As a business owner, you’re working towards achieving your bold visions and big plans.
But, chances are you’re getting bogged down by mundane tasks (which by the way are part of building your business empire).
And guess what? These tasks can’t be ignored (regardless of your industry).
So you either waste your precious time doing mundane tasks week in week out… forgo your weekends, family time, and work yourself lame just to see your business grow…
You get a virtual assistant to take care of the daily tasks and processes that are key to running your business but aren’t necessarily focused on growing it.
That way you can focus on growing your business and have extra time to do what you love.
Sounds impressive, right?
Stick around to learn how to hire a virtual assistant the easy way.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
You might be wondering: who are these legendary creatures anyway?
Simply put, a virtual assistant is like having an extra pair of hands without hiring an actual employee.
A virtual assistant will offer you remote administrative help while working remotely. That means you may never get to meet your virtual assistant face to face even if you work with them for many years.
Because a virtual assistant may be living in a different state, country or even continent from yours.
Now that we’re on the same page about what a virtual assistant is, let’s get down to business!
Keep reading to learn how to:
- Know when to hire a virtual assistant
- Choose tasks to delegate
- Know if you should hire a virtual assistant at all
- Choose and use your hiring method
- On-board them for success
Excited? Here are the details …
When to Hire a Virtual Assistant
Do you REALLY need a virtual assistant? A troubling thought isn’t it?
Could be you are still doubtful to jump in and join the bandwagon of entrepreneurs enjoying the services of a professional virtual assistant.
Relax, we’ll help you see if it’s time. Keep reading to discover.
You’re doing Administrative Tasks Instead of Business Building
Do you find yourself spending more time doing administrative tasks instead of building your business?
Remember these tasks are important and necessary.
They can end up taking up a big chunk of your time.
The time that you could otherwise spend strategizing your business growth including creating more sales, finding new customers, venturing into new markets, among other ideation processes.
You’ve Strained Family Time
Be honest: when is the last time you spent quality time with your family and friends?
Do your loved ones complain that they don’t see you enough? Do you miss dinners? And let’s not even get started on late nights.
Worse still, you can’t even begin to consider a vacation, because there’s no time!
Truth be told: you need a virtual assistant to take up some of your time-consuming tasks.
That’s how you free up your time so that you can spend time with the people who matter.
There’s no other way around it.
You’ve Lost the Excitement of Running the Business
Are you handling paperwork and administrative tasks that just suck up the joy you had for running a business?
Reclaim your passion by delegating those tasks and only do the tasks that genuinely worth your precious time and skill set.
Your Business Operations Are Out of Control
Are your business operations experiencing client rants due to poor customer service? Is your email inbox bursting at its seams with unanswered emails? Is your paperwork in chaos?
Reality is: you’re just one person. And you know what? You can’t do it all!
These are the red flags and a sign that you need a virtual assistant to the rescue – to restore your paperwork and communications back to harmony.
You’re Doing Tasks Someone Else Could Do Better
Are you attempting being a jack-of-all-trades?
And that’s just sad because doing tasks you aren’t really good at means you’ll end up spending way too much time on these tasks but with not to par results?
Let a virtual assistant take care of these tasks.
Your Day Feels Out of Control
Are you always trying to catch up with work?
And worse still you keep getting this constant nagging feeling that there’s something hanging over you? Like you can’t say for sure you’re done for the day?
Hiring a virtual assistant will lift that burden off your shoulders. So much so that at the end of the day you can happily retire to bed without a million things pending on your to-do list.
You’ve Got Customers or Clients in Other Time Zones
The whole point of running a business is to leverage the 24/7 economy, right? Therefore, if you have international clients, it’s best to hire an overseas virtual assistant.
Your virtual assistant will handle your emails, calls, and other urgent business matters as you catch your sleep without interruptions.
What Tasks Can You Outsource to a Virtual Assistant?
Are you now ready to let go (at least a little bit?)
Good. Because it is time to outsource. But wait a minute, which tasks are you going to outsource?
Don’t worry, we’ll help you decide.
Firstly, create a process, document, or just scrawl on a piece of paper to separate out:
- Tasks you shouldn’t be doing
- Tasks you procrastinate doing
- Tasks you dread starting
- Tasks that you hate doing
- Tasks you can’t do yourself (you don’t have the experience or knowledge)
Next, take a closer look at the tasks that you can actually outsource to your virtual assistant.
