Ep 113 | I Hired a VA

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What You'll Learn

How can a virtual assistant help your business? There are reasons to hire them as your company and business are growing and you can find a VA to handle a variety of different types of tasks inside of your organization.

In this episode you'll learn:

  • what a virtual assistant is.
  • ways a virtual assistant can support you.
  • if it's worth it to hire a VA.
  • when to hire a virtual assistant.
  • what qualities to look for in a VA.

Want to skip ahead?  Here are some key takeaways

[3:32] Understanding some of the things our team is already great at was important to us. We wanted to find team members that could add to our team and fill in the gaps for things that we weren't best at or that we knew would free us up for our zone of genius.
[7:21] Identifying specific tasks helps in the hiring process. VAs can work in so many different areas that it's important to find someone that is in their zone of genius when they come in to support your organization.
[10:54]  Make a list of things that only you can do. Then make a list of the other things that are on your list. That will help you define the role you're looking for.
[14:01] Even though this is a remote position, usually, you'll want to ensure they fit in with your team and the culture you have inside your organization.


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Full Transcript

[INTRO] Hey, hey, SAMI here with another episode of the digital marketing therapy podcast. Thank you so much for joining me, I wanted to talk with you a little bit today because I just hired a VA. And, so for those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, it just means virtual assistant. So somebody who's not necessarily in your physical space or working in your office all the time, and somebody that helps you with tasks. VA is a pretty general term in the online space, I typically don't like to think of them, or at least mine that I hired as an assistant because, you know, there's a lot of self directed tasks that they're helping with. And a lot of VA can handle a variety of things. So we'll get to that in a second.

But I wanted to just share with you, because we're just kind of kicking things off, kind of why I decided to hire a VA, what types of things I'm looking for them to do. And, you know, as you're thinking about hiring to help in your team, you know, ways to kind of think about what you might want to hire, or who you might want to hire or what you might want to hire them to do. So I just thought I would share my insight to see if it's helpful for any of you, as you're going through the growing pains, as I know many of you are. Many of you are volunteer boards who are or volunteer staff who are just trying to hire the next person to help out with your team. 

Some of you are maybe growing tremendously and just need a little bit of assistance, but not quite ready to hire a full time person or don't want to add another full time employee. All those things. So I'm going to walk you through kind of my process and who's on my team right now, and how we're kind of trying to grow that, and how we decided what the next kind of person was that we were going to bring on board. Because I am. Anyway, I'll share some of the concerns that I had and the control freak in me. And why it's been, you know, taken me to this point to kind of get to it to this level. 

But, before we get into it, this episode is brought to you by our digital marketing therapy sessions. These are 30 minute sessions that you can book with me at any time. And we can walk through wherever you're stuck. If you need help with your website. If you need help with your email marketing, if you need help with your content creation, what other whatever it might be that you're stuck on in the online space. I'm here to support you. And that's what these office hours are for. You can book time at thefirstclick.net forward slash office hours. And I look forward to getting to know more about you and your business. But for now, let's get into the episode. 

[CANNED INTRODUCTION] You're listening to the Digital Marketing Therapy Podcast. I'm your host, Sami Bedell-Mulhern. And each week, I bring you tips from myself and other experts, as well as hot seats with small business owners and entrepreneurs to demystify digital marketing and get you on your way to generating more leads and growing your business.

[BODY] Okay, so before we start full disclosure, I'm currently recording this from San Antonio, Texas. I am staying at my brother's house and I am holed up in his bedroom working while he's at work and the cats have decided all of a sudden that it's time to run around and play. So you're probably going to hear them scratching and eating in the background. So,I apologize for that. But anyway, this is just the world we live in these days. Right? Okay, so I have been in business for a few years now. And since the beginning, I have always had my brother Berkley, different brother, I'm not at his house right now, who has been alongside me helping with the graphic design with the website design and development. He's editing this podcast, all sorts of things, he does a lot of things for our clients, and has been an integral part of the team since the very beginning. 

So it was really important to me that I find somebody that can balance out the skill set that I don't know from the beginning. I'm great at working with clients, I'm great at creating strategy, I'm great at getting the work done, when it comes to content and email marketing and things  in social media and things of that nature. I do not have a design eye. I am not a developer. I do not have coding. So it was just kind of a natural fit for the two of us to start working together because our skill set was super complimentary.

The next hire that I did pretty quickly was a bookkeeper. So somebody to manage my books, I found that running and managing my money was something that I knew was super important for my business, but not something that I would do. So my you know, reconciliation of my accounts and all that stuff would pile up pretty quickly. And it would all of a sudden be six months, and I wouldn't have done anything with it. And so it just wasn't my zone of genius. It wasn't, you know, work that I wanted to do. So hiring a bookkeeper was something that happened pretty early on in my business and I'm so thankful for that. Because it saves me so much time and energy at the end of the year. But every month I get the reports that I can kind of take a look at and know and know where I'm at and how I'm growing. 

