So, you’re ready to hire a virtual assistant. You’ve come to the right place.
In this extensive guide, we’ll cover:
If you stick around until the end of the article, I have a special offer that you’re going to love AND that’s going to make this article that much more valuable in your business…
But remember, you have to stick around until the end of the article to receive the special offer 🙂
Editors Note: In this guide, we’re using the term “Virtual Assitant” which typically refers to someone who helps perform simple organizational or day-to-day tasks. However, these same principles can be applied to whatever skill set you’re hiring for, whether that is a typical VA, a project manager, an expert, or any other type of freelancer.
Hiring a virtual assistant and incorporating them into the growth of your company will be one of the best decisions that you’ll ever make as a business owner.
Think about those tasks that you’re doing on a day to day basis…they’re repetitive, they’re outside of your expertise, and they grind away at your energy each day when you could be spending that time growing and expanding your business.
Does any of this sound familiar?
I found myself in a similar situation when I started my first business.
My business partner and I were doing every little task within the business…answering customer emails, fulfilling orders to dropship suppliers, researching new manufacturers to work with, listing new products, and everything else in between.
Needless to say, there were hours upon hours of tasks that we were performing each day that we should have hired a virtual assistant to complete.
It took us some time (years!) to finally learn about outsourcing and how to hire a virtual assistant for our company to take a huge turn for the best.
When we were introduced to outsourcing and hiring virtual assistants, our world turned upside down and we were able to keep our time focused on growing the business, instead of operating within it.
As a business owner, you never want to be stuck in the day to day operations. It can seem useful at first because you are the most efficient at completing the tasks, but in the long run, it hurts the growth potential of your company.
After we turned that corner and learned how to hire a virtual assistant, the business took off.
We ended up building a group of over 60 freelancers that helped us to scale the company and we never looked back.
In 4 short years, we sold over $25 million on the Amazon Marketplace and our mindsets were changed forever.
Instead of spending time performing repetitive tasks, we hired a virtual assistant.
Instead of spending months learning a new skill set, we hired a virtual assistant with the experience.
When anything came up that was outside of our core scope of building the business, we created a process and hired a virtual assistant.
Needless to say, I love hiring virtual assistants and I want to teach you how to do the same with this guide.
By the end of this guide, you will have the tools and strategies that you’ll need to hire a virtual assistant and turn them into a real asset for the growth of your company.
Not only will you be able to hire a virtual assistant, but you will know how to hire multiple virtual assistants that can start to take everything off your plate leaving you with time to spend on expansion.
If you stick with me through this guide, you’re going to emerge a new business owner with an attitude that will transform the business that you’re currently running.
Long is the day of you doing everything and wondering when you’ll have time to enjoy your life and business.
Welcome to a new world of thought, my friend 🙂
It’s a great question and one that I think every single business owner asks themselves before getting into the world of hiring virtual assistants.
It’s taken me time to understand when the perfect time is and it boils down to a few situations.
Situation 1 is when you are spending your time working on repetitive processes for more than 3 months.
If you created a new process to handle a particular aspect of your business, let’s call it reaching out to potential customers via LinkedIn, you should not be performing that on your own for more than 3 months.
After 3 months, it is muscle memory. You’ve perfected the process and it is time that it should be passed onto a virtual assistant to handle and continue to grow.
Situation 2 is when you are looking to add a new process to your business that you are not an expert in.
For example, you want to start running Facebook ads to drive potential customers to your business.
Completely viable and a marketing strategy that you should be utilizing to grow your business.
But Facebook ads are complicated and shouldn’t be messed with unless you have expert knowledge of running them, creating customer audiences, and re-targeting your unique audiences with more valuable content.
In the best situation, it may take you 3 months to learn and become an expert at Facebook ads…if you spend every waking minute learning about them and testing different strategies.
That’s time that could be spent on growing your business through your current expertise.
In this situation, it’s best to hire a virtual assistant that has years of experience running Facebook ads. They can set up and run your ads at a high level while you manage the content being used for the ads and sales funnels.
Instead of spending 3 months learning about Facebook ads, you can have your ads running within 1 week and spend 3 months talking to new customers on the phone.
Wouldn’t that be a better use of your time?
Situation 3 is similar to the first but is more focused on when you are just completely overwhelmed by all of the tasks that have found their way onto your plate.
This happens very quickly for new business owners and it can become extremely stressful.
You wake up every day and have 10 hours of tasks (just tasks!) to manage throughout the day and you have ZERO time to expand the company.
