In this blog post I am going to tell you the exact process I used to alleviate 30 hours of admin work from my schedule per week for £481.19 per month.
As entrepreneurs we adopt what Chris Ducker refers to as “superhero syndrome”. We’ve all been there, you are in the early stages of your start up, or have been going for the best part of 12-18 months and feel like no one on the face of this planet has the capability, intelligence or ability to execute EVERY task that is required to run your company.
I have been in this position many times and ran myself into the ground to the point where I was hospitalized as a result of stress, exhaustion and anxiety. I was doing everything from accounts, web design and development, blogging, podcasting and serving a handful of consultancy clients. This was on one of my 4 businesses and took the majority of my time.
I have worked with many start-ups and they all face this issue. They are overstretched, underfunded and struggling to handle the workload required to run their company. The sad part about all of this is the majority of them are investing their time on tasks that could be completed by someone else. Tasks that do not actually contribute to the growth of the company, increasing revenue or reaching a wider audience.
The interesting thing about all of this is the second I employed my virtual assistant I started to look at the whole picture and utilize every method I could to ensure my content was reaching a wider audience. I didn’t have to worry about the time consuming task of uploading a podcast episode or blog, or conducting research for my posts and interviews. These are just 2 very simple examples of how you can utilize the method I am going to outline below to free up so much of your precious time.
Before I go further and outline the process I used, I want to highlight one key point that most startups fail to recognize…. Time is a commodity that far outweighs the value of money. If you meet an entrepreneur who is always moaning they never have enough time, they are most probably not utilizing it to their advantage. Then the big problem comes… I cant afford to take anyone on at the minute. Really! Chris Ducker is an expert in outsourcing, and when I interviewed him on the MyCoda podcast I asked him how he handles this objection. His response was “ How can you afford not to hire someone!”
I have been running my own companies for the best part of 5 years and have built amazing teams of people around me who help me make my companies a success. By removing myself from the day to day running’s of the company I was able to grow each business far quicker than if I tried to do everything myself. I decided to work on my business and not in my business. There’s a big difference:
- Working in my business: Doing every task no matter how small to ensure the whole business is operating smoothly. The majority of my time is taken up by tasks that maintain the current business standards. I miss opportunities to grow the company as I am too wrapped up in keeping it going at the same pace.
- Working on my business: Outsourcing all the unnecessary admin tasks that consume 80% of my time that only contribute to 20% of the companies success. I spend 20% of my time managing my team to complete the tasks to my high standards so I can spend 80% of my time concentrating on finding new ways in which to grow and expand my company, increase revenue and provide a better service.
Where I found my assistant?
So just to be clear the process below is for my podcast and blog for MyCoda. Firstly the starting point was with Virtual Staff Finder. I have tried to use many different freelancer sites such as upwork and freelancer to find staff myself but guess what… this takes time, and time is something that you don’t have a lot of.
There is also one problem with using these sites, and that is if you don’t have a good vetting process it is pretty much impossible to find good reliable staff. I’m not saying it can’t be done. I have a couple of friends that have had great success with assistants they found via these places however, they are the exception and had a lot of experience when dealing with overseas staff.
I had one small reservation with Virtual Staff Finder and that was the $500.00 fee you pay them to find you suitable candidates for your job role. After having many failing attempts via other resources I decided to bite the bullet and pay the fee. In hindsight I have wasted far more than $500.00 on poor staff over the years, so this was a worthwhile investment.
I would go further and say that the quality of the staff they presented was second to none and I would have happily paid $1000.00 knowing the level if service I received. Also the team at Virtual Staff Finder support you through the whole process which definitely helps. By the way I’m not an affiliate of VSF, they just provide a fantastic service that I would happily recommend to anyone. Moving on…
You have to be 100% clear as to what it is you require from your staff. Its no good saying you want someone to answer emails and sort out your blog. This is no were enough information for anyone to find you staff for the role. Outline the tasks that need completing and then assign jobs to each task. If you have multiple tasks for multiple roles you may have to look at employing 2 or 3 part time or full time staff. Below is an example:
|Edit and upload video to youtube
Filter emails, invoice clients, answer phone
General Virtual Assistant
|Design graphics for my blogs and attach to blog post.||Graphic designer|
You can see from the table that different tasks are suited for different job roles. You wouldn’t ask a carpet fitter to hang your curtains. He could probably give it a go but the workmanship would be poor and it would take him a long time to learn how to do it to an average standard. The same applies when hiring staff. Don’t overload one person with everything just because you cannot afford multiple full time staff. One answer may be finding part time staff to cover a number of different tasks throughout the month/week.
So I would start by setting up a table like the one above and outline what tasks you need completed and the job role that matches that task. Once you have established this look at how much you can budget every month to pay your staff. I would look at this as an investment and not a cost. Remember you are buying back your time here. Look at how you can grow your business in the time you are getting back. Now it becomes a worthwhile investment.
Virtual Staff Finder specialize in helping you find skilled workers from the Philippines. The cost is very competitive and the quality of the work is very high. Just look at the title of this post, I have found a fantastic full time General Virtual Assistant for £481.19 per month. With the application form itself you need to be as detailed as possible. The more work you put in at the start the better that applicants you will get.
