I won’t mention the C-word specifically because I know we’re all a bit worn down by it all (and it’s not what this article is about), but the reality of it is that it’s brought about some sudden changes to the way modern businesses function. “Pivot” quickly became the buzz word, and many businesses have sped up their transition to online services and shopfronts. They have found that with growing knowledge of the virtual business world comes options. Yes, I’m talking about the hiring of virtual assistants.
We’ve been here for ages and well utilised by other virtually-grown businesses, but all this self-isolation and business budget-trimming has proven a couple of pretty interesting things: the majority of businesses CAN be run from home; and a remote workforce is no less effective, fruitful, or enriching than a site-based team.
So, you know we’re here, but how do you go about hiring a virtual assistant?
FIRST OF ALL: WHY A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT?
There are TON of reasons for hiring a virtual assistant:
- You need someone who can hit the ground running with your admin and various other aspects of your business;
- You need professional input into the administrative processes and perhaps even the establishment of formal processes;
- You need help ad-hoc, but not enough to warrant hiring a casual staff member;
- You want to get back to putting time into YOUR work and reclaim your business passion;
- You kinda miss time with your family;
- You want to avoid all that payroll and superannuation stuff and just pay a simple contractor invoice;
- And so on and so on … you get the idea – virtual assistants are convenient as heck!
THE RIGHT JOBS FOR VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS
My first recommendation from the outset is this: PLAN AND RESEARCH. Don’t just grab the first virtual admin you come across.
This has absolutely nothing to do with quality and everything to do with diversity. Have a chat with some virtual assistants and soon you’ll notice something – they all offer different services.
Some VA businesses will focus their energies on particular niches. One may be more about spreadsheets and templates whilst another may be more creatively focussed. Some may focus on behind the scenes data processing and others may be more focussed on social media management.
Other virtual assistants will offer a broad spectrum of services for small businesses; happy to learn new things and be a sort of “jack of all trades”. It’s important to note, though, that just about all virtual assistants will have at least a couple of things on their “no way list”.
It all comes down to their business model and how it meshes with your own.
So, before you make that mad dash out there looking for a VA, it’s important to sit down and UNPACK the contents of that workload you’re looking to shift so that you can pinpoint exactly what it is you want to get out of a VA.
I’VE PICKED A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT … NOW WHAT?
Congratulations! Choosing a virtual assistant to become a part of your business is a big decision and a terrific step towards peace of mind, extra time, and business growth.
At this point, though, it’s not uncommon to hear a client say, “So, um, how do we do this?”. It’s true, kicking things off can sometimes feel as awkward as a gawky teen reluctantly learning to dance.
It all comes down to preference, really. Your VA will be ready and raring to go with whatever you have to throw at them, but how it happens is mainly up to you and your business’s needs. A virtual admin will aim to be as flexible as their schedule will allow.
Here are some ideas for approaching the commencement of virtual assistant services:
The Gentle Approach – Test the Waters
If you need final reassurance that you’ve chosen the right VA, or you’re not fully sure what you want to hand over, then you could dish things out one task at a time, starting small and building up. This can also involve niche training your VA in the specific tasks to ensure every aspect is done right.
Choosing the right admin is a big decision that can profoundly affect your business, so we totally understand this approach!
The Explosion Approach – Go Hell For Leather
You’re at breaking point and you just need stuff done without having to give it thought! We get it. If you’ve chosen a VA that has the capacity for this, go for it! Trust that you’ve hired a professional and allow them the time to process what they need to do, develop the workflows and procedures, and then get stuck in. Virtual Admins are great communicators, they’ll let you know when there’s something they can’t do.
Be aware, though, that this approach does have a higher chance of errors and missed deadlines. You need to ensure that there is a clear plan and a duties list agreed upon with the VA and also that you are available to be contacted as needed. Sadly, there’s no true “set and forget” when it comes to running a business.
The Middle Ground – Be Structured
This is the fairly standard and sensible approach.
First, provide your VA with the regular tasks to be completed such as social media on Tuesdays, blog writing on Fridays, and so on. With that all laid out, you can provide ad-hoc tasks to be completed in between the scheduled tasks.
The important part of this approach is setting strict deadlines. This is the middle ground approach because it allows you to continue to plan and monitor the work being done, gives the admin better direction and focus, and gives them the chance to analyse the work so that they can offer advice and process streamlining. Initiative helps business grow!
CREATE A POSITIVE & FRUITFUL REMOTE RELATIONSHIP
At the end of the day, one of the most important parts of hiring a virtual assistant is having a positive and fruitful relationship.
Distance shouldn’t be an obstacle with so many options available to communicate instantaneously. Zoom meetings are a terrific way to collaborate and brain dump; emails offer the chance to think and communicate with more depth; and phone calls (and even texts!) are still perfect for quick and urgent questions. And don’t even get me started on the fabulous functions of team management software!
The rest is just geography.
Keep those channels of communication open, in both directions, to ensure you receive the highest quality work. A good virtual assistant will ask questions to ensure their service is tailored specifically to your business and its requirements.
Don’t forget that your virtual assistant isn’t an employee, they are a professional with a heap of knowledge and skills to tap. You know you’ve picked the right VA because your working relationship will be a breeze!