Time. Everyone has the same amount in a 24-hour period. Yes, even Beyonce + Oprah.
Are you using your time wisely? As entrepreneurs, just because we can do everything…doesn’t mean we should.
There’s no badge of honor for being the person who defines the business strategy, delivers the product or service, does customer service, markets your business, and takes out the garbage.
Doing everything is just not the most effective use of our time because the “to-do” list never, ever ends. (I think your friends and family would agree, too.)
I’m a firm believer in outsourcing as an effective way of making the most of your time and talents in your business.
I see outsourcing as a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs. An opportunity to free up some time and energy to complete tasks that only you can do.
An opportunity to spend time doing the personal and family activities that are your greatest priority. And, equally as important, an opportunity for many others to be employed. That’s what I call the win-win-win of outsourcing.
Okay, so now that we’ve established that outsourcing is a good thing, let’s get to the step-by-step to find your perfect-fit virtual assistant (VA).
To write this post, I sat down in my beautifully re-decorated office and surrounded myself with everything that I LOVE which absolutely gets me in a groove. Equipped with my cup of coffee in hand (Starbucks for me, of course!), my laptop, and a video chat session with my very own virtual assistant, it was time to get cranking on this super important blog post.
My virtual assistant, Ruthanne, and I discussed the 5 Steps to Find Your Perfect-Fit VA. I found the conversation from BOTH of our points of view most helpful, hope you will, too!
Here are the 5 Steps that work best for you, the entrepreneur, and your future perfect-fit VA.
STEP #1 – Go For CLARITY – IdentifyWHATyou want to outsource.
I’ve talked with many CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners over the years, and I have found that many know that they need an assistant, but truly have trouble relinquishing control and delegating.
I grew up with the mentality of, “If you want to have something done right, do it yourself.” I get it. But, there’s a fine line between, “I can do it!”, and “I can do it ALL!”
First, let’s identify what can be outsourced to a virtual assistant. Ask yourself the following questions:
If money was no object (we all know it usually isn’t…I’ll address budgeting a little later on) what tasks and activities would I ask someone else to handle for me?
- Calendar and Travel Management?
- Updating Social Media?
- Answering phone calls or e-mail?
- Household management, grocery shopping, personal appointments, etc.?
The “B” Word – What is my BUDGET?
Take a realistic look at how much it costs you, personally, to take care of any given task. Is this money (and ENERGY) that could be going to someone else for “more bang for your buck?”
- Some virtual assistants get paid for the task, do I want someone to help create a PDF, create a blog post, create graphics…? What are you willing to pay for this?
- Nationally based or off-shore? Assistants can be found anywhere. Make sure that you know what the cost-to-quality ratio is before jumping on board with “cheapest is best!”
- Can you communicate clearly via e-mail?
- What if there is a communication barrier? Do you want your help desk to be manned overseas?
- Does the work that needs to be done need to be accomplished in your time zone?
- Does he/she need to be available part-time or full-time? How many hours should the “task” take
How you answer the questions above directly affect your bottom line.
Virtual assistants come in all shapes and sizes from task-to-task assistance or contracting for a number of hours/week. There are a plethora of amazing people out there, with or without a college degree, who are experts in fields they’re not working in! Give them an opportunity to shine!
- Do I need a personal assistant or a business manager/assistant?
- Can I have both?
- What tasks would make my life far simpler if I had someone else take care of them?
- REPEAT STEPS 1 AND 2
STEP #2 – WRITE out the Job Description.
Articulating clearly what your expectations are with your assistant is key. A job description is a perfect way to communicate exactly what your expectations are. It’s also a great way to let your VA know what they need to accomplish and what standards they will be held to.
There is no such thing as “over-communicating” at this point, especially until you get into some type of rhythm together. I have found a common personality type of many assistants, is one that wants to serve with quality.
An additional point under this tip is an area of expertise. We all know that technology changes at an alarming rate.
If there are areas of expertise that are “non-negotiable” for you, such as MUST BE…Infusionsoft savvy, a master of MailChimp, a Facebook fanatic, the wizard of the Webinar… (you get the picture), make sure that these qualities are well defined within your description.
Or if you are willing to train someone in a particular software, make sure that you communicate this very clearly as well! (It’s sure to save you a lot of headaches in the future if you communicate ahead of the hire!).
STEP #3 – Revisit your BUDGET.
I know that I have already discussed the budget, but this is so important, and it ties to both TIP #1 and TIP #2…
Over-communicate how much you will pay per task or per hour, AND how long you EXPECT it to take to be accomplished.
If you have clearly defined these boundaries, you should know, in advance, how much to budget.
Don’t let a DIY mentality overshadow paying for someone else who could do it faster which honestly will SAVE you money in the long run.
Even if you start small, I encourage you to START somewhere.
Ask yourself again, can I afford to do this or can I afford NOT to do this?
STEP# 4 – Go on the HUNT!
A question I often get when addressing outsourcing is, “Where do you FIND all these amazing people?” And I say, “I’m glad you asked!”
I recommend always asking for referrals as the first thing you do. People you know, like, and trust will be your best source of quality people.
Tell everyone you know that you are looking for a virtual assistant and let them help connect you.
Use Google by typing in “Virtual Assistant Services” or check out the IVAA.org for a list of virtual assistants that may be a great fit for you.
STEP# 5 – Interview, interview, interview
Always. Always. Always interview the virtual assistant (or the Management Company) and communicate to them what qualities your Assistant should possess.
- If you are Interviewing a Management Company, interview the Management Company Representative and the VA candidate together. Use the Management Company as a vetting agency. An interview where you can meet the potential assistant along with the management company can be very insightful. This is a perfect opportunity to take note of the interactions between agency and individual, and how the assistant takes direction.
- Interview the Individual – I wish there was a “Perfect-Fit” neon sign that comes with each person so that you will know automatically if the individual is perfect for you, but there isn’t a “one-size, fits” VA out there. Interviewing helps, of course, but also, if there is an opportunity to hire on a trial basis, that’s even better. Call it on-the-job training! See if your personalities mesh. If they don’t, hey, it’s okay to say, “We’re just not the right fit for each other!”
Bonus Tip: Open and Honest Communication is H-U-G-E! You’re hiring a member of YOUR “Dream Team” Make sure you’re giving your “teammates” every opportunity to SHINE!