Hiring a Virtual Assistant: A Guide for E-Commerce Business Owners

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With the holidays fast approaching, is your eCommerce business ready? In 2019, 57% of people conducted some or all of their holiday shopping online, and that number jumped to 76% in 2020. While the global pandemic certainly played a role in the sudden growth, online shopping had been increasing for years before COVID-19, and it will likely continue to increase in the future.

Just as brick-and-mortar stores hire additional workers for the holidays, eCommerce businesses should also make sure they are properly staffed to keep up with demand. eCommerce staffing can come in many different forms, depending on your business’s unique needs, but hiring a virtual assistant is often a great idea. Together with Isaac Smith, co-founder of Summit eCommerce, we put together this helpful guide for finding and hiring a virtual assistant for your eCommerce business.

Read: Hiring a Bookkeeper for eCommerce

What Is a Virtual Assistant?

A virtual assistant is a self-employed individual who performs day-to-day administrative tasks from a remote location. He or she usually has experience as an administrative assistant or office manager and can help take time-consuming but low-return tasks off your plate, including customer service, order processing, site maintenance, and more.

Why Hire a Virtual Assistant?

Hiring a virtual assistant makes sense when you find yourself spending the majority of your time working on tasks that don’t generate any actual return. For instance, are you constantly buried in emails or stacks of paperwork that you keep saying you’ll get to tomorrow? Do you stress about how you would manage a sudden increase in demand for your products? If so, you’re probably in need of some administrative help. Tasks such as these can easily be outsourced to an eCommerce virtual assistant, which in turn allows you to spend more time on the revenue-generating aspects of the business.

How to Hire a VA?

Isaac recommends three main rules for hiring any new employee, and they should definitely be used when hiring a virtual assistant.

    1. Define the role in very clear terms. Keep in mind that no one can do everything.
    2. Organize your business so that the new hire knows who reports to whom. An organizational chart is a great way to do this.
    3. Define success in order to identify when expectations are not being met.

In addition to these guidelines, you should also spend time identifying the tasks you need help with, as well as detailing the steps necessary to complete them. The better you can document your workflow and processes, the easier it will be to hand the tasks off to someone else.

Where to Hire?

Virtual assistant positions are typically outsourced. You can find applicants on many different websites, including Upwork, Facebook, and other freelancer groups. If you are active in any eCommerce or professional communities, you can ask your peers for recommendations as well.

Isaac’s company, Summit eCommerce, is another option for finding potential candidates. They will help you find and recruit a great fit for your company while helping you navigate around some of the common pitfalls. Isaac also recommends the website onlinejobs.ph, which is based in the Philippines and has tons of great online workers.

How Much Will a Virtual Assistant Cost?

The cost of hiring a virtual assistant varies. U.S. workers found on Facebook or Upwork will charge more per hour, while workers in other countries usually charge less. For instance, Isaac says you can find a full-time virtual assistant based in the Philippines for anywhere from $500 to $1,500 a month. Wages are dependent on location and the level of expertise you are looking for.

How We Can Help

The busiest time of year can also be the most stressful, but Tree Street Advisory is here to help. Don’t let the holiday season overrun your eCommerce business. Call (615) 219-9802 or schedule a free 30-minute introductory appointment.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for educational, general information, and illustration purposes only. Nothing contained in the material constitutes tax advice, a recommendation for purchase or sale of any security, or investment advisory services. I encourage you to consult a financial planner, accountant, and/or legal counsel for advice specific to your situation. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without written permission from Allan Phillips, and all rights are reserved.

Allan PhillipsAllan Phillips is a Certified Financial Advisor (CFP®) and founder of Tree Street Advisory. He works with E-commerce business owners and Physicians who are concerned with issues such as cash flow management, high-earner retirement planning, debt repayment approaches, tax strategies, and business planning.


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