Is a Virtual Assistant Really What You Need?
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In this episode, Barbara and Matt take listeners through the necessary steps for business owners to take to determine whether they really need a Virtual Assistant or the help of a specialist.
This episode takes a look at some of the key questions business owners need to ask themselves in order to determine who they need help from and how they can go about getting the right person for the job.
Some of the areas covered include:
- Determining whether it’s a VA that you need, or a specialist
- Understanding what your business needs are in order to make the right staffing decisions
- Slowing down and taking the time to map out your business needs will actually allow you to speed up your business
Let us know what your key takeout has been from this episode and join the continuing conversation over in the Virtual Success Facebook Group.
Resources mentioned in this show:
In this episode:
02:00 – Do I need a VA or a specialist?
06:25 – Understanding what your needs are
08:44 – Slowing down in order to speed up
12:08 – Wrapping things up
Barbara: Hey everyone and welcome back to another episode of the Virtual Success Show, where I am joined by my co-host, Matt Malouf. Matt, how are you?
Matt: Barbara, I’m excellent.
Barbara: Good, how’s all your brood?
Matt: They’re well, they’re all good. They’re on school holidays at the moment, so they’re back in school next weekend I’m sure my wife will be very, very happy about that.
Barbara: Yeah, all the mums are like, “When is school coming back?” I’m not into that phase yet, I’ve just got my almost one-year-old, well she’s nearly 11 months, so I’m a bit off the school holiday thing yet.
Matt: Nah, it’s all good.
Barbara: Yeah, so today’s topic guys, is again, a sort of a scenario that Matt sees and I see. I probably see a bit more than Matt, actually, in my line of business at Virtual Angel Hub, where we had a particular case and we’ve seen this a few times, where a client will come in, all revved up, excited about getting a VA, get a VA and then it just doesn’t work, right? And then we get in and try to see what the problem is, get another VA in there, still doesn’t work and in one particular case I said to the team, “Can you ask the client to send us a very detailed brief of exactly what it is that they’re really looking for?” Just so we can get a better sense. We just had this feeling that we’re missing something. So the client very kindly sent a very detailed briefing, which was fantastic for us to see, because the whole team sort of collectively, virtually online went, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.”
Do I need a VA or a specialist?
Because what was laid out would actually…really what this client actually needed was kind of a marketing agency and they were trying to get a part-time VA to do things that really are way outside the scope of what a VA is capable of doing. So I thought this would be a great topic to discuss. When is a VA really not necessarily not the right choice, but maybe not the first choice you should make or you need something more developed alongside the VA. Otherwise, you are actually going to waste time and money. So Matt I was interested to hear your thoughts on this. Would you see this happen a lot? I mean you’re on the coaching side-
Barbara: So presumably, we’d actually recommended that this client go and get a strategist or a marketing person to sort of lay out what they need first.
Matt: And I do see this regularly. I think when I wrote the stop during this book and put the tool together, I actually put one of the questions to ask, as you go through the tool is, I’m just going to read it, so I get it exactly right – Are special skills required for the task? And so, as you’re unpacking all of the things that you want to stop doing and categorising them into your excellence, competence or incompetence, you’re asking yourself, “Are specialist skills required?” If special skills are required, often that can indicate then, whether a virtual assistant is going to be the right fit or not or what particular kind of virtual assistant is going to be suitable. Let me give you a quick example. The VA’s that we talk about are normally, general VA’s that support on administrative functions within a business. I’ve got VA’s that I call upon on an ad hoc basis and use them for particular projects, so I’ve got a specialist that helps me with creating my slide presentations, because as I went through looking at my stop doing list and I said, “Does this require specialist skills?” The answer was yes.
I wanted someone with a good graphic design eye and also had a good understanding of Keynote and PowerPoint. Those two softwares. So, I think it’s understanding what it is you’re looking for this person to do and then asking the question, “Are special skills required?” What you’ll often find is the more specialised the skills required, the less likely your general VA will be the right person to do that task.
Barbara: Yeah and I think it’s understanding as well. I mean often times we’re challenged financially in business and that’s a problem as well, where a person decides, “I’ll get a VA.” And they’re really trying to convince themselves that a VA is going to be a strategist for them. One of the items on this particular list was to develop out lead generation strategies for each of my products. And we were like, “Really? A VA is not going to do that for you.” That’s way outside the scope of any sort of virtual assistant and that is the role of a strategist. And I think it’s being … We’ve even said to some clients we’ve turned clients away actually on this, where we’ve said to them, “Really what you need, if you’re tight financially, then maybe it’s a good idea to use your budget right now to invest in a really good strategist or coach to help you to get ready to then flip the money into a VA and then actually get the value from what the VA is going to be doing.”
Otherwise, you will actually waste time and money and feel resentful of the money you’ve spent on the VA. That’s what I think anyway.
Matt: Yeah and I can’t agree with that enough because it’s getting the right order, I guess, of operations, isn’t it?
Matt: And it’s what we talk about at times it’s the whole super VA concept, Barb, where people expect, “Well I’ve got this virtual assistant now, and they’ll be able to do everything.” Or they’re the saviour. When in actual fact there’s no strategy and in that example you just gave, that’s a very specialist skill to come up with an entire lead generation strategy that I don’t know even any general virtual assistant would be able to do.