Being in that situation can drive you mad and lead you to lose passion in your business.
Don’t let that happen!
Take the advice outlined in the remainder of this guide and slowly start to hire virtual assistants to free up your time and give you freedom back in your business.
So, you’ve decided that it’s time for you to hire a virtual assistant. That’s the first step in your new journey towards getting your time back.
Now, you’re wondering, “Well, how do I get started? I have 5 tasks on my plate…which do I hire for first?” and also, “what does a virtual assistant do?”
We hit yet another crossroads, but not to worry. I have the directions that will put us back on the highway.
To determine the first task to take off your plate, you need to close your computer and find a quiet space where you can’t be distracted by the constant pings of email, Skype, Slack, Jira, etc.
Bring a piece of paper with you and make yourself comfy.
This will take less than 30 minutes, but it will guarantee that you walk back to your computer with that first task to hire a virtual assistant for.
On that piece of paper, write down every single task that you are performing on a day to day basis. Every single thing…answering emails, taking phone calls, posting on social media…everything.
Once you feel confident that you’ve written every single task down, take the list of tasks and order them from easiest to hardest.
Easiest being the most repetitive and mundane that could easily be handled by someone else with the experience within that task.
An example that I like to use from the world of eCommerce is fulfilling customer orders. As orders are placed by customers, the shipping information needs to be communicated to the shipper so that the product can be shipped and tracking information can be provided.
This task requires a minimal amount of understanding of customer information for an online order and then the ability to copy and paste information into an email to send to the shipper.
Anyone could perform that task with the proper understanding of the process and a little bit of practice.
Once you have your list ordered from easiest to hardest, look at the task that you’ve placed at the top of your list…the easiest task that you are continuing to perform on a day to day basis.
THIS is the first task that you should hire a virtual assistant for so that you no longer have to complete it on a day to day basis.
I know that it seems too simple to be true, but it 100% is that simple.
You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to recognize you are working on tasks too simple for your pay rate, but it can take time to step away from the business to understand how valuable your time is.
Most people start by getting low-level, low-value tasks off their plate first so they can focus on the things they do best, just like I described above.
This is a great starting point, but there are some cases in which you may find a better value in hiring for a high-value role.
For example: Let’s say you’re very busy handling lots of things every day, and you’re missing phone calls from potential clients.
Clearly making sure that incoming calls from clients are answered is a big priority and will push your business forward.
In this case, you might find more value in hiring someone to make sure this happens, while you work on other projects.
Now that you know WHAT you want to hire a virtual assistant for, you need to know WHERE you can find a virtual assistant that will be a great fit for the task.
As a quick background, virtual assistants have been roaming the earth for decades, even before the Internet became a daily part of a business owner’s life.
Slowly, over the past 4 years, virtual assistants and online freelancers have become a larger part of the world economy.
Today, we refer to this part of the workforce as the “gig economy” with the word “gig” deriving from short “projects” that bands would get at bars and music venues around the country.
Over time, the word “gig” has come to be defined as a short term project.
At the very essence of being a virtual assistant is having many “gigs” going on with many different clients at all times.
As virtual assistants and outsourcing became more mainstream and the Internet started to take off, digital talent marketplaces started to pop up becoming a “place” online where virtual assistants could offer their services to business owners seeking to hire workers online.
Today, there are hundreds of digital talent marketplaces all over the world catering to all kinds of niche talents that a business owner would hire to help their business grow.
You can hire virtual assistants from all of these marketplaces and, of course, all of them have their pros and cons.
Depending on the task that you are looking to hire a virtual assistant for will make a major impact on which platform you decide to use.
Depending on the marketplace, you will then receive applications to freelancers that are interested in filling your task.
As you will receive applicants, it is your responsibility to set up a time to interview and vet them so that you can find the best possible virtual assistant for your business.
If you want to save a ton of time and simply shortcut your way to only meeting the top 1% of applicants, you can use our service at FreeUp.
Instead of wading through hundreds of applications, we handle all of the pre-vetting for you. When you request a worker through FreeUp, you are introduced to a hand-picked virtual assistant that has already been vetted and meets all of your requirements for the task.
(You can sign up for a free account here.)
I think that everyone wonders about the price of a virtual assistant at some time or another while running their business.
It’s a huge unknown as you get into hiring a virtual assistant and so I want to clear it up for you so that you have realistic expectations going into the process.
Before I provide you with a range of estimates based on several different tasks that may occur within your business, let’s talk about US-based virtual assistants vs. virtual assistants based outside of the US.
