When you have your own business, it’s common to try and do everything yourself, as this gives you more control over how you want things run and managed. But if your business has grown to the point where you’ve become overwhelmed with just trying to cover all the small, everyday tasks, leaving you no room or energy to focus on bigger things that would move your business forward, then it’s probably time to think about hiring a virtual assistant to get the help that you need.
What is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant is an individual who works remotely from a home office and fulfills a variety of administrative and technical duties, depending on the business need. Business owners have taken to hiring virtual assistants because they can easily take over the common day-to-day tasks that keep their business running. With virtual assistants helping them, entrepreneurs can reclaim their lost time and explore more ways they can grow their business.
Why consider hiring a virtual assistant?
There are various benefits when you hire a virtual assistant for your business. Hiring a virtual assistant would be incredibly advantageous to entrepreneurs because virtual assistants are capable of handling various recurring tasks on their behalf. Business owners won’t have to worry about sorting emails, organising cloud files, following up with potential customers, and posting on social media—their online assistants can take care of these things, making their business and life run smoothly and at the same time giving them the chance to handle other high-level things.
Hiring a virtual assistant online is not easy. You can find a variety of virtual assistant websites that offer these services nowadays, and the process of looking for the right candidate itself can be daunting. However, don’t let the initial overwhelm get to you! You only need to follow a handful of strategies to be able to effectively find and hire the best virtual assistant for you and your business.
Strategies to hiring a virtual assistant
Know what to look for
Just like hiring personnel in any kind of business, it’s important that you know exactly what you’re looking for when you want to hire a virtual assistant. Be very clear on the tasks that you’re planning to assign to your virtual assistant and the specific skill sets you’d need from them. Without a clear picture of what you want and what role you want your virtual administrative assistant to take in your business, you’ll find yourself in a situation where you’d expect a lot of things from a person who is completely unsuited to the job.
Set up your systems and processes
Before you hire a virtual assistant, make sure you’ve already set up a system of how things are done in your business and that you’ve documented ways to implement them. This way, when you manage to find the right person and have succeeded in training them, you can easily entrust the tasks to them, and they will also have something to consult from time to time should the need arise. You can make use of online workflow management tools like Process.st, Trello, or Asana to make setting up your processes more convenient.
Write the perfect job advert
There are several websites that offer virtual assistant services where you can post job listings for remote online assistants. Do research on which websites have created the most successes in terms of VA recruitment—you’ll find comprehensive reviews about this in several startup blogs if you do a quick Google search.
Remember that your job advert is the beacon in the whole recruitment process. This means it should not only be well-written but also detailed.
Your job listing should include a clear-cut description of:
- What the work entails
- The skills and other qualifications you’re looking for
- The duties you expect a VA to perform
- How many hours and days per week you require (including whether you’re looking for short-term or long-term help)
- The online platforms and tools you use in your business.
This list will serve as a filter for the right applicants. Try to avoid making it sound too clinical—this is an advert, after all. Write your job listing in a way that would appeal to your potential candidates. Nobody wants to respond to a job ad that sounds demanding and autocratic from the get-go.
Shortlist and interview candidates
Start sorting through the number of responses you’ve received for your ad. This will be the most time-consuming part of the process because, while you’ll find that there are people out there who seem right for the job, most of the applications you’ll get will be from people who don’t qualify.
So how do you effectively sift through the responses?
Make a list of things or qualities you can’t hire a virtual assistant without—by this time in the process you should already have one—and use this list of ‘non-negotiables’ as a guideline. Generally, this list will consist of your expected skill set from a VA, their length of experience, their knowledge of or familiarity with the systems you use, and their going rate as virtual assistants. With your list, you’ll be able to narrow down the number of candidates that you can schedule to interview.
Reach out to your shortlisted applicants and arrange for an interview via a video call. Video call interviews will enable you to assess their communication skills, their command of English if they’re from other countries, their personality and the way they present themselves. Make sure to ask them questions that would let you know if they are able to work well independently and how they respond to potential issues—knowing these things will make your decision making easier later on.
Train your virtual assistant
Once you’ve successfully chosen the best virtual assistant for you, bring them up to speed on the systems you use in your business. This is where you present them with your documented processes and their personal access to the online tools they’ll be using. Depending on the duties they’re assigned with, you’ll also probably need to give them limited access to your cloud drive and social media accounts, so it’s a good idea to use a type of password management software like 1Password or Lastpass that would let you share your login details in a safe method.
While most experienced remote assistants already know how to perform a myriad of tasks, it’s also important to note that they shouldn’t be expected to know everything. Not all businesses work the same way, so spend some time training your virtual staff so they can learn the systems unique to your business. This will also provide you an opportunity to get to establish rapport with your VA and be able to assess their willingness to learn new tasks.
Manage your virtual assistant
When you hire a virtual assistant, make sure that you’ve already set up a system of how things are done in your business and that you’ve documented ways to implement them beforehand. This way, when you manage to find the right person and have succeeded in training them, you can easily entrust the tasks to them, and they will also have something to consult from time to time should the need arise. You can make use of online workflow management tools like Process.st, Trello, or Asana to make setting up your processes more convenient.
Having a virtual assistant in your team will definitely grease the wheels in your business, but an organisation can only run smoothly if the parts are well-maintained. Online virtual assistants do work remotely, but this doesn’t mean that you can leave them to work independently for as long as you can – they’re not perfect, so they’re bound to need guidance once in a while.
Make it a point to check in with your virtual administrative assistant regularly so that you’re up to date with where things stand. Using a project management tool like Asana or Slack will help you keep track of your VA’s progress, and a time management tool like Toggl, RescueTime, or Time Doctor will tell you how much time is spent doing specific tasks. Also, keeping in touch with your virtual staff via the occasional audio or video call will give you a chance to personally address any concerns they may have and help them with issues they’re having trouble with.
Entrepreneurs who hire virtual administrative assistants on their own find it helpful to give their newly hired virtual staff a trial period in which they are able to properly weigh their VA’s skills and abilities. Sometimes it will take a couple of tries before you find the the right one. This is why some business owners find it simpler to bypass doing the hiring themselves and turn instead to virtual assistant websites, as these companies can take the bulk of the hiring process from them and save them precious time.
Companies that provide virtual assistant services, like The Virtual Hub, have made the procedure of hiring a virtual assistant more streamlined, recruiting individuals with varied skills and experience under strict standards, thus ensuring that clients who sign up for their virtual assistant services are paired with virtual assistants that are most suited for their business. They even provide additional training and management support to their VAs even after they are paired with clients so that their work remains consistent and their progress well-tracked and monitored. With this added support in place, clients can feel secure that the help and services they receive from virtual assistant companies are well-worth their time and investment.
The bottom line…
There is no magic formula for hiring a virtual assistant. It requires a lot of time, energy, and a well-organised plan of action. Without structure, your hunt for the right online personal assistant will fail.
Whether you opt to hire a virtual assistant on your own or through a virtual assistant website, it’s helpful to know these killer strategies to guarantee your success. And once you do find the best virtual assistant for you, they are sure to make your life and business easier to manage.
Learn more about all things virtual assistant in our Ultimate Guide to Virtual Assistants. This MASSIVE guide will teach you all the ins and outs of hiring a virtual assistant, managing a virtual assistant, and all the other things in your mind whenever you’re thinking what a virtual assistant can do for you and your business.