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Hiring a VA (virtual assistant) can seem exciting and daunting at the same time. Especially if you've never had to manage another person before… It's exciting because they can free up your time in so many ways and daunting because now you're managing a person and handing over control of some parts of your business.
It's that last part that can throw a huge spanner in the works — which is exactly what happened to me when I first started working with a VA.
You see, my expectations were that a VA would be similar to me, someone that could learn quickly, use initiative and be a “Jack of all trades”…
I soon learned that those expectations weren't just unrealistic, they were down right crazy. Plus, if I was looking for another “me” why would that person even want to work with me, right? Wouldn't they be off pursuing what they love, running their own empire… exactly Lise, that's what they'd be doing…
So before we get into the meat of the post, I want you to check your expectations when it comes to hiring a VA.
In fact, you'll likely have more than one VA, because you want to be working with people who are specifically skilled to work on tasks they excel at, not have them trying to doing multiple things and failing… kinda like you are right now with it all, right?
Let's start at the beginning…
When Should You Hire a VA?
It's time to hire a VA when you're sitting there at 8pm at night, drafting the same email over and over again in response to the same email question you receive every other day.
It's time to hire a VA when the first thing you do in the morning is jump on social media and tackle sharing your blog posts, engaging with your community and sharing other people's content.
It's time to hire a VA when you're spending 80% of your time on the administration side of your business rather than on growing your business.
Are you getting my drift yet?
Sure, in the beginning you're going to be doing EVERYTHING, and so you should. You can't delegate tasks to someone else unless you know your business inside out. So don't try to do this too early on.
It took me a good 6-8 months of running my side hustle before I even contemplated hiring a VA, and I only considered this as an option because I was finding that I wasn't able to do everything in my side hustle hours that I used to be able to do 6 months ago.
To make the decision for yourself, answer these questions:
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- How much time are you spending on administration tasks vs actual side hustle work?
- What's the first thing you do in your side hustle business each day? Admin tasks or growth-related tasks?
- Are you beginning to resent things that take focus away from your side hustle? Things like social events, time with your spouse or kids?
Once you've answered these questions, they'll tell you whether you're ready for a VA or not, particularly the last one. This was my sign that I needed to hire a VA, because in my opinion, I should NEVER resent spending time with my spouse, friends or family.
What Will Your VA Do?
This is where you need to spend a bit of time and get very clear on the tasks you're going to outsource to a VA. This can be tough, but I've found that if you breakdown your side hustle business into all the tasks that you do on a daily basis, then you can start to identify the ongoing tasks that can be outsourced.
Let's do an exercise together:
Take a blank piece of paper. Starting with the very first thing you do in your side hustle business every day, write down everything that you do.
For me, mine looks like this:
Once you've got this breakdown, identify tasks that could be grouped together. For example, if you have tasks around sharing blog posts, pinning blog post images to pinterest, commenting in your Facebook page, curating content for sharing on Buffer etc, then these could all be grouped into social media management.
If you have tasks that are centred around tracking business income and expenses, issuing client invoices, tracking profit etc, then this could be grouped into finance management.
You get my drift. Spend the time to identify these groups, because it will drive how you approach the next step…
Now that you've grouped your tasks into specific skill sets, identify the tasks that you can outsource.
The way to decided if a task can be outsourced or not is to decide whether the task requires your involvement, your specific expertise.
What do I mean by that?
Let's look at an example:
Let's say you're a social media manager. You manage social media for a number of clients, which includes engaging with their community, identify new trends and ideas that they should be writing about as well as creating share-worthy images.
As a social media manager, you would not outsource the management of your own social media, because this is your thing. You need to keep your finger on the pulse, and when it comes to engagement on your Facebook page or group, your specific expertise is what your clients and potential clients are looking for.
So you'd be more inclined to outsource things like image creation and administration tasks, like email responses, calendar management etc.
Think about the tasks that you have and decide for yourself where your expertise lies. Once you understand that, it should be fairly easy to decide on what tasks you can outsource.
If you're still not sure, here's some ideas to get you going:
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- File storage organization (think Dropbox, Google Drive etc)
- Management of projects in places like Freedcamp, Trello etc
- Video and audio transcription
- Data entry
- Personal errands like gift cards, thank you notes etc
- Optimizing posts with the right tags
- Adding alt tags to images
- Keyword research and reporting (Google Analytics)
- Building backlinks to your website
- Invoice tracking
- Editing and proofreading blog posts
- Writing press releases
- PDF conversion
- Posting videos to your YouTube channel
- Creating infographics
- Installing plug-ins on your WordPress site
This is just a small list. This is a great article on the types of tasks that you can outsource to a VA, grouped by specific skill set, that you should also check out. It will help you even further decide on what you could be outsourcing.
Deciding on hiring a VA doesn't have to be difficult either. Keep it simple. Record yourself performing each task as a way to show them how you do what you do, and how you want them to do the task to. This mitigates the need to write long, drawn-out procedure documents! Although, you should have your processes documented… the perfect tasks for an Admin VA!
Are you planning to hire a VA soon? Have you hired a VA, what's been your experience? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!