Why do most business owners usually think that they can handle everything that the business requires? They find themselves working long hours – a practice that depletes them of energy and enthusiasm. As a business owner, reasons like this are why you need a virtual assistant.
When a business leader tries to do everything on his or her own, he becomes less efficient.
He becomes exhausted and faces the risk of burning out.
If you find yourself in the same boat, it is probably time to let go of what Chris Ducker refers to as a “superhero syndrome.”
It is time to start delegating some of the things that you do to other people.
A strong and effective business leader doesn’t try to do everything by himself.
He doesn’t waste his energy and time on tasks that someone else can do just as easily.
He focuses on tasks that actually help him grow his business.
A good business leader concentrates on activities that have the greatest impact on the business.
He realizes that his job is to build a scalable enterprise that keeps on growing, even when he is not working.
He does this by building efficient systems and by hiring excellent people to join his team.
Use Of A Virtual Assistant
One of the first things you should do to build a strong team is to hire virtual assistant services.
A virtual assistant (also called a VA for short or a virtual office assistant) is someone you hire on a contractual basis to give you professional administrative, creative, or technical business virtual assistant services.
A VA is usually an independent contractor.
You don’t have to extend to him the employee-related insurance, taxes, and benefits that you usually give full-time employees.
A VA usually works from home through the Internet.
You don’t have to provide office space, supplies, and equipment.
A virtual assistant is different from a freelancer whom you hire for special projects.
When you hire a freelancer for a project, you hire him for a specific period of time.
The project, as well as the freelancer’s services, have both a start date and an end date.
A freelancer usually has multiple clients.
You can’t expect him to consider your concerns as his first priority.
When you hire a virtual assistant, on the other hand, you hire him to become a member of your team.
Your VA is considered a team member, even if some of the tasks that you assign to him may change from time to time.
How Can You Tell If It Is Time To Hire A Virtual Assistant?
What is the tipping point that tells you it is the right time for hiring a virtual assistant?
The following signs are good indications:
You Find Yourself Working Long Hours
If you have to spend long hours not just for a week here and there, but almost all the time, then it is time to seriously think about hiring a virtual assistant.
This is particularly true if the hours you spend at work are spent on tedious, repetitive tasks like answering customer service emails and social media comments.
Your Business Is Losing Clients Because You Don’t Have The Time To Respond To Emails Right Away
You have a tough time keeping up with all your email.
As a result, you are losing your clients.
Now is the time to get help as soon as possible.
You Are Wasting Time On Low-Value Tasks
As an entrepreneur or business leader, your primary concern should be to grow your business and add value to it.
You shouldn’t be wasting your time on administrative tasks that almost anybody can do.
You Find Yourself Doing Tasks That You Don’t Particularly Find Enjoyable, Challenging, Or Exciting
Routine tasks can be a welcome change from work that calls for serious planning and strategizing.
They can be energizing and may sometimes spark creative ideas.
If you enjoy the relaxed, even pace of repetitive tasks, there is no reason why you should give up these tasks entirely.
If, on the other hand, you don’t find any pleasure or value in them, you should find someone else to do them for you.
It is time to seriously think about working with a virtual assistant.
Doing things you dislike leads to burnout; you don’t want that to happen and risk losing your business.
You Need Something Done – And You Don’t Have The Skills For It
Your existing staff and yourself may not have every single skill that your business requires.
You may want to put up a professional website but don’t know anything about web design and development.
Also, you may need a new company logo but don’t know enough about graphic design.
You may need to have your marketing materials translated to French but do not know the language.
It is during such times that you begin to realize why you need a virtual assistant.
Reasons To Hire A Virtual Assistant
It is not difficult to find a Virtual Assistant who has the tools, skills, and training that you need for your business.
A VA can help you manage your travel schedule or your emails.
He can do research and data entry.
Take care of your online file storage and schedule your appointments or post on your social media accounts.
A VA can help with tasks that are administrative or technical in nature.
These tasks help you run your business, although they do not necessarily focus directly on making it grow.
