Let’s get into this. Today I want to talk to you about the “12 Things that you need to ask yourself before hiring a virtual assistant” because it’s very easy to go off and say to yourself, “I just need help,” and go off and get a virtual assistant without actually exploring the reasons why you’re doing it and how it’s going to work for you in the long term.
What budget do I have?
This is going to help you determine what type of service that you’re going to go to, to actually get your virtual assistant. The first thing to think about is am I on a really, really tight budget and do I need to go at the base level of service which is freelancer level where I go direct with the freelancer and I might pay anywhere between $5 and whatever it is, the skill you’re looking for, but for general virtual assistant, it might be $5 to $10 an hour, US. You’re going to go to places like Upwork and Freelancer to get your virtual assistant. There’s obviously a lot more work involved in that.
There’s also a lot more risk involved. If you’re wanting someone long term, you’re probably not going to find them there as easily as you will with an agency, but it’s a good starting point and it’s a good testing ground for you because the risk of you testing it is pretty low. You don’t need to give them a set number of hours, all of that sort of stuff.
If you’ve got a better budget and you can spend up to $20 an hour, then you can go to an agency and you can have a look at actually bringing somebody on board for you long term if you identify that you need that. Your budget is really important to work out where you’re going to find someone.
The second thing that you need to look at is what do I actually need that VA to do for me?
You need to understand what type of VA and what skills they’re going to need, right? A good exercise is how to identify what a virtual assistant can do for you. In previous blogs, I’ve given you a list of 100 things that a VA can do for you. That can start to jog your memory. The key thing is sitting down and doing a task audit and working out, what is it that you actually spend time on in your business that you could be giving to somebody else? What things aren’t you doing that you should be doing that you can get someone to start doing for you? That’s the second thing.
Third thing is do I have the time to train and on board a VA?
A lot of business owners will bring on a VA and just let them run to their own devices, and it doesn’t work out because you’re also busy in your business, you don’t have time to actually on board them properly. A good example of this is when I on boarded my PA, I was lucky. I was able to actually set aside an hour a day in my calendar that I completely blocked out where I was able to develop a process for her and then help her walk through that process so that she got it the first time. That helped me because now in the long term, I don’t need to focus on it and correct mistakes. She’s got a video that she can check up on and she’s got a system and a process that she’s able to follow because we were able to spend the time on it.
Am I prepared for the first few weeks?
This is really important that you, for the first few weeks of the engagement of your VA that you are giving them that time and that you’re prepared. Have you actually set aside in your calendar time to spend with them? Have you actually prepared some processes for them? Preparation is really key. You’re going to identify that through the process of your task audit, identify what tasks you want them to do and then you understand then what skills they need to be able to do those tasks.
What type of manager do I need to be?
This is a good one, number 5. What manager do I need to be? Ask yourself that question. To bring a virtual employee on board, what person do I need to be so that that relationship gets the most out of it? Thinking about things like setting up quick huddle meetings in the mornings to give them space and time to be able to do what you want. You need to be a communicator. Maybe communication is not your best point, so you need to work on your communication. Thinking about all the things that you need to do from a leader’s point of perspective and a manager to be able to then give the best to your VA when you bring them on.
How do I best communicate what I need?
This is really important as well. If you currently communicate by telephone or you’re the only one in your business, you’ve got to think about, well, how am I going to communicate with somebody perhaps in another state or on the other side of the world? How am I going to do that? You’re going to investigate things like Skype, like Zoom, like sharing emails, cloud-based programmes, making sure that you’ve got shareable systems that you’re using so that a virtual VA can actually support that for you. Having to think about how am I going to communicate? Am I going to have a monthly get-together or is it going to be a weekly or daily huddle where we actually work through and plan things together? Do I need a project management system where I’m going to actually show them what I need them to do? All of those things.
Do I have systems in place to make it easier to work with a virtual employee?
We touched on that there. Project management systems are your best way; Trello, Asana, Basecamp. All of these systems give you access to putting in place a task, being able to delegate that to somebody with a timeframe or a deadline. That’s going to help you move your project forward quickly. It’s also going to put it in a place that is structured and easy to follow rather than a whole bunch of emails going into an inbox without any structure or deadline mechanism to it. Please make sure that you set that up.
