They can help you look at what you have to do and see if they could do it better or faster, freeing you up to do the things only you can do. There is no right or wrong amount – it is entirely individual based on how much work you have to be done and how much cashflow you have in the company to be able to pay for it.

How do I know if I need office support?

If you find yourself spending a lot of time each day doing admin tasks instead of working on the bits of your business that nobody else can do, then you could probably outsource a fair chunk of that work and make your hours worked a lot more efficient. And if you seem to be working every evening and at the weekends then you definitely need to be looking at some sort of support for the office.

How do I choose who to hire?

I would try and get somebody through recommendation based on what it is you need. You need to be specific about the type of work you want doing and then ask for somebody who has this experience. You could ask in online groups, at networking, via online directories, via LinkedIn or just people you know. Then meet them (virtually or in person), ask them questions about what they have done before and start to build a relationship. It is important to trust your instinct though – if you don’t think the person is right for you then say so. There are plenty of people out there to choose from so if the first person isn’t right, don’t worry too much and keep looking.

What tasks should I outsource first?

Once you have a list of things that only you can do then pretty much everything else in your business can be outsourced. So the order in which it is outsourced will depend on who you find to support you. If you have a pressing need for something to be done, then make that a priority for finding the right person.

What contracts and processes do I need to have before I get office support?

Many VA’s and other outsourcing professional will have their own set of terms and conditions, booking forms and contracts so you will be expected to sign those. But it is always worthwhile having your own contracts for others to sign if you are going to use more outsourcers in the future. In terms of processes, if you have any then great, you can share them. But if you don’t most VA’s will work with you to create processes.

How quickly are tasks completed?

This is entirely up to the agreement you have with the person doing the task. You may agree that any work is completed within a 3-5 day window, and that urgent work will be highlighted as such that it needs completing by a set time. Many VA’s will have working hours just like a normal PA would, and they may say they will only be available for your work on certain days – whatever the agreement is, make sure you have it confirmed at the start so that you know what you can both expect. And keep reviewing how it is working to make sure it is working well for both parties.