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HOW TO HIRE A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT


You've accepted you need help in your business and you've decided you need a Virtual Assistant (VA) but how on earth do you find a good one that is going to help grow your business?


Hiring a VA is one of the first and most important hires you can make in your business. It'll take you from Solopreneur (just you in your business) to Entrepreneur (business owner with a team), so it's important to find a VA that can not only do the tasks you need but is also a good fit with your business. Until you have someone on your team to whom you can delegate specific tasks, you will continue to waste valuable time on tasks that don't contribute to your business's growth and/or revenue. When you hire a Virtual Assistant you are hiring a member of your team.


Unlike hiring a freelancer for a specific project with a definite start and finish date, a Virtual Assistant provides ongoing support for your business. Even though the tasks you delegate may change over time their role within your business may not and they will occupy a specific role within your team.



FINDING THE RIGHT VA FOR THE JOB.

It's important to realise that no two VAs are the same. Lots of VAs specialise in certain tasks where as others may provide more generalised support, so it's important to know what type of Virtual Assistant is best suited for the tasks you wish to outsource.


The General VA

A General Virtual Assistant is someone that can take on a variety of daily tasks and processes that are integral to the day-to-day operations of your business but not necessarily growing your business.


The tasks you would delegate to a General VA tend to be technical and/or repetitive in nature, such as email management, diary management, data entry, research or even scheduling your weekly newsletter or Scheduling social media posts.


With a General VA, it's best to outsource specific tasks and processes and you may need to provide training on how to do certain tasks specific to your business's operations.


A Specialised VA

A specialised VA is someone with a specific set of skills and an expert in that field. They will have undergone some sort of professional training and/or have multiple years of experience in this skillset. They can also be more expensive than General VAs.


Tasks that a Specialist VA may undertake could be, Website management, Bookkeeping, Video Editing, Project Management, or Event Management.


With a Specialist VA, it's best to outsource tasks that require a specific outcome. This VA will be more skilled in an area of your business than you are and will know how to get the task down with little direction from you. You are hiring them on their expertise so it's best to direct them on what it is you would like to achieve and let them get on with the task of achieving that.



HOW TO HIRE YOUR FIRST VA - STEPS



Step 1: Make a List of tasks to outsource

Start by writing down all the tasks and processes that HAVE to happen in your business and note how long you spend on each task (this will help you for Step2).

Then from there cross out those tasks that ONLY YOU can do (these are likely the revenue-creating tasks in your business that you should enjoy doing).

Then highlight anything in your business that you SHOULDN'T be doing, these should be Low-Value tasks and not the best use of your time, even if you enjoy doing them (these tasks are maybe the hardest to let go of).

Highlight any tasks that you DON'T want to do - tasks you dislike doing but have to be done that someone else may enjoy.

Then Highlight any tasks that YOU CAN'T DO. - tasks that you may lack the necessary knowledge for.




Step 2: Work out a budget



You may find that you have a huge list of tasks you co

uld potentially delegate to your new VA but a huge list may prove too expensive for your budget. To start with try focusing on a few tasks - those you simply despise doing or are monotonous and repetitive or that you struggle to do.


To determine how many tasks you can afford to delegate, you'll need to know how much a virtual assistant may cost. Unfortunately, there is no one answer to this. In the UK alone Virtual Assistants hourly rates will vary depending on the type of services they offer, their experience, and how long they have been in business. The UK average for a VA in 2021 was £28 per hour although you will find VAs that can charge anywhere from £20 per hour up to £75-£90 per hour for the more specialist skillsets. If you are thinking of hiring a VA from abroad, such as the Philippines where the VA industry is HUGE, you would look to be paying anywhere between £4 and £9 per hour.


Try to give each task a monetary value. You can do this by looking at how long that task takes you to do. Also, take note of your own hourly rate and work out how much it would cost you to do the task. From there you can work out the maximum you can afford to pay your VA.




Step 3: Write any SOPs or BOPs


In order to help your chosen VA settle into their role within your business, it helps to write out a training programme (if you are going to provide training). At the very least you should write out Standard Operating Procedures or Business Operational Procedures for all tasks that happen in your business. These are a document of step-by-step instructions on any given task you are going to delegate to your VA. Even if you decided not to hire a VA, you should have these in place anyway, imagine you unexpectedly had to go into hospital and were unable to work. These ensure that you can pass over any given task and your VA or someone else on your team could step in and make sure those tasks are covered.




