Workaholics Anonymous—A 12-Step Program of Recovery and Personal Transformation (Step 10: How To)

[Index: INTRO, Step 11b233b4566b7899b1010b1112]

How to Qualify, Hire, Manage and Empower Virtual Assistants

In Step 10 we discussed how you can get 2-10X more done in the same amount of time, if you stop trying to do it all yourself.

Your ability to delegate and manage important tasks outside your few vital functions is the key to you rising above your current performance, thus income level.

This post is to outline the best practices I have learned in hiring virtual and local assistants to help me stay focused on high-value functions in my unique strength zone.

Benefits of hiring virtual assistants

  • Offload non-core functions
  • Free yourself and executive team from day-to-day process problems
  • Focus on strategic thinking, process re-engineering and managing trading partner relationships
  • Control operating costs
  • Improve speed and service
  • Level out cyclical or seasonal fluctuations
  • Eliminate peak staffing problems
  • Provide value-added services
  • Acquire access to best practices and proven methodologies
  • Increase efficiency by consolidating and centralizing functions
  • Reduce overheads, free up resources
  • Minimize capital expenditure
  • Get access to specialized skills
  • Save on manpower and training costs
  • Have access to a larger pool of talents
  • Avoid paying employee tax
  • Get more out of the man-hours you pay for
  • Build a virtual team and have a global delivery model

Tasks you can delegate

  • Online research: industry, trends, competition, new product opportunities, R&D data, price tracking
  • Customer service
  • Knowledge-base questions
  • Data entry
  • Database updating
  • Website updating
  • Content uploading and distributing
  • Social media posting and updating
  • Monitor analytics
  • Compile reports
  • Acquire contact data
  • E-mail processing and response
  • Transcription
  • Copy writing
  • Design and multimedia production
  • Presentation materials
  • SEO: Search Engine Optimization
  • SEM: Search Engine Marketing
  • SMM: Social Media Marketing
  • Google Adwords management
  • Public Relations
  • Telemarketing/telesales
  • Recruiting
  • Sales leads
  • Business plan development/marketing strategy
  • Market research
  • Accounting
  • Bookkeeping
  • Payment processing
  • Vacation planning
  • Gift research
  • Get estimates from various vendors

And much more. You will be surprised by the comprehensive and specialized skills available from all over the world, or right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Sources to find VAs

Best practice process in hiring a Virtual Assistant:

Outline Your Objectives

Identify whether you want someone ongoing for…

  1. regularly occurring tasks,
  2. on retainer to be available as things surface, or
  3. for specific short-term projects or immediate tasks.

How you outline the below will change significantly based on this decision.

Tasks/functions to be completed

Outline exactly what the job, project or task will entail. This clarity will be important for you and most especially for the one you want to complete the assignment.

Ambiguity of the assignment, instructions to complete and expectation is the greatest cause of failure in this process – that responsibility lies with you.

Clear expectations, time budget, deadlines and milestones

You have to clearly define the outcome you are looking for, what the end result will be and the timeline (equals total price when you compensate by the hour) you have for the project. Thoroughness and clarity is key – see point above.

IMPORTANT Tip: For each new project, ask the VA to report results thus far 1-2 hours into the project. This will allow you to see if it is being done according to your expectations and you can make adjustments before 10-20 hours (and your money) are spent on doing it incorrectly.

Skills, experience and availability required

Language spoken

Hours available for communication (if necessary)

Method of communication – email, IM, Twitter, Skype, phone, etc.

You can also use Symantec’s PCAnywhere to demonstrate work live or you can jointly work on projects via software housed on Web sites.

Responsiveness. Within an hour or within 24 hours?

Precautions

Background check – use Google, talk to references.

If you use Elance or other services suggested above, give priority to those with positive feedback ratings and jobs successfully completed on that service. Then ask to speak to a few of those past clients directly.

Get real

Budget – what your grandpa told you, “In the end, you get what you pay for”. It is true, outsourcing can be very cost advantageous, but don’t expect to get slave labor.

You have to first value your time (refer to Step 3 showing you how to calculate your time). Anything below that amount and you are making money. Pay a fair wage. You are hiring specialized skills; be willing to pay accordingly.

When you think it isn’t worth it to pay someone an amount and you will just do it yourself, you are essentially saying YOU are worth that amount, because that is exactly what it costs you to do it yourself.

Besides the few high-value, talent-driven, vital functions that are specifically your unique genius strength zone, seek to think, direct, lead and manage rather than do.

Get started

If you read this far, you know you aren’t getting done all you need to AND you aren’t spending enough quality time doing your vital functions.

Right now… take two projects on your list and write a task description, a how-to document and post the projects on one of the suggested services. Follow the advice above and you will be surprised at how effective freeing your life could become. Do it now.

Know someone who could use some helping hands but didn’t know HOW to go about it? Forward them this HOW-TO post: http://darrenhardy.success.com/2009/05/wa-step10-howto

Follow Darren behind the scenes of SUCCESS: www.twitter.com/DarrenHardy

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  1. Kimberly says:

    I appreciate your post highlighting the advantages of partnering with a virtual assistant. There is much to be said for being able to delegate certain tasks so that you free up your time to work on task you truly enjoy as well as income generating tasks.

    As a Social Media Virtual Assistant I assist many of my clients with their social media and online marketing efforts which are essential for many small business owners and solo entrepreneurs. The clients create an even greater ability to connect and engage online but with the right assistance, they aren’t spending hours a day doing so.

    I also very much appreciate your note that specialized and quality services do not come at a bargain price. I would mention though, that in addition to the freelance sites you mention, there are VA specific sites where you can post a request for assistance and find highly qualified and skilled VAs such http://www.virtualassistantforums.com and http://www.vanetworking.com.

    Kimberly
    http://twitter.come/jkvirtualoffice

  2. Amy Hausman says:

    Excellent post! Real estate professionals use virtual assistants quite often. Just yesterday I wrote a blog post on Gooder Group’s blog (www.realestaterainmaker.com) about Virtual Assistants.

    Gooder Group offers 14 FAQs for anyone thinking of hiring a VA. Although the FAQs are coming from the real estate angle, many are applicable to anyone looking to hire a VA no matter the field.

    http://www.goodergroup.com/rws/popup/rcva_checklist.htm

    Again, thanks for the great post.

    Amy Hausman
    Marketing Manager

  3. Karen Mattson says:

    please explain what a virutal assistant is and how would I go about finding one?

  4. Karen says:

    This is great. I am “The Small Business Advisor”. I assist small businesses in several areas – most importantly thier finances. I provide training and data entry on QuickBooks.

    Your article is now something that I have printed out to use as reinforcement that small business owners need to be outsourcing their accounting/bookkeeping and working ON their business not IN their business.

    Thank You!

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