- Basic Bookkeeping
- Creating basic repost
- Customer support
- Database building or data entry
- Doing live chats
- Harvesting and following up on leads
- Manage spam emails
- Monitor business images on search engines
- Racking deadlines
- Send invoices
- Adding products
- Backup website
- Creating forms
- Creating infographics
- Image search for blog posts
- Install and customise new WordPress themes
- Managing website advertising
- Moderating comments
- Setting up autoresponders
- Updating and configuring WordPress plugins
- Writing blog posts
Personal Assistance Tasks
- Answering emails
- Event management
- Making appointments
- Making reservations and confirmations
- Managing your calendar
- Online shopping/comparisons
- Running social media contents
- Sending thank you messages
Search Engine Optimization Tasks
- Creating reports on website analytics
- Keywords research
- Link building
- Create forum posts and backlinking
- Regular site analysis: load speed, mobile responsiveness, etc.
- Checking competing pages
- Looking for new SEO strategies
- Internal linking
- Book layout and formatting
- Creating digital presentations/slideshows
- Editing and producing audio files like commercials
- Graphic design
- Programming of your website, mobile app, or whatever else
- Project management
- Video editing
- Writing product descriptions
Social Media Tasks
- Moderate Facebook groups
- Participating in trending conversations
- Performing social bookmarking
- Post a quote to Instagram
- Postmarketing messages
- Produce and post regular YouTube content
- Reply to relevant tweets
- Respond to YouTube comments
How to Hire a Virtual Assistant?
Now that you have decided on the tasks that you want to outsource, the next thing to do is obviously start the hiring process.
Make it a reality by following these simple steps:
1. Document Your Process
Firstly, think about all the processes that you want to outsource.
Next, write them down, outlining the steps and how you’d like these tasks completed. Don’t shy away from including relevant screenshots where necessary.
Once you do this, you’ll be able to recognise the skills and experience that are totally paramount for the subsequent process.
2. Create a Concise Job Description
You need to set straight your expectations in the job description so that you attract well-qualified candidates.
To write an excellent job description, be sure to include the following information:
Job title: It should be self-explanatory, and clearly reflecting the nature of the job duties to be assumed.
Example of a good job title: Technical Lead – Windows / Cloud Engineer
Example of a bad job title: Technical Lead
Duties: It’s essential to include the duties and responsibilities associated with the role. Plus, the expected duration for each task best represented as percentages. For instance, data entry 40%, answering emails 50%, etc.
Make the descriptions succinct (two or three sentences long), outcome-based, has an action, an object, and a purpose, e.g., ‘compiles monthly reports to allow monitoring of the company’s budget’.
Make the duties description as short as possible. Otherwise, you may end up writing an operational manual (that’s awful).
Skills and competencies: List skills separate from competencies because they are two different things.
Skills are activities the candidate can perform based on their learning in the past or qualifications they have obtained, e.g., Upload blogs on WordPress.
Competencies are the traits or attributes you expect the candidate to display in the role, e.g., strong communication, teamwork, flexibility, etc.
Relationships: It is important to include reporting lines and working relationships in your job description. In a nutshell, it helps the candidate who to report to and who reports to them. They also know which department they will be working closely with.
Salary: It is better to include a salary range than a specific amount for the position. It will bring a health variation in terms of education and experience.
Tools: Don’t forget to include the tools your virtual assistant should be proficient in like Excel, PowerPoint, or Gmail.
3. Include an Applicant Test
Testing your applicants will make it easy for you to separate the wheat from the chaff.
That will save you a lot of time because truth be told: there are candidates who will most likely exaggerate their skills.
Here are some suggestions to help you out:
- Check their English with an online English test
- Typing test to see how accurately and quickly they type
- Test their working knowledge on Google Docs or Spreadsheets
- Get them on Skype to see if you like them and if they fit into your company’s culture and core values
- Give them a one-week test in a real-life working environment.
4. Add a Keyword or “Easter Egg” in Your Job Posting
This tip will be exceptionally helpful for job marketplaces where you have to post the virtual assistant descriptions and the available job seekers apply.