In general, if the virtual assistant has the same skills and experience, but are simply located in different areas of the world (let’s say Orlando, Florida vs. Manila, Philippines), the hourly rates of those two virtual assistants are going to be different.
Now, you could hire a virtual assistant that specializes within a specific skill set that is harder to perfect (let’s say Facebook ads) that may be more expensive than a US-based virtual assistant that is completing a very simple task (let’s say data entry).
However, in general, non-US generally will be less expensive, and US-based assistants will be more expensive.
When starting to think about the pricing of a virtual assistant, I would use $5 per hour as the lowest that you think about hiring for.
Sure, you can filter through different digital talent platforms (like the ones that I mentioned above) and find a virtual assistant that is willing to take on a project for, let’s say $2 per hour, but how skilled and committed do you think that individual will be?
If you don’t believe me, feel free to go ahead and try out hiring people at $2 per hour. From my experience, you will eventually run into an issue of skill set, commitment, or communication.
By going up just $3 per hour to $5 per hour, you can start to find reliable, communicative, and highly experienced virtual assistants that will be able to fully commit to the task that you are looking to outsource.
Going in the opposite direction, you will find experts and high-level consultants that are charging much higher prices per hour, $200+ per hour. That’s probably not where you’re going to start.
But you’ll also find very highly talented virtual assistants that are in the $10 to $50 per hour range.
This is the range that I encourage you to consider if you are looking for a higher level consultant or performer to help within the growth of your business.
Keep in mind that the reason for the large disparity in ranges is that there are different levels of virtual assistant for given skill sets.
Let me provide you with an example.
Let’s say that you want to hire someone to help manage your social media accounts.
To keep it simple, this virtual assistant can land in 3 different levels of expertise.
Depending on the level of expertise that you need for the social media manager will make their hourly rate greatly vary.
As I said above, you will better understand standard ballpark ranges for different virtual assistants as you hire and manage more of them.
Remember, you get what you pay for.
The next step in your journey is to meet with your applicants.
The goal of the interview is to identify red flags and ensure that you hire a virtual assistant that is an ideal fit for the task you want to outsource.
Now, if you are using FreeUp, you can simply sign into your account, fill out the Request a Worker form outlining exactly who you need, and you will be introduced to 1-3 virtual assistants that have already been vetted for their skill set, experience, and communication skills.
But regardless of which platform you decide to use, you will want to ask the virtual assistant several crucial questions that will help you to determine if they are the right fit for your business.
To help you decide on those questions, you first want to take a minute to create a list of the 3 things most important to you in someone that you’re working with.
This will greatly vary across all business owners, but take 10 minutes away from this guide and write down what is most important to you.
Okay, …have your list?
If you got stumped along the way, here are a few examples:
Now, once you have those three qualities that are deal breakers for you, you want to be focused on them as you are interviewing the virtual assistant.
Use them as an opportunity to find red flags.
For example, you invite a virtual assistant to an interview and you ask them the question, “Are you able to work on the EST time zone?”
Their answer is, “No, I’m sorry, I’m not able to do that.”
There’s no need to go on with the interview after you hear that. You want to make sure that you hire the best possible virtual assistant for your business and if they can’t fulfill one of your top three qualities, they aren’t a fit.
Those three qualities are your first three questions that you should be asking virtual assistants as you try to find out if they are a good fit for your business.
If the virtual assistant meets your top 3 requirements, choose a number of these questions to also ask them.
Asking all of these questions can be as short as 10-15 minutes if you are conducting the interview via chat or phone.
It’s key to notice how long it takes the virtual assistant to respond as you ask each question and carry on the conversation.
I always veer away from virtual assistants that take more than 30 seconds to respond to a question that I send to them via chat.
To me, it indicates they may be distracted and trying to multi-task or they aren’t fast enough to work with me. (I like to work and communicate FAST.)
At the end of the day, you’re looking for a virtual assistant that you’re going to get along with well, that has the skills to perform the task that you are looking to outsource and that you can see yourself working with over the long run.
Don’t settle until you find the right virtual assistant that fits all of those qualities.
I can promise that if you work hard and don’t settle, you will reap the benefits as your company continues to grow and you hire other virtual assistants.
Once you’ve found the right virtual assistant for your business, your work isn’t done. Actually, it’s just begun!
You need to make sure that you set clear expectations once you hire a virtual assistant so that they are prepared to thrive within their role in your business.
