Could you benefit from having a VA on your team? If you’re anything like most time-crunched business owners, chances are you could.
Even if you are a business-running superhero, at the end of the day, we’re only human. There are only so many hours in a day, and so much we can get done on our own.
If you’re on the fence about hiring a VA, here’s a look at some reasons you’ll want to think about investing in one –along with some mistakes you’ll want to avoid to help you ensure you’re getting the most out of your team.
Benefits of Hiring a VA
Grow Your Income
First and foremost, with the right approach, a VA –or virtual team can be a great way to help you increase your income. This involves taking a strategic approach, identifying tasks that add value to your bottom line –and then outsourcing the ones that can be. If something doesn’t add value in any way, or isn’t absolutely necessary (think: accounting) then you’ll want to consider whether it’s something that even needs to be outsourced in the first place.
Once you’ve identified high-value tasks, consider whether you need to personally be involved with each step of the process. If not, then it’s time to consider outsourcing them.
Gain Some Hours Back
Claim back a few hours in your hectic work-week using a virtual assistant. Some entrepreneurs run so fast, so hard, or so long that they forget to delegate. You can gain hours, weeks, and months through good planning and use of virtual resources. Virtual workers are usually up-to-date with the latest technologies and techniques to speed up management. That’s because it’s their job to work with busy managers and save you some time in doing so.
As Bill Gates reportedly said, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” With the help of virtual assistants, though, you can manage to get a lot more done in a year than you may have originally thought possible. The trick is knowing how to delegate to your VAs so you can simultaneously focus on other tasks.
Create Scalable Business Solutions
One of the best things about hiring a VA is that it allows you to scale the support and service that your company’s able to provide. When you’re operating on your own, or with limited staff, it can be difficult to scale. But with a team on your side, you have unlimited resources that you can tap into on an as-needed basis, meaning you’ll be able to scale far more quickly. Customer service, especially, is one area where a virtual team can prove to be especially helpful when it comes to filling the gaps in a growing company.
Now, let’s look at some mistakes you’ll want to avoid when assembling a remote team:
7 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a Virtual Assistant
- Neglecting to Create a Plan
It’s tempting to think that you should hire a virtual assistant to have someone on-call for the occasional unexpected problems. But that shouldn’t be your sole purpose in enlisting a VA. Sure, a VA can help with these types of tasks, but having a plan in place for how you will utilize your virtual assistants, including clearly defined roles for them, will allow you to maximize their output.
Building a virtual team is better when it’s part of your future plans, rather than a forced decision. Either way, you’ll need to think about how you create a virtual network or group to optimize performance and reduce the risk of a crisis emerging from an emergency.
Think of your virtual assistant as a resource to prevent future emergencies, not just one to put out fires on the home front.
- Failing to Delegate
Another issue that often arises when outsourcing, is neglecting to fully delegate tasks. It can be difficult to manage from afar, and often we feel the need to oversee every step of the process, but it’s important to be able to hire people that you can train, and work toward trusting. Sure, you’ll need to provide additional feedback for the first project or two, but once you get the ball rolling, you should be able to step back and let them go to work. Your workload will be lighter, and you’ll feel better for it. A 20-minute call once or twice a month should be enough to make sure everything’s on the right track.
- Having Unclear Parameters
Simply saying, “Do your best,” isn’t enough. Instead, get specific. Your assistant will be able to see your vision far more clearly and in return, you’ll get the results you’re looking for.
Likewise, when it comes to performance targets, be clear. Having clear targets not only ensures things don’t go off the rails; it also prevents you from having to steer the locomotive yourself. Your virtual assistant or virtual agency requires clear performance parameters and targets so that you can sit back knowing that your virtual team understands their objectives. Unclear targets or benchmarks can cause inefficiency, as your virtual assistant may not have a clear idea of what their end-goal is.
By setting benchmarks and targets for your VAs, you are providing them with the ability to streamline their efforts towards helping your business achieve its goals.
