Even successful entrepreneurs will admit that at times they have experienced a feeling of overwhelm in trying to manage their workload and run their business on their own, as they have felt they had to do everything.
As your business grows it becomes more and more difficult for one person to carry out all of the work and there is definitely not a rule book out there which says you have to! Outsourcing some of your work to a virtual assistant is something which should be seriously considered, even if you’re early on in your journey. By taking the time to find the right person for this role, you will soon alleviate that feeling of overwhelm and/or stress.
Most VAs are contract or freelance workers who work from home. There is not a task list available which all VAs are proficient in following but the tasks can be pretty diverse. VAs are professionals in their own right and like you, have fields of work and tasks that they love to do and are experts at, and those they don’t like doing.
Before outsourcing any work to a virtual assistant it is important to establish why you think hiring a VA will be beneficial to you and your business. Here are some of the key benefits of working with one (or a team of VAs)...
REASON #1: A Virtual Assistant Frees Up Your Time And Energy
Hiring a VA frees up your time and energy from carrying out tasks that you are not good at, aren’t knowledgeable about or don’t like doing, leaving you to focus on doing things that need you to be the one that does them. You will likely have to spend some time upfront in guiding your new VA(s) on how you run things, but you will soon find routine, weekly tasks can be delegated. Quality of work and consistency will be improved, and you will feel more inspired as you are getting to work on the things you enjoy and do best.
REASON #2: You Have More Time For Other Skills
It can also boost your confidence and your wellbeing as you will be able to put more into self-care and self-development. This in turn will strengthen relationships and your business and you will learn leadership/management skills. Through spending YOUR time more purposefully, you will be able to take on new things like speaking gigs, joint ventures and other PR opportunities, you will increase your visibility leading to more clients/customers and even more opportunities.
REASON #3: It Makes Your Business More Efficient
Hiring a VA who specialises will likely streamline your processes and get things done quicker. Although I personally use the term VA loosely, clients hire me especially because they know (from online presence) my core areas are content marketing, community management and communications. This means I know exactly which tools to use, what content works best where, how to nurture relationships, how everything integrates with each other, what is needed from the client (and from my end), and everything from how to set them up and optimise each channel right through to how to efficiently and effectively maintain them.
REASON #4: Virtual Assistants Provide an Excellent ROI
When you hire a VA by onboarding them well and take them on to do intentional tasks that move the business forward, you will absolutely see its’ cost effectiveness. I recently watched an online summit where an entrepreneur said that you have to be willing to take the risk of investing because by not doing so you will lose/not make up to 10x the investment. Crazy!
If the VA knows you and your business, they can help your business grow and increase profits. I’ve had clients I’ve worked with for up to a year and who I’ve been able to grow a really great, professional connection with. This has also enabled them to take time off and not feel guilty or worry about how things are going (for an extended version of this, look at hiring an Online Business Manager) and to bounce ideas off me as I have been there helping them to nurture their community. Some of my clients have consistent five-figure months and launches because together we’ve identified what needed doing, how we are going to get there and worked individually and alongside each other to make it happen!
What to Outsource to a Virtual Assistant
Writing, editing and scheduling blog posts, publications, social media posts or newsletters
Strategising, editorial calendar planning and content curation
Setting up and managing social media accounts; sourcing / designing social media images
Digital marketing management and social media management
Moderating your Facebook group (community)
Diary / calendar / inbox / file / project management
Admin / accounting / legal tasks
Online research, influencer marketing, affiliate marketing and outreach
Designing / copywriting sales pages or website pages
Editing and uploading webinars, videos or podcasts
Top Tips For Hiring Your First Virtual Assistant
VAs usually work for more than one client so it is also important to bear this in mind.
Some VAs work hourly and others work by the project. Have a baseline and top-line figure for your budget and find out what you can get for that amount. PS, often you’ll find outsourcing isn’t as expensive as you first thought (and like I said earlier, you can make a whole lot more by making this investment).
Give them as much information about yourself and your business as you can.
Be clear about what you view as a success of your investment (this is one of my questions when I have discovery calls with leads). Boundaries and expectations are key to great communication and a delightful working relationships.
ALWAYS have a contract in place, no matter how small or short-term the project is.
What To Consider When Hiring A Virtual Assistant
Hiring a virtual assistant could be the best decision you’ll ever make for the growth of your business. My clients certainly think so! Having someone to manage your schedule, respond to emails and take the tedious work off your plate…it sounds like a dream come true, right? But it’s important to make sure that you make the right decision. So before you jump into it, here are main things I think you should consider…
1. You might have to invest a lot of time initially
Virtual assistants have different strengths and weaknesses. Some may be great at managing social media channels but may not be good at carrying out research work. Some have exceptional design skills but may not like speaking to clients/customers on your behalf. They may be content writers or even be able to manage a project for you. It is very important to bear this in mind and to find this information out before hiring someone. There are a lot of people out there who charge less and say they can do everything … the saying “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” is really relevant here. It’s up to you to delve into finding someone who could stick with you long-term but is confident in and upfront about their specialties.
