task lists

My Needs Expand Beyond My Business (Part III)

Hopefully by this point, you’ve realized just how demanding your lifestyle has become and that your next intelligent step would be to hire a Virtual Assistant (VA) that best fits your business needs or busy lifestyle. In this three part series (see part 1 and part 2), we’ve learned how to create task lists of our most important (and not-so-important) duties or business related functions. These lists have been categorized into home/work/social, etc. and prioritized into those we can easily accomplish on our own and those which would be best to hand off to someone else.

Next, we learned methods to manage these task lists, from simple post-it notes all over your computer monitor, to more advanced syncing functions with your PDA. Some devices required extensive training of software applications, while others were as simple as sending personal reminder emails.

In this final segment, we’ll discuss the delegation of your tasks to a Virtual Assistant who is the best fit for your demanding lifestyle. One who can accomplish your given tasks in the most productive, cost-effective manner and will allow you to flourish in your own business and personal successes.

As we learned in Part II, a Virtual Assistant is generally someone who is:

Self-employed.

• Providing professional administrative, technical, or creative (social) assistance to clients remotely from their own office.

• An independent contractor.

• Responsible for their own employee-related taxes, insurance, and benefits.

What’s important in hiring a Virtual Assistant?

• Cost – You will want to choose a VA that you can afford within your own personal budget.

• Reliability – Are they credible? Do they offer references? How long have they been in the business? If you intend to use the VA for a more long-term purpose, you may tend to do more research on their work history. The more years of experience they have usually indicates a more knowledgeable person, although their costs may also reflect their extensive experience.

  • Location – This may be a factor if you choose to delegate more personal chores/tasks in which they will travel to your home or business to perform work. Otherwise, VAs tend to work from their own office and this is a non-issue to the immediate success of your delegated tasks.
  • Specialty – You will want someone specialized in the tasks which you wish to have completed. For instance, if you had Real Estate forms that needed to be filled out on a consistent basis, you wouldn’t want to hire someone that has no credentials/background in Real Estate. It’s important to remember that the more specialized the VA is, the higher their fees may become.
  • Personality – You will want to search for a VA that you can interact with in a positive manner versus one that will create a constant conflict of interest.

Now that we know what is important in researching a competent VA, where do we look to hire them?

  • Impact Virtual Services – Yes, my business can help! www.impactvs.com I’m not just trying to advertise for my own business, but rather I’m trying to make a very logical point. When you choose from a creditable business such as Impact, we’ve already done the research for you and because of this, are able to provide VAs that offer extensive specialties, credibility, and work history.
  • Online. Another obvious choice that can offer solutions is to perform a search on the internet to help you resource VAs (Craigslist, Google searches, etc). The negatives of choosing from Craigslist is that your background checks are all at your own time and expense. You definitely take on more of a personal risk when using such search tools.
  • Word of mouth. If you have a referral, this is always a great choice. It usually means the advice is trustworthy and already worth your investment in time.
  • Newspaper ads. Again, comparative to Craigslist, but if you are aren’t an online person, this is another route. And shows you really need a VA to take your business to the net!

You now have all of the tools available to make the executive decision of hiring a reputable Virtual Assistant. Look for affordability based on your budget and needs, credibility in their references and work history, and ultimately, someone that can accomplish a given task based on your demands and time restraints.

Ultimately, if you choose to hire a Virtual Assistant based on the tools I’ve passed along in this three part series, you will be taking the next step in making a positive investment in the future successes of your business and personal lifestyle.

 

Are You Swimming For Success, Yet Drowning In Your Business Tasks?

If so, maybe a Virtual Assistant is your ticket to the Gold. (oh yes we did...still riding the Olympic fever!!)

Are you at a point in your business where you just can’t get it all accomplished in a day, a week, a month, or even by the end of the year? You look at your desk, your task lists, your calendar, and you just see piles of paper, endless mark-ups on post it notes, and pretty much the words “still needs to be completed” on everything?

If so, you may just need to start thinking about which priorities you are able to get done yourself, and which can be handed off to someone else. Here’s what you can do to begin this process:

  • Define your requirements. Figure out if your tasks are specific to a specialty area (IT, web design, real estate, etc), or if they are more generalized (booking business trips, posting for social media, writing blogs). This may require hiring someone with defined skills, versus a background with a general admin skill set.

You will need to also figure out if this work will be on-going or if it’s just a simple, one-time go around. You may find after this step that you actually need several people to complete your tasks versus one person.

  • Define the expected time frames for each task. Who knows your business best? Most likely, that is going to be you! If not and you are still extremely successful, well then let us know your secret! As I am guessing the person that best knows your own business is you, you will need to define the expected time frames for each task you are willing to assign.

As you start with a new Virtual Assistant (VA), it will take longer for them to adapt. They will need to know the base fundamentals of how your business functions in order to complete what you are going to assign to them. Over time, if you use the same key people, you should see efficiency and a value in hiring quality staff.

  • Find experienced help. Or not. It’s 100% up to you how experienced the staff you hire is. The benefit of partnering with experienced VAs is there is a small learning curve and increased efficiency, they can make suggestions on programs/methods/platforms that have worked for other clients, and they are trained at supporting a successful business, all worth the fees they charge. However, the benefit of being able to train a newbie is that you can mold them to perform the work as you would like to see it being accomplished.
  • Pay at a level that also makes sense for your business. You don’t want to take a loss with your business, but you also want to build continuity with your staff and maintain a respectful relationship.

What else should I consider?

  • As far as training goes, a VA works remotely and should have their own equipment and supplies. During the initial partnership, it’s important to remember to keep your patience. Training from a remote location can take a little more time, but if you hired quality, this should be worth it in the end. Remember, you’re saving a ton of money on overhead so the virtual aspect is well worth it. Skype is a great free tool we use with our non-local clients; not only does it give it a live meeting feel where we can see each other, it also allows us yet another tool for quick and convenient IM communication.
  • Ensure that you consider risk management as well. Mistakes are bound to happen and most likely will. Think about the importance of integrity when saying “you’re hired.” After all, the client associates your face with your business. We suggest starting with low risk tasks, and building up the level of risk right along with the trust and expertise that will get established with a bit of time.
  • If there are expectations for reporting hours associated with specific tasks, make sure your VAs know the importance of this and be sure to have the proper tools in place for documentation.

If you’ve read through all of these steps and decided that a VA is the right choice for you, what’s the next step? Hire! You have options to hire locally or seek out referrals. Your success depends on your choices from here on out, so be sure to invest the time to hire quality, especially if you are specializing in a particular area.

I feel if you follow all of these great steps, you’ll be well on your way to saving yourself a lot of time and money in the long run. I know that I could not be more grateful for my team members and hopefully they know this as well…which is a great reminder to end with. Never forget to appreciate and reward your team, even if it’s a simple “thank you”, it will go a long way!