Virtual assistants are the secret of most CEOs. If you’re new to the game, you could mess up your first hire. I’m going to show you the exact way most brand executives have previously hired VAs.
The reason you’ve reached this level where you can afford to hire a virtual assistant is that you’ve always applied what works from others who’ve gone ahead of you.
In that same spirit of applying what works from successful people, I’ve going to reveal what real-life CEOs of different online businesses have to say when they hire a VA.
When you first started, I guess you viewed hiring a virtual assistant as an additional expense that shouldn’t be made except when absolutely needed.
Perhaps, you still think that way. Only that, at this time, you’ve practically reached your limits.
A particular section of your online business has taken a life of its own.
You spend so much time on it that it’s impossible to efficiently allocate time to all parts of your business like you once did at the beginning.
You no longer ‘have it together’ like before. Things are slowly falling apart and you know you need to do something fast.
It could be your emails, boosting your social media presence, processing client’s orders, booking flight reservations, data entry activities, or some other thing you know that you need to delegate ASAP.
Congratulations on being an entry-level CEO!
Like Bryan Miles, CEO of BELAY Solutions once said, you should realize that you’ve moved from the position of a soloist to the conductor for an orchestra.
This shift in thinking is strategic to raising the ceiling over the income of your online business and multiplying its growth.
This insight is enough to make you decide to concentrate on the parts of your business only you can do and train a virtual assistant to handle other parts.
More often than not, the things only you can do are high-value tasks that directly generate income for your business.
You’ll be more organized, in control, free, be finally able to have a life outside your online business…while having sufficient energy for your family.
That’s the reason I’m here for times like this, to make these dreams become real in your life.
Need a Virtual Assistant? Hire Me
Allow me to become your amazing virtual assistant to execute low-value tasks in your business at lightning speed.
I’ve helped many online entrepreneurs in scaling their business from the shadows, and I can do the same for you. To get started.
My price isn’t as high as you think. To get started, you can hire me right away.
How to Find and Hire a Virtual Assistant – The Foolproof Process
I’ve divided up the process into different sections that seamlessly leads to the next.
In each section, I’ll be sharing what a brand executive who’ve previously hired a virtual assistant said about a particular strategy.
You’ll be getting tips and insights from CEOs who’ve built fantastic teams to run their businesses.
In short, I’ll share what they do and what they warn against.
That way, your error rate will be drastically reduced and you’ll be on the road to making your first successful hire.
Knowing this, you can fully maximize the benefits of hiring a VA.
Let’s go over the foolproof process.
Is There Really a Task for Your Virtual Assistant?
In other words, has your online business reached the point where it is ready for a virtual assistant?
You know you’re ready for a virtual assistant when you no longer spend long hours on business growth activities because you’re consumed with emails, social media activities, and parsing spreadsheets.
There has to be a considerable amount of tasks on your business before you bring a virtual assistant on board.
If not, you won’t be able to effectively maximize their use.
This is what happened to Brandon Turner, the VP of Growth at BiggerPockets.com.
He brought in an assistant without a clear task for her and just assumed she’ll jump in and start helping.
Well, it turned out that the experience was a disaster and he had to fire her.
Now, Brandon says he makes a list of repetitious tasks that he does each day on Evernote so he can decide what to be delegated.
What if you don’t have enough money to hire a virtual assistant even when you need them badly?
Brandon Turner advises that you sacrifice for the moment.
When he couldn’t afford to hire a VA for his online business, he paid the VA from his personal pocket and trimmed down his expenses.
You can do the same.
Think of hiring a virtual assistant as an investment capable of growing your business exponentially.
Spend your time on making strategic partner connections capable of spiking your income instead of doing administrative tasks.
Any trained professional can handle those tasks and free up time for you.
Besides, a virtual assistant can save you up to 78% of operating costs a year on what you would’ve spent in hiring a full-time employee.
Did I sense you think that no one can do those little things the way you can?
In most cases, we’re not as irreplaceable as we think we are.
CEOs do most of the creative and strategic duties. Those duties are the ones that move the needle the most.
If you train anyone to handle your emails, they’ll do it just as well as you.
The money you’ll get from focusing on only the activities that directly increase your business income can be used to pay your virtual assistant.
Sounds cool, right?
Now that you know the exact tasks you want to outsource to a virtual assistant, what next?
