Easing into a virtual assistant

One of the plusses of having a VA is that you can ease into them over the course of several months. Since utilizing a VA is a learned skill, you are best to start slowly by finding someone who will work on individual tasks, then move to part-time if needed, and finally to full-time. 

Try to find a Virtual Assistance firm or an individual VA whose business model offers all three hiring scales so that you won’t end up having to restructure or find a new VA and get used to a new VA as your workload increases. 

 VA hiring scales are basically in three categories:

  • Task-based — You assign your VA an individual task and give them a deadline and maximum time to spend on the task. Since your VA works for other clients besides you, they are in charge of prioritizing all of the tasks they receive. Task-based VAs are a great starting point to learn the ropes of delegating.
  • Part-time — Part-time VAs are dedicated to you for a certain portion of their week (typically 10, 20 or 30 hours). Part-time VAs are cheaper by the hour than task-based VAs, but you need enough work and experience to keep them busy during the time you are paying for.
  • Full-time – A full-time VA is completely dedicated to you for at least 35-40 hours per week.  As you might imagine, a full-time VA is a lot of responsibility. This scale gives you the lowest hourly rates, but you need about 160 hours of work to keep them busy. If your VA is self-managing, you can lay out tasks a month at a time. If they need supervision, it’s probably not worth bringing them on full-time.

 The key to learning how to work with a VA is experience. The question is:  How can you get started easily and with little risk? There are basically three easy steps:

  1.  Find a VA
  2. Start with a single task and gradually increase the amount of work as you gain comfort
  3. If things don’t work out, simply find a new VA

One other vital thing when outsourcing is that you’ve got to be at ease with communicating remotely with the virtual assistant. For some this may take time to get used to. Eventually the working relationship will become automatic and both the employer and the virtual assistant will be working smarter and more efficiently.

Communicate the way YOU feel most comfortable and make sure your VA is willing to communicate YOUR WAY – whether you prefer talking to them on the phone, sending emails, text messages, using video programs like Skype or even instant messaging. 

 For example, you might find it extremely time consuming and dread the thought of sitting down and “organizing your thoughts” or typing an extensive email outlining your instructions.  You might have a lot of explaining to do in conjunction with a particular project to get the VA familiar with your goals and objectives.  So for you, sending voice files might be the way to go.  It is as convenient as talking to someone face to face.  Just sit down and record yourself on a digital recorder and start rambling on from thought to thought and email it to them.  Some VA firms have lengthy forms to fill out and millions of questions that you must answer before getting started and they require you to conform to their processes.  Stay away from these!  Your VA is supposed to work for you, to make life easier on you, and not vice versa.  You want someone that’s a self-starter and a go-getter if you are going to get the most benefit from your outsourcing experience.  So make sure your VA is willing to communicate YOUR WAY!  Try them out and see if they can sort it out and figure out your instructions and run with the project. 

So now another challenge becomes figuring out which tasks to delegate?  What can you easily outsource?  Well, you can easily outsource pretty much anything that doesn’t require a personal presence.  So how do you choose what to delegate?

 There are three basic criteria for choosing what to delegate, choose what fits you best:

  1. Things that are most time-consuming
  2. Things based on cost
  3. Things that you simply hate to do

 No matter which method you choose, there are a few questions you should keep in mind:

–          Is this an open-ended task?

–          Do I need to limit it to get the results I want?

–          What information will my virtual assistant need to get the job done?

–          Is it information I’m comfortable giving out?

–          When does this task need to be done by?

 Part of delegating a task, after all, has to be making sure that it can get done. If you’re outsourcing an open-ended task, your virtual assistant may end up spending hours on a project that you thought they would only work on for a few minutes. So make sure to be clear and concise when delegating.  Think about the difference between “Find the best mechanic in my city” and “Spend 15 minutes researching who the best mechanic in my city is.”  If you avoid open-ended instructions and give DIRECT/CLEAR tasks, indicating the cost you want to put into it, the amount of time you want spent on it, etc., it will save any confusion later on. 

So in the end, you may not know whether you can outsource a given task until you try it. Everyone has to smooth out the bumps in their outsourcing plan themselves, but — pretty soon you’ll have a good idea about which of your tasks you can easily delegate.

A 1 Administrative Support, LLC

Melbourne, FL



Twitter: @virtualgurus

About A1AdminSupport.com
We provide a wide range of back-office operations, administrative support and virtual assistant services from secretarial, typing and clerical tasks, to social media marketing, SEO, PPC campaigns, translation/interpretation, mobile notary services, transcription, bookkeeping, graphic design, résumé writing, career coaching and more. If you can think of something to delegate – we can do it. We serve businesses and individuals worldwide, helping them to MODERNIZE, ORGANIZE, SIMPLFY©.

One Response to Easing into a virtual assistant

  1. Eric Larkin says:

    Hi Mike, Thanks for meeting with me yesterday and sending the video on the VA. It certainly has given me something to think about in regards to the little things I can begin deligating and freeing up time to focus on my money making activities.

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