How & Why to Hire a Virtual Assistant

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Hire a Virtual Assistant

Hiring a virtual assistant can be a necessary step in a startup's growth: when the business reaches the point at which paying attention to the day-to-day details distracts the founder from taking bigger steps to grow the company, hiring a virtual assistant can free up time to focus on expansion and the bigger picture. There are a number of services that address how to hire a virtual assistant; why to hire a virtual assistant depends on the founder and their bandwidth.

Why to Hire a Personal Assistant:

There comes a time in the life of every successful solo startup during which the startup entrepreneur realizes that they need help, that they need someone to whom they can delegate tasks. In many cases, hiring a virtual assistant is the first step toward lightening the task load and being able to focus more fully on growing the business. Why to hire a virtual assistant varies depending on the business and businessperson: it could be to offload necessary tasks that maintain but don't grow the business, or it could be simply to delegate work you don't enjoy.

Here are 5 reasons why to hire a virtual assistant:

1. You can't do it all yourself.

You're getting your startup off the ground, and you're trying to do everything yourself. That happens to a lot of people at the beginning, but you know what? If you're going to grow a business of any size, you can't handle all the necessary tasks on your own. You need to offload at least some of the more menial work, and hiring a virtual assistant is a great way to do that. Paperwork? Done! Low-level email responses? Done! Managing your calendar? Taken care of!

Doesn't that feel better? Now go 10X your company!

2. You don't want to do it all yourself.

Some work? It's just zero fun. Remember one thing: you're the boss. And if there's work you don't enjoy that someone else can do, you get to hire someone else to do it. Now we're not talking about high-level tech work or anything - you should consider taking on a co-founder for that. But the day to day stuff you can't stand? Hire a virtual assistant to do it.

3. You're sacrificing potential growth for busywork.

Your job is to grow your business. If you can't address key tasks because you're bogged down with busywork, you're doing a disservice to yourself, your co-founders, your investors, and your startup. A critical part of organizational growth is knowing when to bring people in to help you grow, which is definitely a good reason why to hire a virtual assistant.

4. You're losing money by misallocating talent.

Whose talent are you misallocating? Yours. You are the founder of a company; you shouldn't be doing work that doesn't require your level of talent, skill, and experience. By not hiring a virtual assistant, you're actually losing money. Which is no way to grow a startup. When you're studying the pros and cons, this belongs in the "pro" column of why to hire a virtual assistant. And it's a good way to frame what you take on as your workload vs. what you delegate as you propel your startup forward.

5. You want access to a larger talent pool.

With the number of reliable services offering access to potential employees across the world, one of the best reasons why to hire a virtual assistant is that you don't have to limit yourself to people in your area. While there could be a number of talented candidates available, especially if you're operating out of a major city, there could also be hiccups or roadblocks - a dearth of solid potential hires or prohibitive wage requirements, for example. Take this into account when you're considering hiring a virtual personal assistant.

Where to Hire a Personal Assistant
Where to Hire a Virtual Assistant:
  • UpWork.com.
  • Fiverr.com.
  • Zirtual.com.
  • TaskBullet.com.
  • PeoplePerHour.com.
  • FlexJobs.com.

How to Hire a Virtual Assistant:

How to hire a virtual assistant is not terribly difficult, as there are a number of services that help entrepreneurs do that. You, however, need to do some groundwork to ensure you're able to find the right person. Taking the time to truly understand the tasks you're ready to offload and being ready to relinquish them are a couple of big, but necessary, steps.

Here are 5 steps to take when onboarding a virtual personal assistant:

1. Write out a list of what you're looking for / your potential virtual personal assistant's tasks.

Avoid scope creep. It's easy to bring someone on board, even virtually, and once they've proven themselves competent inadvertently smother them with an increasing number of tasks until they give up and quit - not an ideal situation for anyone involved. Schedule some time, sit down (with your co-founder or founding team, if you have them), and list all the tasks you'd like someone else to do. Careful consideration will help you and your potential virtual assistant understand the workload and the extent of their role moving forward.

