Delegating your tasks will help you to take back your life and free up your time to work on your business instead of "in" your business.
Hiring the wrong virtual assistant company and you will be set back by spending more money and time than you will save.
Procrastinating your action plan to hire a VA will push your goals that much further into the future.
You're not alone. Thousands of entrepreneurs and small business owners like you put off the onboarding step.
In this article, you will discover how you can take action today, and the steps to delegate your tasks and see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Why Hire A Virtual Assistant in the First Place?
Working with my virtual assistants has changed my world! It has changed my life! As I get everything ready to go watch my son's baseball game where he is the high school's number one pitcher, I am grateful, so grateful, that my business is left in good hands! That my business continues to run as I enjoy watching my son pitch.
There is nothing more important to me than my family and my faith. To know when I go to church on Sunday, I am completely unplugged and turned off from my work, brings me peace.
And I trust the process, I trust my business is running and my clients are being serviced. Hiring virtual assistants was the best business decision I ever made. It is freeing, it is empowering. This gives me the ability to scale my business in ways which would never be able to be accomplished without the team of vas behind me.
1. Know the Tasks You Need to Delegate
Where do you start? This is one of the most often asked questions. Understanding which tasks you should offload first will help you feel more organized and in control. Some people feel like they have to control every single task, and that is why they always do it themselves.
The first step in letting go of that control is to create a list of tasks you can delegate right away with little to no training.
Try this journaling exercise to find out what you can delegate right away:
- Write down everything you do each day. This includes personal things you do like taking a shower.
- Write down how long, how much time you are spending on each of these tasks.
- After you have every single task and thing you do each day, go back through your list:
- With a black Sharpie™ cross off all the tasks no one else can possibly do in your place; like taking a shower, exercising, eating.
- Take a yellow highlighter and highlight all the tasks on your day to day tasks which are so simple it would take less than 5 minutes to train someone else to do.
- Take a green highlighter and highlight all the tasks you do over and over again which you can create a system for.
- Take an orange highlighter to highlight tasks which are time consuming, hard to create a system for.
- Look at all the yellow highlighted tasks and get those ready to delegate within the next 24 hours.
- For each green highlighted task- find out if we can do this task for you or not. We may just have a system already in place for your task. For those tasks which need a customized system; take 10 minutes a day to create screencast tutorials ( step by step) for our virtual assistants to follow.
If you Aim at Nothing~ You will hit it Every Time.
~ Zig Ziglar
Download Your Free Report of 365 Things You can Delegate Right now.
2. Prioritize Your Tasks
If you are like me you have a very long to do list each day and you feel accomplished as you check off things on your list. Some productivity coaches say to start with your most time consuming projects, and most important projects first and then move down the list to the least important tasks. Some time management coaches say if you feel better when you check items off your list, start with the small items to check off a lot of things, which motivates you to continue through your list and get things done.
Be careful about your to do list getting too long as that can create overwhelm. When I get overwhelmed, I freeze up. Nothing gets done.
Prioritizing your tasks is one way in which you can gain some control over your list. There are SO many things we as marketers, business professionals, small business owners and entrepreneurs need to do each day. The list is endless. Accept this fact...
Nature Abhors a Vacuum....
Whatever you take off your plate... something else will come to fill that space. I can promise you that in your marketing, online marketing, off line marketing, email marketing, social media tasks, website tasks, blogging and content creation tasks, CRM tasks, outreach tasks... on and on and on... will never end.
This is why it is important to prioritize your tasks and projects. I love projects and I get more ideas than I could ever in my lifetime put into practice.
Put your business into compartments or departments. We use Trello in my outsourcing company to manage all of our clients and their projects. Trello is free. Click here to get your FREE Trello account.
Creating departments: there is no right or wrong way. Make sure you choose a way that resonates with your work personality. I like to divide mine up like this:
Blogging for Business
Inside Sales Call
SEO Search Engine Optimization
Then within each of my departments, I create the checklists of what needs to be done. This is when I get ready to delegate! Yes, there is no way that I can do all of this by myself and believe me, I have tried! There is no such thing as cloning myself ( yet).
Do you have a list looking like this? Departments consisting of many of these areas of work and tasks?
