Are Virtual Assistants a Must?
When looking to scale your online business, virtual assistants are absolutely a must. Anyone not leveraging the ability of using virtual assistants with the technology we have nowadays with Skype, WhatsApp and email being so easy to communicate is crazy. Employing some offshore employees is seen by some as being cheap labour, and people may use the phrase ‘pay peanuts and you’ll get monkeys’. However, your VA is only as good as the training provided to them.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant is also known as a VA. It is basically an assistant worker but unlike a PA (personal assistant) who would generally be based in the same office as you, these could be based anywhere in the world. Modern technology makes it just as easy to Skype your VA thousands of miles away as it is to make a phone call to a member of staff in your head office nearby.
Where to Employ Virtual Assistants?
The location of your virtual assistants is important in my opinion. I am not going to discredit any countries but some are better than others for particular tasks. The most common countries I come across when VAs are employed is Phillippines, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Thailand.
So why do I feel a certain country is better for certain tasks needed? The short answer is language barriers you might have between your offshore employee and your in-house team. I generally find the Philippines personally to be the best for content creation of supporting blog articles over many others and that is generally because all speak English very well. India tends to offer the best for web development because internet code and advanced technology is taught to kids at a young age. However this is only based on personal experience and from utilising many offshore employees this is what suited our company best.
Why Hire a VA?
If you are debating why to hire a VA then read my blog here about delegation being key to success. You need to free your time and in my opinion any task which is repeated more than once should then be outsourced. The reasons behind hiring a VA are endless. It gives assistance on workload without the need to supply office space and ability to hire them on a ‘pay per job’ basis. This strategy helps you forecast the money you will be investing more easily making your business more scalable to build your empire online.
How Do I Hire a VA?
If you are looking to hire a virtual assistant, here are some websites to help you:
- People Per Hour
There are many other ways to find your perfect offshore employee. For example purchasing gigs from websites like Fiverr and Sourcemarket. If you find the purchased gig to be of a high quality then you might outreach to the supplier of this to see whether he is interested in working for you full time or reach out to see whether they would like extra work.
Do Virtual Assistants Offer Scalability?
The main advantage to using VAs is the time it frees for your in-house staff to scale out, develop and improve strategies. I personally could not have grown my online ventures without the use of virtual assistants. If you know anything about me then you will know I don’t solely employ virtual assistants because having the right systems in place is a must. Therefore I employ over a dozen full time UK based staff in our head office in Cheshire. These in-house staff are what I would like to call middle managers where they all get assigned several VAs each to outsource any repetitive work.
Setting the Right Systems is Key
Anyone who hires virtual assistants successfully will tell you it is all about the systems and training you have in place. If you have a VA which makes a mistake then the first place you should look is at your training, your step by step guides and systems in place. Could that have been improved so your VA did not make that mistake? If so develop and improve this so it doesn’t happen again.
When you first start looking into using VAs, I am not going to lie, the time, effort and patience you need is daunting. The work needed in setting this up is by no means easy and having the time and resources to properly create step by step tutorials and videos is in my opinion the difference between success and failure. The real reason you hear some VAs not working out is because the systems you have implemented are not good enough. Do not leave any stone unturned and cover every possible outcome so that mistakes are limited.
What are your Options?
Someone in the digital space who is crushing it at the moment is a chap called Ryan Stewart from Webris based out in Miami. Here is a great video which fits in perfectly with this article – Outsourcing: Pros, Cons and How to Offshore RIGHT:
3 minutes into the video above it discusses the 4 different employment types you can consider when scaling out your company. There are:
- Employee in house – Can be costly to employ full time staff but the benefits of having someone in the same office do have many perks.
- Freelancer – You generally find the decent freelancers are always busy, can be costly and are generally a one person set up who is limited to the time in the day to complete the tasks.
- Outsource – You are on their terms and outsourcing to a company could be costly with you reliant on them to complete the tasks.
- Hire a VA – If you hire well you should be able to bypass the language barrier and then you have a full time, quality employee whose daily duties you can manage. This allows you to prioritise your workload and not be reliant on others as much to scale.
When Should You Delegate to a VA?
If you find yourself doing anything in your daily duties more than once then can this be outsourced to your VA? Any repetitive piece of work you carry out should be considered to be delegated onto virtual assistants. Free up your time to be thinking and not doing. I cannot stress to you enough the importance of creating spare time for you to forward think and plan ahead.