Master the Tasks You Want to Outsource to Your VA
The tasks you’re about to delegate to a virtual assistant has hopefully become specific and clear to you at this stage.
The next step is to have a complete mastery of the task you want to hand out to your VA.
Why is that so?
The reason is simple.
You’ll master it in order to create a detailed and helpful training manual for your virtual assistant.
Remember that you’ll have to train your VA for the tasks you want him to execute for you.
And you’ll need to create a training video or manual for that.
If you don’t know the task like the back of your hand, you’ll end up creating an unhelpful tutorial.
At best, you’ll churn out a training program that suffers from the “curse of knowledge.”
The curse of knowledge happens when you subconsciously leave out basic tips in a tutorial because you believe that every random Joe should know it.
Meanwhile, the truth is not everyone is an expert on the subject and you’re probably the only one in that setting that possesses the knowledge.
Mastering the task yourself will help you view it as a beginner and the likelihood of an “expert to beginner” disconnect will be minimal.
Brandon Turner found out that he made the most headway with his virtual assistants when he mastered a task, created a training program for it and gave it out to his VA.
Since you’re learning with the aim to teach, you’re going to make the training a step-by-step one, making it easy for your VA to understand and quickly catch up.
With a training program in place, you’re not going to re-train another VA if your present one leaves you.
All you need to do is provide the training manual and the gap left by the outgoing virtual assistant will be filled as seamlessly as possible.
You just have to set up the training once and keep it nearby.
Create Screencast Recordings of Your VA’s Task
Your virtual assistant is most likely to be a visual learner, rather than an audio or textual learner.
As a matter of fact, 65% of people are visual learners.
While training manuals like standard operating procedures can come in text content, it is recommended that the actual training of how to perform tasks should be in video formats.
That way, your virtual assistant will get a live demo of how you want the task done.
Speaking from experience as a virtual assistant, it’s easier to get onboarded with video content than it is with text content.
A screencast of you doing the task while explaining will go a long way to orient your VA with the job assignment.
Screencast recordings cater to the three different learning styles – visual, audio, and textual.
Your virtual assistant sees your screen as you perform the task.
He hears you as you explain why you do what you do.
Lastly, he reads the text in the video as he catches up with what you’re doing.
Here is a screencast one of my clients sent me during my job onboarding:
Thanks to that, I was able to get acquainted with the job description quicker than expected.
There are some free online tools you can use to create a screencast easily.
I prefer Screencast-o-matic to other online screencast tools. Well, I’m biased because my client used Screencast-o-matic for my onboarding videos and the process went smoothly.
All you have to do is visit the site and click on the “start recording for free” button.
You’ll be taken to a page where you’ll have to launch the free recorder. Click on the “launch free recorder” button.
You’ll be prompted to download the recorder in your browser, after which you can start recording your screencast with the option to add narration by microphone and video from your webcam.
That’s how it’s done.
Build a System
You’ve created a training manual for your assistant.
As a matter of fact, you’ve got the things your virtual assistant will need to get accustomed to your business before you’ve begun hiring.
That’s part of putting a system in place that’ll allow operations in your business to move smoothly without your constant input.
Systems are a key indicator of whether a business will scale and become established or remain small.
Systems are also a pointer to whether a business owner will spend his life working on his business or working in his business.
They also reveal whether an entrepreneur will be organized and in control of his business or be overworked and always in need of more time.
What am I talking about?
The idea of creating systems for business was first introduced by Michael Gerber in his book, The E Myth.
Take someone that previously worked in a 9-5 job, for instance.
Maybe he worked as a secretary. In the company, there were probably different departments, such as the marketing department, accounting department, and others.
Now, the secretary leaves his job and starts his online business as a solopreneur, hoping to achieve freedom and the laptop lifestyle.
In his former job, he could easily work on his secretarial job and dispatch tasks to the marketing department.
Now, as an online business owner, he is the secretary, head of content, marketer, CEO, graphic designer, copywriter, and he keeps adding different hats when needed.
Basically, he now works 9-5, plus 20 extra hours a week.
The outcome of this is a tired and disorganized executive heading for burnout.
The concept of creating systems involves keeping a record of tasks that could be delegated, mastering those tasks, creating training manuals and videos for them, putting project management tools in place for easy operations, and handing them out to a virtual assistant.