You can also hire a VA for tasks that call for specific skills sets.
Video editing, bookkeeping, technical customer service or project management are examples of such tasks.
There are lots of reasons to hire a virtual assistant.
A Virtual Assistant can help you to
- Schedule your appointments
- Answer FAQs or frequently asked questions through email
- Get quotes from your contractors or suppliers
- Handle social media
- Schedule blog posts
- Post content that you have created
- Create basic graphics for your content
- Use cloud storage to organize your files
- Type, edit and proofread your manuscripts, correspondence, and other business communications
- Update your online store’s inventory
- Do web design
- Do search engine optimization
- Handle publicity for your products
- Give you marketing support
- Take care of your bills, accounts payable, and bookkeeping
- Help you plan company events or outings
A VA can help you with a considerable number of tasks.
Benefits Of Hiring A Virtual Assistant
When you outsource some of your tasks to a VA, you enjoy certain advantages that help to increase not only your productivity but the growth of your business, as well.
The benefits of hiring a virtual assistant include the following:
You Keep Your Overhead Expenses Low
You don’t have to pay for office space, equipment, or supplies when you hire a Virtual Assistant.
All you need are a few software tools.
Hiring A Virtual Assistant Is Usually More Affordable Than Hiring Regular Employees
A big majority of Virtual Assistants work from their homes.
Depending on which place they live in, some Virtual Assistants work for an hourly rate that is considerably lower than what a local employee would charge.
For instance, hiring a Virtual Assistant from the Philippines will cost you about half of what you would pay a Virtual Assistant in the United States – even if the job description is the same.
You have to pay a full-time employee a salary and take care of his medical and dental benefits, worker’s compensation, sick leaves, holiday leaves, and taxes, as well.
As an independent contractor, a VA handles all insurance, taxes, and other expenses. You just have to pay him for his time.
You Can Hire The Best Candidates
Your hiring decision is not limited to local talent.
You can hire a VA from practically anywhere in the world, provided he has access to an internet connection.
This means that you have access to an incredible number of people who have the skills for the job.
A Virtual Assistant Usually Shows Higher Productivity
An office worker has to deal with a lot of work interruptions.
He socializes with his other co-workers, surfs the internet, and spends time at the coffee station.
A Virtual Assistant doesn’t have as many distractions. He is better able to concentrate on finishing the tasks you ask him to do.
You Enjoy Greater Flexibility
With a VA, you don’t have to be limited to a 9 to 5 work schedule.
A VA works around your timetable; you can expect him to be there when you need him.
In case you’re not happy with the VA that you hire, you can always decide not to renew the contract.
You can look for another VA.
Things are not this simple when you’re dealing with a full-time employee.
You Don’t Have To Train Your VA
Many businessmen spend tons of money to have their employees trained every time a technology their business needs enters the market.
You don’t have to do this.
Simply hire a VA who already has the skills.
You Lower The Risks Associated With Scaling Operations
If you’re just starting a business, you are not quite sure how successful it is going to be.
In this situation, it is best to hire a VA.
Without going over your budget, you can hire a person to help you cope with your work volume.
In case your business does pick up and the work volume goes up, you can add one or more VAs to see you through the increase in work.
You Avoid Burnout
Being able to delegate some of your tasks keeps you from feeling overwhelmed and from losing focus.
You Become More Productive
You can delegate “busy” work to your VA.
If you don’t have to answer phone calls, check your email, or manage your website, you have more time on your hands.
You have more time and energy to plan and create strategies to market your business.
You Can Concentrate On Income-Generating, High-Value Tasks
The use of a virtual assistant gives you more time to focus on tasks that are essential for making your company grow.
How To Hire A Virtual Assistant
Once you realize the importance of virtual assistants, it is time to find out how to hire one.
Hiring a Virtual Assistant usually follows this procedure:
Make A List Of The Processes And Tasks You Want To Outsource To Your VA
Most of these tasks are probably tasks that you already do.
Prepare Standard Operating Procedures or training documents that your VA can use as a guide.
Prepare A Job Description
After completing this list, make a job description.
