Virtual Assistants seem to have come to prominence the last few years.
And they really go well beyond the term assistant.
But the more I’ve gotten into working a business with Ghost Blog Writers the more I realize that the term assistant has probably been misunderstood for a long time.
I know when I thought of assistant I thought of one person that helped someone with their daily tasks.
That’s very much true in business, but many assistants do so much that they’re really Chief Operation Officers, Chief Marketing Officers, Chief Financial Officers and more.
Obviously that’s usually only the case in small businesses, but you get the point.
A virtual assistant is made possible with the Internet and accompanying tools. Today we’re fortunate enough to be able to communicate and work with anyone, anywhere in the world.
It’s really amazing.
But anyway, if you’re a small business in need of someone to handle some or many of your tasks then hiring a virtual assistant is a great option.
Here are the steps for implementing it.
Step 1. Prepare
I was pretty lucky before hiring people at Ghost Blog Writers.
I guess the first virtual assistant we brought on board was the first writer.
We bring freelance writers to our team and technically that first writer was a virtual assistant in a way. They lived in another location and our communication was via email, phone and Skype, but mostly via email.
Anyway, I had no idea what I was doing. I had never hired anyone before. We just kind of jumped right in.
But I guess I did kind of have some procedures and standards in my head from my own experience. So I had the writer follow those with the clients they worked with.
Then later when it was time to hire an Account Manager I was more prepared to prepare to hire someone.
Preparing to hire a virtual assistant took some time and effort, but it was necessary and well worth it.
Basically, you need to document as much as you can when it comes to completing a task.
You have to treat it so that anyone could follow the procedure to complete the task. The Virtual Assistant will probably be able to pick it up quickly, but even still you’ll want thorough documentation.
That will allow things to be as smooth as possible from the beginning.
Step 2. Ask Your Network
My first step when I needed an Account Manager virtual assistant was to ask my network.
Luckily I had been working with a client that was working with a great virtual assistant. So I asked the client and asked his assistant if they knew anyone that would be a good fit for Ghost Blog Writers and the position we were looking to fill.
I trusted the client. I trusted his virtual assistant. They were great people that did great work and kind of fit the type of people that I was looking to hire.
So it seemed to make sense to just ask them instead of looking somewhere else to find someone.
They came back with a person to recommend. I reached out from there and we began the process.
This is nothing new in the business world. Companies have been asking people for referrals when it comes to hiring for a long time. They do it for good reason. If you trust someone and like the type of person they are then asking for their referrals and input makes perfect sense.
Don’t overcomplicate the hiring process. Go to your network and the people you trust first.
Step 3. Check The Popular Networks
If you reach out to your network and don’t get much feedback then it’s still perfectly fine to look to the big freelance and virtual assistant networks and websites.
There are a handful of popular ones and also some great smaller ones with various specialties.
For the popular ones you’ll mostly be doing the hiring yourself. Some of the sites and networks may have someone to assist you with finding the right person.
If you’re listing a job make sure you add a specific question in the description to test each applicant to make sure they’ve read the entire description.
Add something like:
What is your favorite hobby?
Or something like that. Simple, but just a way to make sure they’ve read the entire description.
Step 4. Test
By test I mean you want to give your candidate some kind of test.
The initial response to the job listing is one kind of test. We do that with the writers that potentially come on board with us at GBW.
We look at their initial email for things like grammar, communication skills, etc.
Then we also respond and ask a few questions. And we kind of test them in our minds to see how soon they respond and things like that.
We also like to start with just a first post. We share our formatting standards with them and things like that so they have everything they need to be successful. We encourage questions.
Then we look at the first post. Usually we can tell if the writer will be a good fit.
We give them a due date. We test to see if they deliver at 11:59PM on the due or if they deliver earlier and things like that.
Figure out what’s important to your business.
Then put together a few little tests to make sure the candidate is a good fit for your company.
Step 5. Don’t Assume
This is a big one.
It’s easy, especially as a solopreneur, to really care a lot about your business. Even something little that a virtual assistant maybe does wrong will probably bother you.
But don’t assume that its’ their fault.
The first place to look is the procedure. See if there is something you left out that led to an issue.
There are going to be hiccups in the transition.
Don’t assume the virtual assistant is doing something wrong on purpose or anything like that. They want to do great work for you. Believe in that and you’ll be fine.
Keep looking forward and looking for ways to smooth things out. It won’t be perfect at first, but keep looking for constant improvement.
Hiring a virtual assistant is a great step for a small business. It can be great for a large business too. The world we live in today allows us to work with anyone, anywhere in the world. It’s really incredible.
You can jump right in and learn as you go, but hopefully these few thoughts will help you along the way. I would say that I wish I would have done it earlier. That’s something I’ve heard entrepreneurs say about their careers.
So don’t wait to hire a VA if you’ve been thinking about it.