As a solopreneur, it’s common to believe you’re invincible and can manage your small business independently. And sure, in the beginning, it’s necessary. But as your business grows, you’ll want to become selective about what you spend your time on. Hence, learning how to work with a virtual assistant can help you save time and become more productive. However, before working with your first virtual assistant, you must consider a few things.
What is A Virtual Assistant?
So, what is a virtual assistant? A virtual assistant is a remote professional who manages your business’s ins and outs virtually. They complete tasks and projects you outsource to them, allowing you to direct your energy elsewhere. Example tasks and projects include:
- Inbox management
- Data entry
- Customer Service
- Appointment Setting
- Lead Generation
- Graphic design
- Community management
- Digital Marketing
- Content creation
Why Do You Need A Virtual Assistant?
Solopreneurs are expected to grind and hustle to make their business a success. And while hard work and dedication are necessary when building your business, they can have real consequences. These consequences manifest in the form of chronic stress and burnout. Experiencing burnout caused by stress and overwork will impact your productivity.
Initially, outsourcing is unnecessary, but as you grow and prepare to build and scale your business, you will need help. That’s why it’s essential to remain conscious of the needs of your business at each stage so you can identify when it’s time to work with a virtual assistant.
What Do Virtual Assistants Do?
There are a variety of roles a virtual assistant can manage in your business. First, they can perform general administrative tasks such as inbox management, customer support, invoicing, and scheduling.
On the other hand, they can work on specialized tasks and projects such as web design, social media management, email marketing, copywriting, or lead generation. You may even consider outsourcing areas of your business, such as marketing or customer service. However, what they do will depend on your needs and expectations.
Where to Find Virtual Assistants?
Due to the popularity of virtual assistance, it’s become more accessible than ever to find one. For starters, ask your network if there’s anyone they can refer or recommend. You can also hit social media sites like LinkedIn to find potential candidates. Or you can join Facebook groups designed to connect virtual assistants with clients and post job opportunities.
Another option is to utilize job boards such as Indeed, SimplyHired, and ZipRecruiter to post a listing. You can also consider working with a virtual assistant agency. Lastly, you can join a freelancer marketplace like Upwork or Guru. These marketplaces allow you to pay a fee and post a listing to find your ideal candidate.
How to Hire A Virtual Assistant
1. Determine Your Needs
Determining your needs is the first and most crucial step to begin working with a virtual assistant. Consider the nature of your business and the types of tasks and projects you work on. What would be the most helpful to outsource to someone else?
Additionally, you may want to explore areas of your business where you lack expertise, such as digital marketing or copywriting. Finding a virtual assistant specializing in this area can save you time.
You can also track your time for two to three days and look for tasks and areas of your business that are unnecessary to handle. Common areas that consume excess time are administrative tasks such as inbox management, invoicing, data entry, CRM management, etc.
Once you’ve identified tasks and areas of your business to outsource, you’ll want to decide on job type, budget, working hours, compensation, necessary skills, and qualifications. Understanding these factors will aid you in determining who would be an ideal candidate and guide you on how to hire a virtual assistant.
2. Create A Job Description
Now it’s time to create a job description that will entice your ideal candidate. Some general key points to cover include:
- Your business overview and expectations
- Roles and responsibilities
- Basic skills and qualifications
- Work schedule
- Job type
Once you’ve created a job description, you can share it. Start by sharing it with those within your network. They may have recommendations or know someone that meets your qualifications. Additionally, you can share on social media. For example, you can post on LinkedIn and let people know you’re looking to find and hire a virtual assistant and share your job description.
Another option is to share in Facebook groups. There are tons of groups with qualified virtual assistants looking for jobs. You can join these groups and share your job opportunity.
In addition to social media, you can go the traditional route and post on a job board like Indeed, Simply Hired, Zip Recruiter, or Monster. Lastly, you can create a listing on freelancer sites such as Guru and Upwork.
