by Ryan Jenkins
The demands on our time have never been more plentiful than in today’s info overload and connected culture. Learning curves are steep and getting steeper and there just isn’t enough time in the day…or is there?
In our last post, Finding Freedom: 5 Need-To-Know Answers When Considering A Virtual Assistant, we answered the top questions surrounding virtual assistants and reviewed why I am finally considering hiring a virtual assistant (VA). In today’s post, I describe the necessary steps I plan to follow to secure and manage my future virtual assistant by following the advice in Chris Ducker’s book, Virtual Freedom: How to Work with Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive, and Build Your Dream Business.
I hope this post can serve as your next generation catalyst if you find yourself (like me) wanting to work on your business more and in your business less.
1) Identify VA Tasks
- List tasks you don’t like doing.
- My List: Updating social media / Editing podcast episodes / Promoting blog posts / Researching and scheduling podcast guests
- List tasks you don’t know how to do.
- My List: Logo designs / Website design / Coding / Transcribing blog posts
- List tasks you feel you shouldn’t be doing.
- My List: Designing blog post images / Editing, uploading, formatting, and promoting blog and podcast posts / Scheduling podcast interviews / Formatting blog posts
2) Identify VA Responsibilities and Qualities
Identify the core responsibilities and qualities of the virtual assistant. I have listed mine below.
- Core Responsibilities: Editing, uploading, formatting, and promoting podcast episodes.
- Skills: WordPress, audio editing, social media, strong communication skills, coach-ability, innovative, accessible, and responsive.
- Growth Potential: I’m interested in a virtual assistant that is coach-able and continuously developing their skills.
- Personality: The virtual assistant needs to fit the vibe of our team and have a pulse on culture.
3) Identify VA Success Metrics
Create clear goals, metrics, and timelines so that your virtual assistant knows exactly what is expected of them.
My expectation: Every month 1-2 fully edited podcast episodes are uploaded to iTunes, formatted into a blog post with a captivating image of the podcast guest, and promoted via social media.
4) Identify Cost Structure and Payment Method.
Virtual assistants can be paid weekly, biweekly, monthly, or when a project is completed. Most virtual assistants prefer to be paid via PayPal. Chris recommends paying biweekly as your virtual assistant will appreciate it and will be eager to keep working with you. I plan to pay my virtual assistant biweekly or monthly. (See Part 1 for a list of VA pay ranges.)
5) Search For A VA
Now that you have an idea of how you will utilize a virtual assistant, it’s time to find one. At first, I plan to use oDesk.com to find a part-time podcast editor. Eventually, I’d like to use VirtualStaffFinder.com to hire a general virtual assistant.
To find a virtual assistant using Virtual Staff Finder, you sign up for the recruiting service, submit a job description, and then sit back and relax. You can focus on running your company while the recruiting team does the interviewing, background checks, testing, and additional screening needed to create a finalized list of candidates.
6) Evaluate Your VA
It’s not uncommon to interview your virtual assistant prior to making a selection via phone or Skype. I plan to evaluate my virtual assistant in the following areas:
- Quality of work.
- Previous work history.
- Previous employer testimonies.
- Response time.
7) Select Your VA
You may want to consider a contract or NDA. If possible, I plan to have my virtual assistant on a trial basis for the first 1-2 projects. Then I will consider creating a contract to secure the virtual assistant for a longer period of time.
8) Train Your VA
Chris stresses that the first person you’ll need to train when working with a virtual assistant is yourself. So true. I anticipate there to be a lot of work on the front end setting expectations, training, and managing. However, I am confident the investment on the front end will pay off on the back-end. I plan to use Screenflow to create video tutorials of the exact work I need my virtual assistant to complete.
9) Manage Your VA
Chris provides a number of tips to manage your virtual assistant that I anticipate following:
- Tell your VA to come to you with any questions at any time. Let the VA know that if you don’t hear from him or her, you will expect that everything is okay and that the next benchmark will be hit as scheduled.
- If your VA misses a benchmark, make sure to ask what prevented him or her from meeting the deadline. Find out if your VA will need more time to hit the next benchmark.
- If your VA does not deliver work on the set benchmark date and did not inform you of the delay, do not contact him or her. Wait for the VA to contact you and immediately address the missed date. Let him or her know that you expect the next benchmark to be different.
- Create a shared Google Drive document to track hours and activities.
- Check in with your VA consistently. Chris recommends twice per week.
- When you e-mail a new task to your VA, write “NEW TASK: (Enter Task Title)” in the subject line. Then have your VA enter this task into the shared document for tracking.
- Have the VA summarize their work at the end of each day in an email addressing the following:
- What did you accomplish today?
- Is there anything you need help with or do you have questions?
- Do you have any suggestions?
10) Reward Your VA
It’s important to treat your virtual assistant as a valued member of the team. Consider rewarding their hard work with gift cards, handwritten notes, more responsibility (with a pay bump of course), etc.
11) Secure The Right Tools
- Evernote: document sharing.
- Asana: to assign and track VA tasks.
- Dropbox: to share files.
- Gmail: email communication.
- Skype: for any live communication.
- Google Docs: live document collaboration and sharing.
- WordPress: grant the VA access to your blogging platform so they can post and edit projects.
- Screenflow: capture sreenshots and video tutorials of the requested workflow for training purposes.
- Lastpass: grants VA specific access to accounts while protecting your passwords.
Question: How would you use a virtual assistant? What would you outsource if you could?