This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.
Are you feeling overwhelmed with all of the tasks that need to be done in order to run your online business? If so, you may want to consider hiring a virtual assistant (VA).
The Internet has changed and virtual work is becoming a reality. Assistant roles do not have any exceptions. Virtual assistants have been used to support clients remotely from their homes. These employees are responsible for various duties such as scheduling meetings, calling, managing travel, and managing email accounts.
What To Know Before Becoming an Entrepreneur
Perhaps you’re wondering “how can I become an entrepreneur or the CEO of my own business?”
While becoming an entrepreneur can be highly beneficial, it is essential to understand its reality before diving in. Social media can make being an entrepreneur or business owner glamorous as the fun side is easy to capture and share with the world. However, business is not always fun or easy.
If you want to be successful as an entrepreneur, you need to know what you are getting yourself into. Viewing business as easy and fun twenty-four-seven will only make it more difficult for you to do the work required to see success.
Before becoming an entrepreneur, realize that:
It’s Highly Competitive
There are always competitors waiting to take your target audience’s attention when it comes to business. This means you need to be ready to make the appropriate changes to keep your audience’s attention and provide more value over the years. This is why competition is actually healthy. While it can seem overwhelming, it helps keep businesses aware of their target audience’s needs. Without competition, products will likely be lackluster or being updated to keep up with their audience.
It’s Not Always Fun
It takes grit, determination, and a lot of work to run a successful business. This is even more true for those who just get started, as many new entrepreneurs need to do all the work required to run a business until they grow their funds to hire a professional team.
Success Doesn’t Happen Overnight
Again, social media makes success look like it happens overnight. Even those who seem to get exposure within a day don’t. Their skills and expertise still took time to grow. It’s highly uncommon to reach your business goals within a year. Most businesses see a profit or a breakeven point within three. To be a successful entrepreneur, be ready to do the work without any rewards to start with.
Failure Is Part of the Entrepreneurial Journey
At some point, you are likely to fail. However, that doesn’t mean you need to give up. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs create digital products that fail on purpose to understand their target audience better. In addition, it is a great way to learn about your industry.
Not only that, not every idea you come up with will be a good one. However, all it really takes is one good idea to be successful. Don’t let a few failures get in your way. When polled, most business owners are thankful for their mistakes because they ultimately believe they wouldn’t see their success today without experiencing failures.
And Then Some…
As you can see, becoming an entrepreneur takes a lot of work that is uncomfortable for everyone. In addition, becoming an entrepreneur means entering into a competitive world with what seems like never-ending work, failure, and challenges that you must overcome to see success. However, if you can handle these challenges and are ready to realize your dream, becoming an entrepreneur may be right for you.
Now, before we go any further, let me answer a common question…
What is a Virtual Assistant?
Virtual Assistants are independent contractors who work remotely, usually from their homes. They provide services such as project management, podcast booking, calendar management, customer service, social media management, and so much more!
Virtual assistants can be a great asset to your business in a number of ways. One of the biggest reasons is that it relieves you from putting time and energy into those tasks you don’t really enjoy doing but have been doing because they need to be done. But more importantly, having a VA on board gives you the freedom to spend your time and effort on the areas of your business you enjoy, bring in cash, and can’t exactly be outsourced (i.e., coaching an individual or group).
However, before you can hire a VA you’ll want to spend some time thinking about tasks you want to outsource, your budget, what skills a VA will need, as well as if they’ll need particular software to do the tasks. And of course, there will also be some training involved too. Let’s discuss this in more depth.
Types of Virtual Assistants
Corporations and large businesses hire employees to perform various functions within the company. Secretaries manage front office tasks which may include answering phones and offering customer support. The marketing department oversees advertising and public relations. Bookkeepers or accountants take care of the finances, and so on.
Many small and home-based businesses don’t have the luxury of being able to hire a staff of employees. However, that doesn’t mean they have to manage their business alone. By outsourcing to a virtual assistant, they can have specialized help when they need it and for a fraction of the cost of hiring full-time employees.
There are mainly 8 types of virtual assistants, including social media virtual assistants, real estate virtual assistants, virtual research assistants, virtual administrative assistants, eCommerce virtual assistants, data entry virtual assistants, virtual bookkeeping assistants, and virtual marketing assistants.
