Working with Virtual Assistants

Working with Virtual Assistants, Spruce Rd. | Considering a virtual assistant for your business? We walk through the details of what a VA can assist with in your business, as well as tips on how to find the right fit.

Considering a virtual assistant for your business? Let's talk about what you need to do to make that happen! During this Lunch + Learn workshop, we talk with Nora Conrad, who is a virtual assistant I've worked with in the past. She sheds light on how to find the right VA for your business, as well as a few pointers on what tasks you can get your VA started on right away. Be sure to watch the video recording for more insight!

Notes from this episode:

What a VA can do for your business

If you are already considering hiring a VA, you probably have a pretty good idea of why you need one. There are a ton of tasks and administrative work a virtual assistant can do for you, so let's just walk through some of those first.

Keep in mind a VA is a VIRTUAL assistant, so we're going to assume they can't come over and help you take photos or plan the week. Here are some jobs you can hire a VA to do:

  • schedule social media posts
  • schedule and format blog posts
  • editing or writing blog posts and newsletters
  • manage your emails
  • basic customer service (emails, phone, live chat)
  • filling digital orders or restocking digital goods
  • bookkeeping and in some cases, basic accounting
  • designing your email newsletters
  • updating old blog posts or web pages
  • managing blog comments and deleting spam

Depending on your business, you can find a virtual assistant to really do any administrative task. I've met VA's that do copy writing, web design and video or podcast editing. It's all about what you need done and how smoothly you can hand that process over to someone else.

I get asked about hiring VA's all the time and one of the most common issues I hear is about how a VA has failed in the past, so the biz owner is reluctant to hire a new VA. There's some bad assistants out there. It's hard when you hire someone online that you can't meet in person, but there's ways to find the perfect person if you follow the tips in this lunch + learn, so let's get into the nitty gritty.

How to prep your business for a virtual assistant

Hiring a VA before you need one is the best case scenario. If you hire them in the middle of your busy season or right before a massive project, you won't have time to properly train them and allow them to understand your business before jumping in. Try to hire someone BEFORE the busy season of your shop or before you plan large projects.

As far as training, this can be one of the hardest parts of the process. Filtering and answering emails might be easy for you, and you don't have to put much thought into it, but for a VA, it's all new. They can't know how you like things organized or answered. Before hiring a VA, consider writing out your processes. As you type a blog post, pay attention to how you do it.

EX. Outline the post, make graphics, type the content, add "click to tweets", build opt-in offer, add lead page box, proofread, format, schedule the post, schedule social media.

Write out every single step in as much detail as you can. If you begin doing this for all your tasks, you'll have a step-by-step guide for every job you need your VA to do. Then you can send them the list and they have a great guide to begin.

How to find the perfect VA

Now comes the hardest part. Finding the perfect VA for your business. There's a few things you need to consider first - how much can you budget for a VA, does the timezone make a difference, are you looking for a specific personality (outgoing, dedicated, professional), and what background knowledge do they need to have (knowing leadpages, html, wordpress basics, etc).

Make a list of your "dream VA". Then start your search. Personally I think the best place to begin looking is in Facebook groups - you can post in groups like Savvy Business Owners, Femmeboss Mastermind Tribe or any group you're apart of. Let everyone know you need a VA in X timezone with knowledge in ABC.

As you talk to people I'd recommend doing a couple different interviews. Initially ask the potential VA via email to give you more details about their experience or ask for a resume. Once you've narrowed down your search you can do a phone or skype interview. Get to know their personality and ask them questions about how they'd handle certain tasks. If you need one more way to narrow down the group - peek at their social media. Look through their twitter, facebook and website. Read about them and see how they present themselves online - if they align with your "dream VA" list, you know you've found the perfect person.

That being said - keep in mind that the "dream VA" doesn't exist. No one will fill all your expectations and needs and budget. Finding someone as close to your dream VA is what matters.

Warning signs & when to move on

There are a couple important things to look out for when hiring/working with a VA. One of the most important being you get what you pay for. That $5/hr VA might seem perfect, but they probably won't be as dedicated or experienced as the $40/hr VA. Finding someone who fits your budget is important, but don't sacrifice your brand reputation to save a couple bucks.

During your search, look at how well the person communicates. If they don't want to do a skype interview, or takes 2 weeks to get back to you, you can't rely on them to meet your deadlines when you're working together. A good rule of thumb - if they refuse to talk on the phone or via skype, they're hiding something. Just pass.

You can train people to use certain programs or complete a task, but carefully consider how much training you're willing to do. If they have a perfect resume but you're going to have to teach them how to make graphics, use photoshop, edit in lightroom and improve SEO - they aren't actually a perfect match. Keep looking.

Reward them & Teamwork

If and when you find your perfect VA, your job isn't over. Working with a VA means you're growing your team! Keep them up-to-date with what's going on in your business. Let them know when you're out of town or planning a big project. Keep them in the loop! Be sure to thank them for their hard work, and ensure that they feel appreciated by your business.