How can you grow your business by hiring a VA (Virtual Assistant)?
Let me start by stating that from my perspective, the word “virtual” is in fact the wrong one; a Virtual assistant is everything but Virtual, it is a Human being that remotely supports your business endeavour.
Once we get software tools that can perform those tasks leading to the same, or even a better outcome, then we will have Virtual Assistants.
Why should you hire a VA?!
Any and all businesses comprehend several types of tasks, from producing and delivering whatever product or service you do, to issuing invoices or performing sales contacts during the sales cycle, developing Marketing initiatives and so many others …
It is just an overwhelming context in which to attempt a “one man show” and although such approach may work for some time and you may be efficient at it, the point is that you should try and focus on becoming more effective by the day. Doing everything yourself, will become just impossible.
Map each business task ROI
If you look at the image above it represents a short example of a value map concerning a few of your business’ inherent tasks.
The big dollar sign line will list the tasks that represent higher revenue versus invested work time, therefore higher ROI, whereas the tasks in the same line as the smaller dollar sign shall be the ones that although maybe mandatory, contribute the less to your revenue.
The “On” (as of on-business) column shall comprehend tasks that add value to the business and “In” (as of in-business) column the tasks that support delivery of product or service.
So, one major Business Rule is that you should focus on the essentials, meaning the tasks that represent higher ROI, spending as much time as possible performing those yourself.
Now a Virtual assistant, representing a much lower work hour cost for your company than you, is the right resource whom to allocate such low revenue generating tasks, therefore the optimal point is where you personally just perform the tasks listed in the Blue Quadrant, the ones that are Core for you,
The tasks listed in the other Quadrants (although important) can be performed by 3rd party elements (VAs and other expert freelancers) with lower cost, maybe better than if you were the one to performing them and freeing your time to focus on managing and expanding your business.
The right VA may represent additional revenue
Let’s say that you are not the nr.1 guy to do a cold call, meaning calling a “suspect” (someone that you perceive could be a potential customer but doesn’t even know your brand) out of the blue and attempting to gain his / her interest in your sales pitch. Some people excel at exactly doing that and it may mean getting a prospect out of each 10 contacts (not a bad average), while if you were the one doing so, it could take as much as 40 contacts to get one single prospect (market benchmark).
How much time do you save not having to cold call 40 “suspects”?
Great, but how do I find the right VA?
The right VA (as any other thing in business) is the one that bares the best quality with the lowest associated price tag. The Philippines have become an expert pool of VAs, they are empathic people that speak perfect English, brought up in a culture that values commitment, dedication and quality of service and within a social context (given the low cost of living) where if you pay something like $5 per hour, you are well above the benchmark. But you don’t need to go to the Philippines, the great majority of those VAs are reachable through freelancing platforms such as the ones listed here.
How do I select a good one?
To begin with, and in order to get some tips on best practices regarding the selection process, please refer to our article on “Hiring on Upwork”. When you publish, your job post, do not be too specific about the tasks that you will need to be performed, be assertive but just enough so you get answers within context, meaning if you need help with your bookkeeping just post that, no details like: issuing invoices, dealing with bank transfers, filling “XYZ” declaration. You know as well as I do that in today's’ world a search engine can provide you with the perfect answer to almost any question, so you want them to be genuine afterward when interviewing them. Now, you have your list of potential candidates, so next you really must do the interview and don’t forget to ask the following questions:
- How do you manage your time amongst your clients? – there is no best practice here, the point is that you should be getting a coherent fluent answer from someone who has a work process that is effective. Just be aware of the word “multitasking”, no one is capable of that, … really, trust me on this! One thing is if the candidate explains that having more than one client and if while working in your “context” the phone rings, pertaining another client, he/ she will halt your work and deal with that call (which is acceptable), the other thing is an “everything goes” approach.
- How do you manage both physical and electronic documentation? – You definitely want to hear something like: “I maintain a separate physical folder for each client as well as separate electronic ones”. It is advisable that some degree of Cloud based file management is performed so that you may access your main documents at any given moment.
- What do you do concerning electronic security and who has access to your work computer? – Understand their vision on security; how do they perform their backups; you definitely don’t want to work with someone that lets “the house kids” use that computer and incur the risk of virus, or doesn’t even have an anti-virus installed. The work computer needs to be dedicated and secure.
- Which are your “resting periods”? – Remember a VA although called a Virtual Assistance, is a human being and therefore must rest, so they should be off at least one day a week. If you get an answer, I work 24/7, … no good.
- Are you a full-time VA? – If the person with whom you are speaking with is just “having a go” at being a VA or does it part-time, well, unless your requirements are very limited and do not require some specific timeframe, … not a good choice.
- What can you do for me as a VA? – Be aware of the “one man show” kind of person. The point with VA’s is that not being full-time employees you can hire as many as you need within limited time slots to fill in some tasks that are not your personal core tasks, since they will be cheaper and better than you at it. So, the VA that contacts your “suspects” and prospects and manages your agenda is definitely not the VA that ensures your SEO and Social Media Marketing presence nor the one that will do some “photoshopping” for you. Would you entrust your bookkeeping to the same persons that do your graphic design?
- What is your learning process when you need to acquire new knowledge? – If the answer is something like: “I can learn anything that you teach me”, … not good enough. Learning merely at the expense of your time is exactly the opposite of what you are trying to achieve when hiring a VA. You want to focus your time on the essential tasks that add value to your business by contributing to revenue generation or client buy-in into your brand. Now, having said that, you should prepare some very assertive initial material, and please for your own profit, do a short video explaining the basics of whatever you want them to do by showing your computer screen while you do it. It has never been so easy as it is currently and you can get software such as “screencastomatic” or other that makes it absolutely “one click away” to do. Bottom line, at the end of the day, the VA needs to have the capacity to search for knowledge elsewhere and be self-taught once he/she gets “the basics”.
How to start?
Now, just when you are about to choose your VA and there is a Top 3 or Top 5 short list of similar candidates, you can either set a trial task to assess who is the best or (not to do it in one single interaction and since they are not expensive to higher), get the Top 3 for a week and then you keep the one who proves to be better at what you require being done.
This is when the theory is either proven or not, you get to see who got the message, who went the extra mile, who best fits your need.
If done properly, hiring a VA is nothing else but investing in a safe asset to leverage your Business growth.