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How to Get Started Finding and Using a Virtual Assistant

Dec 21, 2020
(updated: Jan 15, 2024)
Max 5 min read

When you're struggling with time management or project deadlines, a virtual assistant can help. They exist to help you take your business to new levels by providing organizational management plus a personal touch for your customers.

While the job title sounds more like an app or Apple device, in reality, virtual assistants are often freelancers. They're simply assistants who work from a remote location. Usually it's their home, but virtual assistants can also do their job well from a coworking situation or even a hybrid workweek, blending hours spent working from home, hours spent in a coworking space, and a few hours at the office. As we move past a pandemic, we can imagine plenty of unique workstyles for virtual personal assistants. Here, we'll detail the steps of finding and hiring the perfect virtual assistant.

Track Your Tasks for a Week

You're probably hoping to hire a virtual assistant because you're overextended and need to take back time in your schedule. For one week, track all the tasks you complete in a journal or try using a calendar app.

  • Remember, it's not about how you track, but what you track.
  • Be granular in your descriptions: explain your work activities thoroughly.

For instance, don't write "Monday 9 am Payroll." Try "Monday, 9 am payroll for the previous week. Use payroll software, check bank balance, communicate with employees." This will help you write a recruiting ad later.

Know that most businesses suffer from similar working bottlenecks. Try to break your workload into the top categories for experienced virtual assistants like social media management, human resources, customer service, or web/product development tasks.

Delegate the Time-Sinks to a VA

Transitioning from a bootstrapped solo entrepreneur to an employer, you'll need to evaluate your business structure. Which tasks do you spend 10 hours or more a week accomplishing? Order fulfillment? Social media? Emails? Invoicing? That's 25% of a 9-5 workweek — though we know most entrepreneurs and small business owners work far more than a 40-hour week. 

Find these time-sinks in your business process and hand them to your assistant. This will free up your time to grow your business. 

Seeking a Great Virtual Assistant

Traditionally, assistants were found by word of mouth through personal networks. They tended to develop particular skills working in a specific industry or client base. Your network is still a likely place to find a great VA.

You can still recruit top talent from anywhere, and it's worth deciding on the right fit for your specific business needs ahead of time.

There are several online outlets to seek experienced VAs. Most platforms allow for self-pricing based on skillset, talent and experience. It can be a challenge to know what budget you should set aside for a VA, but some market research can help. Talk to others in your field and see what they pay a VA.

  • Zirtual and Uassistme are well-known sources of verified assistants.
  • Sites like Fiverr and Upwork can help you find alternatives for those who might be earlier on their career path.
  • However, we'd like to point out that some platforms do have costs associated with them.
  • Savvy VAs are more likely to find work at online job boards.

Many virtual assistants or aspiring VAs freelance as a side hustle or run a full-time business. A quick internet search might turn up several in your area. Many VAs seeking part-time clients start with Facebook Groups.

Choose Your Virtual Assistant for Their Superpower

Know your strengths and weaknesses, and hire a virtual assistant to make those into business strengths. In other words, if you're great at writing ad copy and dealing with advertisers, but struggle with administrative tasks like invoicing, choose a VA who can fill that gap.

Most VAs have niche expertise. If you spend much time on social media management, that's a great way to find someone who is quite qualified to help you turn that into a superpower for your organization.

Hire for Communication and Customer Service

Be clear about your communication preferences. Then, set up a regular schedule to check-in with your VA either daily or weekly. An assistant must understand business priorities, communication preferences, and work-life boundaries.

It's essential to find someone who works well with you individually. Still, it's equally important to consider how they'll be communicating with your customers — whether that be by email, phone, text messaging, etc.

If your VA will be the first point of contact for your brand and the first impression for new clients, make sure they understand that, and that they offer the level of compassion or professionalism needed for your target audience. Language skills might play an important role here, so spend some time talking to your prospective VAs before signing a contract.

Write Clear Definitions of Deadlines & "Done"

Define clear expectations for the work you need in writing when you begin working with a virtual assistant. This can ensure a clear understanding of the scope and style expectations of work.

Remember this: great assistants don't need micromanagement! They exist to help you manage your business. If you can communicate the tasks and the value-added to your company, an assistant will have everything they need to execute successfully. Spend that micro-managing time elsewhere.

Invest Time In What Matters

When you hire a virtual assistant, you take back time for the things that make your freelance career shine. Whether that's adding more clients to your roster, creating a vibrant online presence, or building an empire of outstanding products. When you hire a VA, they will become crucial for your business's success as you scale.

A great way to lure and retain exceptional talent is by helping them gain new skills on the job, especially if you need an assistant to fill a cross-functional role.

Every business has unique needs, and those needs will change as a company grows over time. Follow these steps and you'll find the right virtual assistant to make your business run smoothly while offering flexible employment options for talented assistants available all over the world.

Get started today!

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