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Business Development

Freedom through Outsourcing (Part 5): How to Find & Keep Your VA Soulmate

soulmateFor those of you who have been sitting on the edges of your seats during recent months, today’s lesson provides the climactic conclusion to our recent cliff-hanging series about how to find Freedom through Outsourcing.

Specifically, today’s lesson explains in great detail exactly how to find and keep your ideal virtual assistant (ie. your VA “soulmate”).

But first, a recap of our previous episodes…

  • In Episode #1 (“The Meaning of Life & Why Outsource”), we identified your goals as an investor, and we explored the ways that outsourcing your work to a virtual assistant can (i) save you time, (ii) give you freedom to make your business more mobile, and, most importantly, (iii) put more money in your pocket.
  • In Episode #2 (“How to Fire Yourself”), we encouraged you to (i) recognize and embrace that you are replaceable, (ii) find someone who can do your jobs just as well if not better than you, and (iii) delegate your ever-growing “To Do” list.
  • In Episode #4 (“Training Your Virtual Assistant”), we advised you on (i) how to train your student/VA, (ii) outsource effectively, (iii) devise a training manual, and (iv) obtain other resources you will need.

You see, this series is all about learning how to enjoy new amounts of freedom by outsourcing your workload the right way, whether it’s to local applicants from Craigslist or people in entirely different countries.

thumbsThe Pros & Cons of Virtual Assistants

After working intimately with so many entrepreneurs, I’ve heard a ton of horror stories about virtual assistants gone wild.  As such, I am taking this final opportunity to warn you about all the trouble you will face with your VA, if you fail to take the advice we’ve been providing in this series:

If you fail to be careful and strategic in your outsourcing process, you will (eventually) find your business at the mercy of a VA who:

  • Flat-out embarrasses you, in the presence of colleagues and clients alike
  • Overbills
  • Steals your identity
  • Leaves you in a bind
  • I even know one guy whose new VA suddenly disappeared into the uncharted jungles of Central America, never to be heard from again.
  • (Okay, that one actually happened to ME!)

Yes, by this time in my long history of working with VAs, I’m beginning to think I’ve been through it all — both the good and the bad…

…but I’ve actually enjoyed working with the same incredible VA, Christiana, for almost 18 months now.

And, honestly, having her around has changed my life.

As I am learning with Christiana, hiring your virtual soulmate(s) can provide you with the ability to:

  • Grow your businesses and thrive as a lone ranger.
  • Exercise your strengths and outsource your weaknesses.
  • Operate cost-effectively. (As applicants compete for positions on a global platform, small businesses win.)
  • Employ the best talent on the planet, without being limited to a local pool. (If you think about it, very few tasks actually require face-to-face interaction anymore.)

burtonSo instead of trying to figure out exactly what we’ve done well in order to find our own “perfect” assistant (and what we’ve done poorly), I asked Christiana point-blank to describe things from her perspective.

Specifically, I asked her to reflect on the entirety of our professional relationship and then explain the best ways for an investor/employer to find (and keep) the perfect virtual assistant.

Here’s what Christina said…

One of the most important things to finding and keeping a great virtual assistant is running a business with integrity. I know you may not put that in your blog, because it seems like a given, but many people/companies do not. I would like to thank you for being a person with integrity and running your business the way you do.

Here are 8 specific keys that are critical to finding & keeping the perfect VA:

  • Set Clear Expectations for Responsibilities.  When you hire a VA, decide ahead of time the type of work you would like them to do, and be very clear about your expectations. This will guard against a VA who is going to “balk” at new assignments. If you need a VA who loves variety, challenge, and new assignments, make that clear up front.
  • Set Clear Expectations for Time Requirements.  Decide how much time is needed up front. This goes along with the note above, just to let the VA know what is expected of them. Clarity of expectations is crucial to a happy VA.
  • Nurture & Incubate.  Work closely with your VA during the first few weeks, to iron-out kinks and predict potential problems. This is also important for you to get an overall idea of how the VA works, and the VA gets a good idea of what is expected from him/her.

Before I started working for you, I had never had another employer pay so much attention to my work. In the beginning, I thought you were going to be over involved ;-) But as it turns out, the close involvement made me feel more confident in the work that I was doing for you.  And when the time was right, you pulled back and left me venture out on my own.

I think this time of “incubation” was crucial to the work relationship that has developed.

  • Minimize Your VA’s Eleventh Hour Surprises.  Don’t throw a lot of last-minute work at your VA. I think some emergency work should be expected, but throwing 8 hours of work at a VA and saying “I need this tomorrow!” is a bit much. If this is something that should be expected, at least make it clear upfront.
  • Set up regular tasks and systems they can count on.  VAs love regular routines and consistent predictability.
  • Keep a Manual on How to Run Your Business. A good VA can manage this once he or she has a grasp of your systems.
  • Pay Your VA On Time. “As requested” sounds like I could ask you to pay me at anytime and you would have to comply! Setting up a payment schedule and sticking to it definitely breeds trust and loyalty.
  • Show appreciation to your VA. This one is necessary to keep most VAs happy. It doesn’t have to involve money, although the bonuses and thoughtful gifts I’ve received are a nice reminder of your appreciation.  In most cases, a simple “thank you for all you do” once in a while really makes a difference. You have been great about that and I’d like to say “Thank you, Preston!”


The Perfect VA –


At this point, we’ve reached a level of trust where I’m completely comfortable with Christiana managing my business’ public relations, running customer support, and paying herself bi-weekly through the company PayPal account.

matchIt definitely takes time to reach that “ideal” point, but once you get there, it rocks.

The bottom line, I would say, is that perfect VAs emerge when you’re the perfect boss.  So work on yourself and your company culture first – then good assistants will not only come to you, but they’ll thrive under your leadership.

And in return, you and your business will thrive as well.


Do It To It! Immediate Action Steps

Start Screening – Post a job ad and start screening applicants at yourvas.com right now.

Equip Your VA with a Training Guide – Create and finalize a VA training guide for your business. Remember, you only have to create this once.

Equip Your VA with Standardized Systems – Implement a system that places a high value and priority on your time.

Enjoy More Freedom – Start simplifying your life and creating freedom right now. (Quit making excuses, just do it!)

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