So you have finally realized that you definitely need some help in order to run your business as smoothly as possible – You’re getting more clientele, you’re finding that the tasks you used to love doing are too time-consuming, you’re staying much later at work or spending too much time at your computer at home trying to get things done. You missed a great family gathering the other day because you just had to get a few things done, and before you knew it, the whole evening was gone and you haven’t even begun to get yourself ready to go out – UGHH! This is not what you had in mind when you decided to start your own business!
Ok, now you are totally set on getting yourself a VA!
The first question you will probably be asking yourself is, how do I know which VA is right for me? Where do I even begin to look for a Virtual Assistant? Here are a few very helpful hints that will assist you in finding the kind of VA that you can count on and feel comfortable with.
To start your search for that ‘perfect VA’, ask the people around you that you are working with on line – perhaps your clientele, or a forum or chat room, or especially a business coach who knows their way around the web. Get some referrals and make yourself a list to keep notes so that once you contact them and have interviewed them, you can look over your list and decide yourself who would be best-suited to be your assistant for the kind of business that you are running. Most of the VA’s out there will offer a free consultation – so you can set up a time/interview with them and see what they’re all about. After speaking with each potential VA, you should have gathered enough information about her services and qualifications to see which one will be suitable for you and your business.
Another good place to check into VA’s is Virtual Assistant Forums – easy enough to do! Just Google Virtual Assistant Forums and you will get a whole list of forums that you can search. First start with a couple of the most popular forums and that will give you a good starting point.
- VAnetworking.com – this site is a large forum that has plenty of Virtual Assistants. On one of the tabs, there’s a section where you can search by country – or for the USA you can search by state – OR – you can even post an RFP (request for proposal) which will be posted on the forum for all potential VA’s to see!
- VirtualAssistantForums.com – here is another huge forum that has loads of VA’s on it. You can browse for distinct qualifications www.virtualassistantforums.com/directory/ - and you also have the option of posting an RPF here as well.
In addition, there are also some very popular outsourcing sites, such as Elance and oDesk. These are not the same as the forums we mentioned and maybe they should not be your first priority to look for a VA, especially for the newbies, BUT they can be helpful. You would have to put up your profile on the 2 websites and post the jobs that you need help with. You will be receiving bids from VA’s all over the world, giving you the opportunity to choose the ones that best suits your needs, dependent on their expertise and ratings.
Another place to check for VA’s is LINKEDIN. Just do a search for Virtual Assistant, adding any specific qualifications, i.e. Webinar – Infusionsoft – Autoresponders etc. There are plenty of choices out there.
The best part is that they will be categorized, pending how closely connected you are.
Summer has hit and maybe you’re thinking I wish I could have a bit more “me-time”, taking the kids swimming, going for a walk , read a book or take that trip to see family/friends. Whatever it is that you want to do, remember that it’s possible. Remember you not only deserve a vacation but you need one! What’s the secret to more “me-time” AND your business not crumbling… the secret is… outsourcing to your VA.
Probably when you originally hired your Virtual Assistant, you were just so grateful to be able to assign a lot of the mundane tasks like doing your blog posts, updating your EXCEL Sheet, research etc. The more you work with your VA, the more you realize that you can trust them to do a lot of the tasks that you don’t have to concern yourself with and now you can start working on how to drum up more clients for your business
In fact, after working for a certain amount of time with your VA, you will come to see that you don’t have to be at your desk working all the time, constantly checking to make sure that everything is running smoothly, back-tracking on your work (or time) to make sure that a certain contract has been sent out to your client. Now, you are able to enjoy more time in the knowledge that things are being taken care of. Remember the plans you made with your family to take that long-awaited vacation just as soon as you could? Well, that time has finally come! This is what is now possible for you since you have a great VA working for you!
Having a great connection with your VA does take baby steps. You need to start off slowly. However, once your VA has earned your trust, the amount of tasks and projects that you can give to them are unlimited and again that means more ME-TIME!
Your virtual assistant can:
- Pay your invoices through PayPal or whatever merchant service you use. You can even get them established with their own personal logins with permission to view only what they need to
- Manage the payments to your affiliates
- Do customer service duties
- Write and send out emails to your database
- Add new products to your shopping cart.
- Create landing pages
- Do your scheduling
- Coordinate Webinars, Telesummits etc.
- Represent you in social media, or blogs/forums
- And the list goes on and on..
The Bottom Line
You see how simple it is to only work with a Virtual Assistant, you can proceed with whatever your plans are for your business and your vacation. So start making a list of those tasks/duties that you prefer to hand over to your VA. You will thank yourself for it!
The building blocks of a great relationship with your VA
Great! You’ve hired yourself a VA – you’ve already started assigning projects and tasks and everything is moving along just fine.
You might ask yourself, is your VA working out as planned? In order for you to build a good relationship with your VA, you need to be clear in what you need and you need to be sure that your tasks & projects are being carried out as you require. For example, does your VA perform the daily and weekly tasks that you need done? Do you feel that you need to go more into depth explaining the jobs that need to be done – something that you didn’t expect to have to do? Or maybe it’s going great and you think wow what took me so long to do this?
