I finally reached the point about 6 months ago where I needed to bring on a part-time virtual assistant. I was really excited, I couldn't wait to delegate tasks that were taking up my time but weren't actively making a difference in my business.
I was also sick of being burned out and tired…
So I did what any logical freelancer would do – I hopped on Upwork, listed the job and waited for applications to roll in… which they did, but NONE of them were suitable.
“How could this be possible”, I thought to myself?!
[Tweet “I hopped on Upwork, listed the job and waited for applications to roll in…”]
I'm sure you can guess where this is heading – my job post wasn't clear enough and it certainly wasn't providing me with any hope of finding a virtual assistant anytime soon.
So what did I do?
I went back to the drawing board and started again, but this time, I created a standard operating procedure/process (SOP) that outlined exactly what my VA would be doing on a day-to-day basis.
Because let's be realistic here if I couldn't clearly define this in my job posting, how on earth was any virtual assistant worth their weight in gold going to understand what it was I was looking for?
If you're in the same boat or are looking to hire someone in the near future, you need to create SOPs for everything that you plan to delegate.
Do this now and you'll save yourself a lot of time and headaches when you DO hire a VA.
[Tweet “If you're looking to hire someone in the near future, you need to create SOPs for everything”]
Tips to Create SOPs for Hiring Virtual Assistants the Right Way
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- First, you want to list down everything that you do on a daily basis that could be outsourced to someone else. I found that using pen and paper to do this brought more ideas forward than typing it straight into Evernote. I definitely recommend you do this if you have no idea what you'll outsource. You can scan it into Evernote later 🙂
- Once you've got everything down on paper, choose the top five tasks that take up too much of your time.
- Next, you want to take each individual task and step out the process from start to finish. No step is too small to include here. At the end you should have a document that could be handed to someone that doesn't know your business; that could follow the document and complete the task for you. Evernote is great for doing this, so make use of multiple notebooks and stacks.
- From here, determine if you need to create a screen share (video) of the task to clearly demonstrate what you need doing. I recommend that you do this for every task, as seeing someone actually complete a task leaves less room for error.
- Create a shared Dropbox folder or Evernote notebook with your task SOPs for easy access by your virtual assistant.
- Jump on Upwork or Fiverr and post a job for a VA, making sure that you list the tasks you want to be completed, with approximate hours required per week. Use the SOPs to provide details if needed.
From here, it's up to you to determine if a freelancer is right for the job.
When I eventually got my job posting right, I interviewed five virtual assistants via Skype. I spoke to all of them (no video) because there were some key things I wanted to determine:
- How good their English was (speaking and writing)
- How good they were at dealing with different types of technology
- That they were a real person
[Tweet “When I eventually got my job posting right, I interviewed five virtual assistant's via Skype.”]
Out of the interviews, there were two candidates that stood out, and mistakenly, I went with the one that was cheaper.
I assigned her a couple of tasks to do and never heard back from her for 72 hours. By that stage, I'd already been in touch with the other candidate who was a little more expensive but well worth it in the long run.
This second VA is brilliant. She has a willingness to learn, which is good because I tend to throw a lot of varying tasks her way, much of which are outside her initial skill-base. But she always completes the tasks and lets me know if she has any issues.
Another few key things you should do once you've hired your VA:
Have regular catch up calls – we jump on Skype once a month for half an hour just to cover how things are going and if Candice needs any extra support (or I need any extra support) or hours allocated.
Use a program like Trello to keep track of tasks – this works brilliantly for us and we can quickly see what's outstanding and if I'm dragging the line by not providing her with information, which can sometimes happen…
Respond to emails and Skype chats immediately – My virtual assistant is one person who I'll generally respond to quite quickly because she's doing things for me and if there is an issue, I'd like to get it resolved so that she can continue with the task at hand.
Treat your VA with the same amount of respect and regard as you would a close friend – this person is doing the things you no longer want to do, and sometimes those tasks are just plain yuck. I always let my VA know how good a job she is doing and when Christmas rolls around, I send her a gift!
Working with a virtual assistant is one of the best things you can do for your business, but you need to make sure that you've got all your tasks and processes documented in a way that is easy to follow.
SOPs worked well when you were working a ‘normal' job, so why wouldn't you apply them in your own business?
Do you have your own tips for creating SOPs? Do you do something different? I'd love to know, so leave a comment below!
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