Roles & Responsibility of Virtual Assistants
The most in-demand virtual assistant services are social media management, email marketing, and project management. Virtual assistants are skilled in multiple areas, from phone answering services to administrative and data entry jobs.
Working with a virtual assistant means:
- Smaller Learning Curves. While understanding the basic concepts is great, there’s simply no need to learn graphic design, marketing, programming, website creation, etc. Hiring assistants who specialize in these areas will save you loads of time and frustration.
- Balanced Home and Business Life. Business is important, but so is spending time with family and friends. Maintaining a healthy balance reduces stress, increases productivity, and ensures everyone is happy.
- Increased Productivity & Profits. Knowing your assistant is taking care of the time-consuming tasks allows you to stay focused on more profit-producing business activities.
In a nutshell, outsourcing to a virtual assistant just makes good business sense.
Signs That You Need a Virtual Assistant:
- You feel overwhelmed. Are you working long hours in order to get things done? Maybe you feel paralyzed by the long list of tasks you need to complete. Feeling overwhelmed at times is natural, but if it happens often, it’s time to take action and hire an assistant.
- You dislike the work. Everyone is good at something, but nobody is good at everything. If you have tasks that you simply dread doing, perhaps you always put them off until the last minute; consider hiring an assistant to do them for you.
- It takes you forever to…. If you burn up three hours trying to draft your weekly newsletter because you struggle with the formatting, stop! It is not worth it when you can outsource the task and have it completed in under an hour.
- You don’t know how to do something. One great thing about virtual assistants is that many have knowledge in a lot of areas. If you’ve been doing without something because you can’t do it yourself, hiring it out may be the answer.
- Tasks are getting pushed aside. If emails and phone calls are going unanswered, then your customer service may be suffering. Poor customer service can lead to lost sales. Regardless of the task, if you do not have time to do it, hire someone to take care of it for you.
- The family is unhappy. Take your queues from family and friends. When family members start migrating to your office, rather than you to the family room, chances are, you’re working too much.
- You are tired of doing it alone. It’s tough operating a one person business. You have to be the creative thinker, implementer, follow-up person and more. While doing everything is great for the ego, it’s not always great for business. When you tire of doing it alone, call a VA. Remember, even superheroes call in reinforcements when they need it.
When you work with a virtual assistant, you can still do the tasks that you enjoy most, but you also have a support system in place for things that cause you stress or take up too much of your time. Hiring a virtual assistant allows you to reach your goals more quickly, access skills that you may not have, take your business to the next level and even enjoy some free time.
Before Hiring a Virtual Assistant
When you’re ready to take the plunge and hire a virtual assistant, there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are three of them:
Identify the Tasks You Wish to Outsource
First things first, you need to determine what tasks you want to outsource. If you’re not sure, the easiest place to start is to think about the tasks you ‘dread’ doing, that need to be done, but you continuously put them off (or you don’t put them off but don’t exactly handle them in a timely manner).
For example, customer service. You know how important it is to make sure your customers are able to access their purchases, be responded to in a timely fashion if they’re having trouble with something or have a question but you don’t enjoy handling the issues/questions so you don’t respond in a timely manner.
This can leave customers frustrated and unhappy. And in some cases, an unhappy customer will voice their complaints publicly (a bad review, post on social media, etc.) – not exactly great for your business reputation! Handing this task over to a VA will ensure your customers are taken care of efficiently. It will also leave them feeling good about their purchase, which can turn into a domino effect – purchasing more and more from you and even becoming a raving fan.
Research Different Virtual Assistants.
The quickest way to do this is to ask your business friends and colleagues for recommendations. Be aware that if they’ve found a good VA, they’re probably hanging onto them, and that VA may not have room to take on new clients.
If that’s the case, don’t be discouraged! Tanya Sutherland has put together a large database of skilled virtual assistants and since 2003 it’s been the leading source for connecting clients with VA’s!
Some people have also had success with hiring through sites like Fiverr and Upwork. And others have even outsourced to people in other countries. Whatever avenue you choose, do your due diligence and be sure to interview them.
