Launching a business takes a serious commitment to see growth and requires investing back in your business to get scale. By staying in a scarcity mindset and holding onto every dollar for dear life, you can’t grow and scale. Period. Instead of turning down projects, consider hiring an online Virtual Assistant or a VA. Keep reading to find out if virtual assistant services is right for your business.
Some new solopreneurs feel a little selfish hiring a VA. They think they should do all of the work the client wants themselves. Or that spending any money on their business takes away income from their family or goals of traveling the world. In reality, tapping into Virtual Assistant services makes a significant impact on your business. This is true whether you’re brand new or have been building up your service offering for years.
It’s not selfish to hire a VA as soon as it’s financially possible. If they can take work off your plate and free up more time to earn money at a higher rate, the difference is pure profit. I hired my very first VA in 2015 during my first year in business. Now I have 18 people on my team, 6 of whom are online Virtual Assistants.
I get it. Making your first hire can feel intimidating — but to scale your business, you have to think of yourself as an entrepreneur. You’re not the technician or employee doing all of the work. When you start your own business as a solopreneur, you have to be both the entrepreneur and the technician, but as your business grows, you need to take on a new role. Start leaning into the entrepreneur role who is vision casting for your business and managing the health of the business. Let go of the idea that you are the technician who executes the vision by handling every task.
There’s something else to consider. If you’re a mom accustomed to doing all of the things 24/7 and multitasking your way through life, it can be hard to hand things off to a VA. However, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Give yourself permission to seek out help, even if it’s not in your nature to do so. Delegating to others can help avoid burnout and actually make you more productive and financially successful in your business.
The mentality mindset shift is also significant if you’re coming from the corporate world. As an entrepreneur, you are no longer an employee. You can’t expect to act as an employee and be successful as an entrepreneur. Remember, an employee is paid for accomplishing tasks during a set number of hours. An entrepreneur is paid for generating results for the clients and customers. No results, no money in the bank. You don’t get an A for effort.
You can also hire more than one online Virtual Assistant from the start. I started out hiring one VA, but have since learned my business functions better with a team of VAs. I would wager yours will, too, as your business grows. So focus on your first VA being your ‘right-hand person.’ Later you can empower this person to manage the team and assume more responsibilities as you grow.
Another upside to hiring more than one Virtual Assistant is you never want to be too reliant on any one person on your team, especially in a field like Virtual Assistance. People can come and go with greater frequency than other fields due to life changes or new job offers. Pivoting to another specialty is also common. For example, it’s not uncommon for a VA to hone their skills as a copywriter or social media manager and then move onto gigs focused on these positions.
Start focusing your energies on the higher-level work so you can grow. If you’re ready to hire your next online Virtual Assistant but don’t know where to start, here’s an eight-step checklist to keep you on track.
Eight steps to hire your first virtual assistant services
Step 1: Draft a Very Clear Job Description
Virtual Assistant services are a broad term to mean anything from taming your inbox to scheduling your travel or uploading your posts into WordPress. What do you want the function of the position to be? The answer isn’t necessarily the type of person you’re looking for or who you want the person to become in your business. Focus on the actual brass tacks that you need this role to fulfill on a day-to-day basis.
Your job description should also include the daily expectations of the job and the results expected. Giving potential Virtual Assistants clear expectations weeds out time-wasters and attracts focused, ambitious VAs looking for new opportunities.
Step 2: Set Your Virtual Assistant Rates
Once you are clear about the virtual assistant services you want, it’s time to set your Virtual Assistant rates. Start by researching the market rate for your dream candidate, whether they’re a general Virtual Assistant or a VA that focuses exclusively on content creation. You’ll likely find a broad range, but sticking to a rate somewhere in the middle is usually wise. Otherwise, you might hire a VA who isn’t experienced enough or one who is spectacular but busts your budget.
However, even a small budget can attract strong candidates. Using sites like Upwork opens up the field to global candidates. Virtual Assistants in areas like the Philippines are known for their rock-solid English and ability to produce results. There are endless corners of the globe with Virtual Assistants who offer basic to expert services. There are some downsides, including working in different time zones and occasional cultural and language barriers that can impede productivity. Still, you may also find, like I do, that there are added benefits (read: someone else is working on your business while you sleep, and team members from around the world can share a global perspective).