3. Decide on what kind of a virtual assistant you need
There are different kinds of outsourcing companies and also different types of virtual assistants. If you have a one time small task the best option is to go to Fiverr.com and find someone to the task quickly and for a very low price.
You can also try a company like Upwork, where you can hire trained specialists that will charge you for a specific task.
Then there are companies that will require you to interview your virtual assistants and even train them. They will also require you to hire them full time.
You can also post ads in Craigslist for virtual assistants local in your area, around the states, or overseas. You can expect to pay full time work at anywhere between $6 to $25 per hour. The more qualified and specialized the virtual assistant is, the more you will be paying. You know the saying: You get what you pay for.
From my experience I have found that hiring on the low end results in me doing a lot more training than I have time to do and the va ends up quitting for a variety of reasons. So all that time training, is wasted.
The first virtual assistant I hired was back in 2005 and at that time I paid $15 per hour, for a U.S. based VA. She was helping us in our real estate brokerage and doing our listing and admin tasks, etc. It did not work out very well because I knew nothing about benchmarks or holding someone accountable. To make matters worse, I did not investigate the laws in the state where she was working in. I assumed the laws were the same as they were in my state. The state she lived in came after me threatening me because they insisted that I pay taxes on ALL of my income since I hired her - they considered that as me working in their state. I did fight it, and I did win. But I would not have hired in the first place, even a 1099 person, had I known this headache could have happened.
The second virtual assistant I hired was also U.S. based and this one was $25 per hour. They were located right in Miami not too far from me. It was also a nightmare. So I had to stop using her as well.
Then I was speaking to a person who created a platform I was using and he told me about his virtual assistant in the Philippines. That was very attractive to me since I lived in Hawaii for 5 years and I know the Filipino culture quite well. It was a perfect fit. Now I was paying $8 to $10 per hour. I created all the initial trainings and most of those workers are still working for me and for my clients.
4. Project based skill set virtual assistants
When I first started working with virtual assistants I knew that I did not want a general va. A general va is not specialized in any specific skill set and is what I consider to be mediocre in even general skills.
Allowing each virtual assistant to shine in their passions, gain the necessary training within the specialized areas he or she wants to work in, is the blueprint for success with virtual assistants and outsourcing.
For instance, we have a virtual assistant on our team who loves Pinterest. She is very good at Pinterest graphics. This is all she does each day at work. We love this because she gets better month after month.
We have a virtual assistant who loves to create and edit videos and is actually very skilled so this is the department in the company he works in. This allows him to shine as well as our clients.
Writers are very hard to find in other countries. We have some of the best content writers, who know how to research, put the article together, and add the SEO and graphics. Our writers are college educated with journalism and teaching degrees and one has his own radio show.
Continuous learning, training, and growing is key to the success of clients and the team members in the company. The vas pride themselves in seeking out new knowledge, techniques, and improving their talents and skills.
Most virtual assistant companies do not have project based and skill based workers. Many companies only supply you with a general va or an admin. It is not very common for a general VA to have the creative mind and imagination it takes to create killer graphics for social media or to write an in-depth pillar post, or to do compelling ad copy for Facebook ads, etc.
5. Know the onboarding process
Virtual assistant companies have different ways to onboard their clients. Since outsourcing companies are mostly in other countries and away from where you are, it is important to understand the way they onboard you as a client. What are their procedures?
Check out my video on how we handle our client tasks with Trello, an uber project management system every business should be leveraging and it is FREE:
6. Get clear on your goals and expectations
Getting clear on your goals and expectations is very important. You have to know where your business is at right now and where you want it to be at the end of this year, in 3 years, in 5 years. What does your business look like at each one of those points in time?
When you start outsourcing your tasks to a virtual assistant, your va needs to know what that looks like too. If you are hiring a general va who you will be finding, interviewing and training, that person needs to be able to understand your goals and expectations.
This is true, whether you hire a general va, a va company, or project based virtual assistants because within each of your projects and tasks, there needs to be goals and tactics, systems and steps. Don't let this keep you from delegating your tasks. It is not that hard to get started, I promise. And once you are over the initial hump, you will wonder how you ever ran your business without virtual assistants.
So what kind of goals are we talking about?
Financial goals, internet marketing presence goals, branding goals, lead generation goals, to name a few.
