Thinking About Hiring a VA? Here’s What You Need to Consider
A business owner looks at the work to be done and asks – how can I get all of this done? An entrepreneur looks at the same work and ponders – how can I get someone else to do all of this?
I work with a lot of consultants, and one of the first things I recommend that they do when starting out is to hire a virtual assistant (VA). From the very beginning, you must understand that there are very few things in your business that it makes sense for you to actually do. You must get comfortable with delegating.
Before I dive into the ins and outs of hiring/working with a VA, I think it’s important to be clear on what exactly a VA is, since there are a lot of misconceptions out there. Generally, VAs are assistants who do executive assistant types of things that can be done online. Types of skills include:
- Scheduling/calendar management
- Social media
- Project management
- Event planning
- Content marketing
The list goes on. Remember, a VA isn’t often in close physical proximity to you, so tasks need to be able to be done remotely.
Benefits of hiring a VA
The list of benefits can go on and on, but below are a few off the top of my head:
- Save money – Hiring a VA can be far less expensive than hiring a full-time employee because:
- The going rate is often less expensive than paying an employee’s salary
- You don’t have to pay for office space
- You don’t need to pay for benefits
- You only pay for what you need and don’t waste time with under-utilized employees.
- Save time – Hiring a VA can reduce your workload and allow you to stop worrying about small tasks and start focusing on your core objectives.
- You have an unlimed talent pool to choose from as you’re not restricted to the talent in your area.
- Expand the expertise within your business – Many VAs often come with their own skill set and knowledge they get from working with other businesses as well.
Finding a virtual assistant
With the ever-expanding remote workforce, there are a plethora of ways to find virtual assistants including:
- Applying with virtual assistant-focused companies like freelancer.com or Upwork
- Searching on regular job boards that show remote positions, like Flexjobs, We Work Remotely, and Remote.co
I actually work with three different VA companies. Each of them has their strengths and I’d definitely recommend taking a look if hiring a VA is something you’re looking into:
Once you’ve narrowed down a few candidates, here are a few things I’d recommend looking for in a VA (some of these may not be apparent until your engagement with them starts, so be sure to keep an eye out):
- Good communicator
- Ideally has some experience in your field (although if your tasks are super trainable it’s not an absolute necessity)
- Own up to his/her mistakes – mistakes will happen, but how they handle their mistakes is very telling
- Give their own input and feedback
- Are deadline driven
- Are great at time management
- Are trainable and eager to learn
- Keep you updated on their progress of given tasks
Networking and social media are also options to consider when looking for the right candidate.
Onboarding and working with a virtual assistant
Onboarding a VA is actually very simple, provided you’re prepared for it. What you do in the onboarding phase can set the tone for the rest of the working relationship.
What I have found is key is to document your functional systems and processes that allow you to delegate tasks effortlessly to a VA. If you prepare on the front-end, you’ll need to do very little ongoing training.
For example, one of my VAs handles post-production for my podcasts and I’ve really never had a conversation with her on the steps to take to get this done. Why? Because I had it all written down in a step-by-step format that was used for her, the VA before her, and any VAs that may come my way. Sure I’m available if she has any questions, but having a documented processes minimizes the questions and back and forth.
Another way to limit back and for via email or calls is to have a standing status call (we use Zoom to get face time as well) on the calendar between you and your VA where you can discuss weekly items and any questions your VA may have. For us, we also have email, phone, and use Slack outside of these calls, but I find that is pretty minimal because we get so much accomplished during that “face-to-face” one-on-one time.
Common misconceptions of hiring a VA
Now before you go down this road, there are a few rumors about working with a VA that I’d like to clear up, at least from my experience.
- You can’t communicate well virtually – As mentioned above, tools like Zoom and Slack make it very easy to stay in contact. Having a project management system, like Asana, can also help communicate the status of projects and whether or not something is passed a deadline or not.
- VAs are the jack of all trades – This typically isn’t true and depending on what your needs are, you’ll likely need to hire more than one VA.
- A VA should always work your hours and be at your beck and call – As long as my VAs are getting their work done and on time, I could care less about when they’re putting in their hours.
VAs can be an extremely valuable asset to you and your business. If you haven’t considered bringing one on board, I’d highly receommend it.
If you liked this post, check out our Guide to Building a Small Business Marketing Consulting Practice.