Here are the questions I had on my application form and how I answered them:
Daily Work Description:
A concise narrative of the role and responsibilities of our GVA (be as in-depth as you’d like!):
– Outreach to potential podcast guests. I will provide email template that the VA can adjust accordingly for each guest. I will provide a list of names and web addresses. The VA will then have to research the guests and email them with points that are relevant to them.
-Book podcast guests onto show via my you can book me calendar link.
-Research guests featuring on the show and outline in bullet point format everything about them personally and there business. I can then format my interview around the key points.
-Upload blog posts to my site and schedule. I will provide schedule times
-Schedule posts via my Facebook page and linked in page.
-Insert audio into posts from blubbry (podcast hosting site) then add show notes to blog in bullet point format.
-Upload all posts to meetedgar (social media automation software)
-Research blog posts topics. Provide reports with findings.
-Pay invoices via paypal
-Check emails and reply to all emails they can
-Purchasing gifts/books online when requested
All tasks will have video tutorials for the VA to refer to
Skill Sets Required:
A concise narrative of the role and responsibilities of our GVA (be as in-depth as you’d like!):
–excellent English reading and writing
-Ability to follow clear instructions
-High level of organization
-Self management and initiative
-has an eye for detail
–Can use wordpress cms
-Access to Microsoft word
If you have any additional thoughts, needs, or desires when it comes to work with your virtual assistant, please make a note of them here – every little helps!
-I will also be looking to add the following VA’s to my team after I have established a good working relationship with my GVA:
-Audio and video Editor
-NOTE: this is something I am looking to do 3-6 weeks after employing a GVA.
That was the whole application form. Lets move on to what happens next…
Once you send off the application form you have to wait it out for a week or 2, but the Virtual Staff Finder team is working their magic behind the scenes finding 3 suitable candidates for you to hire, so well worth the wait.
After 2 weeks I was presented with 3 very god candidates who I interviewed over skype. This is a MUST; you need to speak to these people in person for a number of reasons:
- You can hear how well they speak English.
- You can get a feel for their energy and personality. Remember this is someone that is joining your team, you need to like them.
- You can see how good their internet connection and speed is. This seems silly on the surface, however there is nothing worse than allocating 60 minutes a week for a meeting over skype and spending the first 20 minutes trying to establish a good connection. This only wastes time and gets both of you frustrated.
- You can get them to explain to you exactly what it is you require from them as a potential employee.
- Speaking to the person can highlight issues that were not written in the CV or application. No one writes that they have terrible people skills in their CV. On the other hand, you know if someone has good people skills or not the second you meet them. I have met plenty of people who I cannot stand to socialize with, however I’m sure they have a very good and polished CV that outlines they are a ‘good people person’.
When going through the interview process you want to ask them a variety of questions that will give you a good idea f their personal and business achievements. You also want to know what gets them excited outside of work, family life and more. If you are not familiar with interviewing people you aim is to get a good idea of who the person is on a personal and professional level. Below are the questions I asked my virtual assistant during our 30-minute skype interview:
- Tell me more about yourself?
- Why did you leave your last job?
- What elements of your last job did you like?
- Have you done any research on me and my company?
- Apart from the skills listed in the job description, what other skills do you have that could benefit my company?
- What do you like to do outside of work?
- What have you done in the last 12 months to improve your skills?
- How long would you expect to work for me if you got the job?
- If I was to hire you today what would make you an asset to my company?
- What do you expect to get paid for this role?
Once you find a suitable employee you need to sign agreements, agree wages and what ever else may be relevant to your business before starting. Then the hard work starts. There is one BIG point I wish to raise before we go on any further. Even if your new employee is experienced at the job you have just give him, he is not familiar with how you like tings done. YOU MUST SHOW HIM/HER!
This is where most entrepreneurs and small business owners go wrong. They hire staff and expect them to know every detail of the tasks they have outlined for their employee. I used to do this and question if there was anyone that could actually do this better then me.
It was only when I started to ask myself “what could I do to better communicate with my staff that will enable them to perform the task at hand successfully?” that I started to see results.
There are numerous ways in which you can do this. It’s worth noting that even though you are employing your staff virtually, they still need training, guidance and your support, so don’t just think you can onboard your staff and leave them to it.
Tools that are great for this are screenflow for mac users and screencast for pc users. With this software you can record yourself performing the tasks yourself and provide commentary outlining exactly what it is you are doing. I spent 2 days putting together a whole admin pack for my assistant with video tutorials outlining every task I wanted him to complete with supporting documents with specific code, passwords and what ever else he needed.
This also made him very familiar with me, my voice and how I direct him for tasks. The more he feels he knows me the better our working relationship will be.
By taking the time to prep everything I have now got a fantastic assistant that carries out many tasks for me every single week at a very high standard.
This system has now been in place for 4 weeks. Since then I have had more time to concentrate on tasks that will help me grow my business, help more people and increase my income. My stress levels have been reduced and I am enjoying every second of my work. In fact it doesn’t even feel like work. And I get all this for a small investment of £481.19 per month.
If you want to know how you can take this information and create your own system that can work for you contact me. I will be happy to schedule a FREE strategy session with you.
For a more in depth look at exactly how you can utilize overseas staff check out Chris Duckers book Virtual Freedom by clicking the book cover below:
P.S. Each job or staff task can hit different pay scales that may be more than £481.19. This is based on the average salary for a general virtual assistant.