At some point, if you’re doing things right, you go from “solopreneur” to “solopreneur with helpers.” Part of the reason that people start businesses, and one of the major reasons that I did, is to gain freedom. But you soon realize that freedom has a price. And that price is lack of freedom. At least in terms of time. Being a solopreneur takes a lot of sacrifice in terms of time.
But eventually, or maybe even fairly quickly depending on your situation, you can outsource some of the work.
Outsourcing can be your best friend. You can outsource tedious taks you don’t like doing and have more of the one thing you can’t get back: time. For example, I have done projects where I outsourced backlinking. I don’t like doing it. And it’s time intensive. So doing it myself would mean I’d have to spend a lot of time doing something I don’t like doing (might as well get a job ).
A good VA (virtual assistant) can also be a huge help when you are running multiple campaigns, projects or websites. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.
Or…a VA can be your worst nightmare…
You are letting someone into your business…your passion…your livelihood. There are a lot of things that go into picking a good VA. I’ve worked with both good ones, and bad ones. Here are five signs that you have the wrong VA:
I, of course, say this as someone who needs to hire an English-speaking assistant. If you are bi-lingual, or are looking at foreign markets, you can obviously hire outside the English-speaking realm. The point is your results are only as good as your communication. If you cannot communicate with your VA clearly and effectively your results will suffer.
TIMELY communication is almost as important as GOOD communication. I have two experiences from two different extremes with VAs. One was great. She communicated clearly and quickly. She responded to e-mails within the day. Working with her was a pleasure.
The other experience I had was not so pleasant. I was working on a project with a partner where we needed to create an eBook. We decided to outsource the task. The VA seemed to listen to our instructions and we decided to proceed. After making our first installment payment she disappeared. For weeks. We decided to go into a different direction and it took us another couple of weeks to get our money back. It really deflated the excitement out of the project.
This one is obvious. I hire my VAs through elance or odesk (though I prefer odesk of the two). A huge benefit of these sites is that they provide reviews for previous work the candidates have done. If a certain candidate has 99 great reviews and 1 bad one, you may not have anything to worry about. If there’s a pretty steady steam of bad reviews you may want to look elsewhere.
Lack of Reviews
I fully understand that everyone has to start somewhere and you may want to be the brave soul that jumps in and hires someone who has no history of happy clients yet. I, on the other hand, having experience with a bad VA, do not want to follow that route. I would rather take the chance of passing up on a really good assistant w/ no history to hire someone who has proven themselves. There are enough VAs out there to find a good one, at the right price, with enough reviews.
Extremely Low Bid
You may come across a bid for a job that seems too good to be true. But, as most things in life, if it seems too good to be true it probably is.
If you have 10 candidates and 9 are all in the same price range while 1 is under-bidding you may want to heed caution. I’m not saying you automatically exclude the candidate from consideration, but ask yourself why the bid is so low. Are they so good at what they do that they can do it quicker and more efficiently than the other candidates? Are they in a part of the world where the exchange rate is such that it makes it feasible for them to put in the same amount of work for less money? Or is this candidate inexperienced and not really sure of what needs to go into the job to achieve success?
Analyze and then decide. Do not go strictly off of price.
A virtual assistant can either be a godsend or mean the death of a project. If you make sure to take the necessary precautions at the beginning of the hiring process it ends up paying you dividends in the long run.
Note: This post is part of the April Word Carnival — a monthly group blogging event specifically for small business owners. (It’s the most fun you’ll have all month!) Check out the rest of the fabulous carney work here.