At the bottom of your job description, ask the applicants to “include a keyword”. It could be anything: a favourite quote by a specific person, a name etc. – there are no restrictions.
This exercise will help you weed out assistants who aren’t detail oriented or haven’t actually read your email to the end.
5. Conduct an Interview
It is possible to conduct a virtual interview to help you determine if your virtual assistant is a good fit. Skype, Google Hangouts, are great tools for this.
Ask these questions among others:
“How do you manage shifting priorities?”
“How do you structure your work day?”
“Tell me about a time when you’ve faced a stressful situation at work. How did you respond?”
Provide valuable insights into the qualities that are not so obvious to pick from a standard resume or profile.
6. Start on a Trial Basis
Some companies will allow you to trial your assistant and some won’t. Depending on the circumstances communicate your intention to do a trial well in advance so that it is understood from the onset that there’s an exit if it’s not a good match.
In most cases, two weeks is sufficient time to determine whether you’ll work together.
7. Take Time to Train Your Assistant
As we’ve mentioned, a good virtual assistant can be a godsend. But remember a virtual assistant is just that – an assistant.
You need to train your assistant well. Take time to train your assistant well and document the process.
Therefore, you need to constantly give clear work instructions stating how you want things done, answer questions, and address complicated situations.
In other words, having a VA will still require hands-on involvement from you, and you’ll need to be available to offer guidance at a moment’s notice.
If this is a level of commitment you’re not ready for – you’re probably not ready for a VA.
8. Have Realistic Expectations
Your virtual assistant is not superhuman. Therefore, keep your expectations realistic and you will have a healthy working relationship.
9. Don’t Be Afraid to Cuts Ties and Move on Quickly
That said, if your virtual assistant isn’t working out, don’t be afraid to sever the relationship quickly. It is important that you get a good fit for you to experience the benefits of having a virtual assistant.
Where Do You Hire a Competent Virtual Assistant?
There are online job boards that are way better than Upwork. But finding them can be overwhelming.
Luckily, we’ve done the research for you. So let’s cut to the chase and check out some of the best websites to hire a VA:
- Belay Solutions: Bring order to your chaos using Belay Solutions. They provide virtual assistants, bookkeepers, and web specialists to help you grow your business.
- Worldwide 101: Here, you’ll get premium virtual assistants and marketers on a monthly subscription. And there’s no lengthy recruitment process.
- Zirtual: Offers trained and dedicated US-based virtual assistants for both small and large businesses.
- HireMyMom: Helps you find quality talented virtual assistants who are mostly based in the USA. They will match with a virtual assistant in the same time zone as yours.
- Virtual Office VA: They largely deal with real estate investing businesses. Their virtual assistant are trained and will work towards meeting your custom needs.
- Assistant Match: They’ll introduce top to top screened candidates at $395. Candidates are recommended to you on the basis of skills, experience, personality, availability, and work style.
- VA Networking: They’ve been in business since 2003, and will help you find the best virtual assistant for your business. It’s free to submit a bo to their job board.
- Time etc: Trusted by 10,000+ people, Time etc offers US-based virtual assistants so that you get more done.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are some more job boards worth checking out.
How Much Does a Virtual Assistant Cost?
The cost of hiring a virtual assistant largely depends on their experience.
There are beginners, intermediate and experienced virtual assistants.
And naturally, an experienced virtual assistant will demand a higher pay compared to a beginner with little to no hands-on work experience.
How Do You Effectively Work with a Virtual Assistant?
You’ve followed through the process and now you have your very own virtual assistant.
But there’s one more thing…
You need to effectively work with your virtual assistant.
Here is the secret to having a seamless work experience with your virtual assistant despite being miles apart.
Take a look:
- Establish your workflow early
- Try different tasks in the beginning to gauge your VA strength and weakness
- Give very detailed instructions
- Communicate using the appropriate tools
- When you assign your VA a task, ask them to verify that they understand the task
- Check in on the task about 10-20% of the way in
- Allocate two to three times more time for the task
- Perform the tasks to be outsourced
- Create working procedures
- Train your team
- Evaluate performance
- Don’t micromanage
- Schedule daily check-ins
- Require weekly reports
- Create a culture of feedback