What are you doing right now on your website to drive traffic to your website? Are you actively engaged with SEO ( Search Engine Optimization) in order to get some of the organic traffic available to you on the internet, like on Google?
Are you promoting your brand on your business Facebook page? Are you working on tweets that will send signals to Google that your website is relevant? What about the other social media platforms? Do you know which ones resonate with your avatar? Your ideal customer? And do you have a plan to reach those perfect audiences on those correct platforms.
If you happen to be stuck in this area... we can walk you through this and help you come up with concrete goals and tactics.
7. Understand the va culture
One of the biggest reasons that people quit using virtual assistants or feel that outsourcing is too hard is because they don't understand the virtual assistant culture.
There are the cultures of where virtual assistants live geographically. But the culture I am referring to is the culture of virtual assistants. Understanding how the va culture works, helps you to communicate efficiently and it helps avoid misunderstandings.
All of our team members are in the Philippines. So whenever I onboard a new client I make sure the client understands somewhat about the Filipino culture, nuances, and expectations.
The first thing which is also very important: I am on eastern time but all of our va team members are 12 hours ahead of us. So when it is 12 noon here in Florida, it is 12 a.m. in the Philippines. I start working at around 3 p.m. each day until about 3 a.m. the next morning so that I am available to our clients in the U.S. and Canada, and also available to my va team members when they are awake and working and also for our clients in Europe.
Some of the virtual assistants work their day shifts, swing shifts, and there are also some who like to work their graveyard shift.
Most of the tasks you delegate are not going to require a project va to be right next to you on Skype or Google chat.
Of course, if you are hiring an Inside Sales caller then you will be assigned a va who will make calls at 6 p.m. your time.
There may be other times where a virtual assistant needs to be on line the same exact time as you do, and in those cases, we have team members willing to work during those hours.
The next thing that is very important is the weather. The Philippines is a tropical country. You can relate it somewhat to our weather here in South Florida. Power outages and loss of internet happen in the Philippines however I have noticed over the years that we have more power outages and loss of internet connections during our hurricane season here in South Florida than my team members have in the Philippines. The good news is that power is restored quite quickly in the Philippines and internet connections come back in good time too. Also, our vas can go to an internet cafe' to work if need be.
8. Find out about accountability procedures and transparency in tasks
What happens after you tell your va what you need to get done? How do you know what is being done for you? How do you find out when your tasks are completed? Make sure there is a follow up system in place. Make sure there is a project management system in place. And you also want to make sure that you are not having to spend a lot of your va hours on the project management systems where it imbalances the amount of time to do your tasks.
A good rule of thumb is about 2 hours for every 10 hours of tasks should be allowed to managing your projects, allocating tasks, and other administrative documentation. Of course if you have a lot of emails going back and forth between you and your va, your va needs to get paid for the time it takes her or him to address your emails and answer them, file them, etc.
The more streamlined the processes are, the more you are going to save time and money. In most instances, when I review the work being done for clients, I find the clients who do not participate in our Trello project management system end up having a lot more hours being spent on managing their tasks because they are sending them to us in ways that are outside of our streamlined and time saving systems.
A lot of people like to use spreadsheets. Those are really worthwhile in specific tasks and systems but overall they are the most time consuming way to run projects. We do them for tasks like running a spreadsheet on all the backlinks we are getting for our clients, where the domain is we are getting the backlink from, the date, etc.
We also use spreadsheets to track our social media verifications of postings. But ALL of our social media tasks are done and tasked inside of Trello. This saves a lot of time and you get to see the output links to your work, and you also get to see the graphics as we upload the graphics to your Trello board.
You want to be able to see the work that is being done for you. The biggest pet peeve I had working with other va companies was there was no way for me to tell, day to day, what was being accomplished and if what I asked for was being done.
We use the Trello card system where the va that does that specific task gets tagged, then that va has the pay period in which that task is delegated to her, to get that task done. She then marks the card blue, signaling the task is completed. She then goes back into the Trello card and adds her proof she did the task, such as screenshots and links to the output.
We also apply benchmarks except for certain tasks where the time is unknown, such as getting rid of a hacker or hostile takeover of your website. In most cases, we know how long the tasks take.