Step 4: Create a Job Description

Once you have decided on the tasks you wish to outsource and your budget, it helps your VA to have a job description that clearly outlines what their responsibilities will be.


Tasks that require a Specialist skillset should NOT be included in a job description for a General VA. Any tasks listed on your job description should be of similar skill level and value.


You may want to include the following in your Job description:

  • Background information about your business (your industry, what you sell, who your clients are, what your company ethos is)

  • Level of experience and/or skills required.

  • List of Key duties and responsibilities

  • List of any apps, tools, online platforms, or software they will be using or need to know about.



Step 5: Search for a Virtual Assistant



Once you have your job description there are a number of ways you can search for a VA.

  • You can post your job description on a multitude of Facebook groups for Freelancers and/or VAs

  • LinkedIn - Search for VAs and connect with them, any good VA will have their Website listed in their contact information so you can do a bit of research on those you find.

  • Freelance Market places such as Fiverr; Upwork; Freelancer, etc. These sites are good if you are looking for VAs abroad, that's not to say you won't find UK-based VAs on these sites too.

  • Virtual Assistant Agency - there are agencies out there that will provide a matching service between business owners and Virtual Assistants based on the tasks you wish to outsource.

  • Networking Groups - Yes, we may work virtually but even the best VAs have to Network in person!

  • Recommendations - there is no better way to find a brilliant VA than to ask your peers who they have used in the past and who they recommend. A simple post on your socials and you should get plenty to look into.



Step 6: Interview Candidates

Once you have narrowed down your search and identified a small amount of VAs with the experience and skill set you require, book discovery calls with them. Most VAs will have a website on which you can book a call through at a time that suits you. I recommend booking a minimum of 3 of these "interviews". Most VAs will offer a Video Call although, phone and email are also acceptable forms of interviewing a VA. I prefer Video calls as you will figure out really quickly if someone is a right fit for you and your business.


During the "Interview" call make sure to ask questions, not only about their work experience and skills but ask them about their goals for their business, how they like to work and how they like to be managed (if hiring a General VAs).




Step 7: Do a Trial Run



There is only so much an interview can tell you about a person. Before committing to a long-term contract, consider hiring your VA on a short-term contract as a trial period. A week should be sufficient enough although you may want to consider a month as this will usually be your VAs Invoice term and will give your VA some settling in time. A Trial run will give both you and your VA the opportunity to see if you work well together before committing to anything longer-term.


If you went through an Agency, they will often be happy for you to set a few tasks as a Trial run and offer an alternative VA if things don't work out. If you use a freelancer, you will need to go back to Step 5 unless you had a backup in mind.




Step 8: Set Reasonable Expectations

After you have started working with your VA, it's important to have realistic expectations. There will obviously be a settling-in period while your VA gets used to your way of working and if you have any bespoke systems they may need training on but as time goes on, you should see improvements fairly quickly until you are 100% happy with the work they produce for you.


After a certain period of time, it's reasonable to expect your VA to work with minimum guidance.








Step 9: Tips for Working with your VA


DO NOT MICROMANAGE! Remember, you are paying them to do your tasks with little to no guidance. If you hover over them every 5 minutes checking to see how they are getting on, you will not only annoy them but you'll be slowing them down. That's not making good use of YOUR time, which is why you hired a VA in the first instance.


I use Trello with all of my Clients so they can see what I am working on at any given time and they can communicate their thoughts or set me new tasks as and when they need to.


DO RESPECT YOUR VA'S BOUNDARIES - do not be emailing or texting your VA outside of their standard working hours expecting them to answer or produce work for you. They too will likely have a family and responsibilities outside of their work too.


DO SET CLEAR AND CONCISE INSTRUCTIONS - If you have a particular way of doing something don't expect your VA to do it the same way unless you tell them. If possible video yourself on something like LOOM or ZOOM showing your VA exactly how you like tasks completed.




Final Word...


Your VA, when adjusted well to your business system will be your greatest asset. S/he will not only be a wingman (or woman) through its growth but a confidant that you can depend on through the best and the thick of it.


Interested to learn more? You can book a call with me and discover more about making your VA Hiring Journey smooth and pleasant.






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