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How to get ready for a virtual assistant
Have you been thinking about getting a Virtual Assistant but you are not sure where to start? I’m going to guide you through the process of how to get ready for a virtual assistant.
When is the right time to get a Virtual Assistant?
- have more work than hours in the day
- feel you can’t keep on top everything anymore.
- spend the majority or all of your time working in the business, rather than on the business
- turn away new clients, as you don’t have capacity
- experience stress thinking about your business
If you answered YES to any of the above, NOW is the right time to get a virtual assistant.
Getting a virtual assistant is more than just a time-saving exercise. You are adding an additional skill set, new ideas and experience to your business. By delegating tasks you will be able to grow your business and explore new avenues.
Are you scared it won’t go well?
Perhaps you know you need help but are a bit scared of letting someone else into your business. This is very common. Getting a virtual assistant requires building trust in someone else to complete tasks on behalf of your business, the way that you would.
The best way of building trust is to start with a small initial project. This way you get the feel for how each other work and you can see if your new virtual assistant is the right fit for your business.
Ensure that this initial project isn’t too time-sensitive. Choose an activity with a lead time of a week or more. You don’t need the additional stress of short turn around time and potentially letting a client down. Once you are happy with the initial project, you can then allocate more tasks.
Over time the role will most likely grow, as you gain more and more trust in your assistant and they learn the ins and outs of your business.
The key to getting it right is implementing the right systems and processes from the start.
What types of tasks can I outsource?
If you know that you are busy but aren’t sure exactly what to outsource, this exercise will assist you to get ready for a virtual assistant.
Download your Outsourcing Checklist here:
Create a list
Spend a week or two writing down everything that you are doing, this will give you a good picture of what you are actually spending time on in your business.
Once you have your list of tasks, now it is time to categorise them. You will need three coloured highlighters.
First of all, in colour 1 highlight the tasks that can only be completed by you.
Next, in colour 2 highlight the tasks that are outside your zone of genius, that you do not enjoy doing and that is really time-consuming. These are the first ones you need to delegate.
Finally, the remaining tasks are now ones that you could outsource but you enjoy doing and are good at. Let’s highlight them a third colour, they could be a potential area for future delegating.
Now that you know what you want to outsource, you are equipped to find the person with the right skill set to become your new virtual assistant.
How do I find the right person?
I would recommend that you prepare a brief on what you are looking for.
I need someone with:
- Experience in the following areas (tasks)
- Experience with this software (systems you use)
- Industry experience
- Available x hours per week, during certain times? Time zones?
- I need an experienced person or I’m prepared to train
- My Budget
- Work onsite in my office or remotely?
- Education requirements
Where do I look for a VA contractor?
- Virtually Yours
- VA Directory
- Digital Mums Directory
- Put a job ad on your Facebook business page
- Ask for recommendations from other business owners
Tips for choosing the right person or team
In your search criteria ask them to answer some specific questions. Be prepared as you may receive a lot of interest. By having specific questions it will enable you to cull the list quickly.
Set up a time to meet with your shortlist. Get to know them, ensure they are comfortable with the various aspects of your brief. Find out if there are any areas they aren’t skilled in.
Ensure they are in it for the long haul and are committed to working with you to grow your business.
A Virtual Assistant does have a lot of advantages. Most VAs like myself will work with many clients. Since starting my business I’ve worked with over 70 different clients, that’s a lot of different industries, systems and exposure to the ways various businesses operate. I have learnt so much more since starting Creative Desk than I ever did as an employee. I’m constantly upskilling and learning how different things work as I’m exposed to different businesses and industries. These skills can then be shared then with clients.
An important step to get ready for a virtual assistant is to work out your expectations. For a successful relationship, you will need to set expectations. These are the types of things you should consider:
- How will you communicate? Good communication is critical, ensure you clearly specify the outcome, the deadline and any other relevant info you expect, eg certain systems you use, how you usually do the task.
- How will you manage your tasks – do you currently have a system in place? If not consider implementing one before onboarding a new member.
- What is your expected turnaround time for tasks?
- How often should they check-in
- How quickly should they respond to emails?
- What are your business policies? These should be documented, its something that you know and do, but your new team member is not going to know this.
- Start small and don’t overwhelm your new virtual assistant. Once they have successfully completed a few tasks, then delegate more. This will also assist you in building trust in the skills of your new team member and your ability to let go of further activities in your business.
What else will help my new virtual assistant?
Educate them about your business. Who are your clients, what do you do, what products/services do you offer?
Prepare Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on how things are done in your business. Prepare these ahead of time as you get ready for a virtual assistant. They will be invaluable in onboarding your new team member. It will mean less time explaining things to them and tasks are more likely to be done correctly, as there are procedures to follow. Do screen shares via loom or similar as a demonstration of the activity that you can store with the SOPs.
Having documented systems is never a waste of time and it’s a good step towards enabling your business to run without you.
I set up my SOPs in Asana and then use these are the basis for creating tasks, even those that I intend to do myself, I use the SOPs. By following procedures, it will ensure nothing is forgotten.
Ensure you set up systems
- Establish an email address on your own domain for your new assistant
- Share passwords, using a system such as LastPass, create an account for your new assistant or ask them if they already have an account.
- Create a project management system, eg Asana
- Schedule regular meetings/catch-ups
- Decide on the communication process for requests and stick to it. Eg email for requests and slack for quick questions.
Things I have learnt
We all have the best intentions but somethings things don’t go to plan. Here are a few things I have learnt to improve, that have improved my processes.
- Need a contract to protect your business.
- Never assume, if you aren’t sure ask.
- Mistakes will happen, everyone is human, learn from them and improve your process
- You need to be organised and work ahead of time when delegating.
- Virtual assistants will also have their own business and other clients, they may not be available immediately.
- All requests in writing, even if you have a meeting, follow up with an email.
Now you have the tools to get ready for a virtual assistant.
Don’t forget to download your Outsourcing Checklist here:
Like to know more or see how Creative Desk can help you with your business? Contact us and book a free initial call to discuss how we can help you.