Ahhh isn’t this just the age old question, my friends?
Let me quickly & promptly answer this question with another question: how long is a piece of string?
Okay, blog done!
I’m kidding. About the blog being done.
My smart-ass response about string still stands, because deciding when to hire a virtual assistant truly depends on you as an individual.
The general answer is: when things start to feel overwhelming and/or when your business picks up.
But again, that’s super general and also kinda ignores the fact that, with all that’s going on in the world right now, quite literally everything feels overwhelming.
So! Let’s try and get as specific as we can.
What prerequisites do I need in order to hire a VA?
Well, for starters you need a business or a business idea.
In all honestly, you can get a VA at any time during your business journey. Some VAs offer start-up services, whilst others (like me) prefer to work for people with established businesses. It’s just a matter of interviewing different VAs and seeing who fits with your business model and your personality.
You also need decent communication skills. No virtual assistant can read minds. If you have a vision for your business/product/service you gotta communicate that (and your expectations and boundaries) clearly and firmly.
The last prereq (in my humble opinion) is affordability. Have a budget in mind: how much do you want to spend on outsourcing to a VA? Would you prefer to pay an hourly wage or flat rates? Can you afford it?
I have a budget, the business and excellent communications skills, now what?
Now, I recommend having a think about what it is exactly you want a VA to do for you. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is it something I can do myself?
- Is it something I can learn?
- Do I have the time/energy to do it?
- Is it a repeating or once-off task?
- Does/do the task/s stress me out?
Your answers to these Qs will give you a better idea of where you’re at.
For example, if you decide you want to make some cool graphics for your social media, you might commit to learning about how to use a free graphic design software, such as Canva.
Alternatively, you just don’t have the time to design your own graphics. In that case, hiring a VA to smash out some social media graphics + schedule them once a month might be the perfect fit.
Also, don’t feel pressured to get a virtual assistant just because other people have them.
Forget what everyone else and their businesses are doing: what’s the right fit for you?
Maybe it’s a full team of graphic designers, web designers, assistants, and customer service managers, maybe it’s one virtual assistant or maybe you just want it to be you.
Go with your gut; what’s best for you and your business.
I’ve thought about it, and I’ve decided it’s time to hire a VA! How do I do that? Where do the VAs hide?
Wahey! That’s fantastic and super exciting!
There are numerous ways to find a VA.
First up: VAs do not need to live near you. Like, they don’t even need to be in the same country as you.
I’ve had clients from all over Australia, and I’ve never met my boss in person.
If you’re not okay with that (i.e. you want to be able to have in-person meetings with your VA every now and again) then I would recommend placing ads in your local newspapers and posting in local Facebook groups (buy/swap/sell groups are a great place to start).
If you are okay with your VA living far, far away then that does open up more options to you.
- Word of mouth – every client I’ve ever had has been by word of mouth. A high school teacher of mine recommended me to a local psychologist, who recommended me to a friend of hers and on and on it went. So ask your biz friends + colleagues. Who do they use or know?
- Social media – a lot of VAs will be pretty present on social media. Search Facebook and Instagram for virtual assistants. Look in business groups. Make a social media post of your own asking for recommendations and tag it with #VA #virtualassistant.
- Check out Virtual Assistant organisations. If you’re having trouble finding an individual, see if you can find a company that you can sign up with that will provide you with a VA. (Note: these tend to be a bit more expensive).
Okay, I’ve found a VA, but I don’t know what to say or expect?
Let’s break this down.
If you found the Virtual Assistant of your dreams, then obviously you need to reach out to them. But before you do that, there are some things you can do to save yourself (and the VA) a lot of time.
- Check their website/social media for availability. Most VAs will have on their site or in their social media bios whether they’re taking on new clients. If they’re not available, you’ve saved yourself the effort of reaching out!
- Find their FAQ. Have a look and see if the VA has a IG highlight or webpage with frequently asked questions. This may pre-answer some questions for you.
- Look for their preferred method of contact. Usually it’s email. DMs tend to get lost in the ether, so check and see if their bio or FAQ says how to contact them.
Once you know they’re available and how to contact them, you’ll just want to introduce yourself and your business.
Provide links to your website/social media/podcast/YouTube etc so they can get an idea of your business and branding.
Briefly tell them what you’re looking for. Some examples:
I’m looking for a Virtual Assistant to work approximately 10 hours a week answering customer service emails regarding online eCourses I sell.
I’m wanting a full time VA to take over running my social media + creating social media posts.
I have a budget of $500 a week and I’m wanting someone to transcribe podcast episodes for me.
You can include any questions you might have that weren’t answered in their FAQ (e.g. some VAs prefer not to advertise their pricing – but it’s totally fair to ask their prices and state your budget in your email).
Once you’ve sent that email with your introduction, what you’re looking for and your questions, you should hopefully get a response back pretty quickly. If it feels like a good fit, you might want to schedule a video call (or meeting, if they’re nearby) to do an informal interview. See if your personalities mesh, ask more questions, get to know each other more, discuss contracts/agreements, how you’ll pay, whether you want to do a trial week/month etc.
Every new client I’ve taken on, I’ve tried to have a least a phone call with before accepting the job. It gives us both a glimpse behind the screen: putting faces + voices to each other and therefore building trust.
I didn’t find the VA, the VA found me!
So someone reached out to you and said “Hey! I could be your VA!”
Well that’s exciting, and good news: it’s basically the same process. Check out their website/social media, ask any questions you have, set out your expectations + boundaries and go from there!
Basically, you and your VA need to be on the same page regarding what you want them to do for you. That might involve writing them weekly to-do lists or it might just be “check & clear the email inbox once a day”.
Whatever it is, it’s important to have clear, kind and honest communication.
Your business is your baby, and a good VA will help you nurture it whilst respecting your decisions and boundaries (and of course, respecting boundaries goes both ways).
So to wrap up, there isn’t one simple answer to whether or not it’s time to hire a VA but I hope this post helps you focus in on what’s right for you.
You’ve got this!