Hiring Support in Your Business

perfect virtual assistant

Entrepreneurs at every level of business have a certain amount of stubbornness and scrappiness. But there comes a time when we must all admit that help is needed and needed now.

Today I want to share my experience of hiring Virtual Assistants in my business. Should you seek an international VA team? What kind of tasks should you hire out? Short answer: I don’t know what’s right for your business so I’m just sharing what was right for mine.

While I love working with my private clients to identify their needs, hire and train their support team, I recognize that each business is incredibly unique in its needs.

Since I’ve got a lot to share I’m breaking this up into 3 parts.

The Job Description

As any job seeker will tell you these are often boring, lame attempts to give enough information to keep the under qualified from applying and entice the right worker. Sure, you’ve got to cover the basic job skills and responsibilities but please don’t make it boring!

Let’s take an example for a typical VA position, in this case for a coaching business:

Good:  online coaching business serving strong, driven women looking for a talented and scrappy assistant to help with admin tasks. Must not be afraid of working with dozens of female executives who know what they want and expect great service. You are on time, on task and professional, able to relate and develop relationships with our client base and willing and able to learn. Position is virtual so you must be comfortable using phone and email to connect with clients and partners nationally and occasionally internationally.

Bad:  admin assistant needed to manage online database, copy and paste content for clients, manage email, occasionally work by phone, organized, friendly, dedicated to the job. Virtual position.

Do you see the difference here? In the first example you can feel the energy behind the business, who they serve, the company they keep and the type of person who would thrive in this position. Even if you read that job description and say ‘not the job for me!’ the description was successful.

You do not want your job description to apply to every worker in the world – or on odesk.

In addition to a paragraph like the one above describing the ideal candidate you’ll want to include a list of skills, expected tasks and information on your business. Let’s take these in detail.

Job skills are important, especially because many contractors will apply to every job available without regard to the job description. Be sure that your skills listed will reflect the position both for the beginning job tasks and some of the advanced work you’ll add when the contractor proves him or herself as capable. In other words, if the position will eventually include phone calls then make sure ‘great phone communication’ is a skill you want from the beginning.

When it comes time to create your list of tasks you can use this as your expected tasks list in the job description. You may need to rewrite some items so let’s see how that works:

Tasks I need a VA to do:

transfer my old virtual rolodex to Infusionsoft CRM and tag contacts
download and archive all client proposals and agreements from 2011 and first quarter 2012
weekly metrics tracking across social media and blog platforms

How I’ll write the task list:

data entry with attention to detail
learn new software quickly and follow instructions
database management and archiving
familiarity with social media platforms (such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn)
metrics report tracking

Finally, let’s talk about sharing info on your business. It’s tempting to leave this information out and just look for a contractor but ideally you want a team who not only care about the paycheck but about the work you’re doing. In my earlier example do you really want to interview 4 candidates who hate working for women? Or would you rather only interview and work with candidates who appreciate strong, driven women in online coaching businesses?

The lawyers, tax accountants, yoga teachers and raw food chefs among us can attest that for each person who loves the field there’s another out there who doesn’t understand or see the value of your business.

So just put it out there, let people know (proudly) who you are, the work you do and the clients you serve. For this example I’ll share the company profile I used on odesk to vet the applicants I received:

Virtual systems creation business serving online businesses including coaching and implementation. Currently building a support team to manage the back end of the business as client work increases and looking for strong workers to grow with the company and take on more responsibility over time. Drama free environment that emphasizes personal responsibility, clear communication and honesty in all interactions.

I hope you see why this is split into 3 posts! Lots more to share so be sure to come back to read the next two installments:

2. Testing the VA before paying a dime

3. Using systems to track results and avoid problems

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