Okay, so you’ve got to the point where you hired a virtual assistant. Congrats!
That is a huge step to make for your business and you are absolutely on the right track to freeing up your time so that you can stay focused on building your business.
The next step is one that most business owners overlook and it is one of the biggest mistakes that you can make when you go to hire a virtual assistant.
The mistake is that a business owner makes the hire but then doesn’t set clear expectations for the task and for the communication that you want with the virtual assistant.
You could hire the smartest, most prompt, and most skilled virtual assistant, but if you don’t set their ship in the right direction, they’re bound to crash.
I want to teach you how to avoid this common mistake so that the virtual assistant that you hire is ready to ROCK their task.
Once you decide to hire the virtual assistant, immediately set up a meeting with them so that you can talk about expectations and getting started in the role.
Here are the topics that you want to address:
When you take these steps to get the virtual assistant set up within their task, they have a much higher chance of becoming a valuable asset to your business.
If you fail to have this meeting and set clear expectations, all of the information they need to succeed will not be communicated and it could lead to issues down the road.
In this next section, we’ll dive into how you continue to manage the virtual assistant once they’ve started within their task.
If you’ve followed my advice and took the time to set clear expectations with the virtual assistant that you hired, you are lightyears ahead of other business owners. A big pat on the back.
Once you start to hire virtual assistants, you take on a new role as a business owner and entrepreneur.
You’re no longer the solo entrepreneur that only needs to worry about yourself and what you are doing on a day to day basis.
You now have the responsibility of being a leader and manager. If you fail to take on that new “hat”, you will fail in effectively utilizing the virtual assistant that you hired.
For some, this can be extremely difficult if you don’t have experience managing individuals, especially ones that are thousands of miles away from you and who you have probably not met in person.
Let’s be real, a video chat can only take your relationship so far.
But you can’t let that limit you while managing, leading, and motivating the virtual assistant.
To properly manage the virtual assistant that you hired, I have three very important pieces of advice that I want you to take to heart.
If you follow them, you will see yourself building a strong relationship with the virtual assistant and you will be able to tap into the power of outsourcing tasks off your plate.
I can’t explain how important this first tip is.
People relate to people and they care a hell of a lot more about their work if they care about the person whom they are performing it for.
Would you rather work for a robot that you know nothing about or a charismatic and ambitious entrepreneur that loves traveling the world?
Who would you be motivated by more? (I hope that you’re choosing the traveling entrepreneur).
The point is that virtual assistants are people too and they tend to stay working with clients whom they care about and have a personal and professional relationship with.
To start to build that personal relationship, schedule a 30-minute meeting where the only goal of the meeting is to get to know one another.
Share your story of how you got to where you are, what you enjoy doing outside of work, what your family life is like, and then ask them to do the same.
Ask questions if they are being shy and toss in a few jokes here and there.
Show them that you are a real person too and that you have things in common.
When you establish this initial trust right off the bat with the virtual assistant, you set up the relationship to thrive down the line as you both take on new responsibilities and the company continues to grow.
I hired one virtual assistant from the Philippines that I’ve been working with for over 5 years now. She is absolutely amazing and we have a great personal and professional relationship. I trust her with more than I ever thought that I would.
And it all started by taking the time to get to know each other when we first started working together.
Don’t underestimate how valuable that 30 minutes can be.
One of the biggest mistakes that business owners make when managing virtual assistants is that they don’t set up regular opportunities to communicate.
When that mistake is made, business owners get frustrated because they don’t hear from the virtual assistant for days or even weeks and they wonder what they are doing.
One thought leads to the next and they are mad at the virtual assistant…before even talking to them about how things are going.
Don’t become the business owner that starts doubting virtual assistants without talking to them regularly.
My strategy is to set up daily check-ins with each of my virtual assistants so that I always know what they are up to, we can ask each other questions, and I see the progress that they are making daily.
And it’s super simple to set up.
Here is what you say…
“Hey John, can you please ping me on Skype when you start working each day and then also provide me with a short summary of what you were able to achieve as you finish up?”
Express that it’s very important that they uphold this end of the relationship and that it could compromise the working relationship if they can’t uphold it.
Then, on a daily basis (or however often they are working for you), you receive updates from the virtual assistant keeping you in the loop with what they are doing.
It also offers you an opportunity to know when they are on and working for you during the day so that you can ask questions, offer advice, or assign new projects.
Implement this tip to avoid issues where you are wondering what the virtual assistant is up to each day.