Step 3: Create a Really Compelling Job Post Requesting Applicants
Passing around your job description to your network may get the ball rolling. But you also need a compelling job post that prompts experienced applicants to respond. Start with Upwork or other job boards that let you search for freelancers and invite them to apply to your post. Freelance platforms are also a strategic move because you’re not limited to local talent. You can scour the globe looking for the best applicants at a rate that fits your budget.
It’s also a wise move to tell existing clients that you want to hire a VA. You’ll be surprised how willing they are to help you grow and pass the posting along. It could also give them more insights that you are in demand and serious about running your business.
Step 4: Check References
Don’t dismiss the importance of connecting with your VAs’ references. Any experienced VA should be happy to share the contact information of one or two current clients to vouch for their skills. It’s possible your desired VA is new to the industry and doesn’t have relevant contacts. However, they should still have references from their professional life that can share insights about your VA’s skills.
Step 5: Narrow Applications to a Shortlist of Candidates and Ask a Few to Tackle Some Project Work
When you hire a VA, it’s tempting to think you can just throw them into your business and let them tackle everything. Instead, I would suggest a small project that should take them no more than 1-2 hours. You can ask them to complete it ‘as soon as possible’ to gauge their sense of urgency. Use the description from Step 1 to help guide you on what this test project should look like.
Once you see the quality and speed of the completed project, decide who to move onto the interview phase of the project. For the project, I would agree on a fixed price and ask them to complete specific tasks.
I personally don’t do work for free. Nor would I ask potential hires to do this, which is why I pay for these test projects. You should decide what’s right for you. I know other solopreneurs who require free project work as part of the hiring process. However, asking for free work is likely against the Terms of Service of many freelancing platforms and could get you banned.
You can also ask your online Virtual Assistants to submit a video of them completing the work, via a screengrab tool like Loom. This ensures that they’re actually completing the work and gives you a sense of how quickly and thoroughly they work. You could also consider asking someone to open a new social media account or a profile on a platform and ask them to do a small project within the account.
Asking an online virtual assistant hypothetical questions can also help figure out their problem-solving skills and innovation. For example, “Client X emails me with problem Y. How would you respond to their email?” You can also measure their resourcefulness and how they overcome obstacles, or not, by asking them to do something brand new to their skill set. If you do end up asking them for something they feel they can’t accomplish, did they at least come back to you with useful questions that show their critical thinking skills?
Step 6: Interview Your Candidates
Interviewing a potential Virtual Assistant is more than just drilling down to their skillset. Ask them about their hopes and dreams. Think about if their answer lines up with your hopes and dreams for this role in your business. If not, you should consider hiring someone else who may need more training but fits the future of your business.
Step 7: Hire on an Hourly Basis
If you’re looking for part-time services, hire an online Virtual Assistant on an hourly, trial basis. A two-week paid trial, project-based trial, or hourly trial for a freelancer adds an extra layer of protection with your hire. By the time you’ve completed this step, you should have a clear idea of how your VA works and if they’re a good fit for your business.
You may be sold on hiring a VA, but what are the costs involved? What will this position produce to justify the expense? Freeing up your time is huge. But what will you do with that time to generate more revenue and results for your business? Hiring hourly can help identify the trade-off between time and money. For example, if you’re saving hours to allocate towards client calls to secure more work, the expense is worth it.
Step 8: Train your Virtual Assistant and Document the Process
Experienced Virtual Assistants are often very adept at picking up new systems and routines. However, they still need some training to get the hang of your own unique processes and business. Walk through the tasks and create training videos in Loom so your VA can access them at any time. More complicated tasks may need some live Zoom support so you can share your screen and walk through any issues.
Recording your training and documenting your process from start to finish will also make it easier to hire a Virtual Assistant in the future. If your VA moves on, or you decide it’s not the right fit, you’ve already created templates for future hires.
Scaling your business is within your reach, even during the early days of launching your business. Focus on delegating tasks that take busy work off your plate and frees up your time to grow your business. With our six-step checklist in place, you can hire a VA and get up and running in days.