Those who know me, know that I always look for ways to optimize everything! I want to find the most effective and efficient way to get things done while saving time and making money. From automating tasks and eliminating unnecessary activities to outsourcing work that I don’t need to be doing.
This was kicked up to a whole new level when Timothy Ferriss published The 4 Hour Workweek in 2007. I found his way of thinking outside the box to be quite inspiring. The timing of his book was also impeccable as it coincided with the massive economic downturn and recession, creating urgency for businesses to become more cost effective.
My First VA Experience
In 2008, I took over as the business leader of a large engineering company in Calgary. We were in the depth of the “great recession” and the business had been losing a lot of money. In fact, they had just laid off over a third of their staff – the first lay-offs in their 35 year history!
To say it was a really tough time would be a severe understatement! There was a ton of work to do and I knew I would need some assistance but money was understandably tight. So, I took what I learned from Ferriss’ book and reached out to our “low cost” office in Costa Rica. They were able to recruit and hire a personal assistant for me in San Jose and she worked as my fulltime virtual assistant (VA) at a fraction of the cost to hire someone locally.
This arrangement started strong as my new VA was able to book meetings, order lunches, book flights and hotels, and take notes in meetings. However, it fell apart after about 12 months primarily because:
- We did not have expectations clearly defined
- There was not a clear VA role definition in place
- The technology platform to enable efficient VA services did not exist
- Web conferencing and phone calls were still fairly expensive
More recently, after transitioning out of a large corporation and starting Thinking Business, I realized I needed some admin support in some specialized areas and only for limited periods of time. After some searching around, I was introduced to FreeeUp through a MentorBox session I was attending.
FreeeUp is a VA business that connects busy business executives with a wide range of virtual assistance spanning these four main areas:
- Business Operations (e.g., data entry, research, copywriting, tech support, etc.)
- eCommerce (e.g., Amazon, Ebay,drop shipping, live chat, etc.)
- Digital Marketing (e.g., social media management, SEO, email marketing, graphics design, etc.)
- Web Development (e.g., mobile apps, WordPress, software development, etc.)
I registered with FreeeUp and, using their comprehensive web based platform, I clearly defined my requirements and requested an SEO expert. Within a day, FreeeUp had paired me with an SEO expert. I was able to talk with him and further defined my scope of work and expectations. He went on to successfully complete the SEO work for me that I did not have the time or the skill set to complete.
So, what was the difference between these two VA experiences? Why did the first approach fail and why was the FreeeUp approach a success?
9 Things I Recommend for a Successful VA Experience
When I started down the path of VA 2.0, I was able to pinpoint the reasons my first VA experience did not go well and, I set up some parameters to ensure the next VA experience was much more successful.
I recommend the following 9 things to successfully use a Virtual Assistant:
- Clearly define the role that you are trying to fill – what is it exactly that your VA will be doing?
- Set clear measurements to judge success – what KPIs will you measure to know the VA is successful?
- The VA role does not have to be a fulltime, permanent commitment. It can be a one-time assignment, a periodic assignment, or many assignments with different VAs each with different skillsets.
- Ensure that the VA company has an intuitive, web-based platform
- There should be a rating system in place for the VAs so that you can read what the other customers are saying before you hire the VA.
- Make sure the VA platform clearly shows you the time that each VA is billing to your business – you may have multiple VAs with skills in different areas working at the same time so it is important to know how much work they are doing.
- The VA platform must show progress against the defined scope of work.
- There should be a web based video conference tool or VOIP system that you can use to communicate to your VA.
- Make sure there is a clear escalation path in place in case the VA does not complete their work successfully
Set aside some time this week to look at your daily and weekly activities. What are you doing that you should be outsourcing so that you can focus on what you do best? How can you package this work efficiently so you can outsource it?
Now take a look at your business as a whole and ask the same questions. What can be efficiently outsourced so that you free up your staff to focus on their core, money-making activities?
If you have any questions about the VA experience, be sure to check out www.FreeeUp.com and ask them. I emailed them a question and their CEO contacted me within a few hours! They are very responsive!
Finally, take a look at these posts for more information:
- How to Reduce Your Workload and Get More Done
- 8 Ways to Prepare Your Business for Artificial Intelligence
- How to Plug the Gaps and Stop Bleeding Money
- How to Stop the Email Madness and Save a Boatload of Money
- 70% of Today’s Occupations will be Obsolete in 80 Years
- Are You Procrastinating Productively
“Challenge everything you do. Expand your thinking. Refocus your efforts. Rededicate yourself to your future.” Patricia Fripp
What Virtual Assistant experience do you have that you can share with other readers? Leave your comments below!
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