Pro Tip: Someone who has been a VA for at least 12 months will likely have a much better feel for who they work best with and what they’re most skilled at as a virtual assistant, so always ask the question.
In an ideal world, you’d be able to hire a virtual assistant (VA) who knew how to use all the tools you use within your business. But they’re only human and sometimes, they’re not going to know how to do everything you want them to do. This means you might have to do some training with them or allow additional time to familiarize themselves. Avoid disappointment and wasted time/money by setting realistic expectations right from the moment you start your research. Know how much time you can dedicate to supporting your VA as you introduce them to your business, and avoid giving a time-sensitive task to your new team member!
2. The Two Keys To Success When Hiring A Virtual Assistant Are Communication And Contracts
KEY #1: Communication
How quick is the person you’re looking to hire at responding? Do they avoid phone calls or keep rescheduling? Are they respectful of your boundaries? How do they come across on email and their social media channels? (It’s ok to do some snooping)! Just as service providers do with clients, look out for red flags that suggest there may be some communication barriers with your potential VA. Some of these can be ironed out and some are bad habits that can break the relationship. If you don’t feel like you can ask ‘silly’ questions or regularly find yourself awaiting answers, then you need to have that discussion or move on. If they’re not great at this stage where they should be building your trust, the latter is probably the best option.
KEY #2: Contracts
Never, ever hire a VA who doesn’t have a contract in place or isn’t willing to sign (as a minimum) a Non-Disclosure and Confidentiality Agreement from your side. Ideally, you’re looking for a VA who has their own onboarding systems in place and for them to tell you how it’s going to work. (Trust me, my clients much prefer me telling them the process than them having to ask “so, what’s next?”). It doesn’t have to be a super high-tech system or a contract full of legal terms neither of you really understand, but it needs to cover you both. Some things that should be included are: the scope of work, payment amount and terms, termination details, liability, confidentiality, work ownership, relationship of parties, communication and availability, and of course, the company details of each party.
If you’re not 100% confident in the contract, ask a professional to look through it before you sign. A lot of people don’t question contracts (does anyone ever read the small print?!) or ask for amendments, but your contract is such a huge part in you outsourcing. I like to reiterate key points in my email when I send the contract (some VAs like to do this in your welcome pack… but you don’t receive this until after you’ve signed). This document has the potential to be the deciding factor in your hiring this person.
3. You’ve got to have clarity to give them confidence
In order to outsource, you need to be clear about a few fundamental things:
Your ideal client/customer
Your vision (including goals and objectives)
Your business culture (tone of voice)
Your mission (what you’re trying to achieve)
Your style guide (fonts, colours, logos etc).
These are some things that your VA should ALWAYS ask you about if you haven’t already shared them. In order to do a good job and to show that they truly care about making their work tailored to your business and audience, these are vital things to discuss.
While I don’t recommend you waiting and waiting to outsource, from my experience, knowing these things reduces barriers, sets clearer expectations and helps both the client and I to decide whether we’re the right fit. Personally, unless someone has come to me for a strategy session, I won’t take on a new client who hasn’t at least got a starting point with each of these.
4. Start off small, with just one task or a trial period
Establish the tasks that you wish to delegate to your VA. You can delegate tasks that you’re not good at or knowledgeable about (by doing this, they will be completed faster) and tasks you don’t like to do.
Pro Tip: I always recommend asking your virtual assistant to share with you at least a breakdown of how they’ve done a job for you. It’s good to know the basics of how to do most parts of your business yourself or at least know what tools they’re using!
Because there could be a lot of work for you to do initially, it’s best to start off small. Assign your VA just one task, like managing your social media or your inbox. Then, once you’ve successfully on-boarded them onto the first task and they’re confident with it, you can give them more to do.
When you work with me, I’ll always start with a one-month paid trial or suggest we book in a single project before we enter into a minimum term. It’ll only make both parties unhappy if you’re stuck in an agreement you can’t get out of because you’ve realised things aren’t right. It’s not just about your VA getting to know the tasks they need to complete – they need to get to know your business too. A lot of that can only come from actually working with you.
5. They can do wonders for your business
The job of your VA isn’t just to manage your social media or edit videos. Their one main task is simple: to be a great return on your investment so you can get back to the core tasks that need YOU to be the one that does them. My own mission is to increase your freedom, time and profit to travel, spend time with your family and friends, take time off for self-care, turn around your brand perception, increase your visibility, run a consistent, profitable and efficient business, and build a base of loyal fans, customers and clients. This WORKS when you find the right VA. My clients are bringing in high 5-figure and 6-figure incomes, jetting off round the world and appearing in huge publications. This can be you too! Think about exactly what it is you want to outsource, why and how.
The most important thing is to do your research and trust your instinct as much as the information in front of you.
So have you thought of hiring a VA? What hesitations do you have? If you could outsource ONE thing right now, what would it be?
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