Virtual freedom is a complete guide to the art of virtual outsourcing. It covers in detail all the things that you will need to consider when collecting a virtual team and also provides informed recommendations on how to prevent common mistakes.
Chris Ducker is the founder and CEO of the three companies. He is also widely known as a leading specialist in outsourcing. He is a popular international speaker, blogger, and podcast, and has written a number of e-books.
This book is available as:
Learn How to Hire Virtual Assistants and Free Up Your Own Time for Real Work.
Being a business owner is a pretty responsible job: you need to manage employees, keep track of costs, conduct a business strategy and meet with investors. And it’s not easy to find the time for all this, and even if you find the time, it’s quite difficult to find the energy to complete each task.
Fortunately, the world of modern technology has provided a solution: virtual assistants. These are employees who work for you but located in another place – in another city, state or even in another country.
If you hire a team of effective virtual assistants, you will get the time to plan and run your business.
But if you hire them wrong, then you will find yourself with even more problems and the work that needs to be done.
This book will show you how best to hire, train and manage a team of virtual assistants.
Further, you will learn:
- the best way to educate someone in a different time zone;
- why you should hire virtual assistants for a role, but not for a task; and
- one job that you simply cannot outsource.
The Summary you might like: The Power of Full Engagement
By Submitting Your Work to an Outsourcing Team, You Can Concentrate on the Most Important
The life of a business owner in our modern world is not so simple.
Often, we take on many professions, doing different types of work, each of which is time-consuming.
Before you can even think about spending some time creating new innovative products and services or even selling these products and services, you must first go through a lot of other things: hire staff, check payments, monitor the budget, sign contracts with suppliers, and the list goes on.
It is not surprising that so many things need to be done! In fact, the author’s own attempts to manage his business led him to complete burnout; he simply did not have the time or energy to succeed.
It was then that he decided to do everything a little differently: he shifted some of his work to virtual assistants (VAs).
VAs are employees who really work for you, but who are not in the same place as you. They can take on a huge range of tasks, from accounting to office management, which allows business owners and managers to focus on what really matters to them. By hiring a VA, you can enjoy what is known as virtual freedom.
There are two main reasons why VAs provide such a great opportunity: Firstly, the Internet allows continuous communication across thousands of miles between you and your VA. No matter how far you are from each other, you can work as if you are in the same room.
Secondly, there is a huge reserve of available talents. More than 42 million Americans currently work as self-employed consultants and freelancers — all of which are potentially available on a part-time, full-time, or even project-based basis.
Thus, if you are struggling to stay afloat in a sea of tasks, virtual freedom can be your life raft.
One VA cannot do all your outsourcing work, and there is one job that you should never give them
Just as business leaders cannot do everything themselves – no matter how hard they try – VAs cannot do all the work for you.
Simply put, you cannot hire one VA that does all your outsourcing work. No matter how tempting it may sound, to find one VA superhero to whom you can reset all your work, the bitter truth is that we are all people, even your VA.
While one VA may be able to do one or two tasks better than you, they will not be able to solve all the work that you need to do.
With this in mind, you must hire virtual staff for specific roles.
For example, you could hire a General Virtual Assistant (GVA) to manage the administration of your business. Your GVA is the one who does a great job of small repetitive tasks, such as stationary purchases for the office, organizing meetings or sending reminders.
However, Keep in Mind That There is One Thing That You Should Never Outsource – Your Content, That is, What You Sell to Your Customers.
Good content can be anything. If you run a business consulting website, then your content could be a free e-book detailing how your customers can create a blog to grow their business. Or if you have a blog about wines, your content may be a video in which you provide ideas and tips for wine buyers.
Your content is what makes your business successful. Indeed, a good business is not the one that spends the most on marketing or the one that is at the top of the ranking in the Google search engine. Most likely, this is the one that has the most interesting and relevant content for its customers.
Therefore, make sure that you provide the content yourself. Thus, you can be sure that it will meet the expectations of your customers.
Fortunately, since you have provided less important tasks to your VIs, you can devote time to creating content!
Working With Virtual Staff is a Learning Process, but There Are Tricks to Make It Easier
Working with a VA can seem simple – obviously, all you have to do is find and hire the right people, right? But there is something more than that. In fact, you are likely to make many mistakes along the way to perfect VAs.
The author himself had to learn some difficult lessons, through trial and error. For example, at first, it was difficult for him to judge how much power and independence to give to his EaP. He gave some of them too much power, and they ultimately worked against his will. To others, he gave too little power to be able to carry out their work.
This trial and error method has led to a heuristic system that you can use when searching for your VAs.
First, never sacrifice quality for value. A good VA is not cheap, especially to run. An application developer, for example, costs up to $ 2,500 a month, and a GVA of $ 900. Although it might seem reasonable to hire the least expensive VA, it’s actually quite reckless.
Remember, these people, like your employees in the office, from whom you expect better work. In the real world, you would not hire a cheap office manager without administrative experience, so why do it in the virtual world?
The same consideration applies to location. Overseas VAs are more likely to be cheaper, and they can perform exactly the same tasks as the VAs in your country. However, working in different time zones and combating cultural differences can be a burden.
Imagine how disappointed you will be if you have to wait for six hours every day to get a response from the person responsible for the video for your site if you need an instant decision on when to download the hot viral video. You may end up losing out of expectation.
Hiring a Va Requires as Much Attention as Hiring a Regular Worker
Even if you can never see your VAs face to face, they remain the same people. Thus, many things that are true for hiring “normal” employees are also true for hiring EPs.
The main thing to keep in mind when hiring a VA is that you should hire them for a role, not a task.