Typically, I do the task myself. I check how long it takes me to do the task, I add on extra time for the va to do the task because they will not be as fast as I am. We then assign that benchmark to the task.
If say for instance, we have a task where my benchmark is 30 minutes, and the va takes 45 minutes to do the task, the va will only get paid for 30 minutes. If the va is really efficient and fast, and does the task in 20 minutes, you will still pay the va for the 30 minutes. We will not "punish" vas who do their work faster, they get rewarded, just as we do not want to promote slowness and laziness, so we do not allow more than the benchmark. This keeps the vas striving to get their tasks accomplished within the time allowed for the benchmark.
I wanted to thank you and your team for all your work. It really helped my site move up. It has made me one of the nations top real estate marketers. I can say that between just 5 of my websites I have placement on the first page of google for several thousand pages for different key words. Some pages I own it. Some of them have 6, 7, 8 placements of just my websites. On just my lake websites in Oakland County it is amazing that I have such high placement and multiple times. That is not even including my relocation site and my metro Detroit site. Or my multiple videos that you SEO'd I honestly can't think of many other real estate agents that have the internet presence I do now. (It would be interesting to know if anybody else in the nation has that kind of presence) And for that I thank you for sharing your knowledge.
Over the years I have read your articles and implemented techniques that have helped me. Little pieces have made the puzzle come together. Of course I have to thank a little angel that helped me in the beginning too. Mary helped me often.
Thanks again and may life always treat you well.
9. Communication is the key to a successful relationship with your va team.
Communication is the key to making sure you are on the same page as your virtual assistant. Ask the company how will the va team or your dedicated va be communicating with you? Will it be via just email, or will it be via skype? Or texting? What forms of communication are set up with the company?
How often do they communicate with you? And what types of matters do they communicate with you on? Is there a regular protocol such as a weekly meeting that gets scheduled with you?
One of the biggest complaints we hear in the industry from clients is a lack of communication. When you ask a question and you do not hear an answer for at least a week; this indicates either a breakdown in communication or lack thereof.
However, the company may be trying to reach you and you may be the one not responding. I see this happen quite often. The company emails may be ending up inside of your spam filters and even when you check your spam you may not see the emails. So if email is a part of the process for communicating with you, make sure your email and their email are connected and accepting the emails into your inbox. You can white list the company's email too.
Make sure you find out what the communication process is, how often the company's va communicates with you up front. This will reduce your frustrations a lot.
In our company we have some virtual assistants who are awake when you are awake. However, many of our virtual team members work either when their children are in school or work while their children are sleeping.
For most of our tasks like graphics, video, social media and blogging, these can be scheduled right inside of your WordPress blog and in your Facebook publishing center. The virtual assistants are allowed to work during the schedule of their choice unless they are working in a position where they are a dedicated va for you or they do lead calls.
I am just a text away for our clients. Even though I may not be able to help with every single request, I do return my texts. If I believe the request needs a phone call, I will call you. If I believe that Daisy, our Chief of Operations is better equipped to answer your questions, she will email you or tag you in Trello. If that does not work, or the request needs further clarification or it is best served through a phone call, she will call you from our Google Voice number.
Muchas gracias to Katerina Gasset and her team for totally saving the day when our site had a mysterious php error shut down. So glad I already have them on my team! Got their contact on this group, so thanks to whoever referred also. Now, I can't wait for them to get us on page 1 of Google for...
Text Me To Get Started: 561-502-1577
10. How to Hire A Virtual Assistant
Now what you are ready to hire a virtual assistant here is a short list of your next steps:
- You have a list of tasks you want to take off your plate and delegate
- You have decided which virtual assistant company you want to work with
- You have an idea of how many hours you will need each week
- You have a list of your own priorities and where YOU need to be spending YOUR time
- You understand the company's onboarding process
- You understand how to get your tasks to the virtual assistant company
- You have had your onboarding phone call or skype call to get all your questions answered
- You have gone over your goals and priorities with the COO
- You have signed your payment and services agreement
- You have gathered your login details for the va to be able to access the accounts the vas will be working on
You are now ready to get started with a virtual assistant! You will now be able to feel what it is like to get your life back! I will tell you, using virtual assistants changed my world! Changed my life! There is no way I could run a business, any business, without help from virtual assistants.