Have you considered locations and time zones?
This is really important. I get a number of phone calls and messages from clients in the UK and the US. The reason why I don’t take these clients on board is because all of our team are in the Philippines. The reason why they’re working with us is because they don’t want to work a graveyard shift. If they work with US or UK clients, they have to work graveyard shift which means they don’t get to see their family. They have to sleep during the day. It makes it a lot more difficult. Consider the time zone that you’re using and make sure that you’re going to get the best out of the employee that you’re bringing on board. We work with the Philippines because at any one time, even with daylight savings, we’re only three hours apart, which means that we can work on a similar time zone and actually achieve more for each of us.
What will bringing on a VA allow me to spend my time on?
This is a really big one as well. You suddenly bring on a VA. They’re doing 10 hours a week worth of work for you, but then are you going to fall back into the same trap of doing lower level tasks and just fill your hours then with lower level tasks? Are you really going to think about this and say, well, if I’m allowed to have an extra 10 hours in my week, what higher level core activities will that allow me to do that generate more income into the business or will give me better time with my family or will give me time to do the things that I love the most? You’ve got to sit down and actually say and just … It’s important that you actually commit to filling that time with what you say you’re going to or else it’s very easy to fall back into the trap of doing the lower level tasks.
Have I created all the processes and training for the VA?
Again, there’s no use bringing on a VA if you’re just going to throw them into the deep end, which is where you’re at. I would not bring on a VA until I’ve at least got five processes of tasks that I’m allowed … able to give them that will see them through at least the first two weeks of working with me. Processes are easy to put together. Now whether you like writing them or whether you like recording them on a screencast, there are so many different programmes you can use now. There’s Loom. There’s Snagit. There’s Jing. There’s Screencast, all these incredible programmes that allow you to make videos, training videos from your desktop, very, very simple. You put a few of those together.
Make it easy and then you’re ready to start, but don’t go into the arrangement without having anything to support their learning or else, you’ll find that they’re going to keep making mistakes and they’re going to keep having to refer back to you.
How will I make the VA part of my business and culture?
This is probably the biggest query that we get, particularly when it’s around their virtual I’m here from a different culture. How do we link that all together? An example of this is I have a team of 28 virtual assistants in the Philippines. I also have a team over in South America and India. The way that we all connect is via an online Skype group so that every time somebody gets started for work for their day, they jump into the Skype group and say good morning. I understand that we’re all in different locations. We’re all from different cultures, but the one important thing for my business is that we’re all connected. If everyone feels connected then we all support each other.
One of our gorgeous VAs lost her daughter last year and it was a very sad and sudden event. Our VAs rallied together and raised some money out of their own money to basically support her having some grieving time so she didn’t have to work. I didn’t instil that. That was the culture we built that all felt like they were part of community that needed to support her. It’s very easy to do that just by setting up some way for them all to be connected and for them to feel like they’ve got a place to go that’s safe and that they can talk. That’s a really big thing.
The final point, number 12
Have I determined predefined expectations and KPIs for the role that I can share with the VA from day one?
This is also really important. If you’re not sharing what your expectations are and what you want that VA to get out of working with you and what you want them to do for you from an expectations point of view, and give them some boundaries and parameters to work towards, then they’re just going to be doing what they know and you’re not going to be guiding them in any way and being a leader in that relationship.
Please, the first thing that I ask is that you put together very clear expectations and KPIs around how their performance will be measured, how it will be tracked, when you will meet with them to talk through any problems that they might be having. Even just a little mechanism like an end-of-day report, the end-of-day report is fantastic. It allows them to send you just an update of what they’ve done for the day, what they achieved, what they’ll work on tomorrow, and then at the end, any issues or concerns that need to be addressed from what they’ve done today. They’ve got an avenue then to put that forward to you. There’s no surprises. You’re able to support them with that on a daily basis if needed.
There are those 12 things that you need to ask before hiring a VA. I hope that’s been helpful. Any questions, you know where to find me.
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