It’s time. You’ve started your own business and watched it grow to the point where it can no longer be a one-person operation. You’re ready to hire a helping hand to assist with tasks so that you can spend your time focusing on your business strategy and growth. If this is your first time hiring someone, it can be difficult to figure out where to start. A virtual assistant may be what you’re looking for to help you in your endeavors.
Read on to find out how to hire a virtual assistant and learn the best ways to delegate tasks to your new hire.
What is a Virtual Assistant
A virtual assistant is a self-employed worker who specializes in offering administrative services to clients from a remote location, often a home office. Typical tasks a virtual assistant might perform include scheduling appointments, making phone calls, making travel arrangements, and managing email accounts. Any simple or repetitive tasks that are necessary but time-consuming are good tasks to offload to a virtual assistant.
Some virtual assistants specialize in offering graphic design, blog writing, bookkeeping, social media, and marketing services. If you’re looking to hire someone for a specific set of specialized tasks, such as managing your social media or creating blog content, make sure to know what skills and qualifications you’ll need to fill this role.
When You Should Hire a Virtual Assistant
There are a number of reasons that can motivate you to hire a virtual assistant. A few examples are listed below:
- You’re overwhelmed by your current workload
- You have more paperwork than you can handle
- You want to use your time more productively in your business
- You can’t afford a full-time staff member
- You need to decrease your stress levels
- You need something done that you don’t have the skills to do yourself
- You want to offer 24/7 customer service
- You want to scale your business quickly
- You have numerous repetitive, non-core tasks
- You want more flexibility in your business
- You only want to pay for productive work time
- You want to balance your personal and professional life
If any of the above apply to you and your business, it’s a strong sign that you should consider bringing on a virtual assistant.
Pros of Having a Virtual Assistant
If you feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to tackle your workload, whether you’re stuck dealing with paperwork, scheduling appointments, or other tedious tasks, a virtual assistant can help save you time and allow you to be more productive. This option can also help you save on costs compared to hiring a full-time employee because you won’t have to pay for benefits or salaries. Instead, you’ll really only pay for their time. In addition, you won’t have to pay for an office space for them to work every day because they are already working remotely.
A specialized virtual assistant will let you expand your business and allow you to focus on what you do well. This is an ideal combination because while your assistant is hired to work on what they do best, you can continue doing what you do best - growing your business.
Cons of Having a Virtual Assistant
While a virtual assistant will help you save time in the long run, it will take time to hire, train, and onboard them at the beginning of the process. Another difficulty will be ensuring that you are hiring the ideal candidate for the job. You might struggle to build trust with your assistant in a virtual environment. This lack of trust may arise because virtual assistants may not be transparent, and they often have their own processes to complete tasks and projects.
Due to the remote nature of this position, communication is not always consistent. Different time zones and cultural differences can make it difficult to communicate.
How to Delegate Tasks to a Virtual Assistant
Bringing on a new hire and letting them take control of the tasks you have been doing yourself can be a difficult adjustment. Use the step-by-step guide below to delegate tasks to your virtual assistant.
1. Onboard Your Virtual Assistant
While your virtual assistant will not be coming to work with you in person, it is important to give an indication of the type of work environment to expect and the company culture. Find a way to introduce the team so the new hire can meet coworkers and alleviate some of the awkwardness of meeting new people. Whether the introductions take place via a video call, icebreakers, or a Slack post, make sure there are opportunities for workers to bond and learn about each other.
A great way to start building a trusting relationship with your virtual assistant is to add a personal touch to their on-boarding experience. Write a note welcoming them to your company and include a gift card. A little can go a long way in these situations. Don't be afraid to spread out the on-boarding process. Throwing your new hire into the deep end can be overwhelming and ineffective if they aren’t able to take the time to absorb the information. Instead, take them out to lunch or provide them with training days so they can take breaks throughout the process.
2. Decide What to Delegate in Advance
Not every task can be delegated, so it's important to know which tasks should remain under your responsibility and which ones should be passed on to others. When you bring your virtual assistant on board, you should have a list of tasks ready for them. These tasks should be broken down into daily, weekly, and other tasks based on frequency so your virtual assistant can follow the workload and keep track of how often tasks need to be completed.