Understand your staff’s workflow and see how this can be improved. Make sure your managers are spending time managing the team and are not bogged down on the day to day tasks. These tasks can be outsourced to your VA at a fraction of the wage you are paying your in-house team. Consideration needs to be made on the importance of the work which you outsource. If you are building a brand then your team need to be the personality behind this so I wouldn’t delegate this section of your workload. However, any data inputting or repetitive tasks that can free up time should be put into tutorials and delegated to VAs.
When looking to use a VA, it should be for executing the physical workload. Having them as the ‘do-er’ creates time for your staff and yourself to be the thinkers. Your middle managers need to be planning and setting the strategy for your VAs to then complete and execute.
Process Everything with SOPs
Almost everything you do can be created into a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). You might like to think you are so important and advanced that you cannot simply create these tasks into step by step guides. Trust me if you break down your work into SOPs almost all of it can be created into well written Standard Operating Procedures.
Clearly defining your SOPs with actionable videos, screenshots of each task and well written process documents is where your VA can pretty much just be qualified at data entry level. If you set out the SOPs clearly then they will simply be following guides and not need to understand why, how and what they are physically doing. The process takes care of itself and your VAs can simply rinse and repeat this for you time and time again.
Create checklists for your virtual assistants so this allows you to track where they are up to on the works delegated. These checklists and documents with all the log ins clearly identified is what will prevent them from having to ask any questions and therefore allow the rinse / repeat process to be done in super-fast time.
Virtual Assistants Feedback
The feedback from my virtual assistants is generally positive. The reason for this is the systems set in place for them. Any member of staff unsure to their job role is out of their comfort zone and productivity is slowed down. Having the communication and training in place is crucial.
I strongly recommend both step by step guides on articles for your VA to read and also a video tutorial as well to physically show them the guide on how you want this done. Once you have these saved on your documents then it is easy to edit should anything need improving or altering.
Get the feedback from them on whether the tutorials could be clearer and listen to what they have to say. Improve, develop and optimise your systems because every day you strive to develop this will help you grow your online presence further down the line. Make sure you remain positive regarding any problems you encounter because this gives you room to improve. Do not moan at your problems but take action and develop so it does not happen again.
Some VAs are Now my Best Mates
I personally have now become good friends with a lot of VAs throughout the world. I love the fact these people are grafting for me to help build the business. Therefore I would recommend once you find a decent virtual assistant to keep them by rewarding them. A pay rise or a birthday bonus goes a long way to keeping them happy.
There is nothing worse than chopping and changing your employees. The staff retention we have has been unreal and I think this is mainly to do with the respect and rewards we show to our virtual assistants. These are hardworking staff taking massive action for your business. So, like you would an employee based in your office, reward them when it is needed.
VAs Help You to Synergise
The assistance of VAs gives you more time to forward think and more time to do the most important element of any business growth – SYNERGISING. Every minute you spend networking is gold in my opinion because you bounce ideas with entrepreneurs to optimise and develop further. The synergy and networking gives you ideas to build more joint ventures. The more joint ventures you do with like-minded people the more you learn because we all have different strategies to market and there are so many ways to get the best results.
Be prepared to hustle and don’t become lazy thinking it is easy just hiring virtual assistants now because developing and improving your systems is the key. I love the wording SYNERGY and any mate will be laughing now reading this because I repeat it so many times in all my blogs but it is not just a work reason why I adore it. I truly believe in the ‘rising tide lifts all ships’ mentality so the more friends and pals I can help out the better. A happy millionaire is way better than a lonely billionaire in my opinion and life is all about the journey – certainly not the bank balance.
Are You Doing Enough Joint Ventures?
Ask yourself: are you doing enough joint ventures with mates in the same niche? If not then don’t make excuses and get them started. It could take years to become successful but making money with friends is so rewarding and satisfying. I am always up for JVs and run my no risk supply of enquiries for this reason because I want to see folk around me crushing it.
Hit me up with a message if there is anything here I have missed that you feel should be added, or if you have a project you think be good for us both to get our teeth into. I have staff and resources to scale niches out if I feel it will be fun and worth our time in doing so. Take care and thanks for reading the article as I’m just on the plane ride home from Las Vegas which was one of the best weeks of my life. Peace and love you all x x