So those two things happened pretty quick on in my business. Even before I was close to making any money, it was kind of the investments that I knew I needed to make in order to grow. And I think that that's a really important lesson is, you know, in the beginning, we definitely do all the things. So I was doing, you know, all of the lead gen. I was doing all of the social media. I was doing all of the, you know, learning and education and getting back on track on some of the different things that I've kind of, you know, gotten lax on adding new skills that I needed to do that, to support the things that we wanted to do for our clients. So you know, you kind of take on all the things.

And that's absolutely important in the beginning, right, we want to be as lean and scrappy, and get as much as we can done with the small team that we have. And over the years, as we've kind of really honed in on what exactly we want our business to be. We've added services, we've dropped services, we've added programs and memberships. And we've done all of that. And, and we're really in a good spot. 

I think I've talked about this quite a bit in some of the previous episodes, but we're in a good spot with, you know, who we want to serve the products and services, and saying no to clients or saying no to you know, we don't do these certain things and feeling good about being able to do that. So we can do the things that are in our zone of genius that make us happy, and that we really feel like provide good value to the clients. Now, recently, Oh, I should back up for a second, I should say that, yes. When you're doing all the things, there are certain things that you definitely feel like, yeah, I kind of know how to do this. But I don't really like to do it, or it's not being done to the best of its ability. Or it's something that just takes up a lot of my time each week. And I know I need to keep doing it. But I don't necessarily, it's not the best use of my time, right? We all have those things. 

And so I recently got to that point, and decided that it was time to hire a VA now in the virtual space. Because I run my entire business online. I'm not, I don't live in the same town as my brother, although we did used to live next door. But we don't live in the same town anymore. I don't live in the same town as my bookkeeper. I don't live in the same town as my VA. But I knew I needed somebody to help with some specific tasks. So virtual assistants help with a variety of things. So if you're looking for somebody to help you with customer service to help you with social media to help you with writing content, I mean, like there's so many different things that you can use virtual assistants for I typically like to not call them assistance, because I feel like they provide so much more value. 

Not that assistants don't provide a ton of value. But I was really looking for somebody that can really take the bull by the horns and just go with it. That I wouldn't have to handhold a lot of we've had interns, we've had staff, we've had part time people throughout the years, and they've all had their strengths and weaknesses. And it's all had a different level of management. And so I really wanted somebody that I could trust to just kind of take it and go with now, we are just getting started with them. 

So I will do a follow up episode to talk about how like the onboarding process has gone and kind of lessons I've learned and things that are going great things that I would have prepped differently. Because I know this is a partnership. And this is something that requires both people to step in and take ownership of and so I'm thankful for that. And I also knew that I didn't want to hire somebody part time, or full time I want to or excuse me, I didn't want to hire somebody full time.

I wanted to be able to get a specific amount of tasks done and then know that I could grow with somebody as needed. So kind of a way to test somebody out. But also knowing you know, I have a budget for X amount of things. These are the priorities. So I really sat down and thought through what are the things that I really need to get taken off my plate? What are the things that only I can do? And what are the things that I could have assistance with that will be helpful for my business, but I don't need to be managing on a day to day. 

So a couple of those things were social media. So posting on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. I know what needs to be done. This isn't something that I'm aware of, you know, that I should be posting and how often I know the strategy behind it. But the execution of it for me is just something that doesn't happen consistently. And so I really wanted to uplevel that and make sure that I'm posting consistently to things like Instagram reels to Instagram stories to my Facebook to like LinkedIn. So all of those things. Um, so that was something that I knew I could  pass off. The other thing that I wanted help with was my podcast show notes. So this is the perfect example for me. I guess.

What I'm making a list of things that only you can do and things that you can delegate, and kind of what does that combination look like? So obviously, I'm the only one who can record these podcast episodes. I'm the only one who can record the interviews, right? It would be weird to you if all of a sudden I had a VA coming on here and on, on their own doing a solo episode, right? Hopefully, one day, I'll have my VA on here. And we'll do it, we'll do a joint episode and talk kind of about what that partnership and relationship looks like. But what do I you know, I can't have them record the episode. So that, I need to do but what I can pass off is the cleaning up of the transcripts in the show notes. 

And so that was that's, I think, just a very good example of different tasks that you need to pay attention to. So paying  attention to how do I need to take a look at the things that are on my list every single day? And what is it that really only I can do? And you know, what are the things that I can pass off. And I'm going to challenge you, especially founder owners, or founder presidents or whatever your title is. And you know, boards that have been in if you've been on the same board since the beginning of the organization, it can be tricky to differentiate between the two, I have been the main person in my business since the beginning. 

