If you are:
· thinking about hiring any kind of outside support for your business, or
· thinking about becoming a Virtual Assistant (VA), Online Business Manager (OBM), or Social Media Manager (SMM)…
This is for you! I went live on Instagram with Sara Wiles, who is an online mentor for done-for-you service providers – your VAs, OBMs, and SMMs. She is a wealth of knowledge for all things outsourcing, and together we answered questions that are commonly asked about:
· What outsourcing is, and what types of roles may work best for your business
· How outsourcing works and best practices for an effective, efficient, and lasting partnership
· Where to find you new team member
· How to become a done-for-you service provider yourself
Let’s dive in!
What is a "done-for-you" service?
A done-for-you service is basically any service done by an independent contractor, where they primarily do it themselves. As a business owner, you can give tasks, requests, or projects, and they complete them without you being present.
What is the difference between an OBM and a VA?
Generally, a VA is more task-oriented, and they tend to be more of a generalist. You would give them a task and tell them how to get it done, and they check the box.
A VA is best for people who:
· Have systems in place that they are happy with
· Can give clear directions for how to carry out the tasks that need to get done
An OBM will provide strategy and big picture thinking about solutions for your business, as well as putting these processes into place and maintaining them for you. If you're looking for any kind of help with systems in your business, or if you're growing and scaling, an OBM may be your best option. For instance, if you need to get your clients into a Customer Relationship Management System, but do not know what system is best for your business or how to utilize it, an OBM will be able to handle that for you.
An OBM is best for people who need a second set of hands to complete tasks, but also:
· Need help developing and carrying out ideas
· Need support around finding solutions, implementation, and maintenance of operational systems that will help the business run more effectively
· Have little interest in spending tons of time researching, deciding, and learning how to make systems and strategies work best for them
If someone calls themself an OBM, can I assume that they're more versed in anything in particular?
It's really about processes and systems. OBMs do have all of the information and abilities that VAs have, but they're also going to be able to speak to more of the operational side of your business in addition to typical VA work.
At what point in your business should you consider hiring a VA?
That is a great question, and as a coach, I would say you need to be hiring when you have the time. I know we tend to want to wait until we have no time, at the point where we're super stressed out. That's not when you want to be hiring, because the success of outsourcing is going to come from the time you take to train them.
I know this firsthand and from tons of people that I've worked with. If you don't have the time
to properly train the person that you're outsourcing to, it's going to fail for sure. So, you want to do the hiring when you have the time to train and you know that your business is about to grow or scale.
Sarah's point here was that whenever you realize that you have a "skills gap," meaning you have a gap in knowledge, or a "time gap," meaning you just don't have the time to do things anymore, that's when you should be hiring a VA, OBM, or SMM.
Where do I find a VA for my needs?
First, ask your network for referrals! If you don't have people that you can ask, Sarah Wiles has a matchmaking service. She works with OBMs and VAs herself and she has put together a service that, depending on what you need, she will send you people that she has personally vetted, and who could be a great fit for you.
This free service is offered on her website. I've used it many times when I'm looking for
someone for my clients to outsource to. I go onto her website, fill out a form that tells her what I need, and then get sent back people that I can interview. I found my own VA that way - I highly recommend it.
Do VAs have specialties?
There are more generalists, but sometimes they can specialize in certain platforms and technology. So, think about what you really need them to be good at, but in terms of what they specialize in, everyone's different.
If I want to hire a VA and I also need help with social media, would you hire two different people, like a Social Media Manager?
It's more about finding the right person than finding someone with the right title. A lot of VAs can do both, but, are they going to do it exactly the way you want?
If your major thing is that you need help with social media and you don't need much else, get a Social Media Manager.
If you're not sure, and you need to maybe piecemeal it: find the right personality fit for you – a lot of these tasks are teachable.
One of the things Sarah said was that she's actually bought classes for her teams to take. If you have the capability of doing that – for instance, offer to pay for them to take a Pinterest course or so that they can take over that part of your business. It ultimately comes down to whether you want to find someone who already knows what they need to know, you are willing to train them yourself, or willing to invest in something else to get them trained.
I think instead of asking, 'what's the right thing to do,' it should be about finding the right person (or people) and then make it work.
That's what's happened with a lot of my clients, too. We will tackle the hiring process a lot of different ways, but we most often end up going with the people that work best personality-wise for them.
As a VA, how do you handle owners?
Being an entrepreneur, I think it's really hard to let go of things and it's also difficult to think about how you're going to let go of it in terms of delegation.
With my VA, we meet every single Monday and talk about what I'm going to have her doing for that week. That allows me to actually let things go, knowing that we’re on the same page. From the VA side, if we're talking about what it's like to work with a business owner, it's probably really difficult for a VA to work with someone who can't delegate effectively, or hasn't thought about how to do this in advance.
What I would advise is to really find a personality that aligns, because you want someone who's going to work well with you and allow you to feel good about letting things go (or from the VA's side, handling the tasks you've been given confidently).
Is it better to start working with a VA for 4-5 hours a month and onboard them slowly, or invest in 20 hours the first month and just get the systems going?
That's totally up to you! It's really different for every single person.
I like the idea of just diving in headfirst, but it's obviously going to depend on if you have the time to do that, and ultimately if you have the time to train them. If you can go all in and train them, great!
A really solid piece of advice for you: If you are not sure about this person that you are hiring, give them a couple of tasks first, and let them give their results back to you before you're investing 20 hours into them. The worst thing is when you hire someone, spend all of that time and money onboarding and training, and then have to start from zero again because you realize oh my gosh, our personalities are not a fit I don't like their style.
If someone wanted to become a VA, where would they even start? Are there classes?
Yes of course! There are classes - in fact, Sarah Wiles has a fantastic program called The Start, which will take you from ground zero to fully-functioning VA business in just 6 weeks, which is really crazy!
I would recommend going to Sara Wiles - I absolutely love the VAs she's worked with in her mentorship and programs. Virtual assistants are blowing up, and the reason that that's happening is not just COVID, but a lot of business owners have realized that hiring people is a really hard thing. So, if you can hire or work virtually, which is the way our world is going, why wouldn't you?
A lot of the VAs that I’ve worked with are also moms and I think there's a reason for that. If you're a mom, and you are looking for something to be doing part-time from your home, this is awesome for you to be looking into.
I received a lot of questions about pricing.
What I've seen with VAs is that you tend to pay/charge about $25 to about $45 per hour on the higher end for a VA. For an OBM, you're going to be paying/charging between $50 to $75 per hour typically, but they can charge upwards of $125, which is super high but I would imagine they're super experienced. So, it just depends on what you need.
I hope this was super helpful!