Having a Virtual Assistant can make running your business easier and your life easier — if you hired the right person. If not, expect to be putting out fires in the most unexpected places. Even smart and successful entrepreneurs make hiring mistakes, so don’t worry! Below are some things you can avoid and improve your odds at finding the perfect Virtual Assistant.
#1 Cramming too many roles into one person
Rarely will you find an in ad in Seek entitled “Looking for a virtual assistant to do my BAS, write my business plan, handle my social media, manage my website, and run my Facebook ads and Google AdWords campaigns”.
This is because, for most roles to thrive, they are usually based on the principle of specialisation. Inversely, the avoidance of the “jack of all trades and master of none” trap.
Remember that people go to school, college, or university to learn a specific skill. Year after year, their skills become more honed. Sure, some people end up diversifying their skills over the years and may even end up being great at a few things, but don’t forget the zero-sum game of time, an immutable law that says “time spent doing one thing is time not spent doing the other thing”. Okay, I made that up. But hey, it makes sense, right?
#2 Forgetting to manage employees
I know it sounds silly, but you would be amazed at how many managers approach their privilege from the paradigm of “you are here to save me time, not waste my time”.
The recommended amount of time per week or month set aside to manage staff does vary from white-paper to white-paper, but if we settle on some of the lower estimates, it would be a wonderful practice to reserve 8 to 10 hours per month per person.
Below is a great management cycle to get into:
- The Monday work-in-progress (WIP) session. Schedule a recurring recorded video call every Monday (or Friday) to lay out the plan for the week. This gives your staff a clear sense of direction towards achieving set goals.
- The end-of-month wrap-up and feedback session. Ask your employees to create a simple end-of-month report, detailing what they achieved, what they learned, and what they would love some help with next month. After listening intently, you can then provide feedback, introduce a new process, and lay out the plan of attack for next month.
- The quick process transfer session. If you have a process that you would like to offload and you’re confident that it sits nicely within the skill set of an employee of yours, book a recorded video call, demonstrate the process, and send him or her the recording afterwards.
These sessions, once you get into the rhythm of doing them, are some of the most liberating discussions you will ever have as a manager.
#3 Neglecting to transfer knowledge
It’s astonishing how much small business owners know about the intimate details of their trade and how much that fact contributes to running a unique and successful business.
But who else knows these details?
You would be saddened by just how little of that knowledge is transferred to the people given the actual task of getting the work done. People often forget what makes them so good at what they do: It’s because of what they know — and that knowledge can be easily transferred to other people, so that they can pick up the slack and get some great work done while you focus on other parts of the business.
Here are two (2) ways knowledge transfer takes place:
- The casual osmosis method. When you start training your My Cloud Crew team member, start with a recorded Zoom conversation where you talk in detail about your business: what it does, where it’s heading, and who works in your business. That is a great first step; one that many do not take. Next, you can then conduct exploratory type conversations (remember to record them!) with your virtual assistant everyday for a couple of weeks. You would be amazed at how much they’ve absorbed after a month of being with you. You have a wealth of knowledge. Share it!
- The detailed process method. Build How-To Guides, which can be created in simple document storage platforms, like Google Drive. Alternatively, you can also utilize more detailed process creation systems, such as Confluence. Any information provided there will be your virtual assistant’s go-to reference.
#4 Getting the hiring level wrong
This is a really important aspect of hiring that a lot of small business owners overlook and as a result, they have to redo the whole recruitment process because they discovered too late that the role wasn’t really a great fit for the person they hired.
Here are two (2) really easy-to-implement hacks to get this part right:
- Hire inverse to your knowledge. Generally, the level of hiring should be inversely related to your level of knowledge on the topic. For example, if you are a seasoned social media manager, then you probably only need a social media coordinator who can implement your amazing ideas and strategies. If you know zero about social media, then you need the manager, strategist, and implementer all-in-one person (or a couple of people). So you’ll definitely need to hire a manager because hiring a non-strategic coordinator would be the blind leading the blind.
- Begin with the end in mind. Is the person you want the hire the first in what will be a division of people? For example, are you creating a marketing division that will eventually create Facebook ads, develop a blog, utilize Google AdWords, run social media campaigns, as well as build conversion funnels and lead magnets? If yes, then you have two (2) clear options:
- Hire the manager first, get the plan and processes in order, and ready to scale, or
- Hire one of the specialists now to start implementing actionable work, followed by the additional team members and then the manager to supervise them.
We also touch upon this topic in blog post Hiring a Virtual Assistant: 5 Steps for Getting Prepared.
#5 Hiring from a paradigm of lack of money
…Rather than hiring to meet a business goal.
This is unfortunately where so many hiring decisions are built to fail, especially when going offshore.
Imagine sitting in a face-to-face interview with an Australian candidate and saying, “Hey, I don’t have much money, so rather than filling one role, can you do three? Oh, and also, can you handle all three responsibilities in an hour a day?”
That candidate is making a B-line for the door before you even have the chance to yell, “But hey, we have great coffee here and may even pay your superannuation — Wait, come back!”
To avoid this common mistake, ask yourself these three (3) critical questions:
- Do key decisions and strategies need to be developed by this person?
- How many hours a week is needed to do an amazing job?
- If I hire this person for (5) hours per week with the intention to increase them to (25) per week when I can afford it, what damage might be done if they are not available for more than (5) hours when the time comes to increase to (25)?
It’s best to avoid these top 5 mistakes when hiring a Virtual Assistant:
Cramming too many roles into one person;
Forgetting to manage employees;
Neglecting to transfer knowledge;
Getting the hiring level wrong; and
Hiring from a paradigm of lack of money
As you can see, all these hiring blunders are easily avoidable as long as you open up your mind and communication channels. You will find great value in having a professional virtual assistant aboard your team. Just remember to take the time to find the candidate most suitable for your business.