Bringing in virtual assistants to work for you is a type of system called soft systems.
The training manuals, project management tools, and videos are called information systems.
Notice that I didn’t say that you should bring in a virtual assistant to handle tasks that you know nothing about.
That’s because if you do that, how are you going to conduct training for your VA?
You won’t be in charge of that aspect of your business. You can’t effectively review the work your virtual assistant has done, at least in the early stages.
Since you’ve done everything regarding the training of your VA at this point, you’ll need to set up a project management tool to ensure the effective working of your team.
One project management tool I recommend is Trello.
Trello works by creating cards for different stages of a business operation. You can create a board and invite your virtual assistant as a collaborator.
This project management tool is perfect for organizing, tracking, storing, or sharing. It is used by creating a board that’s made up of cards and lists.
My client at the time of this writing uses Trello to manage virtual assistants and projects that need to be done. So far, it has been very helpful and makes things organized.
For sharing files to your VA, you could easily use Google Drive.
Other project management tools are Asana and Basecamp.
Dorie Clark, a marketing strategist, speaker, and author of Reinventing You noted that one of the best things that happened with her most recent VA was developing an assistant manual before the VA started the job.
The assistant manual came with a step-by-step process for all the tasks the virtual assistant will be required to do.
This ensured that Dorie didn’t get bombarded with questions and the VA quickly got the hang of the job.
Putting systems in place like this is a surefire way to set up your business for scalability and long-term growth.
Find Your Superstar VA
Things are about to get real from this point. The thing is, there is no shortage of virtual assistants.
If you go to any online marketplace like Fiverr or Upwork, you’ll run into different VAs competing for your attention.
More often than not, you’ll find out that most of them just don’t cut it. They are likely not as efficient and experienced as the imaginary VA you’ve already hired in your mind.
If you’ve ever had cause to hire before, you should know exactly what I’m talking about.
So, how do you weed out all the mediocrity and settle for a purely amazing VA?
You have two options.
Either you hire an independent virtual assistant or you hire a VA from an agency.
Which one is actually better?
Well, I’ll let you in on what Rich Pearson, SVP of Marketing and Categories at Upwork said about this.
Rich Pearson notes that it might be costlier to hire a virtual assistant who has a contract with an agency, due to overhead costs.
Also, an agency is going to use multiple virtual assistants to work for you based on which skill is currently needed, or in case your present VA falls ill.
In most cases, they might change your VA on a whim.
Pearson also said that an independent virtual assistant is more likely to give your business personalized attention because he’s the only one on board.
And in almost all cases, independent VAs turn out to be the most dedicated assistants because most agencies rotate different virtual assistants to work with you, making them less committed and involved in your business.
If you wish to go ahead and hire a virtual assistant from an agency, I’ve compiled the virtual assistant companies where you can find quality VAs.
On the other hand, if you prefer working with an independent VA, you can simply hire me here.
Interview Your VA
Employees don’t get on board without a thorough interview, how much more a virtual assistant who is likely to be your hands and legs.
A virtual assistant is probably the most important position that can be occupied in your online business because they end up representing you in most cases.
A VA is like your right-hand man.
They could answer emails on your behalf, run a social media campaign on your behalf, process client orders on your behalf, make booking reservations on your behalf, and even speak to other members of your team on your behalf.
This position is a pretty sensitive one and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
You need to know the person who’s stepping into those shoes very well to avoid headaches down the line.
As you interview your VA, the first set of traits you should watch out for is carefulness and attention to detail.
Jon Levy, a behavior scientist and the founder of Influencer Dinner and The Salon, reveals that in order to eliminate virtual assistant applicants that don’t pay attention to detail, he includes a litmus test in his job postings.
Jon says that he asks applicants to address him by another name or he requests that applicants include weird words like “unicorn” and “banana” in their application.
Apparently, this rules out those who send out mass applications at once without taking the time to read through each job ad.
Jon Levy says that the litmus test eliminates two-thirds of all VA applicants, leaving him with punctilious virtual assistants he can move forward with.
When it comes to interviewing your superstar VA, video interviews are the best.
You can use Zoom or Skype.
Personally, I’ll recommend you use Zoom Meetings because it allows you to screen share.
With Zoom, you might want to show your virtual assistant how to perform a task from your computer, and all you need to do is to click the screen share icon.
