New entrepreneurs often expect that they need to do it all: answering customer queries, fulfilling orders, creating marketing campaigns, and so much more. And while wearing different hats is rewarding, and in the early days, necessary, it’s not sustainable in the long run. And unfortunately, many entrepreneurs get stuck here — but not you!
Enter virtual assistants. Long gone are the days when a virtual assistant could only do extremely basic tasks.
According to Grand View Research, the virtual assistant market is valued at USD 2.48 billion in 2022 and is predicted to grow from 2023 to 2030 with a compound annual growth rate of 24.3%. The increasing demand for virtual assistants stems from the increased need for efficiency in businesses across different industries.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant or VA is an independent contractor who offers remote help to entrepreneurs and business owners. They can work anywhere in the world, handle multiple clients, and take on a wide array of tasks.
Virtual assistants are usually the “first hire” of small and new entrepreneurs, especially those operating online, who don’t have the money to hire a full-time employee or the time to manage different tasks by themselves.
One of the biggest differences between a virtual assistant and a traditional employee is that you have the option of hiring general virtual assistants, who are resourceful all-rounders and can perform a variety of tasks rather than mastering one area of your business. On the other hand, specialist virtual assistants specialize in everything from web design to social media management and everything in between. Virtual assistants have become necessary among many businesses, such as photographers, law firms, real estate, and even bloggers.
Virtual assistants may not be permanent employees, but working with them allows your business to save money. Their services are more affordable as you don’t have to pay for their equipment, internet connection, and other benefits outside their salary. Not to mention, instead of looking for one person that operates as a second you, you can hire multiple virtual assistants for as little as an hour here and there to take things off your plate.
How to Choose What Tasks to Outsource
Deciding to hire a virtual assistant is one thing; determining what tasks to give them is another. The latter is just as crucial to maximizing your virtual assistant’s services.
To help you determine which tasks to outsource and which ones you should continue doing, categorize your tasks according to the following:
- Tasks you should do: High-value tasks that you’re good at and enjoy doing.
- Tasks you shouldn’t do: Low-value tasks that are not the best use of your time, even if you’re good at them or love doing them. These tasks are often the most challenging to outsource.
- Tasks you don’t want to do: Tasks you don’t like doing, but someone else will.
- Tasks you can’t do: Tasks that you lack the necessary experience, skills, or knowledge to do properly.
Generally, you should offload tasks that belong in numbers two, three, and four to a virtual assistant. You can also refer to this article to determine what tasks to entrust to your virtual assistant.
A 5-Step Guide to Hiring a Virtual Assistant
Hiring a virtual assistant is quite different from hiring an in-house employee. Virtual assistants work remotely, so you have to rely on technology for the entire recruitment process.
If you don’t have any idea where and how to start hiring a virtual assistant, follow these steps:
Identify the Tasks You Want to Offload
After reading the previous section, completing this step should be a breeze. Once you’ve determined which tasks to give to a virtual assistant, create training documents or Standard Operating Procedures for these tasks.
Draft a Job Description
A job description is essential when hiring a virtual assistant as it tells the applicants what the position may require or involve. It also discourages unqualified candidates from sending their applications, saving time and effort.
The job description should contain the following:
- Background information about your business (your industry, what products or services you are selling, and who your target audience is);
- The level of experience or education required;
- List of duties and responsibilities; and
- List of apps or tools they’re required to use.
Post Your Job Description Online
Once your job description is ready, post it online and start accepting applications. You can post your job description on various online platforms, like OnlineJobs.ph, Fiverr, or Upwork. This strategy expands your reach, allowing you to find the perfect virtual assistant ASAP.
Side note: One great advantage of using OnlineJobs.ph instead of the other platforms, is you can take your VA off their platform, saving you more money, and allowing you more flexibility. To hire at Productivity Stacks, we use e OnlineJobs.ph and then a ClickUp form so that we can streamline our hiring (you often get LOTS of job applicants). This is not possible on other platforms because taking hiring off platform is a violation of their terms of service.
