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How To Hire Your First Virtual Assistant

I’ve personally made multiple errors in my business but the biggest was trading my time for menial tasks that I could hire someone else to do, ideally a virtual assistant. All of us pay attention to metrics within our businesses and careers but very few of us are paying attention to ourselves, the driver of those things.

One of the errors I see in the implementation of a new business or a new area for an existing business is the lack of automation (I’ll come back to this in another article) for the basic needs of businesses and the other is hiring locally. Many companies when they begin to grow hire from a local talent pool but in reality, you can hire somebody in the Philipines with an MBA who is a virtual assistant for the cost of our minimum wage in New Zealand.

As I mentioned above your time is better spent on more profitable tasks and hiring contractors gives you the flexibility to scale up or down based on the cash flow of your company. Using cheaper labour than you would find in New Zealand at above-market prices for that country makes it a win/win for you and the employee. We hire directly from Upwork and it allows us to monitor their work and outsource the smaller jobs that no longer need to be completed by us personally.

Let’s get into how to do this and know when you’re ready to do this. 

1. Knowing When It’s Time To Hire Someone Else

Start by tracking your time. I’ve spoken about this multiple times but it’s one of the most important things you can do.

Here is my excerpt from another article I’ve written:

Not tracking your time is like starting with a blank canvas every day, you’re essentially starting from scratch because you didn’t save the work you did yesterday. I track my time using a tool called Toggl and measure my time against what my hourly rate should be as a business owner. As a new business owner, you should be working on the tasks that generate the most money per hour or working on the tasks that only you should do.

This is a screenshot of what I worked on a few months back and I have roughly 5 good hours of work in me per day.  I then measure this against what it would cost per hour for me to hire someone else at the end of my day. This system then automatically fills into a Google sheet using Zapier (another article at a later date) and I can then review my day. Here’s an example of a bad day:

From this example, I can tell it would have cost me $179.17 to free up my entire day as the tasks I worked on would’ve cost me only $50 an hour for someone else to execute them. As a new business owner, you may not have the capital to outsource this but as you scale you want to be focusing on tasks that generate $500 – 5000 + per hour or the things only you can do.  Again, not all of us will have the luxury at the start you need to outsource but pay attention to this on a daily basis to avoid getting bogged down in shitty work.

Take a look at this sheet here: 

If most of your time is spent doing tasks like this you’re not generating a good enough ROI for you or your business. Here is my full working sheet to compare your time against.

Move your energy to higher ROI tasks and you’ll soon find it easier to make more money and time for yourself and fill the other tasks with new talent. 

2. Navigating Upwork & Posting A Job

Upwork is the platform that I find the best for hiring new staff. 

The reasons are: 

1. It’s easy to track the work of your virtual assistant

2. You can use the contractor as little or as much as you like 

3. The payments are taken care of by a third-party platform 

To get started simply sign up here, you’ll need an email address and your credit card. Once you’ve gone through the onboarding process go to the “Post A Job” button and for whatever position you’re hiring for select “Job Template” option. 

From here you’ll be taken to Upwork’s automatically populated job template form which we’re going to edit. 

Start with the name of your Job Post: 

Rewrite this to be as succinct as possible such as: “Social Media Scheduler”. 

Then select the type of job category based on what the need of that person is, for most companies doing less than 7 figures you should select “Virtual/Administrative Assistance” as the labour is often the cheapest in this category.

The next part is to fill out your job description. This is simply where you put in writing the task that you’ve identified as too low value to continue doing.

The only caveat here that I always add to all of my projects is the following:

Project requirements:

  – Clear communication via phone, slack and email

  – Must be conversationally fluent in written and spoken English

  – Experience with Google & Outlook

In your proposal, please share a brief summary of your experience, including a one-minute video self-introduction using Loom.com

These things are key for any hire you will make unless you want to speak their native tongue and also understanding if they are subcontracting the work themselves or personally doing the work. 

Now you will have to select the project type. I always select ongoing so that I can keep the person within our company for as long as needed. 

From here I will then add a screening question that is slightly odd to filter out the applicants that are simply looking for work versus the ones that are paying attention to the details.

From here you will then be prompted to fill out the skills you need which will be unique to the job you’re posting for. When being asked about the experience level you can often select “Entry Level” and still get some really great candidates for low rates. Lastly, allow “Anyone” to see the job and head to your budget page. 

Payment is in USD so keep this in mind when hiring. For most basic admin jobs, I’ll offer $8 USD but you can decide this for yourself based on your budget needs. Set the hours for the job to “I don’t know yet” and hit “Review” and then “Post Job Now”. 

3. Reviewing Candidates & Your Ideal Virtual Assistant

From here you’ll simply wait for candidates to apply and you should get a list like this: 

Here are the criteria I use to sort through the candidates:

1. Did they insert the “weird title” into their cover letter 

2. Is there job success rate over 90% 

3. Have they earned more than $1k on the platform 

4. Fall into my price bracket 

These criteria let me know that these people have worked for others, they’re willing to follow instructions and fit my budget. Ideally, I look for the title virtual assistant in their application too.

From here simply make them an offer and you’re off to the races. If you’re constantly reviewing your time and you find the right virtual assistant you’ll be able to consistently level yourself up to work on the most important tasks in your business.

 

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