Your VA will be able to see what you’re doing on your computer screen.
Now would be a good time to ask some questions and get to know your virtual assistant better.
You could ask your VA these interview questions and make your assessment from his response.
A video call interview will enable you to feel the enthusiasm of your virtual assistant, the environment he’s working from, and his disposition towards the job.
Also, if you’re hiring from a country outside the U.S., you can easily know whether your virtual assistant has a good command of the English language.
Don’t Give Access to Your Entire Business
When onboarding a virtual assistant, it’s always better to move too slowly than too fast.
And also, it’s always best to give the virtual assistant access to only what he/she needs at the moment.
Tales of woe abound of different brand executives who’ve given a VA undue access to several business properties, such as making them the owner of some important Google Doc files.
Before you know it, these same assistants disappear or even go behind their backs to defraud them.
These kinds of unethical acts will make you wish that such delicate information should’ve been in your care only.
There are things to share with your VA, and things to keep to yourself.
Kimanzi Constable, the Chief Growth Officer of Results Global Impact Consulting, recounted how he walked away from a consulting deal that he was negotiating with a company in Asia.
Because of the stubbornness of the company, he walked away from the deal because they wanted to own his content to repackage and sell it as their own.
After he left the deal, one of his VAs that had access to this company, went behind his back and tried to sell them his content for a ridiculously low $15,000.
After reflecting on what happened, Kimanzi has this advice to give to entrepreneurs. He says that they should be deliberate about giving access to parts of your online business.
He also says you can trust your virtual assistants later with your classified information only after they’ve proved themselves in an unmistakable way.
Kimanzi Constable even goes as far as recommending that your virtual assistants sign non-disclosure and other legal documents.
Well, after going through a problematic experience such as that, it’s understandable to do anything to protect your online business, after all, it’s your means of livelihood.
More importantly, we can take a note or two from what happened to Kimanzi in order to safeguard our business.
Kimanzi Constable is not the only one who has bad experiences with VAs.
Matt Keener, the president of Keener Marketing Solutions LLC, had an amazing VA who took excellent meeting minutes and kept things organized for him.
Suddenly, the virtual assistant disappeared.
Looking back in hindsight, Matt said he should have seen it coming because he noticed some pattern of events whereby she unexpectedly missed meetings, made excuses, and forgot simple instructions.
The one thing Matt regretted the most was giving his VA too much access by making her an administrator of several important systems in his company, including his project management software.
When she left, he also found that she was the owner of some important Google docs that proved particularly difficult to undo following her departure.
Matt Keener’s advice for brand executives is to be strategic when giving system access to your virtual assistant.
Give them only what they need to get the job done.
Chances are, some of your present VAs already have more access privileges than required. You can review their access levels and trim them down appropriately.
It’s easy to get lazy and just provide your virtual assistant the passwords to most parts of your business so they can start getting things done immediately.
Remember, it’s better to take a drunken approach to onboard than a hasty one.
Give Your VA the Required Training
The next logical step after successfully hiring a virtual assistant is to train them patiently and properly.
However, do you know what Chris Ducker, the author of Virtual Freedom says about training?
He says that the first person to train is you.
You’ll need to drop the superhero syndrome where you think you can take on everything yourself.
Next, you’ll need to scope out the specific tasks your VA will handle so you can create training for them.
Adam Callinan, the founder of BottleKeeper, says that you’ll need to develop a training manual for your virtual assistant.
I know that can seem like a long and arduous process to you right now.
One thing that can help with creating it is by sharing the screencasts you’ve already recorded in the previous steps with your VA.
Remember those screencasts of your VA’s tasks I told you to record with screen-o-matic?
Now is the time to let your virtual assistant have it. Along with the normal job descriptions that are contained in the email you sent to your VA.
As your VA goes about the job, he should record each and every step in a Google doc training manual you’ve already created.
Over time, you’ll have a full training document that can be passed to another virtual assistant in case your present one leaves.
Of course, you’re going to have to make some edits and adjustments in the manual.
So, not only do you have screencasts videos to pass on to your virtual assistant, but you also have written training manuals that can be easily digested by any new VA that’s about to work for you.
You’ve basically catered to the three learning styles most people use – visual, audio, and text.
