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How to Hire a Virtual Assistant — A Simple 5-Step Process to Grow Your Team

Hire a virtual assistant as soon as you can. It can be a game-changer for your business!

Consider the difference in your business if you could free up 5 to 10 hours of your time every week.

That’s time you can spend working on your business instead of in it.

When I recommend coaching clients hire a virtual assistant, I get a lot of push-back.

“Where will I find this person?” 

“How will I train them?” 

“What if I can’t keep them busy?”

And of course, underlying all those questions is the big one: 

“Can I really afford this?”

I get it. I worked alone in my business for years. So what I’m about to tell you comes from experience.

Once you work through these issues, you’ll find yourself asking a new question:

“Why didn’t I hire a virtual assistant years ago?” 

Finding an assistant isn’t that difficult. And once you have a system for working with your virtual assistant (VA), you’ll wonder why you waited so long.

Chances are you’re so busy that the idea of taking time to find someone — never mind training them — feels impossible.

Good news — I have a simple, five-step process to make it easier for you to hire a virtual assistant for your business. Read on, or watch the video above.

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Man seated with his thumb on his chin and a speech bubble that says Wait... I'm not supposed to do everything all by myself?

Shift your entrepreneurial mindset

The first thing that has to happen in order for you to work with an assistant is to realize that you can’t do it all on your own.

And I have something important to tell you, my friend.

In business, you’re not supposed to do everything all by yourself. 

This entrepreneurial mindset shift can be harder than it sounds. 

I’m convinced that people who are drawn to entrepreneurship are go-getters. A lot of us are DIY-types, so the idea that you don’t have to do everything all by yourself — that someone can help you — can be challenging for an entrepreneur. 

But that mindset shift can make the winding trail to business success easier.

The other challenge is you have to give up some control. Giving up control can be difficult for an entrepreneur. 

When you add someone to your team, you’re moving to a different way of spending your time. You’ll be managing, not doing. 

Working with a VA means you have to spend time reviewing projects and providing some guidance. 

But when you hire a virtual assistant — and do it right — it’s going to be worth it because you’ll be able to focus your time on your highest-value tasks. 

Now let’s dig into my 5-step process to help you hire the best VA for your business so you can reclaim some of that precious time and energy.

Related: How to Kickstart Online Business Success When You Stop “Learning”

Step 1: Track Your Task List

Start by writing down all the repetitive tasks you do. I recommend that you simply keep a pad and paper on your desk and you note every single task you do for your business.

Don’t leave anything out. Here are a few examples:

  • Checking email
  • Checking or updating social media
  • Writing content
  • Testing a sales funnel

Track everything

image of laptop with text: Write it ALL down - to track tasks that help you hire a virtual assistant.

Once you have that task inventory, you can start to analyze it. Look for tasks that are repetitive and explainable. 

“Repetitive and explainable” means tasks that happen over and over in a week, or even maybe in a month. These are ideal to offload. 

You can create a step-by-step instruction sheet that your virtual assistant can follow and get those tasks done.

Then grade those tasks by the revenue potential. If it’s something that could earn you more money, that should impact the grade. 

Then look for common threads between the tasks:

  • Admin tasks
  • Design tasks
  • Copywriting tasks
  • Technical tasks (like website updates)

When you’re ready hire a virtual assistant, this will show you the skill set you need.

For example, if one of the tasks that happens over and over is copywriting, and persuasive copywriting is going to make your business money, then that skill has a high earnings potential.

That’s proof that you need to hire a virtual assistant who has copywriting skills. (Bonus points if you don’t enjoy copywriting.)

Related: How to Write a Sales Page That Converts: 5-Step Sales Page Writing Recipe

Related: Use These 3 Magic Words So You Can Instantly Write Sales Copy That Builds Your Revenue

Step 2: How to hire a virtual assistant who’s easy to work with

So you know the skill set you need to look for. 

How do you make working with a VA easier? 

You need to find someone who speaks your language, and I’m not talking about someone who speaks English or whatever your primary language is. 

You need to find someone who understands things the way you explain them. The ideal situation is you hire a virtual assistant, explain their tasks, they just get it. They can run with your step-by-step explanation. 

But I’ve also had the opposite experience. I hire a virtual assistant, give them a step-by-step explanation, and they just do not really get what I was asking for.

In some cases it had kind of disastrous results. They made pretty major mistakes because they weren’t speaking my language.

So what can you do to avoid this situation?

Image of two women looking at a laptop with text: Start with a trial period.

Step 3: Start with a trial period

Even if you decide to hire a virtual assistant on a contract basis for occasional project work, start with a trial period.

It could be a month, or if you don’t have a lot of work to give them, the trial period could last two or three months. 

Give them some small tasks to start, and just experiment to see how easy it is to work with them. 

Pro tip: Go into this with curiosity and a lot of patience.

It may take a while to find your working style. Start by booking a few hours a week, or hire a virtual assistant on an as-needed basis, and give them some small projects. 

Step 4: Where to find a virtual assistant

The the next thing I always hear from clients is, “Where do I look for an assistant?” 

I have a few recommendations. 

Ask your audience. If you have people on your email list, or you have a strong social media presence, try reaching out to them and letting them know that you’re looking to hire a virtual assistant, either part-time or on a contract basis.

Ask colleagues. If you’re in a forum environment, Facebook group, or mastermind group, ask around to see if someone knows a VA who’s looking for the kind of work you need done.