And so it's taken me a while to hire a VA because I had to get past that control freak piece of me. And really determine, you know, I can let this go. Now I feel comfortable, I feel comfortable with somebody crafting some social media messages for me and not, you know, making me look ridiculous, right? Like I've let that go. I've built up enough history, I have enough things in place, I have enough data and I have enough content and things that I can send them that they can. I'm going to put faith in that right you have to figure out what that is. 

But at a certain point, you really have to take a look at the list. If you've written this list out, these are the things that only I can do read it again. Because there's probably other things on that list that you don't need to be doing that somebody else could be doing for you. Okay, and it took me a while to get there, it'll take you a while to get there. And that is a okay, but challenge yourself to get there because I promise you, it's going to be well worth it. 

It's also important to really think about what are the qualities that you're looking for? And who do you want on your team? Because when I was originally looking for a VA, yes, it was something like around five to 10 hours a week is all I was looking for. So you might think, you know, it doesn't really matter what their personality is like or whatever, do I you know, mesh with them? It might you might think that it doesn't matter. But it really does. And to me, it really matters, I want to make sure somebody has the same values I do. 

Because even though now it's only five to 10 hours a week, who knows what that relationship could turn into. And if you have somebody that you've hired even for a few hours a week coming in and working within your business that doesn't exemplify the same values or the same, you know, thoughts, thought processes or doesn't believe in your mission, you can get yourself into a situation where it just doesn't work. I mean, you've hired those employees before that come in. And just the the community is not there, the feelings of camaraderie, or just work ethic or style are not the same. 

And yes, it does take time. And I'm not saying that. It's going to be perfect for me. Like I said, we're literally just starting. So far so good. In case you're listening, no, seriously, so far, so good. But it's either even a few hours a week, something like that can create a toxic situation. So really make sure you understand, and this is just good in general. What are the types of qualities you want in somebody that you're hiring? Are they trust? Well, hopefully trustworthy is a thing, right? But are they detail oriented? Do they have a good sense of humor? 

Are they a taco lover, like I don't know, whatever it is that your organization already has in place as like, these are kind of what our personalities are, like, making sure that that position fits in with what it is that you're looking to accomplish? Okay, so I was looking for somebody who was very transparent, I was looking for somebody who is knowledgeable on social media, I was looking for somebody who was warm, who, for me, I wanted somebody that I felt like I could go back and forth with the part about being you know, one of the only people that's making the main decisions of an organization is that you tend to feel like you're in this silo of nobody to brainstorm with or nobody to bounce ideas off of. 

So I'm loving that. I get emails that say, hey, these are some ideas that we're thinking about for social media. What do you think? And we can go back and forth like I love that. Because I'm not the one who's having to come up with everything all on myself and we can brainstorm. So that was something that was important to me. And then again, the self-starter making sure that they're able to kind of take it and run with it more quickly. And I don't have to handhold. So really understanding what it is that you're looking for. 

Now, I want to throw this out there as an encouragement, because I know a lot of you are in smaller organizations. And I just wanted to mention that the VA situation is something that situation, hiring a VA is something that can be really impactful for a lot of organizations that don't have any paid staff yet. Because it's a great entry point into getting some support and some help without having to commit yourself to a full time employee, or even a part time employee at 20 hours a week. It's also a great opportunity because they, you're not their only client.

And I know that might sound counterintuitive, like well, are they going to care about me that much. But the beauty is because they work with multiple clients, you don't have to feel reliant on their, to be their main source of income. Okay. And there's lots of things you can do, you can have VA in the US, you can have VA s that are international, there's different rates that go with all of them. So do whatever fits you, and makes you feel good. My VA happens to be based in the US in Texas. But it's all up to you and what feels good, what feels right for you and your mission in your organization.

But I just know that it's a term that uh, not not a lot of nonprofits are aware of, it's very common in the online space that I live in. But I wanted to make sure to bring it to you. So whether it's admin tasks, whether it's hiring somebody that can review your grant proposals, or write your social media posts or help you with your hiring, reviewing resumes, helping you with your website, your IT tech support, like their specialized VA is in all sorts of realms. So I wanted to share with you what I'm using mine for social media podcast show notes for now with the expectation and hope and really like warm feels that we expand into more different things, but so many good things. 

Think about it as a way to get some support without spending a ton of money or hiring a full time employee. I think it's going to be great for you. So if you have any questions about what I did for my VA, or how we're working, I will again do a follow up episode in a few weeks. Like I said, we literally just got started recording this episode on June 8, and we kicked things off on June 1. 

So I just wanted to share this part of my journey and I will continue to share how this journey goes with you on social media on Facebook and Instagram at the first click marketing as well as in this podcast at thefirstclick.net forward slash podcast. So that is it for now. I hope that you will subscribe wherever you listen so you don't miss out on an episode we come out every Tuesday and thank you so much for listening and I will see you in the next one.


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