The training process can take days or weeks, depending on how fast the virtual assistant is able to catch up.
It’s important to be especially patient with your VA during this phase, else you might miss out on a brilliant, yet slow learner.
With the training in place, you’ll find that your VA will be able to help you in more ways efficiently than without it.
Make Your VA Feel Like a Part of Your Team
This is mega important.
A virtual assistant who is not made to feel as though he belongs will be less committed to the success of your business venture.
Making your VA feel like a part of your team introduces the feeling of an ownership mentality, leading to a devoted team member and a true fan.
One of the best ways of making your virtual assistant feel like he belongs is by sharing the grand vision behind your online business.
Letting your virtual assistant see the big picture behind why you do what you do will allow him to work with you hand-in-hand as partners.
It’ll also make the boss-employee relationship take on a new meaning and evolve into comrades who are in it together with a steely resolve to succeed.
Natalie Sisson, the founder of The Suitcase Entrepreneur, is a business executive who’s used the power of team ownership to build her online business while traveling the world as a modern-day nomad.
She says that sharing your business vision with a virtual assistant gives them an ownership mentality as they know they’re trying to achieve a goal as a team.
Two heads are better than one, that’s if you’ve hired just one virtual assistant.
What about five or seven heads?
I’ll leave you to answer that (but don’t say monster).
Channeling the energy of your team towards your business by making them feel like actual team members will far surpass what you could’ve done on your own.
Another way to make your VA feel like he belongs is to go beyond communicating by emails and leave a team-like experience.
For example, you could hold a meeting with all your team members using a video conferencing app like Zoom.
Or you could use project management software like Trello where all your team members can see the activity of others in doing their bits.
In a world where companies are migrating to virtual staffing, experiences like this are important when building a capable team.
Build Trust by Assigning Little Tasks at First
In determining the capability of your virtual assistant to handle tasks, a staggered approach always turns out to be less risky in the long run.
What you don’t want to do at this stage is to let your VA handle a very important task.
You have to start small to build trust and assess his capability.
If your virtual assistant shows competence and warm efficiency in the not-so-important tasks, then you can trust him with more advanced jobs.
It’s just like the biblical saying, “he who is faithful in little is faithful also in much.”
John Rampton, an entrepreneur and startup enthusiast, reinforces the idea of taking baby steps in assigning tasks to your VA.
He says that the little tasks could be as simple as returning a phone call. Based on that, you can know whether to delegate more challenging activities.
If you don’t know exactly which tasks to hand off to your virtual assistant, John advises that you use a priority system to create tasks in order of their difficulty level.
The tasks at the most difficult level can be handled by you while those with lower difficulty can be delegated to your virtual assistant.
This is also in line with what Jennifer Beukman, a former brand specialist at Virtuzone said.
She said that to get a feel for the work chemistry between you and your VA, the early tasks you’ll delegate should be small and not time-sensitive.
It’s always better to start small and build on it than to risk an important task of your online business being handled badly.
Remember that your virtual assistant is a human, so there’s bound to be first-time mistakes.
Just make sure that those early mistakes are made on a relatively unimportant task that doesn’t affect the bottom line of your business.
Over time, you and your virtual assistant will get in sync with each other and find a working rhythm.
Monitor and Offer Feedback on All Performed Tasks
Virtual assistants are a special bunch.
While you as the entrepreneur suffer from the superhero syndrome, your VA is probably battling with the “I’ll-never-let-you-down” syndrome.
Do you know the effect this silent syndrome has on your most important team member?
Chris Ducker, the founder of Virtual Staff Finder and author of Virtual Freedom, lays out what this means for you.
Chris says that in a bid for your VA not to let you down, they’ll rather try to figure out a task they’re unsure of rather than asking you for help.
Let’s say you asked your VA to conduct keyword research for an upcoming blog post for you, and you stopped at that.
Your virtual assistant might be at a loss on what keyword research tool to use because the keyword monthly searches on Google Keyword Planner will be different from that of Keywords Everywhere extension or Ubersuggest.
Instead of directly asking you the keyword research tool you prefer, he’ll do a Google research on his own to come up with the most popular and trusted tool to use.
And that might not be what you had in mind.
I’ll-never-let-you-down syndrome leads to discrepancies in expectations and it’s up to you to monitor your VA and let them know that they’re welcome to ask you questions.
