Running a business is hard work. Most business owners are perpetually busy. But if you’re going to run a successful business, you can’t expect to be able to do everything yourself. You can’t be in charge of both high-level business strategy and answering voicemail. Otherwise, you’re going to start seeing a drop in quality. No one can do it all — and do it all well.
That’s why more and more businesses are seeking to leverage virtual assistants. With a VA, you can offload many of your less-important everyday tasks, so that you can focus on what’s important for the growth of your business. Not only do virtual assistants free up your time, they also help make sure that tasks that need to get done are done well, and on time. This can have huge benefits for your stress levels. It also means that some of your business processes can keep going, even if you have sick days.
But you need to make sure you take the right steps in order to get all of the benefits that come with hiring a virtual assistant. Here are some tips to help you leverage virtual assistants.
What Tasks Can You Delegate to Your VA?
Wondering about the best way to leverage virtual assistants? A good place to start is to figure out what tasks you can delegate. Virtual assistants are remote workers who perform administrative tasks for a business. Typical tasks include scheduling, customer assistance, and responding to emails.
You can leverage virtual assistants to do tasks that require specific skills as well. Here are some ideas for tasks that a VA can complete for you:
- Invoicing and bookkeeping
- Data entry and database management
- Autoresponder setup (e.g. Mailchimp)
- Creating reports
- Social media management
- Travel arrangements
- Audio and video transcriptions
- Copywriting for blog posts, ebooks, newsletters, email funnels, landing pages etc
- Video editing
- Graphic design
- App development
- Online marketing
You may not need to leverage virtual assistants for every task listed above. Just pick and choose based on your business needs. But generally, the above tasks are a great starting point to leverage your virtual assistants.
Be careful when choosing tasks to outsource, though. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that one virtual assistant can complete all of your tasks for you. In many cases, you will have a hard time finding a virtual assistant who has all of the skills to do every task well. Instead, you will want to outsource specific tasks to specialists.
Assess Your Business Operations
Take stock of where your time is going. A good way to do this is to make a list of every task that you have to do in a day. Take special note of any especially time-consuming tasks. Which tasks are taking up most of your time? What are the parts of your current business processes that you would like to iron out? From here, you can see which tasks can be eliminated, outsourced, or automated.
Before You Hire a VA, Spend Some Time on Strategy
You probably have a long list of tasks that you want to leverage virtual assistants for. But you want to make sure that you get help right where you need it. The tasks you delegate should be both important for your business processes. After all, you don’t want to waste money delegating tasks that didn’t need to be done in the first place.
Before you leverage virtual assistants for a task, first ask yourself if you can eliminate, simplify, or automate the task. Does the task add to your bottom line? If you can’t, then that is a good task to leverage virtual assistants for.
A Word on Automation and Your VA
Every now and then, the best solution for your business will be a combination of outsourcing and automation.
Take social media marketing, for example. You can use software like Buffer or Hootsuite to automate a good portion of your social media processes. This will cut down your work significantly. But you will still need someone to write the posts, and enter the data into your automation software. This can take up a significant amount of time, too. This is where combining automation with outsourcing can help your business shine. Leverage virtual assistants to manage your Hootsuite or Buffer. This can be the best solution in this situation.
Remember, wanting to leverage virtual assistants isn’t just about taking tasks off your plate. It’s also about getting your business to be as efficient as possible.
Figure Out Your Budget
If you want to leverage virtual assistants, you need to budget accordingly. You need to know exactly how much work you can afford. Most virtual assistants charge by the hour, so think about how many hours of help a week you will need.
Make Sure the VA You Choose Is a Good Fit
Delegating tasks isn’t easy. But it helps if you’re working with qualified people who are well studied for the task at hand.
Trying to leverage virtual assistants isn’t that different from hiring an in-house employee. You will want to start with a job description. Have a clear picture of what skills are needed to get the job done well. Does the VA you’re considering have the right background and experience? This will give you a good idea of how capable they are.
If you’re in a field that requires specific skills and qualifications, take that into consideration. For example, those in the medical profession need VAs that comply with HIPAA policies. If that sounds like your business then you might want to consider scheduling a consultation with a VA agency that specializes in medical virtual assistants.
Once you have a potential candidate, schedule a call to discuss the job with them further.
You need to be able to clearly measure how well your VA is performing. Otherwise, how will you get the most out of your new remote hire? Plus, your VA needs to know exactly what you expect of them.
To make sure everything is clear, you will need to establish clear objectives. Think about your end goals. What do you want accomplished? Are there any specific procedures or processes you would like them to follow? What turnaround time do you expect from your VA? What other important details does your VA need to know about their new job? The clearer and more specific you can make all of this, the better.
From here, you will be able to establish clear benchmarks, or KPIs, for your VA. Try to make sure that your expectations are realistic and, of course, measurable. The following are good examples of benchmarks:
- Number of new sign-ups recruited in a week
- Number of new comments made on forums and blogs per day
- Number of social media posts made in a month
Of course, it is only natural for your benchmarks to look different for every task. For example, repetitive tasks like data entry would be more about completing tasks on time. Whereas higher-level tasks would have KPIs that reflect their importance to business growth and strategy.
Create Checklists and Tutorials for Your VA
It’s a good idea to create checklists and tutorials to outline exactly what is expected of your VA. This is a great way to avoid any missed steps. It will also make the onboarding process easier, especially if you find yourself having to replace your VA down the line.
Figure Out Your File Sharing
How do you want your virtual assistant to send you files? Things can go a lot smoother if you already have a system that is ready to go. There are a lot of great options to choose from, including:
- Google Drive
How and How Often Should Your VA Communicate With You?
To leverage virtual assistants properly, you need to communicate. Do you prefer your virtual assistant to communicate with you via a monthly email? Does your business use any instant messaging apps for daily communication? Or would you rather schedule weekly calls to touch base with your VA? Whatever your preferences, it’s important that you let your virtual assistant know when and how you would like to communicate.
When and How Should Your VA Send You Progress Reports?
Communication isn’t just so that your VA can ask you questions. You also need to make sure that your VA sends you reports on what they accomplished, so you can track their performance. Review your VA’s work frequently, and make sure to provide constructive feedback. This will help make sure that everything is done up to standard. As time goes on, your VA will become familiar with your expectations, and you can take a more hands-off approach.
One option is to have your VA send you daily progress reports. These reports should outline what they accomplished during their shift. It should also mention the status of the projects your VA is currently working on.
Alternatively, you can hold weekly or monthly online meetings with your VA. During these meetings, you can outline the VA’s goals for the week. Your online meetings would also be a great time for your VA to address any issues that came up in the past week.
Your VA can be a valuable member of your team. But in order to really leverage virtual assistants, you need to do what you can in order to set them up for success. This means communicating, establishing clear procedures, and providing constructive feedback. Yes, this means you will have to invest some time in the beginning. But in the long run, that time and effort will have huge payoffs for your business.