/176: How to scale your business by hiring a virtual assistant

176: How to scale your business by hiring a virtual assistant

hiring a virtual assistant

As an entrepreneur you’re taking on a lot of responsibility, and it can sometimes feel like you’re doing everything yourself – because likely, you are.

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And it makes sense: you decided at some point that you had an idea worth pursuing and a vision and mission to carry out. So you started to do the work necessary in order to accomplish that.

But once you have the foundation set and your business is ready for growth, you can’t continue to be the one working in your business; otherwise, you’ll never get to be the one working on your business.

Plus, scaling a business on your own is virtually impossible.

Hiring a virtual assistant or employee

In order to make this switch – from doing everything yourself and constantly feeling overwhelmed, to actually having time to brainstorm new ideas, implement them and start to scale – you have to consider hiring a virtual assistant or employee to help.

If you’re happy running your business on your own and aren’t interested in hiring a virtual assistant or employee, then that’s perfectly fine. But understand that in making that choice, you are choosing a particular type of business: a business that might provide you exactly what you want and need, but that will never be a scalable business.

So, let’s look at the specific steps you can take and the considerations you should have in mind.

1. Choosing your type of business

Before we dive into hiring a virtual assistant or employee, let’s make sure that’s the right move for you.

Choosing your type of business is actually quite simple, and it’s tied directly to two things:

  1. What you want your business to accomplish (your vision)
  2. What you want your lifestyle to look like (your end goal)

Let’s take Entrepreneurs On Fire for example.

John launched Entrepreneurs On Fire in September 2012 with a vision to inspire millions.

He was willing to put in long hours, hire others to help, and run into whatever roadblocks came his way. He would find a way around them.

But he also started out with two virtual assistants on his team, who were both general virtual assistants, meaning they worked on a variety of tasks in the business, including:

  • Social media
  • Graphics
  • Website updates
  • Guest scheduling for the podcast
  • and more

This allowed John time to focus on the things most important to the growth and sustainability of the business long-term, like:

  • Producing a great podcast people wanted to listen to;
  • Connecting with amazing entrepreneurs;
  • Becoming a better interviewer;
  • Attending conferences and events to get his name out there;
  • and so on.

This wouldn’t have been possible at the same level had John started out on his own.

As Entrepreneurs On Fire found its footing and the team collectively established the initial business foundation, it was time to start thinking about growth and scalability.

At this point John had:

  • Established credibility and authority through the podcast,
  • Published over 100 episodes (and therefore had built 100 relationships with successful entrepreneurs), and
  • He was showing an increase in listeners week after week.

Once his audience started reaching out to him via social media and email with questions and feedback, he could see the growth opportunity standing right in front of him.

His audience was reaching out with questions and feedback like:

  • I’m LOVING the show so much! Thank you! (confirmation)
  • John, how did you launch your podcast? (interest: podcasting)
  • A daily show?! FINALLY! (confirmation)
  • I have an idea, and I want to turn it into a business. Where do I start? (interest: starting a business)

John listened to his audience, and regardless of whether it was a comment or a question, he kept a running list of the things people were saying on social media about the podcast and things people were emailing him about.

Through doing this, he started to see the opportunities more clearly:

  • My audience wants to learn about podacsting
  • My audience is interested in starting their own business

John knew he could help with these two things because of his experience starting his own business and podcast, and so he started offering one-on-one coaching to those who were interested.

And sure enough, more people started asking him for similar advice.

That’s when he knew that in order to start scaling the business – creating a community platform, a product, more services – he needed to hire someone else to help him implement and establish all of this.

That’s about the time I came on board as employee num. two.

Today John and I run a team of six:

  • John, host / founder
  • Me, operations / systems
  • JM, John’s VA
  • Jess, customer service
  • Tipu, repurposing / video & audio
  • Claire, social media manager

I share this progression and story with you for a very specific reason: we’ve made the conscious decision that this is how big we want our team to be, and there’s no way we’d be where we are today if we didn’t have this team in place.

We’ve had fewer employees throughout the years and we’ve had more employees throughout the years, and in making the decision to run a team of six we’ve established the type of business we want to run.

We know that there are great opportunities available to us with this team – which we’ve already proven – and we also understand that there are limits to what we can accomplish with this team – and we’re okay with that.

We’re still able to accomplish our vision to inspire millions, and we’re still able to live the lifestyle we want.

So the very first thing to consider before hiring a virtual assistant or employee to help scale your business is the type of business you want to run.

2. The type of virtual assistant or employee 

Once you’ve established the type of business you want to run – and have confirmed that requires at least one virtual assistant or employee – it’s time to figure out the type of virtual assistant or employee you need.

The best way to do this is to take inventory of the tasks and projects you have going on in your business.

