So you’ve reached a point in your business where you know you need a virtual assistant to help you scale (and save your sanity).
Deep breaths…and you’re ready to take the plunge.
But now what? Are you stuck on what to do next to make sure your business is ready to work with a virtual assistant?
Here are 5 ways to prepare your business to hire a virtual assistant:
1) Decide what to delegate and how long each task takes
I’m always surprised by the number of business owners I speak to who don’t have a clear idea of what they want to out-source to their virtual assistant. Knowing specifically what you need help with is the basis for hiring the right person so it’s a critical first step to preparing your business.
Once you’ve identified those tasks, you should spend a few weeks measuring the average amount of time they take you.
This will help you calculate roughly how much help you’re going to need.
It’s highly likely that an expert VA will be able to crack on with those tasks much more quickly than you, but it’s a worthwhile exercise as a starting point.
2) Write a clear and specific job description
You don’t need to spend hours formatting an official looking job advert, but it’s a good idea to have a job description written down somewhere. Even if no one else ever sees it, writing down what you need will help you reinforce your requirements in your own mind.
Writing down what you need will help reinforce your requirements in your own mind
Being completely clear on what you need help with, and who your ideal VA is, will make it much easier for you to attract and spot them when you find them. Zip Recruiter has an excellent example job description for a Virtual Assistant, which you can use as a framework for your own.
3) Start to document or record your processes
Although you ultimately want to delegate the end result and not the process, it’s a good idea to put together some Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to prepare your business to hire a virtual assistant.
I’m a big believer in SOPs to help you to build a sustainable and efficient business so it’s a great habit to develop either way.
Documenting your processes from start to finish will also give your virtual assistant a clear idea of what you want to achieve. This helps to avoid any confusion over the end result, and will give your VA the confidence to make improvements and find efficiencies for you.
There’s no right or wrong way to document your processes. Video or audio capture are great if you want to record while you work. Or you can create simple check-lists or flow diagrams if you prefer things to be written down.
Dozuki also has a brilliant guide to writing better work instructions, which you can download for free from their website. Or if you don’t want to write your own you can download pre-prepared SOPs from the Flowster Marketplace (including loads of free ones).
Once you’re done, make sure you save your SOPs to a shared drive so that your virtual assistant can access them whenever they need them.
4) Create a training plan
Having already documented your processes, making a training plan for your virtual assistant will be no sweat. It’s understandable that once you’ve hired your VA you’ll want them to get cracking as quickly as possible.
But make sure you factor in some time at the beginning to provide your VA with suitable training so they can understand:
- The end result you’re after
- How you currently handle your tasks
- Why the task is critical to your business
- The impact on your business if the task isn’t done
“In addition to being clear, I also like to give context to each task. My assumption is that my VA won’t know anything about my business and so this context (even if it feels basic to me) helps put them in a position to succeed.”
In his best-selling book, Procrastinate on Purpose, Rory Vaden suggests investing 30 minutes of your time into training for every 1 minute a task takes you to complete.
This includes the time you spend documenting your processes, and providing support to your virtual assistant in the early days. It might seem like a lot, but the more time you invest in training, the less time you’ll spend going back over things in the future.
5) Set your goals and expectations
The final way to prepare your business to hire a virtual assistant is to be clear on your goals and expectations, and to be prepared to communicate them. Once you’ve created your SOPs and training materials, it’s a good idea to put together some simple rules to help clarify your expectations.
These could include things like:
· How much freedom you’re comfortable to give your VA to change and improve your processes?
· How happy you are for your VA to make decisions with a small monetary value (e.g. offering refunds to customers)?
· How will you handle errors together?
· What communication method do you prefer?
· How often and when you intend to check-in with your virtual assistant?
Having your expectations laid out will help you to avoid micro-managing, and also help to create a smooth, open and honest relationship between you and your virtual assistant.
Now that you know the 5 things you need to do to prepare your business to hire a virtual assistant, it’s time to start putting them in to practice.
It might be tempting to skip on some or all of them, and wing it – but putting in place the right foundations will help you to delegate with confidence so you can get back to what you do best.
How many of these 5 things have you already done in your business? Let me know in the comments.