One of the first things you need to learn as an entrepreneur is how to be productive. While it’s an excellent skill to develop, it doesn’t change the fact that there are only so many hours in a day, and only so much you can do without burning out. Once a business owner realizes that they can make more money (and save their sanity) by hiring help, the first person they should hire is a virtual assistant.
Why Hire a VA
Virtual assistants (VAs) are not all the same. They can have different specialties or areas of expertise, and there is a wide range of tasks you can hire a VA for. Additionally, since they’re not an employee, you don’t need to cover any of the standard business expenses for them. No vacation or sick time, no taxes or equipment costs. Perfect! So how do you decide which of the 10 tasks on your to-do list you should hand over first?
The best thing to do is figure out which tasks someone else could do easily instead of you. Do you need meetings scheduled? Or a trip planned? Does it interrupt your flow to stop and order supplies, food, or materials? Hire these tasks out first. With a relatively small time commitment on your end for set up, your VA will be gearing up to take over your to-do list in no time!
But wait–how do you even hire a VA?
How to hire a vA
Confused about where you should go to find a VA? Well, my friend, you have a few different options.
First, utilize your network. Ask your fellow entrepreneurs who they’ve used, or who they would recommend. This is your safest bet as you’ll get recommendations for VAs who have already been vetted. You can also ask other business owners in the LinkedIn or Facebook groups you’re part of. This is the perfect question for that business mastermind!
If you’d rather do your own research, there are other ways to source VA prospects. One tried and true way is to go straight to the source: sites that specialize in training VAs, such as The Virtual Savvy or Horkey Handbook. This ensures that you get quality applicants, so you can find the right fit for you.
If you’re ok with having a little less control over who you’re working with, you can always go with a general VA service company. There are many to choose from, all with their own pros and cons, so do your research before going this route! As someone who has worked for a VA service company myself, I can personally attest that the working relationship is quite different. (But that’s a topic for another post…)
Once you have a good list of VA candidates, the best (and most time-efficient) way to vet them is through a trial exercise. The specific skills you’re looking for and how long-term you need this VA relationship to be will determine the complexity of the exercise you give. It is worth noting that it’s an industry standard for it to be a paid trial.
This simple step will narrow down your prospective VA list by at least half as you’ll be able to see who specializes in the work you need.
Another way to approach this is to do a two-week trial with a VA. It’s in their best interest for the working relationship to benefit you both, so most VAs will have no problem with agreeing to a trial period. Some VAs even offer this option as a standard for signing on new clients.
Onboarding your new vA
Now that you’ve found the VA of your dreams, what is the best way to get them started? Your VA might have an onboarding process for clients already in place and can walk you through those steps.
For instance, my onboarding process goes something like this:
- Discovery call. This is the step where both people “interview” each other to see if they would be a good fit. It would have already happened if you’ve decided you want to hire them.
- Contract signed. DO NOT give any of your business/personal information to a VA without a contract. You both need to be legally protected.
- Invoice paid. Depending on the VA and the work you need them to do, this may or may not be the next step. I work with the monthly retainer model, which allows clients to buy blocks of my time. This helps them to budget their investment and helps me to budget my time for the month. (A win-win.)
- Kick-off call. This is where I go through the nitty-gritty with my client–email permissions, passwords, software/tools I will need access to, SOPs (standard operating procedures) that are already in place, etc. The plan is to get as set up as possible from the get-go.
- Weekly Check-ins. These are essential to staying connected. It’s a great time to bring up any questions or concerns, as well as communicate and plan upcoming projects or priorities. These are preferably a phone or video call, but a chat or email conversation can work just as well.
If your VA hasn’t indicated they have their own method, you can easily follow the process I’ve outlined above to get started.
Pro tip: Loom is a helpful tool that allows you to record your screen and show your new VA how you usually do a task you want them to take over.
Don’t let fear talk you out of this important step for your business. Once you get started with your VA, you’ll be amazed at how much time you have on your hands. You’ll probably think “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”
If you’ve found this article helpful, share it with your friends. VAs are out there, ready to help you reach your goals! Why not get started today?