If you’re a business owner in the early stages of your venture, chances are you do a lot of the work yourself. Once you start gaining momentum and having some success, however, you might need some help in the form of virtual assistance. At some point, you may want to hire a virtual assistant (VA) to take over some of the day-to-day tasks so you can focus on growing your business. Here are some tips for hiring a virtual assistant who can take a few things off your plate.

Why should you hire a virtual assistant?

As an entrepreneur, there is never enough time in the day to complete all of the work that needs to get done. There are emails to send, phone calls to make, accounting and billing to update, and many other tasks that are necessary but time-consuming. As a result, many entrepreneurs spend all of their time maintaining their businesses rather than doing what’s needed to grow.

They also may end up neglecting some important tasks because they simply don’t have enough time to do them all. If you’ve ever forgotten to send an invoice, update your accounts receivable and payable, or failed to follow up on a strong lead, then you know what it’s like to be drowning in your work.

Plus, because VAs are so affordable and accessible today, there’s really no excuse not to at least consider one for some or all of your administrative tasks. Before you hire a virtual assistant, be sure to read through our guide below and do some research into reputable virtual assistance companies to ensure you find a trustworthy assistant to meet your needs.

Hire a virtual assistant: How to get started

Hiring someone capable for virtual assistance can help you get more done without taking away from other important responsibilities. Once trained in your systems and processes, a VA can handle any of the work you don’t consider immediately important for “money-making”. You as the owner can then focus on handling more of the activities that help you grow your business, and you’ll be able to scale faster with less stress about things slipping through the cracks.

Decide what you need to outsource

Make a list of tasks that need to be performed on a regular basis, but you can outsource. Some examples where you can utilize virtual assistance include:

The list of possible tasks to outsource is endless, and it largely depends on you and your preferences. As you’re writing your list of tasks to assign to a virtual assistant make another list of things you love to do and that help grow your business. For example, if writing blog posts is something you love, maybe you keep that task for yourself. Just let someone else format and post it on your website. If scheduling appointments is something you dislike, your VA can do it for you.

Have a good job description.

Define a great job description that clearly outlines the tasks that need to be performed, and the measures of success. A great headline is important as well. It gives clarity to YOU and the new hire. Both know what is expected. Even before you hire, having a well-written job description and title makes sure you attract the right hires, too.

Do your research.

Websites like Fiverr and Upwork can be a good starting point for finding a VA affordably. You can also research companies that provide VA services, though these tend to be costlier.

Before you hire a virtual assistant, make sure they have experience working with small businesses or startups. You also want someone who is familiar with your industry and your specific needs as an entrepreneur. If they haven’t worked with other entrepreneurs before, ask for references and check them out thoroughly.

You also want to make sure a potential VA has the right skills for the job. Find out what technologies they know and if they have previous experience handling clients like yours. Do they understand social media marketing? Can they use word processing software? What about accounting software? Do they have knowledge of your industry? How much training will they need before taking over any tasks? At a minimum, their skill set should include communication skills, great attention to detail, and the ability to multitask. Beyond that, keeping in mind your list of tasks to outsource, you can get more specific with your job requirements.

Check references.

When considering candidates for virtual assistance, ask for references and check them out thoroughly. Talk with people who have worked with this person before so you estimate their efficiency and work ethics. If possible, ask for recommendations from former employers. This will tell you more about how well your potential VA works under pressure and how flexible they are when faced with new challenges.

If you’re not sure whether someone has the skills necessary to do the job, ask for examples of previous work to gauge their capabilities. Inquire how long they’ve been doing this kind of work. Also enquire where they’ve worked previously, and what kind of tasks they performed at each job. In addition, find out about their education level and certifications (if any). You should also make sure they are responsive to your needs and easy to get along with. After all, you’ll be spending a lot of time together!

Training your virtual assistant

In many cases, you’ll need to provide training for your virtual assistant. You can do this via email, over the phone, via videoconferencing, or in person. You can also have them shadow you at work or on calls. This way, they can learn what’s expected of them and how your business runs. If you want your VA to make phone calls or send emails, make sure you provide basic scripts they can use. Also, make yourself available for any questions that may arise along the way. It’s a good idea to assign a test project or two to get them used to your systems. Ensure that they are completing the work to your satisfaction.

Set clear expectations.

It’s also important to set clear expectations of the work you want to be completed and how you want it done. Clarify the number of work hours each day, the volume of work, and the kind of turnaround time you’d like. Getting on the same page from the get-go ensures there is no misunderstanding regarding what your virtual assistant should be doing. It also helps in warding off potential problems.

Devise systems and processes

Having document systems and processes can ensure that your new VA is doing the tasks that need to be done the right way and can improve on them as needed.

Take your business to the next level with virtual assistance.

Hiring a virtual assistant could be just what you need to take your business to the next level. By partnering with a trusted professional who can take work off your plate, you’re freed up to grow your business. Use our guide to make sure you’ve got all the necessary information, and then vet your potential candidates thoroughly. In no time at all, you’ll be on your way to working with a VA who can help you scale beyond your expectations.

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