Exercise: Take inventory

This exercise will take you one week to accomplish, and it’s very simple: let a piece of paper follow you around for one week and write down every task or project you spend your time working on each day.

It could be as big as “worked on website launch”, or it could be as small as “checked email”, but you do want to be as specific as possible.

At the end of the week, take a look back at the things you’re spending your time working on.

This will not only be eye-opening (maybe there are several tasks you’re working on that really aren’t that important based on the goals you’ve set for your business), but it will also help you start organizing the tasks that are:

  • most frequent
  • take up the most time

The tasks that are most frequent and take up the most time (that don’t require you) are the ones you should be considering hiring a virtual assistant or employee to help with.

Tasks that don’t require you are ones where the outcome will not be different if someone else performs the task.

3. Create a job description and overview

Once you’ve identified the tasks that are most frequent and take up the most time (but that don’t require you), you’ve essentially described the type of virtual assistant or employee you should hire.

That might be a general virtual assistant who does a wide variety of tasks, like helping you manage your calendar, posting on social media, and formatting and scheduling your content; or it might be a specialized virtual assistant or an employee who has experience in a specific area, like social media, customer service, or website management.

Take some time to write out an actual job description, including the number of hours you think you might need your virtual assistant or employee for per week, and a range you’re willing to pay them for their services.

4. Reviewing your business goals

Once you have your job description and overview, how does it stand up against the goals you’ve set for your business?

When you’re looking to build a team you have to be clear about where you’re business is headed for several reasons:

  • If you hire a virtual assistant or employee, you’re becoming their leader;
  • Delegating tasks that aren’t important to helping you reach your goals will lead you nowhere;
  • Your virtual assistant or employee has to be on board with your mission and vision.

These are just a few reasons why being clear about where your business is headed – and having the right goals set that will help you get there – is so critical.

If you’re not clear about the specific goals you’re working towards over the next 3 – 6 months, then I strongly urge you to join Free Goals Course. Then, set your SMART goals for the next 3 – 6 months before taking another step towards hiring a virtual assistant or employee.

5. Start your search

You know what type of business you want to run, you know the tasks and projects you need the most help with, you’ve created a job description, and you have a clear vision of where your business is headed based on the SMART goals you’ve set – NOW it’s time to start your search.

There are several ways to go about finding the virtual assistant or employee you want to hire, and it’s largely going to depend on the tasks and projects they’ll be working on.

Hiring someone local

If you need someone who is local and who can come into an office or have in-person meetings with you from time to time, then you’re looking at more of an employee role than a virtual assistant role.

If this is the case, then ZipRecruiter is a great place to start your search.

ZipRecruiter helps match you with the perfect job candidate and makes the process super easy. When we moved to Puerto Rico, ZipRecruiter is who we used to find our first local hire.

Because ZipRecruiter is a sponsor of the Entrepreneurs On Fire podcast, you can post your first job for free by going to ZipRecruiter.com/fire!

Hiring someone virtually, but high-level

Let’s say you’re looking for someone who can handle high-level tasks and projects, but you don’t need them to be in your area – maybe you’re looking for a project manager.

In this case, Priority VA is a great resource where the founder, Trivinia, and her team will get on a call with you, figure out exactly who you’re looking for, and then go out and find them for you from their pool of experienced virtual assistants.

Project-based hiring

Maybe you want to hire a virtual assistant, freelancer, or contractor on a project basis – meaning you need them to be super specialized in a particular area, and you’re not necessarily looking to keep them on full time moving forward.

If this is the case, then UpWork is a great site to check out.

Hiring a general virtual assistant

Finally, if you’re looking to hire a general virtual assistant at a low cost who can do a lot of different tasks for you – and who doesn’t have to be local – Chris Ducker’s Virtual Staff Finder is an excellent service.

Chris and his team have Virtual Staff Finder set up in the Philippines, and the way it works is:

  • You submit your job description,
  • They go out and source 3 general virtual assistant candidates for you,
  • You interview each of them and choose your favorite.

They also have more specialized virtual assistants if you’re looking to go that route.

Preparing for the change

Now that you know all the steps you can take and the considerations you should have in mind, let’s talk about preparing for the change.

Hiring a virtual assistant or employee is a big step and an exciting move for you and your business! But it’s not easy, and it will require your focus and time, especially in the beginning as you onboard them and delegate tasks and projects to them.

The great news is, hiring a virtual assistant or employee will be a game-changer for you and your business if you’ve followed the steps above. Because this is where you get to make the switch from doing everything yourself and constantly feeling overwhelmed, to actually having time to brainstorm new ideas, implement them and start to scale.

To get our complete resource guide on how to grow your team, including interview questions, how to onboard your virtual assistant or employee and more, be sure to check out EOFire.com/team!