Outsourcing your work to staff in other locations allows you to concentrate on what matters

Virtual Assistants (VAs) do work for you. They can take on a huge range of tasks from accounting to office management thus allowing entrepreneurs to concentrate on the work they’re best at and what matters most.

If you’re struggling to keep afloat in a sea of tasks, virtual freedom may be your life raft.

But remember no VA can do all your outsourced jobs and there’s no one job you should never outsource

While it’s tempting to find one superhero VA to dup all your work onto, the truth is we’re all human, even our VAs. Instead hire VA for specific roles. E.g. you might hire a General VA to manage admin for your business such as buying stationary, organizing meetings or sending memos.

Keep in mind however, you should never outsource content that sells. Devote lots of time for content creation and sales.

Working with VA is a learning process, but there’re tricks to make it easier

You’re likely to make many mistakes finding the perfect VA. You could end up judging how much authority and independence you give to your VAs. You might end up giving too much and working against your wishes. Or you might give too little to be able to do their jobs.

All this trial and error will result in some powerful heuristics that you can use to get better with hiring VAs.

Hiring questions for VA candidates

  1. Why did you leave your last job – or why do you want to leave your current job?
  2. What did you like about your last job?
  3. What do you know about me and my organization?
  4. What skills do you have that make a perfect fit for this role?
  5. Do you have any other skills that were not on the JD that might be useful for me and my organization?
  6. Tell me about yourself. What do you like to do outside of work?
  7. What have you done in last 12 months to improve your skills?
  8. How long would you expect to work for me if you got the job?
  9. If I was to hire you today, what would make you an asset to my company?
  10. What do you expect to get paid for this role?

Don’t hire VA for the sake of saving costs

Never sacrifice quality for cost. Hiring VA shouldn’t be cheap. These people are like your in-house employees, and you want the best work form them. In real world, you wouldn’t hire a cheap manager with no experience, so why do it in the virtual world?

Think about whether the reduction in price for foreign work is worth the added hassle (time zones, cultural differences…).

Hire for Role not for Task

Don’t focus on the immediate task. Think big picture. Be sure to research the roles you’re hiring and learn for yourself.

Craft a clear, precise and easily understandable JD. Be clear about what you want and expect from your VA. Make the job interviews personal. Use Skype don’t just rely on email.

It’s not enough to simply hire VAs, you have to Train them

No leader can expect their in-house hires to know exactly what to do without some sort of guidance. The same holds true for your VAs.

Once you’ve trained your VAs, setup a management system for work efficiency

Consider creating IFTTT (IF That happens, Then This has to happen). Make your VAs understand what to do, if for example, your system crashes or they miss a deadline. With IFTTT, they’re clear about what to do next.

Additionally, IFTTT allows you to not micromanage your VAs. The purpose of VAs in the first place is to free up your time.

Once your team of VAs grow, FAQs and IFTTT might not be enough. In this case, you’ll need a complete management system to keep track of what’s everyone doing.

Management systems don’t have to be complicated. A simple G-Suite where everyone fills in their progress should suffice in most cases.

Motivate your VAs to do their best, make sure they feel part of your team

A good start is a fair play. Pay the what they’re worth according to their experience and above market value. Take market conditions and location into account. Always pay on time, especially overseas VAs. They’ll appreciate that.

Be creative with bonuses and benefits. You don’t have to entice with high salaries, sometimes things like health insurance and performance bonuses will do the trick. Always pay extra for work on holidays.

External motivators are not enough. Meet with all of your VAs regularly.

Getting your Virtual Team to do (almost) all the work for you

  • Research
  • Creation and Publication
  • Promotion
  • Ongoing marketing
  • See page 183

Develop 3 Lists to Freedom

List 1 Don’t like Doing List 2 Can’t Do List 3 Shouldn’t Do
Checking email Developing website Updating Facebook page
Managing Social media Editing podcast episodes Handling Tier 1 support
Handling basic inquires Designing logos and graphics Transcribing videos
Research travel options Bookkeeping and accounting Managing blogs

Your First 6 Months

Month 1 – Hire a general VA, spend some time training from your first lists to freedom (things you don’t like doing).

Month 2 – Focus on your second lists to freedom (you don’t know how to do).

Month 3 – Focus on your third lists to freedom (you feel shouldn’t be doing).

Month 4 – You’re hopefully recovering from superhero syndrome. Hire specific VAs (SEO, Web Developer, Designer) anyone who can help your GVA ongoing basis.

Month 5 – Your team of VAs should be talking to each other. Keep working on the content side of things. See how they work together without you.

Month 6 – If you took a break, you’ve discovered how things went between your VT. If you didn’t try to do so. Chances are by now; you’ve competitors and you might just be ahead of the curve in developing your own VT of superstars.

9 Virtual Team Building Mistakes

  1. Mismanagement or a lack of willingness to manage your team
  2. Failing to consider cultural, language and geographical aspects
  3. Failing to consider your existing in-house capability
  4. Following 1-size-fits-all solution for outsourcing
  5. Hiring cheap (outsourcing shouldn’t be cheap; it should be cost-effective)
  6. Lack of operating protocols and communications plan
  7. Keeping your options limited (a 50-year-old dry-cleaning business owner may be unreceptive to ideas that 23-year-old SEO specialist has to offer)
  8. Overlooking VA’s abilities (fundamental bias against developing-world education)
  9. Outsourcing your expertise or knowledge in running your business (you need to learn nuts and bolts to grow your business)

Kyaw Wai Yan Tun

Hi, I'm Wai Yan. I love designing visuals and writing insightful articles online. I see it as my way of making the world a more beautiful and insightful place.