How to Get Started Working with a VA

There are a ton of blog posts & checklists out there that tell you what you can outsource to a VA, and how to hire a VA – but let’s face it – reading a list of 100 things you can outsource doesn’t get you any closer to working with a virtual assistant or adding a team member to your fabulous biz.

Want to know my top 5 tips on getting started with a VA?  Grab some coffee and a pen – let’s go!

  1. Decide what you are going to outsource.

    You can grab my free task planner here to help sort that out – or a notepad/pen or online google document will work too!

    Before you start looking for a VA – you need to take some time and decide what it is that you are going to hire them for.

    Create a checklist of things in your business that you can delegate. 

    Keep your list handy as you go through your week – keep adding notes and tasks.  Make sure to drill down and add in steps for each task.  Take the time to write down the tasks you do daily, weekly, etc and what you want help with. BE SPECIFIC! Get in as much detail as you can.

    For example – “schedule blog post” – may consist of the following steps that you want your new VA to do:
    – upload blog post to website
    – spellcheck/edit for grammar.
    – add in branded images for blog post from images provided
    – schedule social media posts to promote new blog entry

    Once you have these tasks planned out – you have a better idea of what you need help with and you’ll have the start of a procedural manual for handing over tasks!

    This step also gives you more details on what type of virtual assistant you need.  For example, if all of your tasks deal with social media – you will want to look for a virtual assistant who specializes in social media (or a social media manager).

  2. Look at your work schedule.

    Are you a late night person or a crack-of-dawn early-bird like me?

    Are you on the in the US on the West Coast and need someone who is available the same hours as you?

    Is time zone a factor?  Think about the way you work. 

    If you want to create and have someone on hand during your same working hours – make a note of for your VA search.

  3.  Figure out your budget on both ends.

    What do I mean by both ends?  By both ends – I mean your time and your money – because they are both an important part of your business.

    Look at your monetary budget  – perhaps you have an idea of what you would like to spend on a new team member.  That is a great starting point.

    But one thing you also need to factor into your VA budget is time.  When you hire a VA (or a new member of your team) – you are getting back some free time in your day. 

    If hiring someone will give you 5 extra hours in your week, that extra time allows you to bring on more of your own clients, create new products and services, and generate more income (woohoo!!!) for your business .

    Your budget is now more open & flexible using this approach – and you want to find someone who is a great fit for YOU & YOUR business, because your sparkly, new virtual assistant will help you become more productive & more profitable in your own business!

  4. Post your job description & narrow down your candidates.

    Go to a few of your favorite online groups (Facebook, slack, wherever you hang out with your biz buddies) and post your  ‘job description’ (NOTE – make sure this is within the rules /guidelines for your online group first before you post).

    Remember to be specific and use your notes from the last few steps of this post – otherwise you may end up with 100’s of responses of people who want work – but may not be a good fit.

    Take some time to note your expectations, tasks & tools you want your new virtual assistant to be knowledgeable in, as well as your communication style and a bit about yourself.  And lastly, note when and how you will respond.

    I would also suggest giving specific instructions on how to respond.  If by email – a good way to tell if someone can follow simple instructions is to instruct them to reply with a specific subject line – for example: use a subject line like “VA Hire Response”.

    This one little step allows you to weed out some of your candidates right away – as a few will ignore your instructions and send an email WITHOUT you specific subject line.

    Voila!  Just like that – you have streamlined your hiring pool and can move forward and look at the people who responded and completed your first task/instruction!

    Another way to collect responses is to create a survey or form to collect responses – google forms, jotform, typeform, gravity forms – pick your fav!

    Want some ideas for things to ask?

    Some basic things you want to know – aside from name and email – are:

    • website url – be sure to check their testimonials and see who they have worked with
    • packages/services they offer
    • turnaround time for tasks – if you have a launch coming up – this may be a crucial question!
    • rates and current availability
    • how/when they bill – is there a retainer fee prior to work starting or do they send an invoice based on hours worked the week prior
    • time zone or work hours/days
    • how they communicate – email, skype, phone, project management system?
  5. Communicate openly and honestly.

    It’s usually the small pesky day to day details that tend to bog entrepreneurs down. Don’t be shy about handing over a list of tasks (and due dates) to your new virtual assistant.

    Communicate and be clear on what needs to be done as well as WHEN the specific tasks needs to be done.

    Your assistant should be able to give you an estimate of time that she/he feels is needed for the tasks you want done for your business. If the amount of time does not jive with your expected due date – you will be aware of it and be able to make adjustments, and discuss options with your new team member.

    Overall, you can create a great working relationship with your VA or personal assistant by being prepared and having an open line of communication from day one.