I have a pet peeve. I don’t like the phrase ‘virtual assistant’. It feels like there is this big misconception that virtual assistants are temporary solutions… that we are simply a stop-gap for low-level administrative tasks.
We can be so.much.more.
I still work with my very first client. We’ve been together as long as I’ve been doing this, and my work with her involves some administrative bits, but it’s mostly the happy dance-worthy, interesting stuff like website/SEO audits, Google Analytics reporting, content distribution, course creation! Big ❤.
For simplicity sake though, a VA is someone who offers virtual business support from wherever they are. Some work as part of an agency, others go it alone. Some are full-time VAs, while others may choose to weave their VA commitments around a 9 to 5 job.
There are VAs for any type of need you could possibly have. Some VAs are highly specialized and offer expert support in a particular area of your business, such as social media management, accounting, copywriting, funnel building. Others offer more general administrative support, like responding to emails, updating calendars.
For an idea of the tasks you could outsource to a VA, here’s a blog post I wrote listing over 100 things you could hand off. Go through the list, and I promise, it’ll spark ideas of other tasks that you’d be able to outsource.
Does Hiring a Virtual Assistant Make Sense Right Now?
As an entrepreneur, your time is an incredibly valuable commodity. As soon as you use it for something that is not value-adding or to do something that takes you twice as long because it doesn’t play to your strengths – you’re not getting it back.
So here’s the deal:
- If you’re perpetually running after the clock… wishing for more time that you could put into other parts of your business or life
- If you’re losing days agonizing over how you’re going to build out that funnel, design your next book cover, add a membership area on your site – when really all you want and LOVE to do is serve your clients
- If you’re dreading the day you have to deal with your business’ accounts or all that data on your next Google Analytics report
… It might actually be time!
Hiring a VA (the right VA) is actually one of the key parts of the ‘scaling your business’ equation. Hiring a great quality VA has the potential to give you the head and time space to focus on those things that really matter… those things that have a direct impact on your bottom line.
How to Find the Right VA
Get Very Clear About Your Business Need
Finding the right person starts with having a clear idea of the tasks you’ll need that person to do.
Spend time carefully crafting a call for applications that details what the role involves, how the virtual assistant will interact with you and your team, and provides a bit of a background on you and your business.
In the same way that you want someone with the right set of skills, VAs want to work with entrepreneurs who value what they bring to the table – putting together a good job post signals to freelancers that you (1) know what you want and (2) gave the process due thought. Some VAs also value the freedom to choose who they work with, and the cause they are helping.
It’s best to cast your net wide.
Sites like Upwork can connect you with so, so many qualified freelancers, but don’t forget that the good old-fashioned word of mouth is gold!
Ask for recommendations or referrals from business buddies, the online communities that you are a part of on Facebook or LinkedIn.
Invest the time to chat with your virtual assistant candidates.
For many online entrepreneurs, their VAs are going to be the only other person out there who is going to be working in the business. Making sound virtual assistant hiring decisions is so important. Having your shortlisted candidate start with a small, confined and time-bound test project (paid, of course!) can be a fantastic way of getting a sense of their work ethic and communication style.
Make sure too, that they are right for you and your business. Sometimes I think there is an over-emphasis on skills. Not that skills aren’t important – they are – but it’s just as important to consider your candidates’ motivations and ‘cultural’ fit. If their personality doesn’t gel with yours, it’s not going to be a sustainable relationship.
Be Prepared to Exercise Some Flexibility
As you work through your shortlisting process, it is very possible that you won’t find that one person who is able and willing to do all the things you need. In this instance, don’t be too wedded to the idea that you have to onboard just the one person. If there’s anything being in business has taught me, it’s to be adaptable, to respond to the variables thrown at me, and to make the best of them. The freelance world can be incredibly specialized, and so it makes sense that some roles are in fact best shared by two hires.
Based on my experience hiring my own VAs, taking this approach actually helped when one of the two hires decided to take a break to be able to care for family. I didn’t have all my eggs in one basket and didn’t struggle through the transition of finding a new team member because it was a smaller slice of the task pie that we were having to re-distribute. A small bonus, but a bonus nonetheless.
Trust Your Gut & Your Process
I am all about basing decisions on the data that is front of you, but I am also an advocate for trusting your gut. If, for whatever reason, a hiring conversation doesn’t sit well with you – move on.
Equally important is the fact that you need to give your new hires the space to grow into their role within your business.
You’ve taken a very thoughtful approach to defining the scope of the role.
You’ve taken the effort to cast your net wide.
You’ve taken the time to shortlist and identify your one ideal person.
You’ve taken the care to introduce your new VA to your work environment with clear instructions, training, and a small introductory project.
Now it’s time to give them the space to do what they do best, in service of you and your business. I talk about this in a lot more detail in one of my first few blogs titled 5 Must-Haves for a Successful Relationship with Your Virtual Team.