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Welcome to Whose Business Is This, Anyway? Where the tasks are unending and your stress level doesn’t matter: Sound familiar?
If it also sounds like your life as an entrepreneur, until this point every little milestone of that life has probably been a celebrated victory. But the novelty is probably starting to wear off.
There’s content to be edited and updates to be made to your website. You’ve missed two meetings and can’t remember who the contacts are to reschedule them. And your inbox count looks like the GDP of a small country.
There’s a lot to be said about optimizing your own daily routine to get the most out of your days, but that can only take you so far. While you may have aspirations of a tremendously profitable quarter, it’s probably time to compose yourself and admit that you’re not going to be able to do it all alone. You can’t continue growing a business if you’re tethered to your desk.
Traditional hiring processes take far too long when you need someone immediately who can take the load off your shoulders. Ideally, you want someone who can materialize, quickly get up to speed on what’s happening, handle the workload, and disappear until needed again.
I’m referring to a VA (virtual assistant).
This is where a lot of entrepreneurs will cringe. Sure, it’s hard to give up control, and you may find it a challenge to find someone who is reliable and whom you can trust with private company intel. But those someones are out there: You just have to know where to look.
Here are seven surprising places to start your search.
I am absolutely advocating that you search social media to find a stranger to trust with your business. Start talking about the need for a virtual assistant on Twitter, and you’ll be surprised just how fast VA businesses will respond and start following you. Some of the best VA companies have listening posts set up with alerts to find people just like you.
The best part is that if you’ve got a social-savvy VA, Twitter is just one more task he or she can help you with.
2. Your network
If your contact list includes other business owners, mentors, influencers, professionals or any combination thereof, then it’s time to make calls and let them know you need help. Chances are, they know someone, or can recommend a service they may have used in the past. Don’t ever forget about the power of referrals and word of mouth.
Inspired by Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek, New York Times bestselling author Michael Hyatt decided it was time to pick up a virtual assistant when he began to focus on his writing and saw his blog traffic (and workload) spike. He has had the same virtual assistant for years now, and swears by her.
“I found that I was so much more productive that it was well worth the additional investment,” Hyatt says of his assistant. “She’s just one of my teammates — and a very valuable one at that.”
If you’ve never worked with a virtual assistant and you came up short on referrals, VANetworking is a good place to start. VAs often network and come together here as a means of finding work, as well as solutions. Not only do they provide information for clients who want to work with a virtual assistant, they also have a hiring section where you can post in search of a VA.
This one might be as surprising as Twitter. While the go-to classifieds site has its share of scammers, it’s very possible to find a top-notch virtual assistant on Craigslist. You can also look on Craigslist sites elsewhere in the world and choose your desired location, though the local aspect can be a huge benefit. Even though your assistant will be working remotely, you’ll have the advantage of setting up a face-to-face interview as if you were hiring an in-house employee.
Just make sure you do your legwork, like verifying work history and checking references.
Zirtual is a great choice for startups and entrepreneurs as the site specializes in providing dedicated virtual assistants to entrepreneurs, professionals and small teams. One of the biggest perks is that it works only with college-educated VAs who are based in the United States, so you don’t need to worry about the vetting process. Zirtual boasts that fewer than 2 percent of applicants get hired on to their service.
Pat Flynn, founder of Smart Passive Income, often shares the benefits of working with virtual assistants on his podcast. In his tutorial on delegation, he writes, “I know just how valuable my time is and where my time should be invested to give me the most return.”
6. Workshops and events
Hopefully, you’re consciously aware that you’ll need help down the road and that you have time to be on the lookout. If that’s the case, then always keep the VA search in the back of your mind as you travel to industry events, workshops and lectures. Those are great places for industry professionals to gather. If you find a VA at an event like this, you know he or she already has at least one foot inside the door of your industry.
7. College campuses
A local college, or any college for that matter, can be a great place to locate a VA. Talk with career counselors or professors, or post hiring ads on campus job boards to try to locate a student studying in your industry. You may find a student chomping at the bit for a paid internship, willing to act as a virtual assistant as a means of learning the industry and gaining experience in his or her chosen career track.