Once your business really starts moving forward, you’ll end up with more work than you can handle in a normal work day. At that point, you have one of two choices. Work more hours or find some help.
Most solo business owners start out by choosing the first way. After all, what’s an extra hour? But as 8 turn into 10, and 10 turns into 12, you’ll quickly start questioning if there is more to life than work.
A much as we try to conquer the world on our own, its easy to start wishing for something more. Wouldn’t it be nice to have help that was easy to train, would accomplish anything you wished for easily and without a lot of hand holding, and allow us to have the time to do what we do best?
Employees can be difficult. Which is why so many of us avoid them until it’s a true necessity. Yet the work is still there and needs to be done. Luckily, we have options today. Instead of hiring an employee, invest in a virtual assistant.
If you have never worked with a virtual assistant (VA) before, consider hiring one to help you do more with your time – and allow you the time you need to enjoy your personal life as well. Here are some tips to start you on your way.
Start by assessing your needs
Its hard taking that first step. What do you need help with? Where should you ask for help? Before you start looking at VA’s, assess your needs first. Develop a to-do list of what needs you have, what you are willing to release or delegate to your VA, and where they can most help you.
A VA can assist with anything that is easy to teach someone else to do. Research tasks, data entry, developing systems, creating newsletters, contacting clients and helping with customer service tasks, and helping you with travel and scheduling needs are just a few of the things they can help you accomplish.
Once you create your list, estimate how much time they will need each month. VA’s can help you with one time tasks, or can be hired on a regular basis throughout the month. When you figure out what needs to be done, you can begin your search.
Find a VA
Finding a VA is fairly easy. It is a growing industry, and there are many different resources, both in your local community and in the online world.
Start by networking at local clubs and organizations. Ask around; you’re sure to find referrals for people right in your own community. You can post free ads on sites like Craigslist, search freelance sites like Elance, use VA search sites like AssistU, or check out organizations like Virtual Assistant Chamber of Commerce.
Qualify The VA
Before you decide on a VA, make sure they are qualified to do the job you want them to do. VA’s come with a lot of different skills. And while it is possible to hire multiple VA’s for separate duties, hiring one to cover all of your original goals will be easier the first time around.
Create a series of questions to ask them, and consider hiring them for one small task to begin with. See how they work with you and how fast they accomplish the task. The key is to write up a task in detail, and make sure they follow your steps exactly. If they can’t accomplish one small item with multiple steps according to your description, they probably won’t work out overall.
Once you narrow your selection, dig into the details. Head over to their websites and see how they look. Google them and find out what others are saying about them. How active are they in the social realm?
Your VA will be your partner. They are a business owner too, so they will understand what it takes to run a successful company and how to keep clients happy. Don’t be afraid to open up and ask them for more. This is a partnership.
Select Your VA
Once you’ve narrowed your choice to 3 to 5 applicants, contact them for an initial consultation. Look for clues in everything they do. Do they answer your emails on time? Do they answer them the right way for you? Do they follow instructions?
Its okay to try out a few before you hire one on a more permanent basis. Remember, they are small business owners too; not an employee. You can hire when you want and let go when you want. That’s what makes VA’s so beneficial.
Finalize The Contract
When you choose your VA based on your budget and day to day needs, contact them and let them know you’re ready to go. If you are planning on hiring them for a long term basis, negotiate contract details such as billing, terms of service, and privacy.
Once the contract is signed, you’re ready to go. You now have a like minded business partner on board with you, ready to help you through your daily needs. Start out with your first project in a clear and concise way. Start with stepping stones; it takes a while for everyone to feel comfortable while working together. Don’t let things fester; let her know immediately if you see something that needs to be changed.
Then enjoy. The more they get to know you’re business, the more you can rely on them through your busy weeks. And you might even be able to take vacations too – with her help of course!