What does a Virtual Assistant do and how to prepare for hiring one?
Technically, I am a virtual assistant. But I feel that term is SOOOOO widely used that it's meaning it too broad. I wanted to hone in on my "super power" as some friends call it and offer my expertise as an virtual business manager. Personally, I know as a former entrepreneur, I didn't even know outsourcing was an option let alone know what to look for with hiring a subcontractor!
I have learned there are tons of benefits for hiring a VA (virtual assistant).
- Subcontractors own their business which means that you don't pay their employee taxes, which saves you money!
- You only pay for the services. Some VAs set up priced out packages for their services and others charge hourly. Either way, you are not paying for time wasted when there is no work.
- VAs are responsible for their own training and equipment. Yes, you will need to bring them up to speed on your own processes but whoever you are hiring should be willing to do the research involved in gaining the skills to get the job done on their own time.
- It saves you time! I know how hard it is to wear a million different hats. As an entrepreneurs it's all about keeping everything moving forward so you can grow. How can you grow if you are stuck just maintaining? Spend more time on the tasks that move you forward and outsource the rest to a VA.
- There are lots of us out there that know what we are doing! Maybe there are some tasks that you have never been able to wrap your head around and can outsource to a VA.
After you have decided it's time to hire a virtual assistant, how do you know who to hire and what to prepare for?
To figure out what tasks you need help with simple start tracking all your tasks throughout the week. Use a timer like Toggl to see just how much time a week you spend doing each little task. Make a giant list of all these items and how long they take per week. Then start crossing off items that only YOU can do. Everything else can be outsourced. Now your hunt for a virtual assistant is on!
I've noticed in many Facebook groups (where most VAs find clients) that anyone who puts the word out for a job get bombarded by VAs looking for the gig. It's actually pretty frustrating as a VA to see a potential "perfect match" client that you know would be a great fit and never be able to get your foot in the door because they get overwhelmed with responses. So my suggestion to entrepreneurs posting jobs is to be very clear on the level of expertise you are looking for in a VA. Include your "non-negotiable" requirements and outline the tasks that they might perform. If possible, include your budget. VA's range in pricing - big time. Obviously, you get what you pay for, so how much is quality work to you? I think it's a great idea to create a questionnaire to help you vet your applications. While the general VA community might cringe at the thought of filling out an application because they feel as their own boss, they don't apply for jobs, I think an organized questionnaire is totally fine. Include questions that will qualify candidates and ensure they have the skill set you require. Then you should be able to shortlist your applicants and schedule consultations. I recommend that you seek out long term VAs to build a relationship with and will learn your processes inside and out so you don't have to spend time on that. A great virtual assistant will be able to offer their input too and help carry your business to the next level.
Once you have found a great virtual assistant to join your team it's time to pass on all the important information. A well organized VA will send you a welcome packet outlining their procedures and highlight items in the contract. They will also request important information and keep it on file. If you prefer not to share passwords then use a secure password keeper platform. Decide which file sharing format you prefer - dropbox or google drive are my favourites. By now you should have already expressed what you need assistance with but incase you don't know run through your workflow and ask the VA to make suggestions where they can help you. If you are a bit more together, schedule a time to go through your processes through screen sharing like Skype OR make a screen sharing video of how you complete tasks. II find this works much better than a written document.
Remember, the job of a virtual assistant is to make your job easier but first you need to put in the work to communicate what you expect and need from them. Being organized on your end will save you time and money working with a VA.
Now that you have considered the possibility of outsourcing...what do you need help with? Let's chat!