Leverage Your Life with Virtual Assistants

The "stay-at-home" Robin to your Batman

We all get the same 168 hours per week. To get leverage in our lives and accomplish huge goals we need help. One of the best solutions is to hire a Virtual Assistant (VA).

(Technically a VA could live anywhere in the World, including being based on US. In this article I’m referring to VA who live outside of the US.)

Today's breed of VAs is not limited to secretarial tasks but, rather, are multi-skilled to increase your productivity and support business growth. They are the stay-at-home robins to your Batman.

Why Hire a Virtual Assistant?

  • Core Business Focus – it’s critical that you focus on high value tasks. Tasks that only you can do and generate a significant amount of value per hour. This is where you should focus 80% of your time. There’s also tasks you’re not good at or just don’t want to do. Delegate all of these. Bookkeeping, organization of documents, interacting on social media, or researching new markets, products, & ideas. Delegating these allows you to focus on your core business.

  • Cost Advantages – given that virtual assistants will be working from home, you don’t need to have a physical office. Service fees also cost lower due to the difference of wages between the US and Asian countries. Full-time monthly salaries range from $500 - $800 ($3.25 to $5.00 per hour) if no special skills are required while around $800 - $1600 ($5.00 to $10.00 per hour) if required (Bookkeeping, Graphic Design, SEO, Digital Marketing, Web Development, Audio & Video Editing).

  • Staffing Flexibility – If your business is seasonal or “on demand”, outsourcing will bring in additional staff only when needed. If demand falls to the usual levels you can manage, you can release the temporary workers and hire back as needed.

What is your Virtual Assistant Role?

First off you’re not going to find a super nova VA that can do everything. Just like your outbound sales guys aren’t your bookkeepers. Here’s an overview of our virtual team:

Accounting / Administration - daily bookkeeping tasks such as importing daily sales, deposit tracking, reconciling bank accounts & credit cards, accounts receivable, accounts payable, and miscellaneous office tasks.

Outbound Calls - makes 100+ calls per day during our EST to existing customers, setting them appointments. Texts customers of upcoming appointments

Social Media / Design - manages all social media pages, creates & designs content, logos, helps prepare for podcasts interviews, data entry, general research

Audio Engineering - produces podcast episodes once recorded

What hours they work is completely up to you and the VA. Some of our VA’s work 8am 4pm EST and others work our night (their day) from 9pm to 5am EST. It really depends on the role and how much constant communication you need back and worth.

Where to Recruit Virtual Assistants?

We’ve had the best success with hiring from the Philippines. Similar cultural traits, advanced education, great with technology, and proficient English make Filipinos the ideal virtual workers. 

There are 2 ways to you can go about recruiting a virtual assistant depending on what tasks you need them to do and your comfort level.

If it’s your very first virtual assistant hire and you’ve got some trust issues I would recommend going with MyOutDesk. They are a full-time staffing agency based out of the Philippines. They filter through thousands of applicants, having each one go through a rigorous background check & screening. They provide their virtual professionals with training, teaching them systems & programs that are widely used. They also have a lot of great resources to help you as the employer manage your VA.

Their goal is to place full-time virtual employees in your company that will be with you for a long time. We currently have two team members from MyOutDesk who do a great job for us. Checkout my podcast with the founder Dan Ramsey to learn more. If you end up signing up with MyOutDesk let them know I referred you :)

If you prefer the do-it-yourself method there’s a number of job boards & websites out there. Keep in mind you will have screen, establish trust, track their time & pay them directly.

  • OnlineJobs.ph A job board decided to hiring Filipino workers. They provide you a simple place to find and contact quality workers. They do have time-tracking software the VA can use. We’ve had good success hiring multiple workers off this website.

  • UpWorkUpwork has positioned itself as the “luxury” freelance job site. You’ll have plenty of help choosing the right person from all over the work. You can browse similar projects they’ve worked on, see ratings and reviews from previous clients, check their portfolio and qualifications, add screening questions to your post, and run a chat or video interview. Upwork has a diverse selection of talents in the fields of Development & IT, Design & Creative, Sales & Marketing, etc.

During your interviews, look for a VA with critical skills such as cloud-based knowledge, ability to work unsupervised, excellent communication skills, and organizational skills. A VAs can support your business doing calendar management, appointment scheduling, filtering emails, online customer support, and basically any task that doesn’t require physical presence. A virtual assistant who is truly skilled at their job will help your business grow allowing you to focus on those high value tasks.

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Some Risks

  • Communication challenges may arise from cultural and language barriers, poor internet connection for video conferencing & delayed updates due to time zone differences.

  • Data security. You share a lot of private information and client data with them and possibly, with their third parties. Once you build a relationship of trust, you can give them more access later.

  • Lack of commitment from the loss of motivation over time. Some VAs may be working with at least one or two other employers and their focus would be divided. This could led the VA quitting, leaving your scrambling to find a replacement.

Tools To Use

Once you’ve hired your own VA, it’s necessary to introduce your company, the project(s) and vision to them. I personally use Loom to record quick video messages of my screen or camera.  This way, they can retain the information better through watching videos as compared to when reading a hundred pages of text without a tone. yawn.

Our favorite workplace communication tool is Slack This allows group chats or person-to-person chat via DMs. It’s basically a group messaging app on steroids.

To delegate and observe daily progress of the team, we chose ClickUp for project management. With its efficient dashboard view, you’ll get great visuals and information on who should be doing what by when; who’s doing what; or what’s done. The layout is also easy to understand with handy gizmos which allows users to view tasks only assigned to them and link documents relating to a specific “space.”

We also use Zoom for virtual face to face meetings.

Best Practices

It’s critical that you treat each virtual assistant has a critical members of your team. You will find the more time you invest in the beginning training them, getting to know them, and making sure they truly understand your objectives, bigger dividends it will pay. Here are some best practices we employ:

  • Train before you delegate – provide writing/video instructions as per business needs. Break down key tasks, routine tasks, and helpful but not essential tasks.

  • Create a mutual agreement – identify the scope of work, schedule, pay, and other important details to manage expectations of both parties involved.

  • Create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) – ensure standard process is followed for consistency. Communicate any changes as they develop. If you hire more or replace these SOP’s will save you a ton of time to get the new person up to speed

  • Check-in – Foster open communication. Stay open to his/her limitations and gather feedback regularly. By checking in occasionally, you can keep assistants from burn out.

  • Value diversity - Be sensitive towards cultural difference and beliefs and have an open mind with the values of others.

No matter how much of supermen and superwomen we are or whether we can type 95 words per minute, we are bound to 24 hours in a day. Even when you have created miracles from your mornings, there is just not enough time to do everything by yourself.  In the words of Henry Ford, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

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Have any questions about hiring or managing a VA? Comment below and we can chat about it!