HOW TO FIND YOUR IDEAL VIRTUAL ASSISTANT
10 steps to help you find the best virtual assistants and fast-track building a powerful virtual team.
So many businesses start out as solo operators. And that’s fine – it’s usually the idea or the ‘love child’ of one person who decides to start the business. You work tirelessly, doing it all – admin, building a website, being social, bookkeeping…
If you’re like most new business owners, you’ll be so focussed on the running of your business, that the actual ‘doing’ of the thing we need to be doing to make money slowly gets neglected. These vital tasks include providing messages, pitching to potential customers, creating strategies for clients etc.
Soon, it becomes harder to fit everything into your day, and things start falling apart. Invoices don’t get sent (so you’re losing money), customers aren’t being nurtured (so you’re losing sales), and agreements aren’t being signed (so you’re leaving yourself open to being burnt).
After a little while, it becomes obvious that running a successful business needs a team.
And yes, this can be very intimidating for many soloist business owners.
You’re looking at putting your trust into a virtual stranger who’s going to see your business undies – the private bits of your business that you previously reserved for your eyes only.
But outsourcing doesn’t need to be the big, bad, scary thing you may have heard horror stories about.
Here are my top 10 tips to start your virtual assistant outsourcing journey on the right foot
Take a deep breath. You need to stop and clear your head. Visualise your to-do list by getting it all out of your head and written down on paper. Break these tasks down into individual tasks.
Either on a piece of paper or using a program like Word or Excel, create 2 columns. In one column write the things that you need to do to make money – the things that are vital for you to be doing. In the next column write the things that could be done by someone else, even if you think it’s easier just to do it yourself.
Next to each item, mark down the value that activity brings into your business and the amount of time you spend on that activity. Many items (like bookkeeping or social media) won’t have any financial value. Place a star (or heart or whatever little symbol you love) next to any task with no financial value which must be done by you. These are the tasks you don’t want to outsource.
Look at how much time is being spent on items without a star next to them (the no-financial value items that don’t have to be done by you). Calculate that amount of time by the highest value activity you do as an hourly rate. For example, 20 hours x $80 (massage services) = $1600 per week.
This amount is the amount that you could potentially be earning if you weren’t spending that time on those activities.
Start looking at how you can get help for the activities your wasting time on. Are there tasks which can be bunched together and managed by someone with a certain skill set? Are you looking at one, two or more different sets of skills that you need to have covered?
For example, you may find you need a bookkeeper, a social media manager and an email manager to cover the various areas. Some social media managers can do email management too, so you may only need two VAs.
You don’t need to get all your ducks in a row. You don’t need to ‘fix’ everything before you speak to a virtual assistant with the skillset you need. You just need to make contact. Highly skilled VAs can guide you on how to outsource and in time, you’ll build up trust.
Visit Virtually Yours and submit a request for support. Include what you do, what you are trying to achieve and which skills you need the VA or VAs to have. Don’t worry about location. They don’t need to work next to you. With online meeting resources such as Zoom and Skype, you can still have a cup of coffee, chat and show each other what’s on your computer screen. Skills and personality fit are much more important.
Start having conversations. Speak to the VAs who contact you and see whether you communicate well together, they have the skills and availability you need, and they fall within your budget. Remember, you could, with the right support, be making an extra $1600 per week if you are working on the right activities. Also, remember that you get what you pay for.
Start with some smaller tasks to see how well you work together. While your new VA should already have the skills, they still need to learn your processes, goals and style of working. Allow for some adjustment time. Never start working without a written agreement in place which includes expected outcomes, boundaries, pricing, privacy and confidentiality.
Start handing over more work, and slowly spend more time on your valuable activities. Let your VA know what the outcomes need to be and don’t stress about each step along the way. If your VA knows what they are doing, you can relax! Make sure you catch up regularly for a skype chat to stay on the same page, keep moving in the same direction and identify goals and opportunities together. Schedule these, so they don’t fall to the wayside.
Fall in love. You’ll probably realise, on finding the right VA, that you have room in your heart for one more love of your life. Your business love. That’s ok. Don’t be embarrassed. It’s a great thing!
Be cool with your business undies (your VA won’t tell everyone your style)
You may find that during his process you need to show your VA your ‘business undies’. That’s what I call the administration behind the business. And it may not be glamorous. It may even feel a little embarrassing. But don’t worry. A VA understands that administration isn’t your zone of genius and you can shine in different areas. Let them shine in the administrative role instead.
Depending on the tasks involved you may need to share passwords and login details with your VA. You’re likely to show them your Intellectual Property and your trade secrets. It’s important to have a strong level of trust and to also include clauses around confidentiality and privacy in the signed agreement.
Depending on where you source your VA, you may need to consider what you will and won’t share with them. A VA within your country will need to abide by the same laws as you, so this can be reassuring. However, if they are offshore and not signed with a local company, you may find that the laws don’t apply.
Factor in your business goals
When selecting your VA, consider whether you want them to be an employee of another company or a self-employed contractor. You’ll have different financial obligations for both regarding taxes and entitlements. On top of that, you will find that the VA may have a different type of focus depending on whether they’re an employee versus self-employed. ‘
For some tasks, you may not care. For other tasks, having someone on board who is also running a business, who understands your business culture, and who is networking and building their business community (and therefore yours) may be a significant asset.
Knowing exactly where you want to go with your business and how the VA fits into this journey will help with these decisions.
And my final thought; make sure that above all else, the communication between yourself and your VA becomes a priority – it’s what makes a good partnership and great partnership.
About Rosie Shilo
Rosie Shilo has created a thriving and ever growing network for Virtual Assistants, Virtually Yours, a network for over 190 Australian Virtual Assistants founded in 2004.
Rosie has mentored many new and experienced VAs in their business, and seen them overcome many hurdles to achieve amazing goals. This inspired her to write ‘VA VA Voom: How to become an amazing VA and every client’s most Valued Asset’ which was published in May 2014 and has sold hundreds of copies to date. She has also launched her own VA podcast Outsourcing Mysteries Exposed.
This passionate woman is a true asset to the Virtual Assistant industry and her desire to see the industry grow and develop shines through in everything she does.
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