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What to know when hiring a virtual assistant

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Hiring a virtual assistant

Hiring a Virtual Assistant can seem like a big step to take. What will they do, how much is it going to cost, how do I know they will do what I need to the quality I want? So many questions including WHY should I even think about hiring a Virtual assistant in the first place?

In this article we’ll cut through any confusion, and run through all of this, and more,

At the end you’ll have a clear idea about what a Virtual assistant is, what they do, and why it could be your route to less stress, and to scaling up your business.

Getting in additional support

First off, dispelling a couple of myths.

We often hear Small Business Owners say that the reason that they don’t – or can’t – reach out to someone else for support is because:

  • They are simply too busy.
  • It is too hard to explain what they do to someone else
  • that their business is ‘unique and complicated’

It doesn’t have to be that way, and the reasons above are not valid enough reasons to run yourself, and potentially your business. into the ground.

Here’s what we’re going to go through…

  1. How to know if you really need a Virtual Assistant
  2. The tipping point: Virtual Assistant vs Employee
  3. The easiest tasks to outsource
  4. What not to outsource
  5. Where you can find a great one
  6. The cost of a Virtual Assistant
  7. Choosing the right one
  8. How to brief your new Virtual Assistant
  9. Control freaks, perfectionists, and delegating anyway
  10. Building trust
  11. What to do when things go pear-shaped
  12. Summary

5 easy ways to tell if you need a virtual assistant right now!

So, how can you tell if it’s time to reach out and get some assistance?

#5 – If you have missed an important deadline.

Perhaps you were a bit slow sending out that quote, or you were late with issuing your invoices or didn’t deliver for that client when you said you would.

Maybe you’ve noticed that things in your personal life have slipped because of work commitments?

Missing a deadline could be the first sign that you could do with some support, and that it’s perhaps time to consider hiring a virtual assistant.

#4 – You have started getting complaints, instead of compliments.

This could be a sign you are spending too much time on tasks that could be taken care of by others and perhaps not enough time on the things that matter most?

Is your quality dropping because of lack of time? Are important tasks getting pushed too far down on your priority list? Are things getting missed out in the frantic rush to keep on top of things?

If you have missed a few deadlines or you have received a complaint or two don’t beat yourself up about it, you are trying your best. However, it could be a sign that it’s time to reach out to ease the pressure.

#3 – finding what you’re awesome at.

Keep what you’re good at and enjoy, outsource the rest.

If you are not a wiz at web or graphic design for example, these are perfect candidates for outsourcing to someone else.

The chances are pretty high that they will do a better job, in a faster timeframe and the result will earn you more money in the long run anyway.

#2 Maximising your productive time

Are you doing something repetitive, or simple but time consuming?

Are you spending time on things when you know there are other, more important things that should be addressed, tasks that would move your business forwards?

Things like:

  • answering the phone
  • dealing with customer service enquiries,
  • creating social media posts,
  • setting up appointments,

these are all things that can be managed by your Virtual Assistant.

#1 – Burnout

If you have looked for information on Google about burnout or work related stress, you need a Virtual Assistant asap!

There’s no need to push yourself any further, take a moment to rest.

There is an Old Zen Saying that “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour”

… and I think the same goes when we are experiencing burnout or exhaustion.

Hiring a virtual assistant could be the key to bringing back some stability and peace.

The tipping point between having a virtual assistant vs an employee

Employment obligations

What’s the difference between having a VA on hand and having a casual employee that can give you a hand when you need it?

The first benefit is that you don’t pay a VA when they are not working for you!

With a casual worker you have obligations (outlined in the Fair work Requirements LINK).

These can range from rules surrounding engagement hours to paying a 25% casual loading.

Financial considerations.

Is it financially worth it?

What is your time worth? Working out your own hourly rate gives you a benchmark when considering paying for the services of a VA. It may well be that you quickly conclude that engaging a VA not only offloads work (and stress) but is actually cheaper to your business bottom-line as well.

Download our guide for more detailed insight, including rules surrounding employee obligations and an easy way of calculating your time worth.

Download your comprehensive free guide to hiring a Virtual Assistant

The Ultimate Guide To Hiring a Virtual Assistant Mockup

We review and cover each section in more detail. Think of it as your manual when it comes to all you need to know and think about when hiring a Virtual Assistant.

DOWNLOAD NOW

The easiest things to outsource to a Virtual Assistant

Here is a list of some of the areas of your business which are the easiest to outsource.

#1 Admin – This list can include:

  1. answering emails,
  2. phones,
  3. customer enquiries.

#2 Bookkeeping – Doing your

  1. daily bookkeeping,
  2. your BAS
  3. and reconciling your accounts.

#3 Data Entry

  1. Collecting all of the data points in your business – that you need to keep your finger on the pulse with
  1. or perhaps entering in contact details from a spreadsheet into an email program
  2. or entering in your inventory.

#4 Marketing – It could include:

  1. creating all of your brochures
  2. or flyers
  3. or automating your email campaigns.

