Are Virtual Assistants a Must?

By March 31, 2017Tutorials

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 work in the same office as you, these could be 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 employing VAs are Phillippines, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Thailand.

So why do I feel a certain country is better for certain tasks? 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 kids learn internet code and advanced technology 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.

Virtual Assistants

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:

  • Upwork
  • People Per Hour
  • Elance

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 gig to be of a high quality then you might outreach to the supplier. You could see whether he would like to start 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 deal with 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 you improve it so your VA doesn’t make that mistake? If so develop and improve this so it doesn’t happen again.

When you first start looking into using VAs, the time, effort and patience you need is daunting. The work needed in setting this up is by no means easy. 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 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 you outsource it to your VA? You should think about delegating any repetitive piece of work you carry out 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 you can improve it. Make sure your managers are spending time managing the team and are not working on the day to day tasks. You can outsource these tasks to your VA at a fraction of the wage you are paying your in-house team.

You need to consider 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 go into a tutorial. You can then delegate these to VAs to complete the process more quickly.

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

You can put almost everything you do into a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). You might think you are so important and advanced that you can’t put these tasks into step by step guides. Trust me if you break down your work almost all of it can go 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, making it easy to understand. The process takes care of itself and your VAs can simply rinse and repeat this for you.

Create checklists for your virtual assistants so this allows you to track where they are up to on the work. These checklists and documents with all the details are what will prevent them from having to ask any questions. This will therefore allow them to complete the rinse / repeat process in super-fast time.

working with virtual assistants

Virtual Assistants Feedback

The feedback from my virtual assistants is generally positive. The reason for this is the systems that are in place for them. Any member of staff unsure to their job role is out of their comfort zone and this slows productivity 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. Use this 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 through working with VAs. 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 you feel it is appropriate.

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. We all have different strategies to market and there are so many ways to get the best results.

go fast go alone go far go together

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. Personally I love the wording SYNERGY and any mate will be laughing now reading this. I repeat it so many times in 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 I can help the better. A happy millionaire is better than a lonely billionaire and life is all about the journey – 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 start them right away. 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 even 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. Take care and thanks for reading the article.

Here is an awesome video on the lionzeal show where Daryl interviews Mads Singers who is a great guy to have running your VAs overseas. Take a watch of this video and comment below with your thoughts on this?

James Dooley

About James Dooley

Digital Nomad who loves travelling the world while working on Internet Marketing. SEO was previously the name for the search engine optimisation services however now general inbound marketing includes social media, paid ads and traditional media then the term used is Growth Hacking Strategist.

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