It’s easy to delegate a task to your virtual assistant and not bother about reviewing the work they’ve done.
As an enlightened executive, you know better than to abandon your VA after you’ve assigned a task.
In the early stages, your virtual assistant is more likely to run off a blind alley when he’s not clear on your instructions.
Reviewing their work and offering feedback is a must.
Erlend Blakke, the founder of Mr. Outsource, takes it a step further while trying to solve this problem.
He says he uses the daily update tip when reviewing the works of his team members. He asks them some questions every day and views their feedback.
Here are some of the daily questions he poses to his team members:
- Date and hours worked in full
- What you did today
- Explain two challenges encountered
- List three questions you have for me
Blakke says that doing this consistently in a daily manner has saved him many hours over the past six years.
Communicating with your virtual assistant, reviewing their work, and letting them know they should promptly ask you questions can scale up the efficiency of your VA.
While keeping the communication lines open, it’s essential that you refrain from micromanaging them.
Instead of reviewing the process of a particular task that your VA does for you, try reviewing the outcome instead.
Later, you can talk about the process with which they arrived at that outcome to be sure they followed your preference in performing the task.
Or should I say, “fire yourself.”
Fire yourself from whatever job your virtual assistant is handling for you.
Release your mental grip from the task that your VA is working on.
Let go of it, let it go.
Sit back and wait for the feedback from your virtual assistant. Or better still, start doing the activities only you can do while you wait.
That’s the reason you hired a virtual assistant in the first place, remember?
Up until now, you’ve done everything that pertains to your business yourself.
You’ve been a content writer, editor, graphic designer, copywriter, psychologist, marketer, with little time to be the CEO.
Now, you’re making a transition.
While you’ve constantly carried the name as “CEO” or “founder” of your business around, you’ve never been able to function in that role for a long time, if you’re honest with yourself.
It’s always been working in your business, not on your business.
For too long, you’ve carried on the tasks of a writer, graphic designer, and marketer on your shoulders.
The bottom line is, you’re not familiar with the feeling of being an actual CEO.
The thing is, while you’ve never been able to grow into a proper brand executive, your online business has continued to grow, thanks to your diligent efforts.
All that’s required of you now is to keep up with the growth of your online business.
You have to grow into a CEO and stop filling the shoes of different team members.
Simply put, drop the mic of a soloist and pick up the baton to conduct your orchestra.
Yes, your role now is to build and manage your team.
That’s the CEO mindset.
With this mindset shift, you’ll be able to relax and trust that your virtual assistant will deliver on the job.
Actually, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how efficient your VA can be with the right instructions.
Observe the New Shape You and Your Business Is Taking
After you’ve hired a VA, your business won’t be the same again.
If you rightly maximize the time your virtual assistant can free up for you, be prepared to see how your online business is going to scale.
Remember Pareto’s principle of the 80/20 rule, where 80% of your results come from 20% of your activities?
Before you found your virtual assistant, you strived to focus on the 20% of activities that brought you the most result.
Alas, you couldn’t fully focus on those things because you’ve got emails, social media, image designing and other low-value tasks to handle.
Now that your virtual assistant is going to take off all those activities that don’t directly bring in income, you’re free to focus on that 20% of activities that move the needle.
It’s inevitable that your online business will grow in leaps and bounds.
Beyond brand growth, you’ll also notice that you’re less fatigued, more organized, and in control of your business.
Prior to this phase in your life, your business might’ve controlled you. Now you control it completely.
You’ve been afforded the opportunity to step back more frequently and review the big picture.
The effect of finding a virtual assistant also flows to your social and family life.
No more will you shy away from spending time with your spouse or kids because you’ve got something to work on.
Your buddies are going to notice your increased availability because you’ve learned the art of effective delegation.
As Chris Ducker rightly said, it’s hard giving up control at the beginning. But once you start letting go of the steering wheel a little, you’ll want to hire a full-time drive sooner or later.
When you think about it, that’s how life is supposed to be.
We should be relaxed and in control when pursuing our purpose in business.
Want An Efficient VA? Hire Me
Since you know how to find and hire a virtual assistant, can I make my proposal?
I want to be the VA to shoulder the administrative tasks in your business and make your life easier and less stressful.
Don’t think my price is high, it’s not.
To get started, you can hire me right here.