#5 Phone Calls – Taking phone enquiries on behalf of your business

– without your clients being any the wiser that they are speaking with a third party provider.

#6 Research – It could be:

  1. doing research on topics that you need a hand with
  2. or research on behalf of your clients.

#7 Social Media

  1. Creating social media posts for your business
  2. Or for your clients businesses
  3. Or putting together a social media calendar for you – so that you are free to do other things.

#8 Websites

  1. Firstly, ensuring you have one
  1. and then once you do, keeping it up to date with your products and services
  2. as well as keeping your SEO strong with regular blogs and website maintenance.

What NOT to outsource.

Hiring a virtual assistant will allow you to outsource a lot, but now let’s now consider what not to outsource!

Company Culture.

So, this includes onboarding new team members, including your Virtual Assistant – and offboarding them too if you need to.

In business we talk about our ‘bread and butter’. The things we do that makes us money.

Now you can get plenty of support with earning your bread and butter but you as the business owner are the knife … that brings these two elements together.

And if you have certain ‘knifey-things’ to look after like your Intellectual Property, then perhaps it is best not to outsource that either.

The other two things that you can’t outsource are:

The vision for your business.

You are the vision holder, nobody else is in the unique position of setting the vision and direction for where you want to go. That said you can definitely get the opinion of others on where your business should head in the future but ultimately that decision has to rest with you as the owner.

Quality Assurance.

Making sure that the work that your Virtual Assistant is doing for you is up to your standards and fits your goals. A good VA will care, but may not hold the vision or understand the overall goals mentioned previously, so quality assurance falls to you, the business owner.  

Where can I find a virtual assistant?

#1 – Profitability Virtual Assistance.

No harm in a plug… we offer a full suite of Small Business support services.

#2 Google

Google is of course a great source of information, but it’s worth bearing in mind the results you’ll get.

Think about the results you see, for example if people were to google your products or services, it doesn’t necessary mean that the best candidate, i.e., you, float to the top of the search results.

And it is no different in the Virtual Assistant Industry.

Really what we need to be searching for is reliability and consistency– not something that is obvious in search results.

#3 Word of mouth

Word-of-mouth is hands down the best way to find a reliable and consistent Virtual Assistant.

If you know someone personally who can recommend a VA service then great. If not you can look for reviews and contacting people who have spent the time recommending services which is also a great source of info.

The cost of a Virtual Assistant

There are three costs that need to be considered when you are evaluating your VA.

#1 The personal time cost.

This is the consideration of your time.

The amount of time will you need to invest into training as well as quality assurance verses the toll of not having the right support and what affect that might be having on your health, wellness and lifestyle.

#2 The financial cost.

Most Virtual Assistants in Australia charge between $35 – $50 per hour.

Remember what I mentioned before about how you value yout time, and how this can be used to work out what will financially work for you when outsourcing.

#3 Expected virtual assistant costs.

Aussie or overseas?

While it is possible to find overseas VA’s for as low as $5 an hour, there are a number of things to bear in mind if you’re considering using an offshore company or individual.

We have a lot of clients come to us because they have tried overseas VA’s and they have had an issue with either:

  1. the communication barrier or time zone difference
  2. or they say they spend just as much time fixing the project, as it would have taken to complete the project
  3. or the project takes their overseas VA so long to complete, that it would cost the same as using us anyway!

So they’re some points to think about.

How to choose a virtual assistant.

Next let’s look at how you choose your Virtual Assistant and the 4 questions you will want to ask them.

#1 Are they a good fit?

The first question you will want to ask them is “Can you please tell me about a few other projects like mine, that you have done before?”.

A good Virtual Assistant will be able to rattle off the details of any projects that are similar to yours without breaching any privacy or sharing any trade secrets with you too!

And that is important. Because the way they talk to you about other clients and their privacy, is the way that they will speak to other clients about your details.

If they haven’t done this type of project before, a good Virtual Assistant will tell you that too, and instead, they will share with you instead the approach that they will take to achieve your goals.

Their answers to this question should give you a good sense of confidence in them or not.

#2 – How much will it be?

Next you are going to want to ask them how much it will be, which kind of goes without saying!

The better your brief is, the easier it will be for you to get a quote verses an hourly rate and the quicker your Virtual Assistant will be on the same page as you, in terms of your goals and timeframes.

#3 Capacity.

Do they have the time? Many virtual assistant operators are simply one-man-bands or one-woman-bands. And they are just like everyone else when it comes the number of hours, they have available in a day.

So, unless they have a team of Virtual Assistants – like we do here at ProfitAbility Virtual Assistance, then they will have a maximum capacity that they can take on.

This makes it really important to ask, and to have the confidence that your new Virtual Assistant can:

  • fit you into their schedule
  • and give your projects the priority they deserve.

#4 References

A few names of people that you can call that have worked with them is enough.

If you become a client of ours, then you automatically agree to be a referee for us if necessary.

