As per TechRepublic, Amazon Alexa is an intelligent personal assistant that makes use of machine learning and artificial intelligence. It was released to the public in 2015 with the ability to perform web searches, create calendar events, modify to-do lists and notes, order products, play music, read Twitter posts, recite email, and perform dozens of other tasks. In a nutshell, Alexa is a talking virtual assistant which can respond to any query you may have.
Now whilst Alexa has taken our homes by storm, you may not have yet been able to utilise her within your business. And this is where real life Virtual Assistants (More commonly known as VA’s) can bridge the gap you may be experiencing in this tech modern world. VA’s have the ability to provide everything that Alexa can do for you and so much more as long as the expectations, processes and management is set up for success from the beginning.
You think you want a VA, but how can you be sure?
As a business owner, we are responsible for E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G… And it can get quite overwhelming keeping up with the never ending “To Do” lists, responding to emails, creating marketing content and of course servicing your product and / or clients. Let’s face it; as a business owner your ultimate goal isn’t to get up and go to work every day. You don’t want to be stuck in your business initiating, executing and fixing problems 24/7. Whilst it was your passion that set you in this direction; it’s not necessarily passion that will move you from being an owner operator to the proprietor of a successful business that runs itself. Investing in a VA to take care of the time-consuming and often times mundane tasks can free up your precious time and provide the space for you to spend it working “ON” your business rather then “IN” it, letting your creativity flow, developing new products / services or, spending time with your loved ones.
Whilst there are many reasons business owners choose to have a VA, the second major one is money. VA’s essential work remotely so you can have a quality team without the headache of traditional office expenses such as rent, electricity, internet, equipment etc. In addition to saving $$$ on expenses, depending on where your VA’s are located, the hourly rate can be another great place that outlay can be minimised. Which in the start up and growth phases of business can be the difference between making and breaking your bank account.
How do I hire a quality VA and not get screwed around or waste my time?
When you start the journey of hiring a VA, it shouldn’t be any different to hiring a traditional staff member to join your team. You need to;
- Create a realistic Position Description
- Know the job / tasks you will be asking them to action
- Advertise and be very clear with the role requirements
- Shortlist your candidates
- Interview the top 3
- Request task based tests to show competency if need be
- Decide on the VA that connects with your business the best
The most important thing to remember when hiring is that hard skills (The technical ones) can be taught, that’s why we have education institutes and apprenticeships etc. You CANNOT teach soft skills like communication, passion, dedication, authenticity, honesty, integrity, drive, autonomy, attention to detail. It is more important to hire someone that connects with your business vision, mission and values then it is to hire someone who is the fastest typer or the best graphic designer. If they have passion and the soft skills listed above, you can teach them how to do the tasks you need them to do. It also means they may not have any bad habits (Though I’m sure we all have a few) and can be moulded to follow your unique systems and processes rather than thinking they can do it better their way!
I found an amazing VA, how do I set them (and my business) up for success?
You’ve done most of the hard work to find the right person that fits with your business however, prior to their first day and once they’ve started, you need to make sure the transition is smooth, they feel welcomed and you are setting them (And you and your business) up for success. Otherwise, they won’t last and you’ll be back to the drawing board going through the entire hiring process all over again!
Some key elements that will set everyone up for success include but are definitely not limited to;
- Strategic onboarding process
- List (And discuss) your expectations
- Provide access to all systems, processes and software
- Know and understand exactly what you want them to do, how and by when
- Create simple, easy to follow processes for all tasks they will be actioning
- Conduct a SWOT analysis with them, this will help you to assign the right type of tasks they can excel in and understand where they might need some support
- Don’t bombard them with tasks to start with, ease them into the requirements and know they are doing 1 job at 100% rather then 10 jobs at 50%
- Have regular meetings (You may need to have daily ones and then move to weekly to start with), this also helps to build your relationship
- Reward them, praise goes a long way with any type of team member
At the end of the day, a VA is the same as a traditional team member with similar traits to Alexa. If you don’t take the time to understand what you want, interview and hire the right person and set them up for success with well thought out processes and day-to-day managing then of course you are going to have a horrendous experience.
But…. if you take the time to set it up right from the start, then you can have a long term quality team member that removes some of that pressure you’ve been feeling by actioning tasks, freeing up your time and ultimately saving you money in the long run.
If you’d like our step by step guide on how to source the right VA for you, it is available in our “ACTIVATE BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION” program (Contains over 20 ready made templates / procedures) which you can purchase here for $99.00.