Interview A Few Candidates
Choose the best one for you and your business needs. Be sure to ask lots of questions and get a sense of their work style and also them as a person. Here are some key questions you’ll want to ask during each interview:
- What are their rates?
- How do they bill (first of the month, after work is done, etc.)?
- Do they have any experience with the types of tasks you need help with?
- How many hours per week are they available to work? (You could also ask if they’re available on weekends if you know you’ll need work done then.)
- What is their turnaround time for projects?
- What is their preferred communication method – email, Zoom, or a project management system?
A note about rates: there is a huge range of pricing when it comes to VAs. For example, specialized VAs often charge a lot more than a VA that handles more “general” tasks. You may also find that a VA who has been in the industry a lot longer than a newer VA probably charges a higher rate.
Nevertheless, if a VA’s rates are outside of your budget, you can always ask them if they have a smaller package (if they work on retainers or packaged services). If they don’t and it was a VA you really connected with and got the vibe that they would be a great asset to you and your business, you could discuss your budget with them and see if there is a way to work together.
After you’ve done the interviews and hired (don’t forget to let the candidates you didn’t hire know so they’re not waiting for a response from you) a VA, it’s time to train them.
Training a Virtual Assistant
One thing to keep in mind here – a newer VA will require more handholding/training than a more experienced one. But even a more experienced VA will need some training to ensure tasks are being completed according to your wants and business needs.
Here are five things to keep in mind when training a VA:
Start with the Basics.
This includes things like how to log into any necessary accounts (the URLS, username, password, etc. If possible, when sharing login details, it’s a good idea to use something like LastPass or another password manager.), where to find files or templates they may need, and what your expectations are for due dates.
If you have any specific processes that need to be followed, be sure to document these and send them over to your VA. This is especially important if the task is something that needs to be done regularly, like scheduling social media posts or customer service tasks.
While the written word is a great way to document processes and build up a standard operating procedures (SOPs) library, video can also be used to visually show the process of completing tasks. Sometimes, it’s easier to see something done versus just reading how to do it.
Don’t micromanage, instead, empower them to make decisions on their own. This may sound contradictory because you are training a new VA, after all. But trust me, you don’t want to get into the habit of micromanaging every little detail – this will defeat the purpose of hiring a VA. Instead, empower them to make decisions on their own knowing that you can give feedback and they can tweak things moving forward.
An example of something you don’t need to micromanage would be something like formatting a document. If the VA isn’t sure of your preference, they can just make a decision and move forward on the project. If they continually stop to ask you questions, it’s putting a hold on projects being completed and taking you away from putting your time into money-making tasks and things you enjoy doing.
The VA is not a mind reader. If they’re turning in projects with no feedback from you, they’ll think their work is up to par and to your liking. This doesn’t mean you need to give feedback on every little detail, though.
Of course, there will be questions in the beginning but the better-documented processes (like mentioned in #2 above) you have can help head off some of those questions before the VA even thinks to ask.
Solicit Their Feedback & Suggestions.
Just as in #4 above where you give your VA feedback, be open to any feedback or suggestions they may have. Maybe you’ve been doing something one way but they have a different approach that is quicker and easier. Or maybe you’ve been working with a specific software but the VA knows of an alternative that is less expensive and does more than the current one.
And that’s it! By following these steps, you’ll be able to not only hire a virtual assistant but also train them so they can be a valuable part of your team.
Advantages of Virtual Assistants
- Reduced Labour Costs
- Increased Productivity
- Increased Flexibility
- Improved Work Quality
- Reduced Risk In Scaling Operations
- Skills Your Business Needs
It’s Time to Outsource to Your Virtual Assistant
Now that you know how beneficial a virtual assistant can be for your company, what’s stopping you from hiring one? However, please keep in mind it will take time for the two of you to find a groove, a workflow, that works best for both of you. Once you get going if you find the VA isn’t a good fit, you may have to let them go – that’s ok and can be a part of the process of finding the “perfect” VA for you.
One thing to remember, if you do find yourself having to let a VA go, is don’t let one bad experience stop you from continuing the hunt! I promise when you find the right one that’s when the magic happens and be sure to hang onto them!
Do you have any questions about hiring or training a VA? Let me know in the comments below! And be sure to download the free how-to-hire & train VA checklists today.