Do you need help with your FBA business?
If you’ve reached that point, that’s awesome! It means you’re growing and have a good chance of a successful, long-term business on Amazon if you manage it well.
After a while selling on Amazon, you can find that there are a number of tasks which might be a bit tedious or time-consuming. Sometimes, you find that you’re spending more and more time doing tasks which either aren’t the best fit with your own skillset or just take too much time away from other activities you need to be doing to keep your business growing.
Hiring a virtual assistant (VA) can be a great way to channel your skills to where they are best suited, while ensuring that those necessary tasks still keep ticking over. Could this be a solution for you? Let’s look at why you should consider a VA, where to find them and what you can get them doing:
Why hire a VA?
You might be torn between hiring someone in your area who can come and work with you or taking the step to hire a remote-based VA. Here are some of the advantages of going with the VA:
Keep operational costs low
There are a few ways in which hiring a VA can help to keep your operational costs lower than they would otherwise be, for example:
- You don’t need to rent office space. If you’ve got your own warehousing, this might not be an issue but even many large FBA sellers prefer to keep everything completely remote-based.
- Most VAs are used to working on an independent contractor basis. This means you don’t have to deal with paperwork over taxes, benefits and social security – you just need to make sure they’re paid what they’re owed.
- You can often find VAs who work at very competitive prices online.
- No equipment costs because VAs work with their own gear.
Less focus on schedules
You don’t need to worry about coordinating your schedules unless you specifically need to get on a call together. Otherwise, you just assign the work with a due date and let the VA take care of it.
Focus on your core needs
Those small tasks which really need to be done but aren’t adding a whole lot to your business or are outside of your expertise can be given to your VA. You are now freed up to focus on those core activities which help build your business.
Access to a broad range of talent
There are VAs skilled in all sorts of areas available online. This means you can probably find someone who already has appropriate training or experience and you’re not limited by geography in your options.
Where to find good VAs
There are actually a lot of options online for finding good VAs, but in order to avoid being overwhelmed, you might like to follow a stepped approach to hiring, perhaps something like this:
Step #1. Know what tasks you want them to do
Be precise. There are qualified VAs for nearly every possible type of work, but you’ve got to know what types of tasks you want them doing so that you’ll be in a better position to pick out someone qualified.
It’s a mistake that many business owners have made, knowing that they need to hire a VA to help but not defining what it is that they want the VA doing. They then end up with someone who doesn’t have the experience they need or the VA ends up waiting for them to decide what work to give them.
Step #2. Advertise, or choose from a reputable site
Some people choose to advertise on sites like Craigslist or Indeed, but there are also several options for sites where you can find qualified VAs, such as Upwork (which offers an array of different virtual contractors besides just VAs) and Zirtual, which has been set up for VAs.
Step #3. Create a shortlist
Simple, in theory. Create a shortlist of applicants based on those whose skills, experience and references recommend them to the work you need done.
Step #4. Interview and make a hiring decision
VAs often become an integral part of a business with access to all sorts of insider information on how you operate. It is recommended that you conduct interviews and get a good idea of who you can really work with, rather than making an offer to someone who looks good on paper.
Step #5. Get a contract signed
Once you’ve made your selection, you will need to agree to terms such as rates and method of payment, availability or hours of work, notice periods, the nature of the work, processes for communicating and sharing information and any non-disclosure terms. You should always draw up a contract and keep everything in writing. As with most things in business, a paper trail is important and can save you from hassles later on.
What VAs can help you with
Sometimes, as we talked about in Step #1 of the previous section, one of the struggles of business owners is knowing exactly what to get their VA to do. Ideally, you want to devise some kind of system where work can be handed to the VA as seamlessly as possible. You don’t want them twiddling their thumbs because they’re waiting for you to let them know what to do.
For FBA business owners, we’ve got a few ideas for where a VA can really help you out:
#1. Customer service
Customer service can easily be a huge component of how your time is spent in your FBA business. You might be answering questions on Amazon, responding to reviews, or dealing with any manner of customer service issue via email.
This is a job which always has to be done, so if you’re not delegating it out to a VA, you’re going to be spending a lot of time dealing with it yourself.
#2. Writing product descriptions
This is something you’re going to want to check and perhaps set some guidelines for, but there are plenty of VAs who also have writing skills which could be put to good use. (You’ll want someone who specifically has experience with copywriting).
You could either send them the product so they can create descriptions or just provide the information you already have. A good product description should be clear to the buyer, incorporate keywords and be longer than a couple of sentences, but without being an off-putting wall of text.
#3. Reviewing product listings
There are all manner of issues that can occur with Amazon product listings, as you will find if you dive into any of the seller forums. The problem for FBA owners is that you may have so much going on in your business that you really don’t have time to deal with any listing issues, or you have a lot of products listed and don’t notice in a timely fashion when something is up.
A VA can be a great resource for monitoring your product listings and paying attention to what’s going on. For example, they might notice when stock is becoming stale and should be sold off, when there is a sudden drop in sales for an item which requires adjustment to the listing or price, or even just when listings could do with an update with photos or text.
Your VA could also look out for things like hijacking of your listing.
#4. Social media
If you get a VA who is experienced with managing social media, you can have them helping you with posting, responding to messages or comments, or even putting together paid marketing campaigns.
You can also have your VA monitoring your results on social media, preparing reports and generally helping you stay on top of what is working and what is not.
#5. Communicating with Amazon
There are a lot of different situations where you need to communicate directly with Amazon. These tend to grow into a bigger job as your business grows – the more sales and listings you have, the more possible issues.
Your VA can take care of communicating about things such as inappropriate feedback, listing issues, incorrectly charged fees (yep, this happens more often than you might think), or any of those listing hijackers which need dealing with.
#6. Monitoring inventory
You can always use software such as Forecastly to monitor inventory levels and alert you to when stock needs ordering or when it is becoming dated, but you still have to do something about ordering the stock. If there are special events such as holidays coming up where you expect more sales, you’ll also have to plan ahead to order more stock than usual, and order so that it arrives on time to get to Amazon before their holiday cut-off dates.
These are all tasks you can have your VA taking care of.
#7. Keyword research
Using the right keywords is an important part of getting your Amazon listings found, but the research side of it can be quite time-consuming. There are plenty of VAs out there who are well-versed in keyword research and can save you considerable time by doing this task well (not to mention, help you to bring in more business by doing a thorough job!).
Time to hire?
A VA can certainly be a savior for your time, and even a catalyst that helps you to grow your business further. You get to focus on the activities which promote growth while handing over tasks that are tedious or overly time-consuming.
Just make sure you plan ahead and know exactly what you’re going to need your VA to do. This will help you through the hiring process to get someone who is qualified for your job.