Imagine that you need a VA to edit the video for your site. Before you go and hire the best video editor, first of all, think about what else you can demand from your virtual video editor in the future. For example, you may require him to upload a video, or even shoot it.
In other words, you need to not just focus on the immediate task (digital editing). Think about the big picture.
And although you do not have to understand everything that your video editor does, you need at least a basic understanding of this in order to be able to make a good hiring decision.
But Hiring is a Task, Like Any Other, Right? Could You Transfer This Task to Another Va?
No, you are responsible for the development of your company, so you should be responsible for recruiting staff.
In addition, all good hiring starts with a good job description. You must be very accurate and understandable – both for yourself and for your job candidates – about what you want from the VP. The better the job description, the easier it will be to find the right person to do it.
A good job description should be clear, precise and understandable. Use bulleted lists and be precise in what you want from your VI and what experience is needed to work.
Make sure the interviews are personal. Always use something like Skype or Google Hangouts and never rely on email. Only with the help of planned and quality interviews can you turn a good job description into a good hire.
But hiring is only the first step.
It’s not enough just to hire VAs, you must also teach them.
No business leader can expect their new office worker to know exactly what he needs to do without some kind of leadership. They need training, and the same applies to your VP.
There Are Three Things You Should Remember When Hiring a VA for Work.
First, as mentioned earlier, you must carefully determine the role for which you hire him. If, for example, you hire GVA to manage your office administrator, then you need to take the time to tell him exactly what is required of him. Do not think that he will know this intuitively.
Secondly, your VAs can and should seek help when they have questions, especially at the beginning.
Do not let GVA learn by trial and error!
Let them know what you expect from them.
And finally, be aware of time zones. Training for someone living 12 hours away from you must be well planned in order to be effective.
These three postulates are a good start.
Be sure to mix the types of media that you use in preparing your VA, including the Internet, audio, visual, and traditional written training materials.
Learning can take a lot of time and attention, so developing good training materials will save time in the end. Once you have created the best training resources, you can use them every time you hire a new VA.
Stay on top of cultural differences when applying for a job abroad. For example, if you write letters for your Filipino VP in ALL CAPS, then he can interpret this as a scream, and thus he will feel offended. This, in turn, leads to reduced productivity and resentment.
After You Have Prepared Your Vis, Your Main Task is to Create a Management System to Maintain Their Effectiveness
After completing the preparation, you become much closer to achieving virtual freedom. But this freedom will come only when your VIs are able to work in an organized manner. In other words, you need a management system.
The best control systems revolve around FAQ leaflets or IFTT cheat sheets – the abbreviation stands for “if this, then that.”
You can think of the IFTT cheat sheets as an emergency evacuation plan: in the event of an earthquake or fire, you just have to follow the plan in order to get to a safe place.
IFTT cheat sheets will help your VAs understand what they should do if, for example, your system crashes or they cannot complete something on time. With IFTT, they have clear orders on what to do next.
In addition, they prevent you from having to delve into the subtle nuances of your VAs. Virtual assistants should free up your time so that you don’t have to spend all day checking their work. Moreover, this practical approach will motivate the VA.
However, as soon as your VA team starts to grow, you will miss the simple FAQ leaflets. In this case, you will need a complete management system in order to keep track of what everyone is doing.
While the control system sounds pretty scary and complicated, in fact, it is not. Just having a folder in Dropbox or a document, Google Drive, where your VAs will fill in progress graphs in their tasks, you can achieve this management.
Management systems are especially important for new employees. You must keep track of their progress at the beginning, and management systems allow you to do just that.
For example, you can ask new VAs to send you electronic details of each working day. Not only will this maintain the flow of communication, but it will also help you decide whether this particular VA is suitable for you and your company. Once this is installed, then you can shorten the reports.
In Order to Motivate Your VAs to Do Their Best, Make Sure That They Feel Part of Your Team
As you already know, your VAs are ordinary people. VAs, just like your regular employees, are part of your team. Therefore, it is very important that they also understand this.
It’s best to start with a fair payment. Pay them what they deserve depending on their experience and market value. Do not forget to accept market conditions and localization, as the usual rate in some countries is much lower than in other countries where average incomes are higher.
And always pay them on time, especially it repents of foreign EaPs, many of whom are the only breadwinners of large families whose welfare depends on their timely income.
Be creative with bonuses and benefits. You should not entice them with high salaries; sometimes things like health insurance will also benefit you. And always pay extra for work on holidays.
But Just Giving a Good Salary is Not Enough. If You Want Your Vas to Become a Real Team, Then You Will Have to Involve Them in Your Business.
Be sure to regularly meet all of your VAs, at least via Skype, and give them the feeling that they are part of your larger vision.
Give them a regular assessment and make sure they get feedback on their work. They want to know when they are doing something good, and what they can do to become better.
Once your team is large enough, you may find that you spend all your time managing VAs. When this happens, you may need to provide someone with actual control over your VA team.
At this stage, it’s time to consider hiring a virtual project manager, in order to keep track of your VAs, so that you can have a good time focusing on achieving high-quality content and innovations for your valuable clients.
The Final Words
Virtual assistants give you the opportunity to get rid of all the routine work and focus on what you really like: creativity and innovation.
But be careful!
Just by hiring a VA, you cannot solve all your problems; you need to be smart in this matter.
Find out what steals your time.
At the first best opportunity, make a list of all the specific tasks that you must do and that distracts you from the “real” work. For example, you probably did not go into business to revise budgets; you are probably in it to spread your great ideas and their further innovations.
With this list, you will have a much better idea of how many VAs you need to hire to free up time for real work.
Why You Should Read “Virtual Freedom”
- To expand your small business.
- To devote more time to innovation.
- To try new methods of employment and save a lot of time and money
This book is available as: