There’s only so much you can do, when your business starts to amp up.
Most of it won’t directly bring you income (like training clients), but is important for your business growth.
Where to from here?
We discuss why a Virtual Assistant is the first person you’ll want to hire, and how to go about it.
Your business is growing – maybe not in the physical sense, but in the sense that you can no longer keep adding more things to your plate without crashing and burning.
You spend 30 plus hours a week training clients, not to mention travel time, setup, chitchat… and then the admin rolls along.
Maybe you’re sick of the sight of the gym by the end of the day, and the last thought that crosses your mind is to tie up your paperwork there. Instead, you decide to work from home.
You find that’s a total trap, because at the end of the day, your brain is burnt out, and instead of the not-super-urgent-but-kinda-important admin work, you end up doing… Lord knows what. Don’t even get me started on time to work on your business.
So.. where to from here?
What is a VA, anyway?
To simplify – a VA is the assistant you need, but probably couldn’t afford to hire full-time.
Someone (typically) located overseas, who can manage the day-to-day administration, electronic filing, sorting, scheduling – so you have more free time to spend doing what is most valuable to you: Earning money.
A Virtual Assistant can add immense value to your business by working on the things that you just aren’t great at for a fraction of the cost it would take for you to pay yourself:
Not a direct example of how I use a Virtual Assistant, but…
I can’t iron clothes.
I mean, I can, but I am very slow, and a (recovering) perfectionist.**
It (no joke) takes me about 25 minutes to iron a business shirt.
Not that I’m likely to be ironing clothes instead of consulting, but If I consult at about $120/hr and I have an ironing basket of 6 business shirts…
That basket just cost me $300 to iron.
I can get it ironed for me at the local laundrette for about $40.
It’s all about Return on Investment.
We outsource our Tax Returns – even though we can legally do them ourselves.
Why? Because the stress and time it would take us to do it ourselves is way more than the cost of paying a registered tax accountant. BY FAR.
Not to mention, they’ll pick stuff up that we won’t, and they live by the rules of the game, and will know what we can and can’t claim.
In the above example with my ironing outsource, I am potentially making $260 for that $40 investment. That’s a 4:1 ROI, and if it came to you in the form of an investment opportunity like Stocks, you’ll be kicking yourself silly for not taking it up.
The way you consider the roles for your Virtual Assistant should be the same.
You know you might need a Virtual Assistant if…
- You don’t need and can’t afford a full-time employee.
- You’re having trouble completing your most important tasks.
- You need work done that doesn’t require an office presence.
- For work you travel a lot and need someone who likes working virtually.
- You spend more time organising, rather than executing (or training clients).
- You know what tasks need to be done but you don’t have the manpower. (entrepreneur.com)
Common jobs outsourced to a Virtual Assistant
- Email sorting / filing / replying to easy questions
- Booking in your appointments, sending confirmation emails / text messages for meetings
- Booking of flights, accommodation, and event tickets
- Organising your day-to-day calendar, and recurring tasks
Don’t know where I’d be without this one.
- General research, such as latest trends or blog post topics
- Posting to social media, replying to comments
- Organising documents and folders – great for keeping your client paperwork in order
- General personal admin – like booking in dinner reservations
- SEO tweaks and reporting
- Accountability buddy – an assistant to hold you accountable to the things you’ll say you do each week.
Preparing to hire a Virtual Assistant
With all of the above examples, some leg-work is required.
Particularly if your assistant is client-facing (eg: replying to emails or social media comments), you’ll want to document and template responses and procedures.
A great way to document your day-to-day operations is to spend a week writing down each task you do, and a little mark next to it if you think you could outsource it to a VA (and if not now, eventually).
At the end of the week, decide which items you are going to outsource, so you can spend your time on things that are more profitable for your business – such as delivering personal training to clients.
Finally, for all your computer-based tasks that can be outsourced, use a screen recording tool to show the VA that you’ll eventually hire exactly how you do things.
In combination with template responses and answers, clearly defined expectations and turn-around times for each task, and a document outlining the ‘culture’ of your business and the ’tone’ of their replies to your clients – a screen recording is a solid reference point for the VA to make sure everything is done properly.
Where to hire a VA
There are quite a few agencies specialising in Virtual Assistants that have emerged in the latter half of this decade, and we’ve listed the ones that have come to us with the highest recommendations below.
Please note, I have only personally had experience with UpWork (formerly oDesk).
- Upwork (from USD$5/hr – magic appears to be around the $12-15/hr mark)
- Online Jobs – Philippines (from USD$4/hr)
- ZenAssistant (from USD$400/m)
As well as the above, there are many virtual assistant companies that match qualified virtual assistants with your business requirements.
The biggest advantage of hiring through a company is that the company takes care of replacing the under-performing ones, or providing you with a new assistant in case your requirements change.
Using a service like this will save a lot of time and money searching for a new assistant.
How to hire a VA
Please see this post for an absolutely incredible template for hiring a Virtual Assistant that I’m not even going to bother to attempt to recreate.
It was written by someone who started ZenAssistant, and promotes their ‘we do everything’ approach to this service.
If that’s a bit pricey for you, the article details step by step, how to hire someone with oDesk.
Need a hand?
If you need a hand getting started with a Virtual Assistant, or want to better understand how your fitness business could utilise a VA, get in touch and book a free consultation. I’d love to help you get started.
The Virtual Assistant: A Startup’s Secret Weapon (Entrepreneur.com)
Footnotes / Other
** I think my time getting perfect creases as a Royal Australian Air Force Cadet ruined my understanding of what is a ‘perfectly acceptable iron job.’
I should also mention that I actually don’t outsource my ironing every week.
If I have only 1 shirt or two to do, I’ll do it myself while listening to a podcast, at the end of the day, when my brain is already fried. If it’s a whole basket, I’m taking it to the Ainslie Laundrette.