As a busy entrepreneur, you likely take on the bulk of running your business, until you can’t anymore. You may find yourself at a breaking point where you’ll need to hire help in order to scale and grow, while maintaining quality and consistency. That’s when it may be time to hire a virtual assistant.
When you hire a virtual assistant, you don’t get the same burden or responsibility that comes with hiring a full-time employee.
With a virtual assistant, you can ease into the process of hiring and managing people while still significantly lightening your workload.
What is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant is a type of administrative assistant who supports their clients while working remotely or from outside the office.
Internet access is an essential tool for virtual assistants as they interact with their clients and perform most of their tasks through online platforms and shared digital documents.
Virtual assistants can be full time employees, but a majority work as independent contractors and engage with clients through hourly or retainer contracts. They control their own schedules, don’t receive employee benefits and work remotely.
What do virtual assistants do?
Virtual assistants are often classified as a type of administrative assistant, but they can perform a variety of tasks as long as they can complete them using the internet.
Virtual assistants jobs might include:
Social media management
Managing emails (answering FAQs)
Working with vendors
Writing or proofreading
Adding/updating website content
Billing and invoicing
The virtual assistant role is flexible and can be defined by both the virtual assistant and the client, so the relationship delivers exactly what the client needs and the virtual assistant can deliver.
When to hire a virtual assistant?
You’re working on tasks that you don’t enjoy
When running a business, you have a variety of tasks to work on. Not all of those tasks will be things you enjoy. Continuing to work on them could lead to burnout or a lack of interest in your business. A virtual assistant can take over the tedious tasks that bring you down.
You’re losing clients because you can’t keep up with them
If you’re regularly failing to respond to clients or meet deadlines, it may be time to get some help. A virtual assistant can help with email and project management to make sure you never miss a client email or deadline.
You’re working on low-value tasks
As a business owner, your time should largely be spent on high-value tasks where you can productively apply your talent and skills and charge a suitably rewarding rate for doing so. Hire a virtual assistant to take over low value tasks so you can free up time for more high-value, revenue-generating tasks.
You’re working on tasks that you aren’t experienced with
When doing everything for your business, you may also take on tasks that you aren’t very good at or educated on. A virtual assistant who is experienced with those tasks can save you time and effort, while likely producing better end results.
You’re working too much
If you’re finding yourself drowning in minor administrative tasks on a regular basis, that’s an excellent indication it’s time to get some on-demand assistance. Lighten your load by hiring virtual help and outsourcing some of your tasks.
How to hire a virtual assistant
Create a list of tasks that can be outsourced to a virtual assistant
Before you start looking for help, think about where an extra pair of hands could make a significant difference. Go through your workday, list out the tasks you perform, and categorize the tasks into:
High-value tasks that you must keep on your task list.
Medium-value tasks that require experience or expertise but you don’t necessarily need to complete on your own.
Low-value tasks that are simple, repetitive, time consuming, and don’t require expertise or much experience.
Create a wish list that includes all low-value tasks and any medium-value tasks that you don’t enjoy or aren’t very experienced in. Use this list to guide your hiring process and to guide your training process when you find a virtual assistant.
Create a job description and list of expectations
Once you know what you want your virtual assistant to do, it will be easier to create the job description. Review your list and create a job description that outlines:
Duties: The list of tasks you want the virtual assistant to perform
Skills: The special skills that are required to perform the tasks
Education and Experience: The qualifying guidelines that help you gauge expertise
In your job description, also include a section that outlines what you expect out of the virtual assistant.
Communication: Explain how you would like to communicate. Will it be through email, an app, phone, video calls or something else?
Availability: Outline the scope of the project and how accessible you want the VA to be. How many hours will they work? What time zone do they need to in? What hours do they need to be available? (Keep in mind that you can’t control the hours that a contractor works, but you can set some expectations in terms of available meeting times.)
Software: List the tools, software, and apps you use and the virtual assistant will need to know and work in.
Rates: Share the hourly rate range you are willing to pay. By sharing what you are looking to pay, you can cut down on the number of applications as only people interested in the set rate will apply.
Post a job listing
There’s lot to be said for in person contact and leveraging existing relationships when it comes to working closely with someone.
If there’s nobody obvious locally who springs to mind, it’s time to hit the wider web
You can also expand your reach by:
Posting the ad to your website
Sharing the job through your social media channels
Working with a recruiter who specialized in virtual assistant placement
Go through requests
Once applications start coming in, it’s your job to review them and decide who you want to interview. This may be overwhelming if you have a lot of applicants, so create a process for your quest to find a virtual assistant.
Remove any candidates that don’t have the experience you need.
Select candidates with good reviews and recommendations.
Remove candidates that request rates far above your range.
Select candidates that have special skills that can support your business in other ways.
Remove candidates that didn’t follow the directions in your application process.
Arrange an interview
To find a virtual assistant who will be the best for the job, start by selecting your top three to seven candidates and scheduling a video call to interview them.
If they’re not willing to do a video interview, that could be a red flag.
During the interview, ask questions about their:
Education and inspiration. What led them to this type of work and where did they get their education and skills?
Experience. What were their past jobs like, and what did they like and not like about the work?
Work habits. How do they like to work? Do they like to be closely managed or work on their own?
Interest and hobbies. What type of things are they interested in outside of work?
Do a test run
Take your top two or three candidates and send them each an identical and clearly described task to be completed within a specific timeframe.
As you move through the various stages involved in setting up the task and checking results, you’ll get a very precise feel for who the best candidate really is. From there, it’s just a question of picking who to hire and locking them into a regular working arrangement.
Once you find a virtual assistant who is a good fit, it’s time to onboard and train them.
Keep in mind that there will be some upfront work before it gets easier. It will take time and effort to train your new team member. But that work will pay off in the end, especially if you have the right systems and tools in place.
Make it easier to onboard and train your virtual assistant by setting up:
Standard operating procedures
Templates and forms
Having guidelines will make it easier to onboard your first virtual assistant, as well as set you up for hiring even more help in the future!
You now have some insights and steps to help you find the best person for the job and your specific business needs.