Entrepreneurs, who have just started their business, are burdened with numerous activities related to their company — accounting, day-to-day operations, traveling appointments, scheduling meetings, providing basic customer support, dealing with all sorts of marketing issues and maintaining internal documentation and protocols.
Many of those activities could be optimized, automated and offloaded to a business assistant, who can easily reduce the weight off your shoulders and allow you to focus on strategic planning, sales and growth strategies, and improve your product or service offering.
Working out the right culture fit for your team might be a challenging task. Here is a step-by-step guidance that will optimize your recruiting process and ensure the smooth entry of a motivated assistant. Hiring a smart employee will prevent you from juggling with a numerous tedious daily tasks and instead spare your time for increasing the value of your business.
List Your Repetitive Tasks
Take a day off and go over your calendar over the past three months. Include your backlog as well and analyze the manual tasks that don’t require specific business expertise.Mark the tasks that could be offloaded to someone else. Think about the time you had to plan your conference trip and schedule the meetings with potential partners or clients. Consider your product documentation sprints that require browsing, crafting screenshots and listing down the user flows. Or find out which partnership outreach tasks could be handled by someone else working for you.
Take it a step further — how about filtering and organizing your emails? Even if you are worried about confidentiality, online tools would help you out with forwarding specific emails or sharing individual labels/categories of your inbox with your assistant.
Write Down Your Process
Once you have compiled a list of activities that you don’t need to tackle yourself, create a new folder and add a brief for each of them. Even if the new assistant has to craft new content for your blog or manage your business’s social media profiles, they need to get used to your writing style, understand your brand message and follow the guidelines that you have established for your own business.
Initiate Your Hiring Process
Hiring your new assistant could leverage three different strategies
- Posting a job with your requirements
- Reviewing resumes on job boards for people actively looking for a job
- Contacting a virtual assistant company that specializes in that
Companies like Zirtual, Red Butler, Fancy Hands, U-Aassist and Time offer part-time or full-time virtual assistants in the US. Some of them provide additional perks such as conference room access or a part-time office in several different locations, which could be beneficial for client meetings or co-working when traveling.
You can also post a job in your preferred jobs website or a freelance network such as Upwork which would handle the billing and invoicing part for you, along with time tracking tools or options to hire the person full-time with a pre-defined contract.
Most freelance networks as well as international VA websites like OnlineJobs.ph list the resumes, expertise and payment requirements of assistants looking for part-time or full-time employment opportunities.
Shortlist And Interview Promising Candidates
Once you have some incoming leads or possible candidates, sit down and shortlist the most promising leads. Schedule interviews and discuss your business needs with them, asking about their previous work experience and qualifications as well.
The interview process is a demanding one, but working closely with someone requires a particular set of professional and soft skills. You should be convinced that the candidate is motivated, hard-working and committed to your business in order to allocate some of your crucial activities.
Start A Trial Period
Once you have selected the winner, initiate a trial period. Many employers believe that they are entitled, and great hires would be lucky to work for them. In fact, excellent candidates are usually sifting through piles of job opportunities whenever they have the right credentials and experience behind their backs.
It is precisely for this reason a trial period is a reciprocal process that verifies the viability of a long-term relationship. Discuss the terms of your trial period with your assistant — such as a couple of weeks for the first revision and two-three months before signing a longer term contract.
Once you’re on the same page and finalize the paperwork, share your introductory document and start with on boarding your new assistant.
Lather, Rinse, Repeat
Right after you’ve delegated your first assignment, define a communication protocol for your assistant. Keep in mind that no one understands the semantics of your business better than yourself. You are well acquainted with the market, your products and services, the target audience, influencers in the field, notable journals and blogs, and the right strategic partnerships. Cut your assistant some slack and make sure that the onboarding is a continuous process that gives them the opportunity to get familiar with your business and the high-end priorities that you’ve laid out. Allocate some training time over the first few weeks. Communicate with him/her and invite him/her to participate with questions, suggestions, and feedback.
Most entrepreneurs working with business assistants assign a set of tasks that follow the same framework. Once you go over several tasks in each category, your assistant should get comfortable with applying the same strategy to ongoing assignments adhering to a familiar work model.
Build A Long-Term Schedule
If you start observing some progress and compliance from your assistant, proceed with making a long-term plan for your business needs. Automating multiple activities would free up your time and let your assistant schedule these on a weekly basis. You will spend less time supervising and more time reviewing results and progress.
Organize a longer meeting with your assistant and go over the success stories that they have participated while working closely with you. Explain the bigger picture and the long-term plan and coordinate the logistics with them.
This would ensure that your assistant is fully aware of the goals of your business and let them handle a complete set of assignments without having to check with you in every step of the way. As a result, you can focus on improving your product offering, building strategic partnerships and growing your portfolio of high-end clients.
Document And Scale
As your business grows, it’s likely that your assistant won’t have the capacity to handle all of your ongoing tasks. In order to scale further, another assistant may be of use. Instead of going through the very same process, delegate the majority of the hiring and onboarding process to your assistant. Ask him/her to document activities and your high-end strategy based on his/her knowledge and experience during the past months working closely with you.
A smart and motivated assistant will quickly prepare all of the onboarding paperwork and identify other activities that could be offloaded to another hire of yours. In fact, it’s likely that they have someone in their network, who can join your team and work closely with your first hire, thus reducing the hassle of going through tons of CVs and applications in your inbox. When you’ve vetted and hired your new assistant, identify the new tasks that you have to coordinate with them and assign your initial hire to lead the rest of the coaching and training workflow.