With a strong start to a personal relationship and regular daily check-ins set up and running smoothly, it’s time to make sure that the virtual assistant is always on track each week.
I advise you to set up a weekly or bi-weekly meeting with the virtual assistant where you come together to catch up, talk about new ideas, and provide feedback on how they can improve.
Here are the topics that you can cover during the meeting:
A bonus to the weekly or bi-weekly meetings is that it’s more time where you and the virtual assistant can get to know one another and understand how to best work together.
Over weeks and weeks of meeting regularly, you will become more comfortable and confident in the virtual assistant’s ability to help grow your business.
If all three of these tips are implemented correctly, you will truly witness the power of hiring virtual assistants and integrating them into the operations of your business.
As I said at the beginning of the article, your mind will be blown and your life will be changed forever.
With one virtual assistant successfully set up, you’re going to want to get that second, and third, and fourth, set up as well so that you gain even more time back in your day.
In this next section, we’ll dive into best practices for hiring and managing multiple virtual assistants.
I want to share a question that I’m often asked by business owners as they are starting to hire virtual assistants.
Should I hire one virtual assistant to handle all of my tasks/projects? Or should I hire multiple virtual assistants for each task/project?
There is no “100% right” answer here – but there are a few points that you should consider.
If you’re just getting started and have not managed lots of freelancers before, getting started with 1 freelancer is a good idea.
Hiring, interviewing, delegating, communicating and managing are all skill sets that can take time to learn.
By getting started with 1 freelancer, you’ll ensure that you’re progressing on your part, and not overwhelming yourself.
With that said, as your skillset develops, it’s a good idea to have contingency plans. If your freelancer leaves for any reason, will that hurt your business significantly?
It’s a good idea to diversify as time goes on by hiring multiple assistants to perform each task, and cross-train freelancers to be able to take over each other’s responsibilities.
Using this method will help you avoid overwhelm, and allow you to diversify as you progress!
Once you’ve built up a group of virtual assistants that you’re tapping into regularly to complete projects and tasks within your business, it’s time that you set up all-hands meetings each week.
My business partner and I prefer to run these “all hands” meetings every Monday morning so that everyone is set up and prepared to conquer the week.
Similar to the weekly or bi-weekly meetings that you may hold with virtual assistants on an individual basis, your all-hands meetings can follow a similar set of topics:
Holding a meeting like this each week keeps the group of virtual assistants bonded together and working towards common goals.
If you don’t have these meetings, all of the virtual assistants will feel distanced, they may not interact with each other at all, and they may lose interest in the task that they are performing.
Be the charismatic leader that they need and bring them together for an exciting meeting each week where you keep the ship moving forward.
On top of the all-hands weekly meetings, it’s also smart to schedule weekly or bi-weekly group specific meetings with virtual assistants so that you can dive deeper into strategies for each aspect of your business where VA’s are present.
For example, I run a social media marketing meeting every week with the virtual assistants that are helping me manage and grow our social media channels.
We dive into stats on how things are performing, what is working best, and new ideas that we want to test out over the next week.
It keeps us all on the same page and moving forward each week. There is no time for mediocrity when you are meeting each week to push things forward.
With these meetings set up, you are prepared to manage and lead a group of virtual assistants towards all of the goals that you have for your business.
There are millions of excuses that you can come up with to not hire a virtual assistant for your business.
“I don’t trust someone that I don’t know…”
“I don’t know what I should hire for first…”
“What if the virtual assistant disappears on me?…”
“I don’t have the budget to hire a virtual assistant yet…”
“No one can do the task as well as I can…”
“How do I know if I’m hiring the right person…”
Fear highly influences decisions in your business and personal life, but you can’t let it limit your ability to grow your business and develop new strategies as an entrepreneur.
If I were to have allowed fear to conquer my actions, I’d still be selling on Amazon all by myself performing all of the tasks every single day working 10+ hours each day on tasks that I don’t even enjoy.
You NEED (and I emphasize NEED) to stop making excuses and hire a virtual assistant because it WILL change the trajectory of your business.
It WILL put you in a position to run your business and stay focused on what you are best at.
It WILL give you more time to spend with your friends and family while you enjoy the benefits of more profits.
And finally, it WILL transform you into an entrepreneur that sees the value of outsourcing and how it can drastically impact your business and personal life.
There will be a small learning curve and adjusting period, but it will put you on a new path towards more time, more profits, and more happiness in your life.
It is with these words that I leave you to think about your next move.
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments and I will gladly answer them.
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