Include the following information in the job description:
- Data about your business (the industry it belongs to, its products and services, and its customers or clients)
- Level of education, skills, and experience that the job requires
- Duties and responsibilities of the job
- Software, tools, and apps that the VA will be using
Post The Job Description Online
You have several options as to where to post the job description to attract applicants.
Most people use one of the following popular directories and websites to find their Virtual Assistant:
- Virtual Staff Finder
- Priority VA
- Virtual Assistant
- Somebody 2 Hire
- VA Networking
Review Applications And Interview Promising Applicants
Review the applications you receive.
Prepare a shortlist of your top 5 or 10 best candidates.
Arrange to interview these candidates by way of video interviews.
A video interview gives you a good sense of whether someone has the skills and personality that you are looking for.
It helps you find out if you like the person well enough to hire him as your Virtual Assistant.
If a candidate doesn’t want to be interviewed by you, take that as a red flag.
You want to figure out the strengths and values of each candidate.
Don’t limit your interview to questions about experience and skills.
Ask the candidate about his values and goals.
Find out how he likes to be managed and how he likes to work.
If you want more details, you can ask your candidates to take a personality test (there are several free ones available online).
Give Your Top Choices A Test
Narrow down your short-listed candidates to the top 3.
To help you reach a sound decision about which candidate to hire, ask the candidates to take a test.
Choose a task that forms part of the job description.
Have each candidate perform the task.
This step will give you a clear indication about whom to hire for the job.
Offer The Job On A Trial Period
Start your top candidate off on a 30-day (a 60 or 90-day period can also work) trial period.
Use the trial period to further assess the abilities of your Virtual Assistant.
Expect your new hire to do his best.
He knows that if he does extremely well on the job, he has a good chance of getting a permanent job with your company.
Ask your VA to sign a Service Agreement to make sure that there are no misunderstandings in the future.
Working With A Virtual Assistant
After you hire your Virtual Assistant, he becomes a key player in your team.
It is part of your responsibility as a team leader to ensure that he gets all the assistance he needs.
This way he can experience a productive, satisfying, and mutually advantageous relationship with you and your staff.
The following are tips that you may find useful:
Set Clear Expectations
See to it that your Virtual Assistant knows exactly how you expect him to perform.
Discuss your KPIs or key performance indicators.
Conduct Regular Performance Evaluation
Every employee benefits from knowing how well he is able to meet job expectations.
Set aside time to sit down with your Virtual Assistant to evaluate his performance.
Use your KPIs as the basis for job performance evaluation.
You can track how much time your VA actually spends at work.
There are programs that help you do all these.
Spying on your VA, however, is counterproductive.
It is even unnecessary if you’ve discussed your expectations with him.
Using your key performance indicators is a better and more efficient way to evaluate your VA’s performance.
Keep In Touch With Your VA Through Daily Check-Ins
Cultivate the helpful habit of checking in with your VA when your workday starts.
Daily check-ins through Slack or Skype facilitates effective communication.
It is an effective tool for discussing and resolving issues before they spiral.
Ask For Weekly Reports
Require your VA to send you a weekly report about what he accomplished for the week.
You can use a template for this.
The following questions, along with KPIs that you want to track, will help you get a clear picture of your VA’s accomplishments.
- What projects or tasks was he able to complete for the week?
- How much time did he need to finish each task?
- What were the challenges or problems that he had to resolve?
- What are the tasks that he is still working on?
- Are there questions he has for you?
- Does he have feedback or new ideas he wants to share with you?
- If he needs additional training, what type does he have in mind?
Timely feedback, trust, and open communication are essential elements for productive, meaningful, and mutually beneficial relationships with the people you work with.
Encourage the people under you, including your VA, to ask questions, share their ideas, and give you feedback regularly.
Now that you understand the importance of a virtual assistant, you know that hiring one helps you increase your own productivity.
Hire a virtual assistant and you now have the time to focus on the great responsibility of growing your business.
Have we been able to convince you about why you need to hire a virtual assistant?
Do leave us your comments!