This means when you sign up with us you are more than welcome to call anyone that we have ever mentioned that we have worked with, and ask them about us.

This level of transparency does two things

  • it gives you the confidence that we can do what we say we can do
  • It also keeps us on our toes to ensure that every client that cross our path is given top class service … because we simply don’t know who you will choose to call.

How to brief your personal assistant

Next let’s talk about how to brief your Virtual Assistant, so that your projects run smoothly, and to your liking.

#1 Project details

First off are the project details, it goes without saying that you need to share what the project or task is …

Share the end goal you have in mind – why this important in the first place, and what result are you hoping to get from it?

For example, if you get us to build a website for you, one of the first questions we will ask is “What is the purpose of your website?”

Is it to:

  •             inform people about what you do?
  •             showcase your work?
  •             collect leads?
  •             sell products?

The answer to this question, means that we’ll approach the task and your design differently, depending on your answer.

When you are briefing your VA, just have a think about telling them what your ‘end goal’ is for this project to get their vision aligned to yours.

#2 Timeframes

You are going to want to let them know your timeframes regarding when the project needs to be done by.

Now that could be a particular date, or if it is a daily task then by a particular time of the day.

For example, “Please ensure my inbox is cleared by 9.30am every morning”.

Milestones can be important too, so If it is a bigger project you might also want to say to them, “Once you get to this point in the job, please let me know” and that way you can keep track of the progress being made.

#3 ‘Quirky’ bits

Or to put it another way the finer details that you may not initially think of, but that bring your vision together.

For example:

  • If you are wanting to get a logo created, tell us your favourite colours.
  • If you want us to answer your phones, tell us the tone of voice you’d like us to use and even the script that you want us to say.

So, have a think about all the quirky things that make you and your brand unique and share it with your Virtual Assistant.

If you are starting out and you are simply not sure about any of these details, that is totally cool too. A good Virtual Assistant knows about them and will guide you through the process.

Control freaks, perfectionists and delegating

One of the tasks we tend to really suck at is delegating!

Giving over our precious business baby to someone else to care and tend to, can be super challenging.

My suggestion to you is to ask yourself this one question.

Those two things are very different.

If you went into business to give yourself a job, then for sure get a hand from a Virtual Assistant where and when you need it. Just like you would ask for help if you were employed by someone else.

If your mission and passion in your business is to help others with whatever products and services you offer … then do yourself a favour and learn to start delegating.

Start with the really simple tasks that don’t take too much skill or knowledge, or better still give your Virtual Assistant that procedure you wrote, because it will be absolutely perfect! … because you wrote it! And they can just follow that.

I can assure you, the more you delegate, the easier it gets.

Building trust with your virtual assistant

The way you build trust with your Virtual Assistant is done in the exact same way that you build trust with anyone in life.

  • You need to communicate clearly, honestly, and often.
  • You need to make sure your expectations are clear
  • And if your expectations aren’t met, or things didn’t quite go to plan, you simply need to talk to your Virtual Assistant, human to human, in the same way you would want to be spoken to if you were in their shoes.

Sharing login details

The final part about building trust is about sharing your log on details with your Virtual Assistant.

Many projects will require them to have access to:

  • your website
  • your emails,
  • your bookkeeping software,
  • your social media profiles and so on.

All of this access comes with an apparent risk.

To mitigate that risk wherever possible try and create their own log on to your system so that they are not using yours.

What to do when things go pear shaped

Last, but not least, is what to do if things go pear-shaped.

So the first thing you don’t do is jump off a cliff!

The first thing to do is to talk to your Virtual Assistant and find out what went wrong.

Remember they are only human, and they are doing their best, just like the rest of us and hopefully this chat will point your project back on the right track.

If things don’t work out

#1 Removing access

If things have gone pear-shaped, and you’ve already tried all the niceties, then it might be time to remove their access to your systems.

As quickly as you can, without a huge fuss.

YYou may even want to do this, before you let them know.

This manoeuvre is not malicious towards them at all, it is purely to protect your business from any harm or ill-feelings.

#2 Don’t give up, find another assistant

And then the very next thing I want you to do is find yourself another VA that is a better fit for your business.

Especially now that you know all of the awesome steps to hiring a Virtual Assistant … so things WON’T go pear-shaped next time.

Summary – What to know when hiring a virtual assistant

Hiring a virtual assistant

I hope this has given you some confidence to get some extra support if you don’t have any at the moment, or to improve the relationship that you might have with your current Virtual Assistant.

If you have any questions, want to know more, or are interested in talking to us about anything in this article, or how you could move forwards with some VA help, then use the button below to get in touch and book a strategy session.

We’d love to hear from you and are more than happy to chat through anything you’d like to ask about.

Download your comprehensive free guide to hiring a Virtual Assistant

The Ultimate Guide To Hiring a Virtual Assistant Mockup

We review and cover each section in more detail. Think of it as your manual when it comes to all you need to know and think about when hiring a Virtual Assistant.

DOWNLOAD NOW

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