Review Applications and Schedule Interviews
Review every application you receive and schedule interviews with the top ten candidates. It’s best to conduct video interviews with the candidates as it’s the next best thing to interviewing someone in person. Video interviews also help you determine if the candidate can communicate well and if their body language matches their answers.
When interviewing candidates, don’t just ask about their professional experience and skills. Learn more about the candidate by asking about their hobbies, how they like to work, and their preferred management style. You can even ask them to complete a free personality test, so you can better understand their strengths, weaknesses, and work ethics.
But regardless of the tasks you’re going to give to your virtual assistant, make sure they possess these skills:
- Communication skills
- Customer service
- Data entry
- Excellent attention to detail
- Good decision making
- Knowledge of cloud-based apps
- Project management
- Time management
Give the Best Candidate a Trial Period
Choose the best candidate and start working with them on a trial period. This could run anywhere from a one-off project, one week or a period of 30, 60, or 90 days, depending on the complexity and number of tasks you’ll offload to them.
Letting your virtual assistant undergo a trial period motivates them to perform well, knowing that it can lead to a permanent role in your team. Have them sign a formal service agreement before the trial period starts to avoid any issues in the future.
5 Tips for Managing Your VA
Finding and working with a virtual assistant is just the beginning. After welcoming them to your team, you must ensure they remain productive and professional. How else can you maximize their services if they stop meeting your expectations after a few weeks?
Easily manage your virtual assistant by implementing these strategies:
Ultimately, you should judge the success of your virtual assistant based on their performance while working with you. To do this, set clear expectations and key performance indicators or KPIs before they start working. If they complete all the tasks you give them every day, would you care how many coffee breaks they take daily?
It’s common for some to micromanage their virtual assistants as they don’t get to see what they’re doing in real-time. But do you know that micromanagement only hurts your virtual assistant’s productivity?
Avoid micromanaging by setting clear expectations with your virtual assistant and evaluating them based on how well they met those expectations. Yes, several apps and software now enable you to observe your virtual assistant’s computer screen but using them isn’t necessary when you have complete trust and confidence in your virtual assistant.
Before every week ends, require your virtual assistant to send you a report of the tasks they’ve completed that week. Provide them with a template to ensure they can supply you with the information you need.
Unsure about what to require in your virtual assistant’s weekly report? Consider the following questions:
- What projects did they complete?
- How much time did they spend on completing those projects?
- Do they have any pending to-dos?
- Were there any problems or issues during the week?
- Do they require additional training?
Cultivate a culture of feedback with your virtual assistant, as this makes them feel trusted, heard, and valued. Encourage open communication by asking them to share ideas, ask questions, and provide feedback regularly. Doing so helps you manage your virtual assistant and makes you a better manager.
Rely on Technology
Consider signing up for a VA course to learn the ins and outs of hiring a virtual assistant. This online course teaches you how to weed out good applicants from bad ones.
It’s also essential to introduce and use the right tools when you work with a virtual assistant. ClickUp, for example, helps you track your virtual assistant’s progress and allows your virtual assistant to manage projects.
How Much is a Virtual Assistant?
There’s no standard rate for full-time or part-time virtual assistants. A virtual assistant can change anywhere between $1 to over $100 per hour! On the other hand, full-time and in-house employees expect to receive an average salary of $75,000 annually.
The cost of a virtual assistant depends on several factors, namely:
- The type of work they do
- The urgency of their tasks
- Their skills and experience
- Where they’re located
According to ZipRecruiter, the national average salary of virtual assistants in the US is $28 per hour or $59,153 annually.
Hire Your Virtual Assistant The Right Way
Virtual assistants can benefit your business in a number of ways. They’re generally cheaper, more skilled in different areas of the business, and free up your time so that you can be more productive.
Use this guide to avoid the stress of hiring and working with someone from a remote location. It can be a seamless process if you follow these steps and you’ll be off to the races with your business, without having to do it alone (or expensively).