Monday, April 13, 2009

How To Hire A Virtual Assistant

Best Results Working With Your VA

Whenever someone in business thinks about hiring some help, it often follows a process something like this:

1 They don't get stuff done that needs to be done. (This can continue for a LONG time!)

2 They are pushed to a point of hiring someone and can't avoid it any longer

3 Obsess for a long time, wondering how they will pay for it

4 End up putting on the first person that turns up to help (even if they have no appropriate skills)

5 Discover the surprise that things get done which used to be left undone

6 Wonder how they got along without help

7 Continue like that not knowing how good (or how bad) it's really working (no way to measure)

In every case I've seen, getting help has resulted in the ability to do more and scale the business in a way that doing everything oneself, just doesn't allow. It doesn't matter what business you are in, it works just the same.

So what does the other side of this look like?

It happens that I've quite a few Virtual Assistants (VAs) in my network and
so I know that while they are willing to do what they do and help where they
can, making that happen with the people who really need what they do, isn't always that straightforward.

Really, what the clients often need, is a coaching session first - to determine what, out of that mess of ideas they have spinning around their head - it is they need help to do.

It is very easy to get what you want when you know what it is.

Knowing precisely What You Want, on the other hand, can be devilishly difficult!

Knowing what you need, will depend on the outcomes that you want to achieve.

These desired outcomes we want, have to fit within a broader context and that means understanding:

Where you are now.

Where you want to be.

How to get there.

Again, it seems simple. And it is.

It just isn't necessarily easy.

Well, it can be easy... if you know how.

So here it is -

If you think you need help, you probably do.

If you think you don't need help... you probably do.

Of course, that depends if you really are growing a business.  If you are just playing at it, you probably don't need help.

So if you are looking to hire help, be very clear on what it is that you
want to achieve as a result, then work backwards from there.

Tips For Starting With Your Virtual Assistant

Be clear on what you want done.

Don't expect your VA to tell you what you need done.
That sets up a bad dynamic and puts you in a passive position
and that's NOT what you want to be as you run your business.
Be Active and take responsibility for your results.

Be clear on what skills the VA possesses

Don't hire a bookkeeper to do your multi media presentations.
And please don't hire your web designer to do your books!

Since you are only paying for what gets done, then think about what roles you need help in.

Some category example:

BackOffice: Accounting and book work, typing, transcription

Front Office: Customer relationship management, social media

Scheduling Concierge: Calendar management, travel arrangements, co-ordinating personal stuff.

Events management: Setting up conferences and the like

Marcom Production: Marketing and communications production. Brochures, presentations, advertisements etc

Web: design, blogs, affiliate programs, shopping carts set up and the like.

Make your VA an integral part of your action plan.

Organize your business and your marketing efficiently,
and ensure that your VA's work adds to your efficacy
and your ability to meet your business goals.

Write down your Action Plan and your VA's Duties

Get those ideas out of your head and onto paper. While the
ideas live only inside your head
, they are worthless!
Be clear with them what you expect Your VA to do, and
if you need to, how you want them to do it. Make sure they
have the competencies to be able to fulfill that requirement.
Make sure you have been SPECIFIC with them!


Give clear instructions. Give good respectful feedback.

Have a process for managing performance of the VA and
be accessible when you are meant to be accessible.
Don't hide and withdraw if they do something not to your
satisfaction. Get the communication channels open and
be honest. Expect honesty from them. But don't tolerate
over familiarity or disrespect.

Do What You Say You Will Do.

Return calls or emails. Your VA is not your mother!
It isn't the job of a VA to run after you, so don't
act like a kid who needs a wet-nurse!

If you tell the VA that you will do something in
preparation for what they need from you to go on with a task,

Budget For Your VA

This is an essential part of your business. Make sure
you have budgeted the funds for your Virtual Assistant.
This is your responsibility so attend to it and don't make
your VA wait for payment, you will get no loyalty that way.
Don't end up being the deadbeat client on the next Twitter message you see.

Monitor Your Progress

Make sure you measure just how far you have come since you
started using your VA. If you have been using them for some
months, you should be able to see how your business has
benefited and be able to track the capacity you have in
your business now as a direct result of that activity. Check
this every week and every month and review formally at regular
intervals. Don't let this just coast, make every week count.

There are some ideas to get you started. Simple, and if you need help to do it right... Get it!

Lindy Asimus

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Donna-Marie said...

Great post - you've got some valuable tips here.

I often hear people say that they tried to delegate some of their tasks but 'it didn't work'. But the thing is, they really didn't know how to outsource, or how to communicate what they wanted doing.

I agree that it's important to first make sure you're clear on what you will delegate, precisely how to do it and what you're looking for in an assistant, employee or VA BEFORE looking for the best person for the job.

lindyasimus said...

It is understandable in a way - delegating is a skill too. Unfortunately it is counter productive to expect your VA to not only do the work that needs doing - but to read my mind to know what it is that I need, what I want and what order of priority that should take, especially when they are not aware of all the issues.

Virtual Miss Friday said...

Lindy this is so true. Delegating is a skill - I cover a bit about this in an article I have written;

Erin Stinson said...

This is a great post. Many entrepreneurs and business owners are finding they have a need for a VA with all the changes in our economy. As a VA myself I love to work with clients that are new to VA's. I walk the through how it works, let them tell me about their business and their goals then we make a plan. Communication is very important, we need to how you communicate and when you would prefer us to contact you too. We are here to help your business grow, take some of your stress away and be there when you need us. I am a member of VAnetworking and I would recommend you read this free ebook about hiring a VA, great information to add to this article. Here is the link:

X Factor Finance - Lyn Oberholzer said...

On the budget, for small business owners, it is like the 'chicken and egg' situation! One may feel that the business is not ready to employ an assistant, however, if the business owner took that step in faith, and freed up time to do what they know best, the business income would most likely increase to more than enough to cover the cost. To take that initial step is the hardest part!

lindyasimus said...

That's very true Lyn. In every case this assistant should generate more than they cost, in increased productivity. There is no assistant that is going to be paid what someone in sales can generate if they are out doing what they do best.

And of course you can always start with just a couple of hours per week.