Contracting a virtual assistant is a smart move for all sorts of small business owners, entrepreneurs, and sole proprietors.
You’ll immediately decrease your workload, remove monotonous tasks from your to-do list, and take the initial steps toward scaling your business.
Whereas it may be tempting to jump in and offer the job to the first candidate who seems suitable, to ensure you have a positive experience, there are a few things you should do before you contract a virtual assistant.
1. Calculate Your Budget
The first thing to do is determine how much you can afford to invest in a virtual assistant. Since rates vary widely, you should be able to find someone within your budget.
However, the amount you spend will influence what kinds of tasks you can outsource, what kind of quality you receive, and how many hours you’ll be able to receive a week.
2. Figure Out What You Want to Outsource
Start by making a list of everything you could potentially delegate to a virtual assistant.
Include activities that are beyond your capabilities, tasks you dislike, and anything that doesn’t require your expertise and is possible to carry out remotely.
You may find it helpful to spend a week writing down everything you do and marking which of these activities a VA could do instead.
You may be unable to outsource everything at first, especially if your budget is low. However, having a full list of your regular activities will enable you to narrow your options to the tasks it makes the most sense to delegate.
To come to a final decision, consider which tasks will help you become more productive and which are the biggest waste of your time.
For instance, if a task brings your business less than $30 for every hour you spend on it, the likelihood is you could be better spending your time elsewhere.
If you’re only able to delegate a fraction of all the possible tasks at the moment, keep a copy of your list. You may be able to outsource more tasks later — either to the same VA or to another professional.
3. Decide If a VA Would Be Better Than Remote Staff
If you have a large amount of work and you can afford to outsource it all, it may be better to have a remote team rather than just one virtual assistant.
For instance, you may like to have someone monitoring your phones during business hours or providing you with support for your marketing strategy as well as receiving the general tasks typically associated with VAs.
In this case, a remote team of skilled professionals (including one or two virtual assistants) could be a better option.
4. Create Your Standard Operating Procedures
Even if you contract an experienced virtual assistant, you’ll need to offer some training.
Since every business owner does things differently, your VA will need some guidance on how you want tasks carried out. This means creating some standard operating procedures (SOPs).
The easiest way to make SOPs is to simply record your screen as you complete an activity. Just remember to go slightly slower than normal and explain everything you’re doing.
You have various options for software, including some that allow you to live stream. However, for particularly simple tasks, this may not be necessary — a simple text document with instructions and perhaps a couple of screenshots may be sufficient.
5. Schedule Time to Onboard Your VA
You’ll need to be available for your virtual assistant when you first start working together.
Your VA may have questions; plus, you should check in regularly to clarify any doubts and provide feedback. Make sure you include time for this onboarding in your schedule.
Soon, you’ll be able to focus much more on your core business activities, but your VA will need at least a couple of days to settle in!
6. Define the Processes You’ll Use
If you currently run your business on your own, you most likely use processes that make sense to you but would be difficult to explain to anyone else.
This may include things that are not particularly shareable, such as notebooks and sticky notes, as well as a shorthand that only you understand.
Once you have a virtual assistant, you’ll be working as a team. This means changing the way you organize your work to enable your VA to collaborate.
Creating standard processes for tasks will help tremendously in this regard. It’s best to use project management software, as this will mean that you and your virtual assistant are always on the same page, you’ll be able to monitor your VA’s progress, and you can easily set deadlines (as well as start dates) for tasks.
7. Consider What You Want in a VA
Beyond having the skills to carry out the tasks you want to delegate, you may like to look for particular qualities or characteristics in a VA.
If you’ll be working closely with your virtual assistant, it’s crucial that your personalities don’t clash. Furthermore, you should decide what aspects of personality matter most to you.
For example, professionalism could be your main concern; alternatively, you may want to contact someone who is friendly and approachable, especially if your VA will be in contact with your clients.
It’s even better if you can find someone who prefers the same mode of communication as you, whether that’s instant messaging, video chat, or phone calls.
Depending on where your business operates, having a bilingual or even multilingual virtual assistant could be advantageous. In addition, you’ll need to decide how well your VA needs to speak English.
If your virtual assistant will be providing you with purely backend support, it may be enough to have someone who understands your instructions.
However, you’ll need someone fluent in English if you want your VA to answer phone calls or correspondence. If you want your virtual assistant to act as your proofreader, you’ll need someone with a writing background.
It’s important to determine what exactly you’ll need, as knowledge of English can have a big impact on how much a virtual assistant charges.
Similarly, location can influence price. For instance, you can often find cheaper VAs in Asia.
However, a virtual assistant on the other side of the world is likely to be working in a completely different time zone to you, which poses a problem if you need someone available during business hours.
Plus, it could even make communicating difficult, as there may be a long lag between sending a message to your VA and receiving a response.
Qualifications or Experience
You may need your virtual assistant to have experience in some specific tasks.
Qualifications can be a good indication of knowledge, but you should still consider candidates who lack formal certifications if you believe the person could be a good fit.
Creating tests to check a candidate’s skills can be an effective way to determine if someone is likely to be a good fit.
Access to Tools and Equipment
Some virtual assistants (particularly those who work in agencies) have access to paid software and other tools to carry out a variety of activities.
This can save you a large amount of money over the long term. These VAs will also know how to use the software, which shortens the training period and increases productivity.
Your virtual assistant will also need to have access to some equipment.
A laptop with sufficient RAM and storage space is obviously essential, but you may also require your VA to have a reliable and fast internet connection, an up-to-date smartphone that is able to run particular apps, and a multifunctional printer.
8. Search for Candidates in the Right Places
Whereas you could ask other business owners to give you a referral for a virtual assistant, this will give you few candidates to choose from — and it’s possible that none will be quite right for your needs.
Besides, it’s easy to find VAs online: you can find them through job sites, freelancer websites, social media groups, agencies, and more. To decide where to look, a good starting place is to evaluate the pros and cons of freelancers vs digital agencies.
9. Start on a Trial Basis
Offer the virtual assistants you find a small sample job to see how they perform. If you contract through an agency, you may receive a free trial of a few hours, during which time you can request several tasks.
10. Finalize the Contract
Once you’ve found someone you like, you’ll need to provide the VA with a contract. Make sure you include information about your expectations, the number of hours you want per week or per month, the times of day you need your VA to be available, and any other details you feel are necessary.
It’s faster and easier to find the right virtual assistant for you when you choose MYVA360. We’ll match you with a virtual assistant who meets your needs now, but you can always change what tasks you delegate to your VA in the future.
We can provide you with as few as 15 hours a month or as many as 90 hours with the chance to roll over any hours you don’t use.
We can also provide you with all the remote staff you need through access to our extended team, which is made up of designers, developers, receptionists, and more. Schedule a consultation to receive a 10-percent discount on all our services.