Virtual assistants have been game-changing for small business owners. They’re the extra set of hands and eyes you’ve always needed. They provide a second brain to take your ideas and run with them so you can focus on higher-level tasks. But hiring a virtual assistant and getting all the potential benefits of a VA are two very different things.
You want your virtual assistant to be successful and provide value to your business. That’s why it’s essential to set the stage before you bring them on board. Before hiring a virtual assistant, here’s what you need to do to get the most from your investment.
Get Laser-Focused on What You Want to Offload
Small business owners turn to virtual assistants to augment their time. There are only so many hours in a day, and you can do more (and faster) with someone else’s help. The first big question: what do you want to outsource?
Think about all of the tasks you handle daily. Some of these are likely helping you generate revenue and grow your business (or, put another way, the stuff you need to do). Other tasks are the necessary evils of running a business, things you don’t want to do but have to do anyway.
We suggest outsourcing the tasks that aren’t directly contributing to your bottom line. This might be making changes to your website, doing keyword research, writing blog articles, or doing research, for example. This frees up your time to focus on revenue-generating tasks, making it more feasible to pay for a virtual assistant (and have money left over!).
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Decide How Much ROI a VA Can Bring
The cost of a virtual assistant can vary, depending on the VA’s skills and location. Regardless of where your VA lives, it would be best if you compared the cost of hiring a VA against the potential ROI they’ll bring. A new virtual assistant might charge lower rates because they are new, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the skill you need.
Like any employee, you should view a virtual assistant’s role through a lens of return on investment. This will help you decide how much you can afford to pay a VA ― and know if you can genuinely afford one in the first place. For example, you might think a $25 hourly rate is too much. But if you can make $100 within that timeframe because a VA has freed up your time to do so, then a $25 hourly rate makes perfect sense.
Create Standard Operating Procedures for Your VA
Virtual assistants need training, just like any other employee. They need to know how your company operates and what you expect regarding communication and turnaround times. Before you hire a VA, it’s helpful to get clear on these things yourself. Create a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) that you can share with your new VA. SOPs outline in detail how you want specific tasks or processes handled. They can ramp up productivity faster when they don’t have to guess how to do things.
Outline the Job Duties and Requirements
You should create a job listing that outlines your VA’s specific duties and requirements as with any hire. This allows potential candidates to see what the job entails and decide whether their skill sets match. In addition, to ensure your valuable and cost-efficient virtual assistant maximizes productive time, you should have specific written guidelines on what the assistant and you expect them to complete within a given time.
Develop Training Materials
VAs can typically handle various tasks, from research to writing to scheduling and more. But that’s not all there is to making a successful hire. The best VAs aren’t the ones that simply go through the motions. They also need to feel like part of your company and culture. They should recognize the value they bring to your brand and be able to fill their role as part of your company, not just as a contractor.
That’s why we recommend creating training materials (e.g., documents, videos, etc.) to help them become oriented with your business. Your SOPs can be part of this. You’ll also want to include your mission, core values, and details about the customers you serve. Train them in all areas of your company so they know how their work contributes to the bigger picture.
Create a Short, Paid Test for Your VA Candidates
A virtual assistant might look great on paper. The next step is to see how they really perform. Put together a short, paid test before you extend a job offer. This test should allow the VA to demonstrate how they would handle actual tasks you would hand off to them. In addition, you can ask to see examples of their previous work. Finally, review the quality and consistency of their samples to understand how they’ll fit into your ecosystem.
Finding success with a VA takes careful thought and planning. When you first lay a solid foundation, you’re more likely to enjoy all the potential a virtual assistant offers.