Tasks that should be delegated are often repetitive tasks that you can entrust to others to perform. As a general rule of thumb, if you're able to create step-by-step instructions on how to perform the work, then it's a task you can delegate.
How to Choose Which Tasks and Processes to Outsource
Every business has a long list of tasks and processes that are involved in running that business. To help you decide which ones to outsource and which ones you should keep doing, start by categorizing these tasks and processes.
Every task and process in your business belongs in 1 of 4 categories:
- Tasks that you should do: high-value tasks that you enjoy doing and you’re good at
- Tasks that you should not do: low-value tasks that are not the best use of your time, even if you’re good at them or you enjoy doing them (These are the hardest ones to outsource!)
- Tasks that you don’t want to do: tasks that you don’t like doing but someone else will
- Tasks that you can’t do: tasks that you lack the necessary knowledge and skills to do
Another helpful tip for curating tasks to delegate is to write down EVERYTHING you do in a day for one week straight. Having a list written out of everything you do in a given week will help you identify which tasks you’re spending time on that you don’t want to be spending time on, and also what tasks you’re repeating over and over again throughout the week.
Remember: Do not overload your virtual assistant with too many tasks all at once. You can always delegate more tasks once they have adjusted.
3. Define the Desired Outcome
Step-by-step instructions are a great starting point to push your assistant in the right direction. However, you’ll need to do more if you want a successful outcome. The tasks you hand off should come with proper context, including any specific outcomes you're looking for. You’ll need to establish the goals behind each task and set clear criteria of what “good work” looks like. Plus, each task should be assigned with a deadline to meet and metrics to measure the success of the work.
Provide an approximate amount of time to spend on the task. Specifying how much time should be spent on the task can help to ensure that you are not getting overbilled. Deadlines are effective in ensuring that tasks are completed within the expected window of time you have established.
When first assigning work, you should communicate with your virtual assistant via video call, which is the most medium-rich option you’ll have on a remote team. Clear communication is crucial to ensure there are no mistranslations and expectations are understood.
4. Hold Task Recaps
Set up calls based on the frequency you find necessary, whether that is daily, weekly, or bi-weekly, to recap the tasks performed by your virtual assistant. These calls should review the quality of work delivered, gauge the workload (if it’s too much or too little), and help answer any questions that cannot be answered via message or email. Think of it like a scheduled check-in to make sure your virtual assistant is adjusting well and working at your expectation.
This is also a great time for you to provide feedback on your assistant’s work, as well as a chance for them to provide feedback for you. Often, new employees can offer a new perspective. Who knows? They might bring up an idea that could help your business soar!
5. Use Team and Project Tools to Track Tasks
A good way to track the progress of your virtual assistant’s tasks is by using tools meant to encourage collaboration. One of the simplest tools to use is a shared Google Drive. You can organize projects or tasks by folders and check the progress updates. However, if you have more complex projects or multiple people on your team, you might want to look into software meant for project management. Asana is a recommended project management tool. You can also check out 35 Helpful Remote Work Tools For Your Business.
Such tools are useful if you hire a specialized virtual assistant and assign them marketing projects, blog writing, or social media scheduling.
6. Establish and Maintain Clear Communication
Communication is crucial when working on any team or project, but it is essential when it comes to working with a remote team. Establish multiple communication channels and make sure to be available. If your virtual assistant runs into issues or needs to ask questions, make sure you can be pinged with a message or email.
Recap calls are great to get progress reports, but it’s also helpful to check in throughout the week. Your virtual assistant should feel comfortable enough to reach out whenever they don’t understand something or feel that there need to be adjustments made. While email is a good medium of communication for delivering a lot of information, sending quick messages is preferable if you have a quick question to be asked and answered in real-time or if it is time-sensitive. Slack is a great team messaging option.
Virtual assistants can be a great addition to your team and can help to alleviate a great deal of stress by handling repetitive or tedious tasks that take up too much of your time.
However, it is important that you know what tasks you plan to delegate prior to hiring so you can ensure you hire the right candidate. Once hired, follow the above guide on how to delegate tasks to your virtual assistant. While each business has its own unique processes, this guide should provide you with a great starting point.
So, you think you’re ready to bring a virtual assistant on to your team? Make sure to learn about the common pitfalls to avoid when working with a virtual assistant.