hiring a virtual assistant

Just before I discuss hiring a virtual assistant…

Hello...it's me
*Tumbleweed* It’s been a bit quiet round here, hasn’t it? I’m still here (and have been chatting away in my Freelance Lifestylers Facebook group, come join us), but had to put the blog on the backburner a little while I got used to juggling an increasingly active baby with building my business back up since having him. I wanted to share this post though, which I wrote a while ago and didn’t get round to publishing, as I’ll be able to hire a virtual assistant again now work is coming in after a maternity break 
*Tumbleweed*

I’ve rabbited on quite a bit in the past about how beneficial outsourcing is, and in particular hiring a virtual assistant. But it’s something I put off doing for YEARS. Last January, I finally hired Jo Shock (a fantastic Virtual Assistant who now specialises in social enterprises). I think pregnancy had spurred me on, as I needed to prepare some kind of cover for my clients, but I’d also read so much about the benefits of outsourcing from people like Jo Gifford and Denise Duffield Thomas. That’s not to say I didn’t have some hesitations (more of that a little further down). But hiring a VA is probably one of the best decisions I’ve made for my business.

How has hiring a Virtual Assistant benefited my business?

Here are a few of the reasons why:

  • It gave me the ability to remove the small jobs that acted as barriers to getting the big stuff done. And often, those small jobs are done much faster by a VA than they would by me. As a result, things that had been sitting on my To Do list for months (if not years) were finally getting ticked off, giving me much-needed clarity.
  • It gave me accountability. I work best when I know someone else is relying on me to get something done. Knowing I had to send something to Jo by a deadline so she can do her part of her job really helps get stuff done.
  • It gave me support and confidence to continue with new ideas. I often found that as a freelancer, after the first rush of excitement of a new idea, I’d get a bit despondent. Having Jo to bounce ideas off and make practical suggestions really helped and I know I launched more products and services because of her help.
  • The Devil is no longer in the detail. I’m really not detail-orientated. Having someone to check things over means I don’t spend hours of wasted time procrastinating.

What took me so long?

Here are some of my justifications for not hiring a VA:

Why hire someone to do something that I can do myself?

Because, actually, I wasn’t doing some of the things in my business that well. I adore being creative, but on the flipside I’m chronically disorganised. So while I can put together my newsletter, before hiring a VA I’d often let it fall down to the bottom of my To Do list.

I don’t have enough work for a VA to help with!

The best thing someone recommended I do is start with a couple of hours a month, and build up from there. Jo from StreamLines Virtual Support started out putting together my newsletters (I write the content) and the A Day In The Life Of A Freelancer posts, and on to also research potential opportunities and posts, update the Facebook group when I was unwell during pregnancy and was an amazing asset when I went on maternity leave. For me though, once I realised how liberating it was to offload those ‘I have to do it but I don’t want to do it’ tasks from my To Do list to Jo, I discovered more and more things she was able to help me with.

I can’t afford it.

Actually, the time I save by hiring a VA is time I now spend working on new projects which bring in more money (and my VA Jo Shock is a total star for letting me bounce around ideas and shape them which makes it easier when I get to the sticky details bit which usually derails me)

Who do I think I am, hiring a VA? VAs are for proper professionals.

Hello imposter syndrome! Ironically, I didn’t start to feel like I was taking my business really seriously until I hired a VA. Suddenly, I was responsible for paying someone else and creating enough work for us both to do. Which is a very good thing for someone like me who needs some accountability.

Top tips for hiring a Virtual Assistant

OK, so are you interested in hiring a VA? Here are a few of my top tips.

  • Start small. Lots of VAs will be happy to start out with just a couple of hours a month
  • Speak to a few VAs. Jo felt like a great fit for me as she brought the organisation that I lacked, and really understands freelancers and social enterprises. Before you start, make a list of the things you want from a VA
  • Check in regularly. I had a Skype catch up with Jo every couple of weeks which really helps.
  • Make it as easy to share info as possible. Jo set me up on Asana which is fab for tracking what tasks we each have to do, and we use Slack to communicate rather than email (because I HATE email).

I can’t wait to get working with a VA again, and would recommend it to anyone who is reaching the overwhelm stage.

Have you thought about hiring a Virtual Assistant? What’s stopping you?

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