Consider contractor sites like Upwork. There are a number of sites where you can post your job or contract opportunity to find a good match. Upwork is just one of them.

Investigate overseas outsourcing companies. There are agencies in places like the Philippines or India that have skilled VAs on their rosters who speak amazing English. They’re able to work for an amount that’s great income where they live, and is very affordable for you. 

After looking into these services I can tell you most of them require you to hire a virtual assistant on either a part-time basis (20 hours a week), or full-time (40 hours a week). 

So if you don’t have that much work to give someone, they may not be a good option for you.

But if you feel like you can keep someone busy even for 20 hours a week, that could be a great place to start. 

There’s one unexpected benefit of working with a VA in a completely different time zone. You can give someone a task at the end of your workday, and when you wake up the next morning, it’s sitting in your inbox, all done.

image with soapy hands as a light background with text: Standard Operating Procedure = A consistent, repeatable approach to a business task.

Step 5: Future-proof your business processes

If someone on your team needs to leave without giving a lot of notice, future-proofing your processes means you can pivot quickly.

The best way to do that is with Standard Operating Procedures — SOPs. 

There are two reasons we want to develop SOPs. 

  1. You can easily hand tasks over to someone new.
  2. Because they’re standard operating procedures, tasks are completed consistently. 

Having SOPs in place means that all the tasks that you hand off will be done consistently over time. 

For example, you added a piece of content to your website a year and a half ago. Using an SOP means it will have the same naming conventions, style of graphics, and structure as something that you add tomorrow. 

SOPs give you a consistent, repeatable approach to getting your business tasks done. This is an important process to develop. And it’s just as important for your assistant as it is for you.

“Standard Operating Procedures” might sound like overkill if you own a small or solo business. If you don’t want to call it a Standard Operating Procedure, you can just call it a how-to document, which is the term I prefer in my own business.

Screenshot of example how-to doc with information contained in the text of the blog post.

Here’s a basic structure of a how-to document, aka SOP:

  • Goal: The desired result of the task. For example, a completed blog post, published YouTube video, or client onboarding process.
  • Starting point: This could be an event, like someone signing up for a program, or a day of the week.
  • Tools and information needed: This can include login credentials, links to resources and software tools, screenshots, instructional videos or screencasts.

The “tools and information needed” section of your how-to document will be the most time-consuming part of the process. 

You’ll spend at least twice as much time explaining the task as you might spend doing it yourself.

But here’s why you want to invest the time: You only have to create this detailed how-to once. Then you can hand the task off to your VA and never do it again!

And that, my friend, is when you discover you suddenly have more time and brain space.

Related: Business Focus: It’s Why Some People Triumph Online and Others Never Make It

Related: How to Create Email List Growth Fast with Content Upgrades

Your how-to documents will evolve with your business

If you want to truly future-proof your business processes, let your VA know that the Standard Operating Procedure is an organic document. They can edit and update as needed. 

For example, if there’s something about your explanation that wasn’t completely clear to them, tell them that they can add any details that they need.

Or if your software changes, your VA can update the how-to document with new information. 

That way your SOPs will always be up-to-date and can be handed off to a new virtual assistant, someone taking on a new role on your existing team, or a team member who’s stepping in to cover someone who’s out. 

I recommend that you repeat this process as needed, and that you make a continual effort to offload explainable, repeatable tasks. 

When you hire a virtual assistant, you free up one of the most valuable assets in your business — you.

Hire a virtual assistant the right way: A quick recap

Let’s briefly go over the steps to hire a virtual assistant.

Pre-planning: Write down everything you do for your business for at least a week. If your tasks change from week to week, you can extend that time.

Track the skill sets linked to revenue. Do you need somebody who can edit audio and video? Answer your emails? Provide customer support? 

Write down those tasks to create a list of skill sets. 

Find someone who’s easy to work with: Before you hire a virtual assistant, make sure they “speak your language.” Working with a VA effectively means they’re someone who understands things the way you explain them.

The best way to check this is by doing the next step …

Start with a trial period: When you hire a virtual assistant, negotiate a trial period of roughly 1-3 months. The trial period should last long enough for you to get a good sense of how you work together. 

Find the right candidate: If you’re not sure about where to find your assistant, ask your network, colleagues, or audience.

You can also consider sites like Upwork or check into outsourcing agencies.

Future-proof your processes with Standard Operating Procedures/How-to documents: How-to documents ensure tasks are done consistently. 

Take the time to create detailed how-to documents. Include a goal, starting point, and all the tools and resources needed to complete the project or task. Empower your VA to update the documents as needed.

Bonus tip: What to pay your VA

So what will you pay your virtual assistant? That will depend on the kind of work they’re doing for you. 

Someone who’s only managing your inbox might not get paid as much as someone who’s doing business management tasks. 

Research current rates for the skill set you plan to hire a virtual assistant for.

If you want to keep your VA happy for the long term, pay them well and pay them on time. 

Freeing up your time and energy is smart.

It will take some time to find and train the right person, but you’ll soon see that the choice to hire a virtual assistant was a smart investment! 

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson is the Chief Marketing Officer at DCS. She’s the creator of the Offer Accelerator Program. Learn more about Pamela’s content marketing books, and read reviews of the tools used to run this site.
Pamela Wilson coaches people in midlife to build profitable online businesses
I’m Pamela Wilson

In 2010, at the age of 45, I started this site and grew it into a business that offers freedom, flexibility — and consistent revenue.

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