In the beginning, you could allot some time at the end of each week for a short discussion with your VA to see how everything is going? Cover tasks/projects, what still needs to get done?
How long does it take to see if it works or doesn’t?
Start with a TRIAL RUN – When you hire a VA, the best thing to do is to set a timeline, at which time you can decide if you want to keep working together or not, a sort of test period. Ideally, this is also a good time to let your VA know all the good things he/she is doing for you and also gives you the chance to talk about the other side and discuss those things that you would like to change.
How long should the test period be? Well, that really is for you and your VA to decide. Maybe you prefer one month, or 3 months or even 6 months if you think that is the amount of time you need to be able to make an informed decision. Just remember that sometimes it could be a while before you and your VA click, so you’ll probably need more than a month. After 3 months you will have a better picture of your working relationship and whether its working out or not, so that would be a good time-frame to follow.
One very important thing… Do not micromanage! If you want your relationship with your VA to work out you cannot let yourself be involved with every little detail because what is the point of having a VA? You originally wanted to get a VA so you can concentrate on other aspects of your business, like acquiring more clients etc. With a professional VA and regular meetings micromanaging should not be necessary at all.
I think it’s important to remember that you hired someone with experience, a professional, someone who has done this type of work before.
How to not micromanage?
One thing that would be helpful is to give your VA a project to do, explaining what end result you need, rather than detailed steps on how you need him/her to do it. Most VAs will ask you questions if things aren’t clear.
For example, instead of telling your VA; I need you to search for an image of a dog, a seeing-eye dog and a police dog working with their master etc. (silly example but you’ll get my point soon)
Instead you can say, I need you to search for images of ‘service’ dogs working and put it up on the blog and make it look nice. Your VA will know what to do, and if it’s not what you want, then you can use this chance to show him/her how you would like your blog to be done etc.
Another thing that helps is to create a system where your VA gives you a report on the job being worked on, whether it be every day or once a week so that you can feel comfortable knowing that things are getting done, this is where project management tools come in handy (see lasts week’s blog post) and it also helps with keeping up to date on completed tasks.
Something that is important to know – IF you and your new VA don’t click, that’s ok, just be fair and let them know what is and isn’t working. Things might change or you might have to part ways, however, by being honest with them they have a choice to make as well… Sometimes it comes down to both of you wanting different things.
If you want your business to succeed, then you need to have a VA (as well as other out-source help) that you can depend on - It is essential to have a VA that you can click with and feel comfortable with, it’s not easy, but after a few adjustments here and there, and some trial-and-error, you and your VA can end up having a great working relationship that feels right for the both of you.
Typically when you work with a virtual assistant, it means you will have to be in touch with each other quite regularly. This also involves sending images and files as well as other types of data. The way you communicate together will depend mostly on you, as well as your VA’s, personal choice. Where some people prefer to work casually - just emails and telephone calls - others would much rather use a Project Management system.
Here are a few ways you can share projects/tasks with your Virtual Assistant:
Email – One of the more popular ways of sending your projects to your VA is via email. Perhaps emails is the option that you both would prefer. It does give you something that you or your VA can refer back to if you ever have to recheck on some instructions or content given.
Phone/Skype - for certain assignments that need more detailed instructions that may be too difficult to explain by email, then it would be a better idea to speak to each other by phone or Skype. There is, however, a setback with this method, in that you don’t have a paper trail. In that case, it would be a good idea to phone/Skype your VA and follow that up with a short email with the key notes which your VA may need and can easily refer to while doing that particular assignment.
There are apps out there that can record your Skype calls. Which is another way to refer back to the conversation. Personally, I have not used them but here’s a list supplied by Skype.
Dropbox - Now, here is a great little treasure. Chances are, that you probably already know about this product and most likely used it to store your photos and share with family and friends. This product is simple to set up files that you and your VA can share and add to – or edit. One of my favorite features of Dropbox is that when you edit your documents and save them, it will be synced between yourself and your VA, so you can always be on top of any changes, rather than have to scan documents back and forth between yourselves and have to wait for replies/confirmations etc. from each other
Another great feature is that you can use Dropbox and co-ordinate with your emails by very easily uploading files to the Dropbox folder and emailing your VA particular instructions that you need to have done – OR – to make it even easier (if you and your VA prefer) you can eliminate the whole email procedure by writing out instructions/log-in info etc. and upload it right into the same Dropbox folder. So easy! Just be certain to tag your VA in the @mention option that Dropbox now offers so they become notified (and your VA will return the favor when task is complete).
Project management systems – You will find that some VAs would rather work, as described above, with stricter guidelines and use a Project Management system. If your VA works this way, then you will be added into their project management system as a New Client/Project – you will be given the login information in order to access your account – Now this is where you will be doing all your communicating with the VA and send the VA your projects etc.
BASECAMP is one of the more familiar Project Management systems that you might have already heard of and some other favorites are Asana and Teamwork to name but a few.
In person – should you be fortunate enough to find a local VA, then you can have the luxury of meeting in person on a regular basis to discuss the current and upcoming projects for the near future.
The above are just a few of the more popular methods of working with a VA in your online business - Eventually, you and your VA can discuss together to figure out the best form of communication that will work better for the both of you.