Hiring a Virtual Assistant (VA) has become extremely common these days. The VA comes into play whenever you don’t have time or resources to handle certain tasks. I've been working for myself online since the early 2000s and spent too many of those years doing it all alone. At first, it was because I didn't have the financial means. Later, as the business started making a profit, I didn't think I could afford it. I was wrong, of course. Once I started, way back in 2011, there was no looking back and I wondered why I didn't hire a Virtual Assistant sooner.
As you can see, it took me far too long to get there. Let me save you some time and allow me to share a few things I learned about when to hire a Virtual Assistant.
What's A Virtual Assistant?
For the benefit of those who may not be familiar, a Virtual Assistant is someone who works remotely from their home office. They provide support to their clients. This support can come as administrative support, website support, webinar moderation, community management, and a lot more.
The term Virtual Assistant covers large swaths of areas, but not all virtual assistants are good in every area. You actually want to be careful if someone says they can do “all of it”. That's almost impossible, or at least, extremely rare. Some also prefer to specialize. That's why sometimes you find terms like Technical Assistant and Personal Assistant to distinguish what they do and what they don't do.
This is confusing and is probably better covered in another post of its own. For now, let's tackle the issue at hand.
When To Hire A Virtual Assistant
Chances are, you already know when. Especially if you're here seeking confirmation. Let's explore when entrepreneurs like you commonly begin hiring a VA.
You are swamped and you wish you could clone yourself.
Everyone feels like this at different times. The key is, are you running around like this all the time, every day of the year? If you find it's a seasonal thing. Maybe you don't need a long-term assistant and more of a seasonal one to help you through the times of the year when you know your business gets incredibly busy but easy to manage the rest of the year.
But if you're constantly swamped and can never come up for fresh air, a Virtual Assistant is probably long overdue.
You feel chained to your business and can't ever leave it alone.
Do you carry a laptop or device wherever you go so your clients can always reach you? Maybe you need your device because you'll squeeze in a few minutes of work wherever you find time, like waiting in line to pick up your kids from school.
You find you always have to be there because there's no one else to handle things when you are away. While I won't hire someone just because I can't-or won't take a break, it is a consideration when you aren't dealing with workaholism but actually too much work for one person to handle.
There are things you don't know how to do.
Raise your hand if you've ever spent money or time learning how to do something so that you can do something else? For example, you learn to design workbooks, maybe even learn to use a software like Adobe InDesign, Affinity Designer, and Photoshop just so you can start growing your list. Oh, and you even had to learn how to make a landing page so that you can put that workbook on there to build your list.
See where I'm going? I'm not saying there's anything wrong with learning or knowing how all these work together. But at some point, you'll find yourself in a rabbit hole and it goes something like this.
- Your goal is to do A, but without B, you can't have A. So you learn to do B.
- Then you learn that without C, you can't do B. So you learn to do C and so on and so on.
- Before long, you are so far from your goal (A), it's not even funny.
If you had someone do those and you'll reach your goal so much faster, with a lot less learning I should add.
There are tasks and even projects that you simply don't do well at all.
Again, I have nothing against learning. I love to learn. Maybe you've learned a few skills in order to do what you need to do so far. That is great! But…
Your results simply fall flat. Your designs lack that ‘pop' that you see from your competitor's lead magnets. They look like some kid designed them in the 90s! Yikes.
What if you're naturally gifted at designing but you hate doing them? You'd rather be writing emails or creating your course. Anything but designing lead magnets. Ugh!
Don't put yourself through this. It is your business, after all. Do what you love, let a Virtual Assistant or, more appropriately, a designer in this case do it for you.
You're stuck in your inbox offering support all day long.
Nobody goes into business saying, I want to answer questions, solve customer issues and field nasty complaints all day. Unless that is your business, but for most, it's not. You're in business because you love to bake, teach, make websites, create clothing, sell printables, etc.
Ironically, this is also where I meet the most resistance. Many tell me they can't trust anyone else with their customers or they want to give the personal touch. I get it. Those were the same sentiments I had, but that's no reason to wed yourself to the inbox.
Just because you have someone helping you with the inbox doesn't mean you can't be checking in. There is no rule barring you from your own inbox once an assistant checks on it. Besides, it usually takes a while for the assistant to shadow you before they get the hang of your business.
And, an excellent assistant can learn! Imagine that! They can learn your behaviors, your tone, your approach to customers, and so much more. They can actually become your clone-at least where support and emails are concerned.
If you still feel nervous, take baby steps. Hire a Virtual Assistant to check in only at certain times. E.g. weekends, mornings or nights if you hire someone from a different time zone. You can finally go to bed!
You're behind all the time.
You plan to launch something before Christmas, but you missed it. What were you thinking scheduling that during the holidays? You extend it to Valentines and you miss that too. Then you push it to Easter and before you know it. Hey! It's Easter and still no launch.
Maybe you're still busy learning how to put up that landing page or learning to design that journal. Wait, that's not it. You're learning to make digital stickers to put in that digital planner that you are still trying to figure out how to do. That's why you haven't launched the printable version yet. Sound familiar?
While these are not all the signs saying you need to hire a Virtual Assistant, they are some of the most prevalent. Knowing them is important, but knowing the converse is also important.
At first glance, there doesn't seem to be any reason you shouldn't hire a VA. That is not true. There are poor reasons to do it. Here are some.
When NOT To Hire A Virtual Assistant.
When you hire one for the sake of it.
Everyone in your mastermind group says you need one. You aren't operating in your best zones if you don't have one. While all that has truth in it, you also need to consider where they are in their business.
- Are they further along?
- Are you just starting out?
- Are you making a consistent profit?
- Do you have enough work to keep your Virtual Assistant busy?
Bottom line is, your business has to support it. The last thing you want is to accrue business debt and you surely don't want to lose an excellent assistant because of your inability to pay on time or consistently. Word gets around.
When you aren't ready to train them.
Sometimes people make it sound like a Virtual Assistant is your genie. Once you hire them, you unleash this magical person who can instantly take away all the yucky things you don't want to do and all your messes, and from day one, you can happily skip back to the tasks you love so much.
A Virtual Assistant is not a genie, psychic or a mind reader. They have to learn about your business. They need you to show them the ropes, teach them. Even the ones who know your industry don't know how you like things done.
I've seen so many people dump everything on their VA without guidance. It's sad. It's not fair to your VA, and it does you no good. This is not a hire and dump process. It takes time to train them and yes, for the first few weeks, it may seem like you're doing more work. But it's only temporary. Once they get it, your workload will plummet, but you have to be prepared to take that initial hit in workload and time spent training.
Now that you have all this information, it should be clear when to hire a Virtual Assistant for your own business. You might find you are not quite ready. If you are ready, I hope you'll be very pleased with your results.