Understanding what your needs are
Barbara: No, no, definitely, not. No, no, they would be completely … I mean even I was overwhelmed when I saw the list and I’ve actually worked on stuff like that before. But you know it’s funny, because sometimes a client doesn’t actually know, so there’s a … In this particular instance, I mean this client didn’t really realise until we sort of went … I mean maybe they had never actually laid out what they wanted done so deeply before, so it was a great exercise for them and then we went back with advice and said, “Based on what you’ve given us, here is what we advise you to do and here’s some context that could help you with this and then when you’re ready please come back and potentially VA can work alongside someone like that.” Look, if any of the listeners are wondering, “Well, I don’t know what I need.” You can jump on a call with our outsourcing strategy consultant. Just go to our website, VirtualAngelHub.Com and often on that first call our guys are able to spot that pretty quickly for you and advise you what to do and we often tell people, “Look, go and do this first and then come back in a few months when you’re ready.” Because otherwise you will waste money and we don’t want that. We don’t just get people in…we’re not in the business to just trying to churn as many VA’s as possible, we’re in the business of trying to get success or both VA and client and part of it is understanding what your needs are. It’s very important if you don’t want to waste money that you understand what your needs are.
Matt: And you don’t waste time as well to add to that, because the time you will invest wanting to go down a road that is not going to work. It could be time spent educating or unpacking or putting a strategy together.
Barbara: Yeah and I think a lot of people rush in. I think when people are really under pressure … We know Matt, starting a business is chaos, right? It really is. But it’s that whole thing of just don’t rush into … Before you go and get a VA, because a lot of people come to us and they say, “Oh my God I needed a VA yesterday.” But it is worth just sitting down, taking a deep breath, maybe do it on a weekend over a coffee and just try to figure out what is it that I actually need help with? And then maybe approach someone like us for example and let us have a look at it and we can tell you whether a VA is the first move you should make. It may not be the first move. Maybe the first move is, as I said, a strategist or somebody who could help you more deeply. It may cost a bit more money, but in the long run it will actually save you money.
Slowing down in order to speed up
Matt: Yeah and I think just to open the listeners minds also, is that when we talk virtual assistants, utilising whether it’s overseas start that one version of virtual assistant. I’ve got Rose who works for me and I would consider Rose a virtual assistant. But she’s local to me and what’s great is that when I identified the needs that I had for that role, I wanted somebody to come to my office once a week, so that we can meet. They can do the running around and I knew that I didn’t need somebody full-time. It was just part-time and that worked for her and I think that when you do what Barbara is talking about go and have the coffee and unpack specifically what it is that you need and where you need the help, you start to look at things like, if it’s an overseas person, what’s the correct time zone? I was coaching somebody this week and they’ve got a 24 hour operation and so they’re looking for somebody to be able to answer the phones over night. So, choosing an overseas destination, where it’s day time for them while it’s our night time makes a lot of sense.
So I think it’s delving in and doing the work and we keep coming back to this phrase but it’s so true, it’s the slowing down and actually unpacking in order to speed up, which is critically important here.
Barbara: So just to summarise the points I guess from today’s show, because it is really important, like I said, so that you don’t actually waste money with this. I think really step one is for me it’s just taking a step back. It’s that calming down and figuring out, “What do I actually need right now?” And laying out what is the detailed brief of … Forgetting about what does a VA need to do for me. It’s figuring out what do I need to get done in my business in order to move it forward.
Then step two is analysing that list and saying, “Well what parts of this can a VA do for me?” And if you’re stuck at that point because you don’t really know what a VA can do for you, then hop on a call with someone like us and let us have a look at it for you and we can actually tell you pretty quickly on a free call, whether a VA, what parts a VA could do for you and whether a VA going in first is the right solution or whether you need a strategist first or both at the same time, if you have the cash flow to actually support that or whether you’re willing to get the cash flow together to support that. And actually getting clear on those things I think is freedom in itself, because there’ll be a sense of relief that you know actually what to do next and you’re not just rushing into this VA thing with your eyes closed.
Matt: And I think the only thing to add to that would be, ask yourself the question, “In order to get what I’ve got written down done, are specialist skills required?”
Barbara: Absolutely, yeah, yeah, and like I said some people don’t really know, because it seems obvious to you and me, but sometimes when people are starting out in the VA things, they’re not quite sure … The scope of the VA and like I said, we can tell you pretty quickly, so it’s not something … Don’t let that part stress you out. There’s people who could help you with that. And Matt I know you sit down with clients all the time and figure this … you go into detail, depth with this kind of thing with clients.
Matt: Absolutely, absolutely.
Wrapping things up
Barbara: So yeah, often VA’s are a great idea, but there are situations where a VA is not the right solution for you either yet or maybe ever, because it could be a person physically in your office that you need and maybe in time than a VA, a virtual assistant or a virtual team as we talk about. So don’t rush into it.
Matt: Absolutely. I agree.
Barbara: Guys, if you’ve got comments on this or love to hear in particular if anyone has fallen into this trap themselves, because it is a very costly trap that you want to avoid, you can join the conversation over on our Facebook Group, which is Virtual Success, just look us up on Facebook and there’s a group with lots of people in there talking about this stuff. The other area we’d love to hear from you is on iTunes or we’re on Stitcher now, if you could give us a rating and a review and let us know there your comments about these shows and how it’s helping you in your business, not to fall into these common traps. Any of these shows you want us to talk about or other situations we would love to hear about it and dissect it for you on a show. Until next time, thanks Matt.
Matt: Thanks Barb
Matt Malouf is a passionate business coach, speaker, author, and entrepreneur on a mission to help entrepreneurs around the world break the shackles of mediocrity and reach new levels of personal and business success.
Barbara Turley is the Founder & CEO of The Virtual Hub, a company that specializes in recruiting, training, and managing superstar ‘Virtual Assistants’ in the social media, digital marketing, and systems automation space.