Today my own virtual assistant, Jess, is taking over the blog to offer her insights on hiring your first VA. Jess and I have been working together for a few years now, and she also works for a variety of other small business owners.
Today she’s here to offer her professional advice if you feel like you might be ready to start looking for the newest member of your team.
Last week, Gwen wrote about the signs that tell you it’s time to hire a VA. If you found yourself nodding along to that post, it may be time for you to take the next step! Today, my goal is to help you get ready to hire your first VA.
First, decide what you’re looking for in a relationship with a Virtual Assistant. You should be able to answer the following questions for yourself before you start putting out feelers with a VA.
- How much extra help are you looking for?
Do you want to hire someone to work for you for about two hours a week, or 20? Can you consistently come up with enough work for that person to fill those hours, week after week?
- What types of tasks do you want to hand over to a VA?
What sorts of professional skills will the VA need to have in order to perform those tasks? Do you need this person to have access to special software? Will she need to be available during certain times of the day (in certain time zones)?
- How much can you afford to pay?
There isn’t necessarily an industry standard for VA pay rate, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $10-$40/hour for your VA, depending on her particular skills and location. Think about how much you can afford to pay someone in a week or a month, and make sure that lines up with how many hours you want your VA to work.
Where to Look
The best resource for finding a good VA can often be word of mouth. All of my current clients are people I knew as part of a business group I participate in, or people who were referred to me by fellow members of that group. It really does pay to network!
Put the word out to your professional acquaintances, fellow business owners, and entrepreneurs you know who already have a VA of their own. Ask for specific recommendations as well as leads for where to find and hire the right person for you. You’d be surprised – often you’ll hear about someone from church, or a mom from your kid’s school, or someone who gets her nails done at your salon – and it’ll turn out that this is the ideal person to work for your business. So don’t be afraid to make it known that you’re looking to hire. VAs turn up in unusual places sometimes (I met my first client at a local knit group meeting!).
If you can’t get a recommendation from anyone, try doing a Google search. Read through a few websites of virtual assistants, and see if you “click” with anything that you read. If you find a person you like, contact them to ask if they’re taking on new clients. Even if they’re not, chances are they might have someone they can refer you to!
Once you do find someone who’s available to work for you, I recommend starting with a trial period. It helps to have one particular project you’d like the VA to help you with – maybe, setting up an e-mail newsletter or scheduling your blog posts for a month. That project can be a starting-off point, and you can both agree to work on the project as a way to test out the working arrangement. As an alternative idea, you can just decide to have that person take on all your regular VA tasks for a trial period of, say, a month.
At the conclusion of that trial period or project, you can both re-evaluate. Is everything working out? If not, is it something that could be fixed, or is it an irreconcilable difference? If it didn’t work out for one or both of you, you can pay the VA for the time she worked and try again with someone else, no hard feelings.
No matter what, you’re going to learn something from the experience of that first project and be able to apply what you learned to the next experiment!
If you’d like more information on hiring a VA, check out these resources:
- The IRS’s take on a contractor vs. an employee (Hint: Your VA is probably an independent contractor, so you won’t have to pay taxes on her income. BUT! You want to make sure you’re not crossing the line into employee territory in the way you set up your working relationship.)
- Sign up for my new e-course, Get Some Help: How to Hire Your First VA. The course officially begins on March 14, but as soon as you purchase you’ll get some pre-course materials to help you fill the time until then. So go ahead and sign up now and that way you’ll be all ready to go on the 14th!
So… have you decided it’s time to hire some help for your business? Tell us about it in the comments! Feel free to ask any questions you have, too.