If a virtual assistant has been on your mind for a while then hopefully my own experiences will be of help.
I’m going to make the assumption that you’ve got your own business and that currently every role in that business is performed by you!
I’ve been there, everything from social media manager, to bookkeeper, to sales person, to website designer, convinced that if I took on all the roles I was saving my business money and therefore helping it grow quicker.
The problem with that train of thought is that while it wasn’t costing me money it was certainly costing me time & LOTS of it!
While also working full time and with a toddler at home, I found myself working until all hours, on the weekends, in my lunch breaks and staying back after work for an extra hour to catch up on what I could before I got home to the chaos.
Eventually it dawned on me, trying to take on everything myself was only hindering the growth of the business. The business activities that I should have been doing, the ones that actually had a direct impact on revenue, accounted for only 5% of all the activities that needed doing. That 5% should have been receiving 100% of my attention and by me trying to do everything I could only give those value adding activities a tiny portion of my time each week, sometimes no time at all.
The other problem I was encountering was MASSIVE BURN OUT. I was so exhausted and my relationship at home was so strained that I began to lose the love for my business. I needed help.
At this point I was pretty new to the idea of a virtual assistant, in fact, I’m not even sure I knew what VA stood for, but someone introduced me to the concept and I began to do my research.
On the face of it the idea sounded good – find someone overseas for a few dollars an hour and start outsourcing them tasks, but it took me forever to get started with it because I fell into the trap of thinking it was “just easier” to do it all myself – that I was already short on time and that finding and training someone would actually take longer, not to mention the streak of perfectionism that said, “they’ll never be able to do it as well as I can”.
It finally got to the point of do or die. Give the business up for the sake of my family or get my butt into gear, get serious and look for someone to relieve some of the burden.
Step 1 for me was letting go of a few basic tasks – website updates, graphic design, research activities and other one-off jobs. I typically used Fiverr or Upwork, but often had someone different each time, dependent on the task and it was pretty hit and miss. Once I remember being quite unhappy with the work by someone and giving them a 2 star review – they badgered me by email and on Facebook until I logged back in to upgrade my review, which made me wonder how many of the reviews were honest.
Messing around with this for a while, and a bit frustrated with the process, I moved to Step 2 – recruiting an ongoing, part-time virtual assistant who would be more of an all-rounder and someone I could really think of as a part of the team.
Getting to this stage was an absolute turning point for the business. While she may have been ten thousand miles away in Romania I was finally no longer alone. I had a “team”, someone I could bounce ideas off and I’d been lucky enough to find someone genuinely interested in my business, which meant she went over and above to deliver what was asked. I’m sure she always put in more time than she actually billed me for and after a couple of years we were such good friends she actually made the effort to come out to Australia and stay with me for a week (*results not typical).
Cost wise, I started working with Simona right at the beginning of her VA career when her rate was only USD$7 per hour and thankfully she never -hiked the rates up on me. I budgeted for 10 hours of her time per week and she became my right-hand woman doing everything from video editing (her background) to Facebook to Instagram to Canva designs and admin.
Now $7 per hour is not a lot of money in the scheme of things, but it still adds up when you’re talking 10-15 hours a week and the way you get it to pay off is by ensuring that the time you’ve been given back is invested into the 5% value adding activities, otherwise it’ll just end up costing you money and you’ll be no further ahead!
You can by the way choose a local VA over someone offshore, but it’s more in the ballpark of $25-30 per hour and by the same token a Philippines based VA will only set you back USD$3-5phr, but it’s definitely one of those cases where you get what you pay for. If you’re looking for someone to write copy in your tone of voice then most likely you’ll have to stay local, whereas you might need some Wordpress updates that can easily be done in the Philippines. I now have 3 different VAs that I use for different tasks and I find that works really well.
So where to from here? If you’ve just about reached breaking point and are ready to reclaim some of your life, giving you the ability to invest some of your time into the 5% of activities that actually light you up, I’d start by downloading the attached PDF of repetitive tasks that can be easily outsourced and where to go when looking for help.
If you’d like to spend some more time on this, where we start looking into ways in which you can recruit, how to document your processes so ANYONE could do them and even how to write a job description that separates the pack, then definitely register for my upcoming 8 week course, “Rise of the Mum-Made Millionaire”, where we focus on taking your business from hobby to profit, while you’re on maternity leave or before it begins, so that you can give your corporate life the flick (if you want to of course?!).