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How a Virtual Assistant Improves Time Management for Inventors

You have a great idea for a new product. Every moment you’re not working your day job, you’re thinking about how to develop the product, making sketches, trying to build prototypes, looking for invention idea help, seeking funding – and there just aren’t enough hours in the day. As an entrepreneur, time management is most likely your number one challenge. One time management solution to consider is hiring a virtual assistant. We wrote this “How a Virtual Assistant Improves Time Management for Entrepreneurs” just for you.

What Is a Virtual Assistant?

A virtual assistant (VA) is anyone who assists you from an offsite location, usually as a contractor. In today’s world of side hustles and post-pandemic remote working, hiring a virtual assistant is more popular, cost-effective and easier than ever. There is no limit to how you can use a virtual assistant or even how many VAs you work with. A virtual assistant can help with everything from administrative tasks and accounting duties to design work, social media management and even personal tasks.

Benefits for Entrepreneurs of Having a Virtual Assistant

For an entrepreneur, anything that takes you away from your idea, invention, or product development is time not well spent. You could hire a VA with experience and expertise in your product space to help you research and analyze similar products, competitors, and market trends, file patent or trademark requests, or deal with vendors. He or she can help you organize and put a process in place where there previously was none or aid you in getting help for your invention idea. A virtual assistant gives you not only time, but space to create, to explore, and to think.

Best Practices for Hiring a Virtual Assistant

When developing and launching a new product, you’re focused on the task at hand. But you will need to direct some of that focus toward some best practices for hiring one or more VAs. A little bit of time now will save a lot of time later.
  • Create a job description. Be sure you know exactly what you want your virtual assistant to do (or not do) before you begin the hiring process. And commit to providing appropriate training so that the VA is set up for success.
  • Consider a trial or probationary period. There’s nothing wrong with trying someone out to see if they are a good fit (for both parties). And if it doesn’t seem to be working out, don’t be afraid to communicate honestly and find another assistant.
  • Devise a real-world test. Before making a hiring decision, ask the potential VA to complete one or more actual tasks to determine his or her skill level, timeliness and thought process. You may also consider adding an “Easter egg,” or special request, at the end of the job posting to test the applicant’s attention to detail.
  • Choose a North America-based or international assistant. A VA in the United States or Canada may fit better with your time or language requirements, but will cost more. Many virtual assistants based in the Philippines or other countries are more cost-effective but may lack important features for your business.

How To Hire a Virtual Assistant

There are probably as many ways to find a virtual assistant as there are VAs available to hire. The method you choose depends on how much time and effort you are willing to spend to find the right person.

  • Ask your network for referrals. Post on LinkedIn or send an email or text to your trusted peers. Be specific with regard to both tasks and expectations to improve the quality of referrals you receive.
  • Engage a virtual assistant agency or service. These companies offer packages of tasks or task hours per month. Some of these services include:

How To Manage a Virtual Assistant

If you have followed the best practices above and properly vetted your new virtual assistant, managing him or her should be relatively easy. But you’ll still need to do your part to ensure the relationship is successful for all parties.
  • Properly onboard and train. Your virtual assistant will need time to learn your business and/or industry and your personal style. As you continue to seek invention idea help or work on developing your product, have patience with your VA and learn his or her style as well.
  • Provide standard operating procedures or other documentation. A key part of proper training is providing an SOP or other written documents that outline tasks, instructions or other needed information that the VA can refer to if you’re not available for questions.
  • Communicate early and often. Speaking of being available for questions, check in daily (at least at first) via whatever communication channel(s) you have jointly decided to use. Be open to questions and commit the time to answer them as completely as possible.
  • Set realistic expectations. Your virtual assistant likely has other clients in addition to you. Have a transparent conversation regarding prioritization and deadlines, and make sure you each understand what the other will and will not be able to do.

How To Pay a Virtual Assistant

According to Upwork, the rate for a virtual assistant can range anywhere from $4 to $60 per hour, depending on the work being done and the location of the VA. You can pay on an hourly basis or a project basis, as long as all payment information is confirmed up front. Online pay sites such as PayPal, Payoneer, Zelle, Venmo, Stripe and Square make it easy to provide payment quickly and easily. This is especially helpful when working with international assistants. Paying upfront before work is done, however, is not recommended. If you are working through a VA agency, you will make your payments to that entity rather than directly to the virtual assistant. Hiring a virtual assistant is definitely an option for entrepreneurs with time management challenges. While you develop your product, a VA can give you the focus and productivity you need. If you also need help bringing your invention idea to life or to schedule a free consultation, contact LA New Product Development Team at lanpdt.com or email hello@lanpdt.com.       Description for Social Media: Need more hours in the day? Hire a virtual assistant. Here’s how.

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