I have been on the ground floor of three startups, and the number-one position that I often suggest small business owners fill as soon as possible is a highly skilled assistant who is passionate about their business. You can’t do everything by yourself. And before you hire your entire family, consider death. If every position in your business is filled by somebody in your family, then what happens when Grandma dies and the entire clan needs to disappear and recover for a few days? Life happens.
You can call a temp service, but in the final analysis that’s nothing more than a glorified answering machine. They won’t have time to learn your business and will be left taking messages, not solving problems.
However, an assistant who has been on the team can help you move forward in quite a few areas. Plus, with a virtual assistant you are not limited by geography or time zones.
A Few Things a Virtual Assistant Can Do
You carry the vision. You are not looking for your virtual assistant to brainstorm your business for you. It’s up to you to judge your next best move based on educated suggestions from your team. But your virtual assistant can help you execute these moves.
Take marketing, for example. Once you decide that it’s vital to your business and that you want to put some time and money into your online presence, then your assistant can oversee your online marketing efforts. This may include consistent tweets, growing your Facebook page and engaging fans, and creating a blog filled with helpful articles.
Your virtual assistant can book your travel, schedule your meetings, and collect research for an upcoming speech. The list is endless once you get over the initial belief that you need to do everything yourself.
A Few Things to Consider When Hiring a Virtual Assistant
There are some legitimate concerns when it comes to virtual assistants. Do you need someone who can do everything or a person with specialized skills? Should you hire a team or an individual? And how to navigate this virtual relationship, so that it doesn’t break when they — or you — move on?
Specialized Skills vs. a Jack of all Trades
Consider hiring people to do what they do best. Instead of a general assistant, get someone who uses social media to do your social media. Get someone who specializes in design to complete design work for you. And add a generalist as your point of contact with the entire team as well as to handle research and traditional administrative tasks.
A Team vs. an Individual
Consider hiring a team instead of an individual. If a member of your virtual assistant team gets sick, then your company doesn’t stop moving forward, because another member of the team can pick up the slack.
Systems vs. Shooting From the Hip
Systems protect your business and your bottom line. Give clear, documented instructions and save them for ongoing use. As your team grows or changes you changes you can simply forward the instructions to the new team member.
I Need Help!
Building a team is the a core step to freedom inside your business. If you decide that you are ready for an assistant, then be sure to check out T.J. McCue’s list of virtual assistant outsourcing sites.