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System overload: When to hire a VA (and how to do it right!)

There are lots of great things about running your own agency. Being your own boss? Check. Working to your own schedule? Absolutely! Pursuing your dream to your own rhythm? Yes, please! However, …

Abby Wood

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Business Development

Abby Wood

Abby Wood

The Content Lab

Originally from Cambridge, England, Abby now lives in Ireland with her partner Nick and their border collie Bosco. A content strategist and copywriter for over 12 years, she's founder of The Content Lab (a white label content agency) and Content Goodies (providing white label content templates for agencies). She's also co-founder of Ireland Website Design (a full service eCommerce agency) and LearnRight (a white label LMS solution).

Peevish Woman Holds Hands In Disgust, Being Overwhelmed With Much Work, Feels Pressure From Colleagues, Sits At Desktop With Documentation, Looks With Annoyed Expression, Hides From Difficulties
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There are lots of great things about running your own agency.

Being your own boss? Check. Working to your own schedule? Absolutely! Pursuing your dream to your own rhythm? Yes, please!

However, what’s not so great about being your own boss is the level of stress, exhaustion, and overwhelm that can come with the job, especially in the early days.

While the grind is a necessary element of establishing your own digital agency, let’s not glamorize overworking ourselves to the point of becoming this meme:

Sadly, but also unsurprisingly, 63% of entrepreneurs reportedly experience burnout.

Striking a healthy work-life balance that allows you to take care of yourself and your business is key if you want to avoid joining the burnout club. (Let’s not make The Burnout Club a thing, please.)

If weekends are more of a distant memory than an upcoming opportunity to recharge your batteries, maybe it’s time to consider hiring a virtual assistant so you can delegate tasks.

It’s understandable if the thought of the hiring process makes you want to close your laptop, change your identity, and start driving towards the mountains never to return – but please, keep reading!

Is it time to hire a virtual assistant?

As an agency business owner, your plate is likely pretty full at any given time. And unfortunately, this plate is a metaphor referring to menial tasks, not delicious food items.

If you haven’t heard of the $10, $100, and $1000 tasks concept, I highly recommend taking the time to take a good look at the value of the tasks you’re filling your day with. 

When you’re so busy, it’s really difficult to step back and assess where you’re effectively using your time and where you’re wasting it on tasks below your level of responsibility.

This is where a virtual assistant comes in.

A virtual assistant can take over many time-consuming tasks, from answering phone calls, data entry, and calendar management, to basic marketing and social media management.

Consider what areas of your business are no longer working for you, like:

  • Spending too long on low-level daily tasks that someone else can do
  • Scheduling meetings and events
  • Sending routine emails
  • Creating and sending reports
  • Creating and scheduling social media posts
  • Handling all aspects of project management yourself
  • Operating without streamlined processes and wasting time 

Any of these sound familiar? Then you might need some virtual assistance!

How to hire your first VA

The last thing you need when your to-do list is already overflowing is another very big to-do worthy of its own list in itself.

Thankfully, hiring virtual assistants can be a pretty simple process if you know how to do it!

Let’s break it down into digestible steps.

1. Identify what tasks you need to offload

Make a list of everything (and I mean every work task) you do for 3-4 days, from basic administrative tasks to handling your biggest clients. No matter how big or small, write it down.

From this list, highlight what tasks you don’t like, what you’re not good at, and what low-level tasks you’re wasting time on.

These are the tasks that you’ll free yourself from and hand over to your virtual assistant.

2. Start your search for virtual assistant services

Now that you’ve identified what support you want your virtual assistant to complete, you’ve already given yourself a clearer idea of what kind of person you’re looking for – making your search easier! Go you!

Using these specific tasks, create your virtual assistant job description to attract the right kind of person to the role and set about finding them.

There are many virtual assistant marketplaces where you can look for a VA, so whatever budget or hours you have available, you can find the perfect solution to your task-related woes.

Here are just a few examples of websites where you can find an experienced virtual assistant:

3. Set your new VA up for long-term success

Once you’ve hired your outstanding new virtual assistant, it’s time to train them up and welcome them to your team.

Training staff virtually can admittedly be a little tricky. That’s why it’s essential to make the process clear and easy to follow from the get-go so that you can avoid any unnecessary confusion or mishaps.

As you can’t give your VA in-person demonstrations, the best way to show them how to do your tasks is by showing them on Zoom while sharing your screen and allowing them to ask questions.

Some top advice from experience: make sure to record this session and save it so they can refer back to it whenever they need it, but also so you can share it with future employees. Two birds, as they say.

Once your virtual assistant is familiar with that process, get them to make an SOP on the task. This has two benefits: they get another level of understanding of the task, and you also have it on file if you need to hire a replacement or another VA as your business grows.

Wondering if your finances are ready to hire a VA?

This is a totally fair and wise thing to consider before hiring a VA. So, let’s explore the time vs. money element.

On average, how many hours a day are you wasting on low-level tasks? Let’s take an average of 1.5 hours daily for argument’s sake.

You’re losing an entire working day (7.5 hours) every week to administrative tasks that a dedicated virtual assistant could easily carry out!

Think about how much more you can get done and, therefore, how much more money you can generate when you’re focusing on your business instead of its day-to-day management.

Finding a good hire in a sea of virtual assistants

Another way to protect your finances is by finding the right hire in the first place, so you don’t have to start from scratch again in a few weeks when they ghost you or just fail at the tasks you set for them.

Especially now in the digital nomad age, tons of specialized virtual assistants are available to small business owners worldwide.

However, this means it’s also increasingly challenging to find the right candidate, made even more difficult because you may not get the opportunity to meet them in person.

Look for the following qualities when hiring your first virtual assistant:

  • Someone with a positive attitude and enthusiasm
  • Good company culture fit
  • Enjoys and is good at the tasks you don’t like
  • An excellent communicator
  • Excellent time management skills
  • A highly efficient worker who can meet deadlines

Ready to relieve yourself of administrative tasks and social media management?

Having a VA has some very real benefits for your agency as a whole.

Hiring a virtual assistant service can help you:

  • Use your time more efficiently (and get personal time back – hello hobbies!)
  • Focus on business growth and lead generation
  • Increase company profits
  • Reduce stress and overwhelm
  • Switch off after work so you can live your life 

While taking on another member of staff is, of course, a significant consideration, if you’re at a stage where you’re over-run with repetitive tasks and not able to focus your expertise on actually achieving your goals, then the pros far outweigh any cons.

The bottom line is, take the time to identify what tasks you can’t afford to be doing yourself anymore and find the right virtual assistant for you.

It will take up a little bit of effort initially but will free up lots of time and mental space in the long run, so you can focus on achieving the success you’ve always dreamed of for your business.

Good luck 🙂

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Abby Wood

Abby Wood

The Content Lab

Originally from Cambridge, England, Abby now lives in Ireland with her partner Nick and their border collie Bosco. A content strategist and copywriter for over 12 years, she's founder of The Content Lab (a white label content agency) and Content Goodies (providing white label content templates for agencies). She's also co-founder of Ireland Website Design (a full service eCommerce agency) and LearnRight (a white label LMS solution).

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