Likewise, make sure you take the time to establish KPIs so you can track the success of your projects.
Some KPIs you’ll want to consider tracking include:
- Return on Investment (ROI)
One of the most well-known KPIs that you can track.
ROI = (Gain from investment – the cost of investment) / the cost
- Cost Performance Index (CPI)
The CPI shows you how efficiently you are using your project’s funds. It’ll help to give you insight into the costs involved with a project, and enable more accurate projections.
CPI = Earned value / actual costs
- Resource Capacity
Measuring resource capacity allows you to determine how many staff hours you have available for projects. This will help you to prioritize and allocate resources to projects.
Resource Capacity = (Number of people) x (time they have available to work on projects)
Keep in mind that employees can realistically dedicate less than 50 percent of the workday to projects.
- Neglecting to Draft Up a Contract
Many virtual assistants are freelance and work on a contract basis. Making sure that your contract with your VA properly reflects what you want is crucial.
When a contract doesn’t outline certain parameters, this can result in you or your VA disagreeing on what one side thought was previously agreed upon. This can be something as simple as turnaround times, hours of availability, or level of communication. Not only is it important for your virtual assistant to clearly understand what is expected of them, but having it in writing helps to prevent any discrepancies down the road.
- Viewing a VA Like an Expense
Far from being an expense, a VA should be viewed as an investment –someone who will be able to help you grow your business. If you’re just looking for someone to take over tasks as they pile up, this isn’t the best use of a VA. Instead, it’s best to hire your VA for a specific role –giving them a title and role will help them to stay focused, and take charge of projects, enabling you to step back and focus on other things.
- Failing to Simplify a Task First
When it comes to outsourcing, you’ll want to first ensure that you’ve taken the time to create a system that will allow you to simplify the task down to its most simplified form before you outsource it. There are exceptions to this rule, of course –such as when you’re outsourcing creative tasks or things that may go beyond your level of technical expertise. But for most tasks, and especially when it comes to repetitive tasks, you’ll want to take the time to develop a simplified process. Before outsourcing, you’ll also want to consider whether a task can be automated, either entirely or partially. This will save you from paying out extra over the long run for inefficient processes.
- Not Using Available Tools
Tools will make your life much easier. If there’s something that you find is time-consuming, frustrating, or difficult –chances are, others have had the same experience and quite likely, there’s a tool for that.
Project Management Apps:
Time Tracking Solutions:
Timely is a time tracking solution that allows you to keep track of every minute of every day. You simply set your task, click the button and your time will be tracked.
Another favorite, Toggl is a good tool for tracking billable hours. Designate task by project or category to make organization easier.
Other time-saving tools for collaboration include:
Remember, your virtual assistant is your sidekick –available to help you with any obstacles you run into, and helping you to accomplish more than you could on your own. Finding an assistant that is communicative, with lots of availability and autonomy, and you’ll free up time for yourself to focus on the projects for which you need to be hands-on.
Hiring a virtual assistant that can be available on short notice is an invaluable resource when unexpected emergencies present themselves in your business. Rather than distracting yourself or a valuable on-site employee, your VA can be ready to help put out the fire.
A team of virtual assistants provides an entirely new dimension to your business, increasing the number of concurrent tasks your business can tackle. But the first step is in knowing how to properly utilize such a resource.
Once you identify what your business wants or needs out of a virtual assistant, you can begin the process of employing one. Maybe you have a need for more than one single assistant. Perhaps you may need an entire team of virtual workers. A virtual agency can come in handy when needing to delegate entire projects, rather than small day-to-day tasks. This can all be determined as you begin the process of hiring a virtual assistant.
Every day presents new challenges and opportunities for your business. Be prepared to react quickly with a virtual assistant who can lighten the load of your already busy life.
Finding there just isn’t enough time to get anything done? Enlisting the help of a remote team could be a fast and simple solution. Our team can provide accounting, business support, customer support, and more. Reach out for a FREE 20-minute brainstorming session today!