2. Figure out how much you need to pay your virtual assistant.

One of the benefits of hiring a virtual assistant is that you're not paying local wages (also can easily be a drawback if you live in a low-wage area). Research and find out how much virtual assistants are being paid to do the work you need done. Tap into your business network and find out how much other people are paying. Many of the online services charge a standard rate, but you can decide between services. Keep in mind, however, that your virtual personal assistant is likely going to be a significant part the public face of your startup, and allocate accordingly. You don't want to go cheap and wind up looking bad to clients.

3. Ask people in your network about their experiences with hiring virtual assistants.

Reach out. Find out about other startup founders' experiences with virtual assistants. Ask if they've worked with the major virtual employment sites and what their experiences were. Even better, it could be that someone you know could recommend the ideal person, which would help you hire a vetted virtual assistant in short order. If not, you'll at least get a good start with advice from people you trust.

4. Start looking at available virtual assistants online.

Many online hiring sites like Fiverr allow job-seeking virtual assistants to upload their own qualifications and rates, so you can get a solid idea of what kind of assistant you'll get for what you're able to pay. Other sites like UpWork have you fill out your basic needs and then they get back to you with possibilities. Either way, the best tactic in how to hire a virtual assistant is to initially spread your net wide, then whittle down the list of potential assistants to the best candidates.

5. Interview and hire your virtual assistant.

Start talking to candidates. This person is going to be working with you closely, so a personality fit is essential, but don't base your decision entirely on personality. Ensure you describe the work entailed in detail and find out if your potential virtual assistant's skill sets meet your needs. Get a solid idea of how long it will take them to get up to speed. Also lay out your workplace culture, and make sure they're comfortable with that. Check references. If everything checks out and you feel good, hire your virtual assistant and start focusing on growth!

Hiring a Virtual Assistant - Tips
Hiring a Virtual Assistant - Tips:
  • Create a clear picture of their tasks and workload.
  • Calculate what you're willing / able to pay.
  • Ask other startup founders for recommendations.
  • Visit virtual employment sites.
  • Ensure they're a good fit for your startup culture.

How & Why to Hire a Virtual Assistant FAQs:

Should I hire a virtual assistant in the Philippines?

It depends. There are many resources that aid in the process of how to hire a virtual assistant from the Philippines, and the main selling point appears to be the low cost. If you're looking for a generally-skilled low-cost virtual assistant, that might be the way to go. But, depending on where you're headquartered, the time difference could be a serious issue. You're not likely to get a same-day response, and if you're relying on your virtual assistant to be available during business hours EST someone from the Philippines may not be an option. But if you're just looking for someone to handle non-time dependent tasks, a virtual assistant from the Philippines could be a great fit.

And there are many highly-skilled people from the Philippines looking for work, so hiring an overseas virtual assistant is certainly an option to consider.

How do I hire a virtual assistant for my real estate practice?

Real estate is a profession that demands a skilled virtual assistant. The best way to find one is to specifically seek out someone with real estate experience. You can ask fellow Realtors if they've any experience with virtual assistants, and if you're using an online resource you can stipulate upfront that you're only interested in hiring a virtual assistant who understands real estate.

How much does it cost to hire a virtual assistant?

Your potential virtual assistant's wages depend almost entirely of the skill set they bring to your startup. When you've created a list of the tasks they'll handle, you'll have a lot better idea of whether it makes sense to, say, hire a lower-wage virtual assistant from India or the Philippines or someone with a higher degree of skill and availability. Also, if you calculate how much time you've spent doing tasks that could be handed off to a virtual assistant and are honest about what your time's worth (hint: it's a lot) you'll have a much better idea of what to offer.

How do I hire a virtual assistant for internet marketing?

Much like real estate, internet marketing demands a set of skills that you need to be sure your virtual assistant possesses. Are you looking for someone to handle all your internet marketing? If that's the case, and depending on the size of your internet marketing campaign, you may be better suited by a digital marketing firm than by one person.

Are you looking for someone to handle your Google Ads campaigns? You'll want a virtual assistant who knows how to manage bids and who won't accidentally blow through your monthly spend in a day. Are you looking for a virtual assistant to do your search engine optimization? You need someone who knows how to ethically build search engine equity on your site(s). Either way, carefully create your list of required skills prior to going out there and potentially hiring someone who'll do more harm than good.