Hiring a VA can be overwhelming for many solo business owners. Maria Carras has established a VA agency and is here to help make the process simpler for you!
Following her process, you'll be able to expand your team and grow your business in a profitable way.
She started out as a solo Virtual Assistant (VA) before turning it into a Digital Marketing support agency for established online businesses. Originally from New York, her background is in the film industry. She began her career in a London PR firm. She and her fiancé at the time decided to move back to Greece where their families were from to get married and raise their family. After trying to find a job, and not succeeding, her former employer asked if she would be willing to work remotely. She said yes, and they are still a client today! When she realized there was a need for remote work, she knew the rest would be history.
She scaled fairly quickly because there was a lot of work coming in. They now offer all kinds of marketing support. She has recently moved back to London and works with clients all over. Maria believes that the VA world is still undiscovered and most people don’t know they can even hire one. You will not be able to grow your business without starting to outsource or grow your team.
What do VAs do?
Virtual assistants can do virtually anything! They can help with blogging, sending contracts and invoices, manage client relationships and photos; VAs are available to help you with most aspects of your business. There are times when you may need someone more specialized, for example – you may think you need a VA to help with your social media, but what you really need is a social media strategist and then a VA to execute the strategy. It is okay to have more than one VA or freelancer on your team; they will each be great at one or two things versus spreading themselves all over the place.
Working with a VA
As a business owner, it can be hard to let things go and sometimes feel like more work to train them and manage them. Maria says that it is more work in the beginning but once things start ironing out, you’ll start running like a well-oiled machine. Start recording the processes you want to hand off before you hire someone so you can send them video and a document containing the instructions. If they’re good at what they do, they’ll even help you simplify the process even more.
How does this work?
Maria recommends that her VAs send the contract, but it ultimately doesn’t matter as long as everyone is in agreement with the terms. You can use systems like LastPass to share logins with your VAs. Other systems like Toggl, Google Suite, and Asana are useful in working with a team. It is not as difficult to get started with a VA once you find the right one.
Finding the right VA
There are a lot of VAs out there and finding the right one can be hard. Maria says to ask your network first for VA referrals and Maria has her own VA education program full of students wanting to be VAs. Things you need to remember: they are independent contractors, set their own hours, and typically work for multiple clients. If they only work for one client (about 40 hours/week) that opens up another whole can of worms for tax purposes. VAs should be tracking their client work so they won’t let one fall through the cracks.
Paying your VA
Maria has her VAs dictate their own VAs just like photographers do. Depending on their experience it can range from $15-60 an hour. The standard could be around $20-30/hour. Many VAs offer monthly packaging of 5-10 hours a month and then the client can choose how they want to use them. If a VA has a specialty, they may charge on a project based system.
Kissing all the frogs
You can do a trial run with a VA for 5-10 hours. Let them know it is a trial and give them small projects to do. This will give you a sense of how you work together and what they can accomplish. They will already be prepared for the conversation at the end of the month and it won’t be as hard to part ways in the end. Many people are desperate for help and don’t vet them properly. Maria recommends NOT waiting until you need a VA to hire one. Bring them on when things are calm and relaxed so that you can stay stress-free during their trial period. Once business picks up, you’ve already built the relationship with the VA that works best with you. Once you begin turning a profit, regardless of how long you’ve been in business, you can begin to bring someone on. There is always something you can outsource for $25/week.
3 things to get the ball rolling
- Get clear on what tasks you need help with (write a job description and list software)
- Determine how many hours you can afford to pay for each month
- Create an application form to streamline the process