A successful entrepreneur shares her thoughts on business success and failure.

How to Hire a Virtual Assistant

Hiring a virtual assistant. Erica’s note: Several members of my community recently asked me how to hire a virtual assistant. I figured an awesome virtual assistant would be the best person to answer your questions, so I invited Laurie Cantus from YourGoToGirls to write a guest post. If you have more questions, make sure to check out her free teleseminar–the link to sign up is at the bottom of this post. Here’s Laurie:

You thought that owning your own business would be some ideal nirvana where you would set your own schedule. You excitedly believed, “I’ll work only when I am most inspired, take breaks or a vacation whenever I want, and finally lose those pesky 20 pounds because I’ll be able to go to the gym in the middle of the day!” But now you’re in it and the reality is that you have more work to do and less free time than you did when you worked for a company.

As entrepreneurs, we don’t mind putting in the extra hours because we crave the freedom of working for ourselves. We have a passion. There is something we love to do that we’re great at doing and we’re turning it into a career. Awesome.

Beyond following our passion, however, there is a lot of business that goes with running a business: selling products, designing a website, setting up shopping carts, running email campaigns, implementing promotions, managing social media, maintaining appointment calendars, writing newsletters, submitting articles, and on and on. This is not as awesome.

Leaving corporate life also means leaving behind the IT department, the marketing department, the art department, and the copy editors. No more receptionists, no more scheduling assistants; you are on your own.

However, being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean you have to fly solo. You can hire professional, experienced help faster, easier and cheaper than you think. In most cases, you can have projects up and running (if not completed) in way less time than it would take you to, say, figure out how to change the font in your blog template. And it can all happen – from hiring and delegating to project completion and payment – without you ever having to change out of your bunny slippers.

Why to Hire a Virtual Assistant

  • There is little to no training necessary for most tasks.
  • You only pay for the time your VA works on your project, not lunch breaks or warming a chair between assignments.
  • You are not responsible for overhead costs like insurance, employment tax or benefits.
  • Each VA has her/his own office space, computer and software.
  • Because they work in the virtual arena, VAs are more savvy with technology and Internet marketing than the average employee.
  • Of course, if you’re a person who needs to communicate with your employees face-to-face or you feel like the only reason for hiring an assistant is so that you have someone to fetch coffee and dry cleaning, a VA is not for you.

    On the other hand, if you are comfortable with technology and can work with someone solely through email with the occasional phone call, and feel you can clearly communicate your needs without being in the same room with someone, a VA can be your star employee.

    Here are some steps to show you how it works.

    Step 1: Learn what your options are.

    When it comes to hiring a VA, your options are pretty endless. There are VAs who are generalists and function as online personal or executive assistants. They do administrative tasks such as scheduling appointments, creating PowerPoint and Word documents, booking travel and the like. Other VAs specialize in specific duties like accounting or copywriting, or specific industries like real estate or law. Techy VAs focus on website design and updates, Internet marketing, membership forums and those type things, while Social Media VAs concentrate on developing and maintaining your online presence. Basically, if you need it done, there is someone out there who will do it for you. (Within legal boundaries, of course.)

    Step 2: Set your budget.

    This starts with knowing how much hiring a VA costs. The actual hourly rate varies and depends on the task you need completed and the VAs experience in that area; the general charge is $25-75 per hour. However. If you use your VA services wisely, they will help you generate enough revenue to pay for themselves, plus some.

    As a VA service provider, I have clients who pay me several thousand dollars a month. With my team’s help, they are generating 10 times that in their programs and products, making tons more money than they could if they tried to run them alone. In addition to looking at how much you’ll pay in relation to how much profit you can make with a little help, take into account the value of your own time and where it would be best spent. How much more can you accomplish on the projects you love to do (especially the ones only you can do) if you have help doing the stuff you have to do?

    Step 3: Choose a system that works for you.

    As VA business owners vary, so do their payment policies. There are pay-as-you-go plans where you only pay for the time you use and pre-payment plans where you purchase a certain number of hours then use them as you need. Other services provide packaged pricing where you can pay a lump sum for projects like designing and launching a website or formatting an eBook. Accepted forms of payment also vary from service to service but most allow for online/phone transactions via credit card or through a PayPal account.

    Step 4: Find the right person and make the relationship successful.

    Research is key in creating the right VA relationship for you and your needs. Take your time to interview several candidates and check references. More than just focusing on cost and skill set, ask questions like what their availability is and what kind of turn around time they require. If you like to work last minute and the VA needs three days to complete any project, they are not the VA for you. Once you’ve chosen your VA, maintain clear, open communication. Remember, you’re working virtually so it’s very important to stay in touch and make sure that everyone stays on the same track.

    The Best Advice for Hiring a Virtual Assistant

    Though it may sound harsh, the best advice I can give for selecting a VA is; Hire slow, fire fast. Do your due diligence in the hiring process, but if you begin a project with someone and know it isn’t going to work, don’t drag it out. Kind of like online dating, you may have to do a little searching before you find your perfect VA match. If it’s not the right fit, find someone else. In the long run, ending a non-working relationship earlier is better for you and your VA. Most importantly, remember that a virtual assistant’s number one assignment is to alleviate you of tasks, not add more to your plate.

    About the Author: Laurie Cantus, CEO and founder of Go2Girls, has a passion for helping small business owners implement their big ideas. Her kick-ass team of Virtual Assistants work with online business owners who are ready to grow their business, who want to eliminate the frustration of having to do it all and only want to focus on the parts of their business they enjoy and that make them money. Laurie can be reached via her website: http://www.YourGoToGirls.com.

    Join Laurie on November 2nd for a free teleseminar – The 7 things you MUST know before hiring a VA: How to create the perfect relationship with your VA so you can transform your business, free up time, and implement all your great ideas. Register here now!

    Erica’s note: I strongly recommend that if you’re overwhelmed, you look into hiring a good virtual assistant. Learn to delegate wisely so you can free your time to do the things you love about your business. Remember, you can always start out delegating just a few hours of work a week, or a specific task that comes up every once in a while that is frustrating for you.

    I’ll be back next week with more business tips!

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After selling my online business at age 26 for over $1 million, I created this blog to help you grow your own business quickly.

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