3. Schedule A Discovery Call
Once you receive inquiries, you can compile a list of the best candidates. Then, you can schedule a discovery call from this list to meet with them virtually to determine if they’re a good fit for your business.
During the discovery call, you’ll want to be personable and share information about your business and the position. Ask questions about their skills and qualifications and how they’ll be able to help your business. Discuss with them non-negotiables such as available working hours, time zone requirements, and tools they need to know how to use.
Another factor to consider during the discovery call is how they communicate with you. A suitable candidate can answer questions clearly, explain their skills and qualifications confidently and express how they can best serve your business.
4. Hire and Onboard Your Virtual Assistant
Once you’ve hired the best candidate for the position, it’s time to onboard them. Creating a solid onboarding process involves outlining their roles and responsibilities, including instructions for standard operating procedures, providing systems access, including necessary programs and detailed expectations. Finally, have screenshots, manuals, guides, or other materials that allow them to execute their tasks successfully.
Additionally, the onboarding process should include the details regarding their first project or tasks you’ll begin outsourcing to them. You’ll want to provide clear, concise instructions and all the information and tools they need.
If you’re collaborating on a project, you’ll want to create a timeline with milestones and schedule regular check-ins to monitor progress.
On the other hand, if you’re outsourcing general tasks, start with two to three tasks to acclimate them into your business. This allows them to transition into your way of doing things and creates a more structured working relationship. Then, schedule a check-in to evaluate performance and troubleshoot any issues if necessary.
How To Work With A Virtual Assistant
Once you’ve onboarded your virtual assistant, you must nurture your relationship with them to ensure efficiency. This is especially important since they’re doing remote work, and there’s limited contact. So you want to prioritize working well together by building a healthy working relationship in a few ways.
1. Prioritize Communication
You may be tempted to limit interaction with your virtual assistant, but it’s not ideal, especially in the beginning. Regular check-ins set them up for success and allow you to identify what’s working and what’s not. Utilizing communication tools such as Google Workspace, Microsoft Office, or Slack allows quick daily check-ins. For more in-depth check-ins, scheduling a call once a week or every two weeks is a good rule of thumb.
2. Don’t Micromanage
Trust is an essential factor when working with a virtual assistant. Since you can’t work with them physically, it may be tempting to micromanage them for every little task or project. But this is unnecessary if you set clear expectations from the beginning. Additionally, setting key performance indicators (KPI) or milestones in place for projects to evaluate their performance is the best way to determine if they stay on task.
3. Don’t Forget to Delegate to Them
It can be hard to relinquish control of your business after juggling it all yourself for so long. However, it’s essential to transfer tasks and responsibilities to your virtual assistant so you can shift your focus onto the goals you want to accomplish. Whether that’s scaling your business or maintaining a better work-life balance.
You won’t be able to accomplish this if you fail to outsource tasks to your virtual assistant. So, keep track of where your time is going and what you’re working on. And delegate tasks and projects that are unnecessary for you to perform. Remember that a virtual assistant is supposed to make life easier and save time.
4. Request Weekly Reports
At the end of the week, have your virtual assistant send you a report detailing what they accomplished that week. Have them share the projects and tasks they completed, how much time was spent on them, and what they’re still working on. Additionally, they can give you insight into any problems or challenges they had, as well as provide feedback.
5. Nurture the Relationship
When you work with a virtual assistant, you have to take the initiative to create a healthy working relationship. Building rapport with your assistant helps foster trust. Invest time into getting to know them and letting them know how much you value them as a team member. If they’re in the exact location as you have lunch together. If they’re not local to you, sending a card is another grand gesture. The point is to create a bond with them and get to know the person behind the screen.
Reclaim Your Time
Understanding how to work with a virtual assistant is beneficial for you to know as you grow and scale your business. Additionally, they’re great if you’re overworked and need help achieving work-life balance. You may not need much help initially, but as your business progresses, you’ll discover how helpful outsourcing to a virtual assistant can be.