Why Hire a Virtual Assistant? Here’s Why.
Recently, maybe, you’ve found yourself bogged down with little tasks. Maybe you’ve found yourself having dedicated hours of your life tweaking an accounting spreadsheet. Or trawling through emails, uploading social media posts, or managing your website’s SEO. Maybe you’ve ended the day frustrated, having realised that your time might have been better spent on something more urgent, valuable, or important.
Let it be said that I get your position. And it goes without saying that many others do to.
But what is the solution to this? The answer could be outsourcing – delegating, getting other people to do the work you hate for you. According to Tim Ferriss, a devotee of the Pareto Principle. That rule that states that twenty percent of your work produces eighty percent of your results. Outsourcing could be your potential saviour from what he calls the ‘time-famine phenomenon’.
This is a valuable ‘structural’ element many modern businesses are now adopting.
You can optimise the time you spend ‘working’ on the things only YOU can do.
In a podcast with Get Yourself Optimized, Ferriss talks about the best ways to make your own time more efficient by delegating tasks to talented and skilled people all over the world. So here’s why you should hire a virtual assistant.
Hourly Income: the Real Value of Your Time.
Ferriss’s take on the importance of outsourcing comes from a simple calculation – a calculation that draws attention to the actual value of your time.
Say you’ve been earning fifty grand a year, and you get a raise to an annual seventy grand. Ferriss claims that more often than not, what you are going to do is to start working thirty, forty, fifty percent more than you did before to justify your new salary figure. What you end up earning hourly actually turns out to be less than it was before.
So, what Ferriss suggests is to calculate your hypothetical hourly earnings. Knock off the three zeroes at the end of your salary (from fifty grand to fifty) and halve that latter figure. From fifty you’ll get £25, and that’ll be your hourly sum (calculated from a rough thirty-eight hour working week).
What’s the point of this figure? It allows you to make sense of the cash you can spare in outsourcing – to prevent you overwhelming yourself in extra work. If you give someone £12.50 an hour to manage your website, social media, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoints, or email, that’s a return of one hundred percent on your investment, without even considering what you’re making in the hour you have just freed up for yourself.
Thinking about the financial returns in this way brings out the proper potential value of outsourcing. Because the returns that it offers far outweigh the expense that you’ll be sacrificing.
What Can a VA Do for You?
But what actually can a virtual assistant, a remote administrator, or any other outsourced worker do for you? What tasks are feasibly outsourceable, and what benefits might outsourcing bring to you?
The answer to this is straightforward. Literally any task performed over a computer or phone is outsourceable – from copywriting to making travel arrangements, from gathering data to keeping accounts and doing administrative work. Think about the types of jobs that take a lot of your time but that you could teach to someone in under an hour, create a manual detailing the steps, and then never do again.
Think through all that stuff you have to do. All those tasks that aren’t in your Zone of Genius. Once you’ve done this you’ll know exactly why you should hire a virtual assistant.
The Benefits of Outsourcing.
This is one of the primary benefits of outsourcing: the opportunity to streamline your workload, to focus on more valuable tasks without having overworked yourself with the repetitive, menial, and the, well… boring. Remember the benefits of sleeping, resting, and using time efficiently.
Consider, too, the Pareto Principle, the 80/20 rule. If twenty percent of your tasks yield eighty percent of results, the inverse applies: eighty percent of necessary tasks yield only twenty percent. These are precisely the tasks to be outsourced: the time-consuming, the least productive, the necessary but exhausting. Those that don’t need YOUR unique brain and skill set to complete.
Having rid yourself of these, you can focus on working in your ‘zone of genius’ and have free time to enjoy life: your health, your family, friends and hobbies.
How Do You Hire a Virtual Assistant?
If you’re convinced of the benefits of a VA by now, the next question is how to find and hire one. I would recommend you don’t just find the one, but get a handful. Because you don’t want a bottleneck in your organisation’s productivity or a project to fall through completely if the individual gets sick or stops working. Remember to build resilience into your ‘VA Team’ structure.
Ferriss suggests firms like GetFriday.com, which specialises in sourcing groups of virtual assistants. But you can find yourself virtual assistants through freelance sites including Upwork and PeoplePerHour – sites with records of excellence for global outsourcing.
Hiring the Right Person
As most of you will probably recognise, it’s difficult to discern who is a good fit and who isn’t. Just as you would do your due diligence on an employee, use the same strategies when searching for your VA working remotely.
On sites such as Upwork, you can post a position and prospective freelancers respond. I suggest you use a ‘test task’ and be pretty brutal vetting applications: check their reviews and previous work. Anyone who responded to your post with a copied and pasted message, remove them. Those unwilling to do a test task, remove them. People unable to do it to a strict deadline, remove them too. At the end of this, you’ll come across the proper specialized talent you should invest in.
Ensure you are giving clear instructions in the job descriptions and any other communication with the VA. You can’t expect someone to do a good job on poor instructions.
How You Need to Change.
Hiring VAs to take care of these tasks is a great way to free up your time. But you will have to adapt to a new way of working. See my article on task batching for more on this.
You will need to spend quite a bit of time deciding the jobs to delegate, how to categorise those tasks, who will do what, what specialisms you need for each. During the transition, you will need to get comfortable delegating tasks, issuing clear instructions, and creating manuals and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). You will need to fully integrate outsourcing into your working practices.
A great way to start is to pick a few tasks first, think them through, and then trial it for a week. Once you have this working, begin to add other tasks to one of your VAs or (depending on their skillset) add others to your VA team in the specialisms you need.
It has revolutionised the way I and many others work! With freelancing increasingly becoming the new trend in employment globally, you won’t struggle to find highly capable, flexible, and effective outsourcers to work with you to help you scale your business and free up your time to do the things you love!
Go on, give it a try!
- Calculate your hourly income.
- Consider your zone of genius: what tasks can you just not abide?
- Find yourself an assistant who can help you specifically.