Before Hiring a Virtual Assistant

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Are you a business owner who is losing clients, not living the lifestyle you expected due to the demands of your business or simply want some more free time? If so, this means your business has grown and its time to seek outside help to keep up with it. You’ve probably already heard how a  virtual assistant can save you time and money. But before you start interviewing virtual assistants, there are some things you should know and do first.

Things you should know before hiring a Virtual Assistant

1. What do you REALLY need help with?
Ask yourself, what do I want to keep doing myself? what are things I do not want to deal with but are essential for my business? Make a list of the things you need help with, and decide which ones you are okay with delegating and which ones you want to keep doing yourself. For example, if you like talking to your clients, but you do not like billing them, then you would delegate the billing to your virtual assistant while you keep in touch with your clients.

Solopreneurs have a hard time letting go, and it’s okay, I understand, your business is like your baby. To make it easier, you can start delegating something small, and give more responsibilities to your Virtual Assistant once you feel more comfortable.

2. Write down the Requirements
Write down all the requirements your assistant must have, like being able to use google calendar, Trello or Microsoft word. Keep in mind some systems can be easily taught, however, there are some things you cannot teach. Such as perfect English or having them be in your time zone. If your Virtual Assistant is not in your same time zone, at least make sure she/he is comfortable working in your time zone (if necessary).

3. Write down a job description
Make sure your VA knows what is expected of her/him. Give this information during the interview and also have it written down for them. This will help your VA know what she must do and it will give you a better understanding of what you are looking for.

4. Budget
Once you start searching you will notice they all have different prices and different payment methods. Some offer services by the hour, some by month and others by project. Before you even decide to hire a VA by the hour or by month, figure out your budget. What can you afford and what can you get with your budget. If they are overseas, they tend to charge between $3-$12 the hour. If they are in the USA, they may charge between $12-$30 the hour.

“You get what you pay for”

This saying goes a long way over here. But don’t be discouraged, this doesn’t mean you cannot find a good VA for a low price, however, there are some things you should consider. For example, Let’s say you need your VA to constantly communicate with your clients, she/he doesn’t speak the language very well, but it saves you $7 the hour. Next thing you know, you have an angry customer for a miscommunication due to the language barrier and decides he doesn’t want your business anymore. Or a prospective client decides not to do business with you because he/she does not understand what your VA is saying. Was the $7 really worth it? Before hiring a virtual assistant outside the USA, decide if you are okay dealing with low-quality performance and culture shock.

Another thing to consider are incentives for when your VA does a good job. This will keep your VA motivated to continue giving excellent performance.

5. Provide training
Most VA’s already have experience, either because they have worked in the past as an office administrator or they have had their business for a long time. However, each business is different, and not all business owners are the same. You cannot expect your VA to jump in and know everything about your company. Take the time to train her/him, show her/him how YOU like things done, explain your goals, and have a system in place that works best for your business. Type down your system like a training manual, explain it, demonstrate it and hand it over to her. And if time allows it, make a training video. Give your VA something she can go back to in case she gets stuck.

Word of advice, save a copy of this training manual, if you ever need to hire another VA, you won’t have to start from scratch.

6. Trial period
Give it time. Before your VA takes over, track yourself doing the work you will be delegating. This will give you an idea how long your VA should be taking completing each task. At first, your VA might be a bit slow, after all, she/he is just getting to know your business. Try to remember how it was for you when you first started your company. You did not know everything right away, you probably became overwhelmed, now try to imagine taking over in the middle of things not knowing anything? Doesn’t sound so easy huh? Make sure you provide the proper training and give your VA time to adjust. If your VA is having a hard time grasping things then look at your system, maybe the system is confusing.

Many business owners come in with unrealistic expectations and think their VA will just come take over and know everything there is to know about their business. Instead, go in knowing that you’ll have to put in some time up front in order to be happy with the results for months or maybe even years to come.

7. A virtual assistant is a valuable asset to your company
You might have the preconceived idea that hiring a VA will be a quick and easy process. After all, they’ll be handling mostly admin routines right? Well not quite. A surprising amount of your work will depend on them. No matter how creative or non-creative your business is,  administrative tasks are what keeps a business running afloat. She also as a super important responsibility, which is to free up your time. And you know what they say, “Time is Money!”  

8. Think of all the things you would do with your free time
What will you do with all the free time? I would recommend you to do a list of this as well. Write down all the things you want to do with the free time your VA will bring. And once you hire your VA, give the proper training and your VA has everything under control, DO NOT MICROMANAGE! Go back to this list and start enjoying your new freedom. 

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