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Virtual Assistants

What Is the Average Cost of a Virtual Assistant?

The cost of a virtual assistant from outside the US ranges from $5 to $30 on average. There are also expert hires, including those from the US, who charge up to $75 per hour for their expertise. The cost of a virtual assistant varies greatly based on their skills and level of experience. This factors in on top of their location and the roles you are hiring for.

In this post, we’ll give you an idea of what you can expect to pay for the help that you need. We’ve divided the cost of a virtual assistant based on three categories:  basic VAs, specialists, and experts. We’ll also give you the basic criteria that fall under the three categories. This will help you to see under which category you should look based on the scope of your project or role. The rates will also help you clarify the hours that you want to hire for. This way, you can strike a balance between your budget and your deadlines.

Three Types of VAs

Here’s a short description of each category of VA. It covers what they do and their general skill levels.

Basic VAs

Basic VAs can be entry-level freelancers. They have job experience but not a lot of experience working online. Basic VAs can also be VAs who offer basic skills. They are more of the doer and follower type. You give them instructions and they execute tasks. At this level, they are not going to be making a lot of suggestions. They will also probably be asking a lot of questions if you give them complex tasks.

You can find basic VAs who are fast learners, but you’ll need to do quite a bit of training with them. You will need to guide them to follow your systems and processes. In addition, you will need to show them exactly what you want them to do for each task. These assistants are best suited for accomplishing simple tasks. Ideally, these are roles where you have systems and processes already in place for them to follow.

Specialists

Specialists are mid-level freelancers who have honed their skills. They also have a good deal of experience. Many of them have niched down and maintain a specialization. Some have a wide range of previous experience and several skills in different areas. Usually, these skills are extensions of a general area of focus. For instance, an Amazon inventory specialist may have related skills like sales data analysis, logistics, supplier outreach and communication, and purchase order design. These additional skills make them better at projecting inventory and setting up an organized system. This way, they can make sure that you maintain excellent inventory levels no matter what happens.

You won’t have to do extensive training with specialized freelancers because they already have high-level skill sets. You will, however, need to give them general guidance in terms of how you like things done. In addition, you will need to get them up to speed on what your specific targets are for their role.

Experts 

Experts are freelancers with very high levels of skill and experience. They are usually consultants, strategists, and planners. These freelancers are very useful in certain cases where you need help executing the most difficult and skill-intensive tasks.

Expert-level freelancers are a good investment if you don’t have systems and processes in place. They are also great when you need help to formulate and execute a new strategy. Once they are done building everything out, you can hire specialists and basic VAs to take over and run things. 

Average Cost of a Virtual Assistant

Here’s a short description of each category of VA and the general hourly rates that you can expect to pay. Below each category, you’ll find a list of tasks and an estimate of their rate ranges.

Basic VAs

The cost of a virtual assistant for basic tasks runs from around $5 to $10 per hour. Here are some examples of tasks that you can hire basic VAs to take over, and what they cost:

Basic Tasks

  • General VA – responsible for handling a variety of administrative tasks like research, data entry, email, and calendar management – $5 to $8
  • Inbox Management VA – responsible for managing your email inbox and responding when necessary – $5 to $8
  • Calendar Management VA – responsible for managing your calendar – $5 to $8
  • Data Entry – responsible for encoding and consolidating your gathered data into one platform – $4 to $6
  • Web Researcher – responsible for conducting internet research on your behalf, making sure that the curated information will be easy for you to read and understand – $5 to $10
  • Customer Service VA – responsible for responding to repetitive customer queries, requests, issues, etc. through email and chat – $5 to $8
  • Blog Manager – responsible for managing company blogs, including formatting and publishing blog articles – $6 to $10
  • Podcast Outreach VA – knows the podcast industry well and knows how to find podcasts related to your business, reach out, and get you booked as a guest – $5 to $8
  • Influencer Outreach VA – responsible for researching influencers within your business niche, finding their contact information, and reaching out to talk about a feature or a possible collaboration – $6 to $10
  • Link Builder – skilled in off-page SEO and the latest link building strategies – $6 to $10
  • Dropshipping VA – responsible for managing the day to day operations of your dropshipping store, including placing orders, sourcing products, following up with suppliers, etc. – $6 to $10
  • Shopify VA responsible for managing the day to day operations of your Shopify store – $6 to $10
  • Product Researcher – knowledgeable in researching products to sell, including researching what is being talked about on social media, anticipating up and coming products, etc. – $6 to $10

Specialists

The cost of a virtual assistant for specialized tasks runs from around $10 to $30 per hour. Note that this range includes hires from countries like the US, UK, and Canada. For example, you can find a mid-level Executive Assistant from the Philippines for $8-15 per hour, but the same from the US would be around $15-25 per hour. For the purposes of this post, we’ll give you rates from outside the US.

Here are some examples of tasks that you can hire specialists to take over, and what they cost:

Specialist Tasks

  • Executive Assistant – responsible for organizing and making your life easier, including fixing and managing your schedule, booking your flights, responding to emails, taking notes during your meetings, taking phone calls, and even running virtual errands for you – $8 to $15
  • Translation VA – responsible for translating documents from one language to another, such as Amazon EU paperwork and listings – $7 to $20
  • Bookkeeping VA – responsible for helping you to keep track of your business’ financials and will be responsible for updating the books for your accountant – $7 to $15
  • Team Leader VA – responsible for managing your team of VAs, creating reports, creating SOPs, streamlining operations, etc. – $8 to $12
  • Project Manager – responsible for managing key client projects from beginning to end – $8 to $15
  • Real Estate VA – a specialist in the Real Estate industry who is knowledgeable in finding property details, cold calling, lead generation, data entry, and more – $8 to $12
  • Onboarding Assistant – responsible for handling the onboarding process of new clients from doing a walkthrough of your system thru a video call to sending and following up on documents needed – $8 to $12
  • Customer Service VA – responsible for responding to higher-level customer queries, requests, issues, etc. through email, chat, and call – $8 to $12
  • Digital Marketing VA – highly skilled in various aspects of online marketing including SEO, SMM, paid ads, content marketing, and more; responsible for planning, implementing, and overseeing all your company’s digital marketing efforts – $10 to $20
  • Content Manager responsible for editing and optimizing posts, and managing your company’s content calendar, and liaising with other marketing teams to ensure your website’s content aligns with the campaigns that are currently being launched – $8 to $12
  • PPC VA – a specialist in PPC ads who can help build and manage all your company’s paid ad campaigns – $10 to $20
  • Facebook Ads VA – a specialist in paid Facebook ads who has the skills to plan, implement, and manage Facebook ad campaigns – $10 to $20
  • SEO VA – very skilled in handling the SEO of your company’s website, responsible for optimizing your website, formulating a strategy to get your pages and blog posts to rank, and implement these plans – $8 to $20
  • Email Marketing VA – responsible for creating and sending out newsletters, email sequences, promotional emails, and monitoring metrics, and adjusting strategies based on results – $7 to $12
  • Web Designer – skilled in designing the layout and functionality of a website – $15 to $30
  • Web Developer – skilled in building websites from scratch or from a mock-up created by a website designer – $15 to $30
  • Amazon Seller Central VA – knows all the ins and out of running an Amazon shop, responsible for managing the daily operations of your Amazon store – $8 to $12
  • Inventory Manager – knowledgeable in monitoring the inventory of your online store and reordering stock when needed – $7 to $12
  • Product Listing VA – responsible for publishing product listings on your e-commerce platform, possibly required to write the product descriptions as well – $7 to $12
  • Podcast Editor – experienced in editing video recordings to turn them into engaging podcast episodes – $7 to $12
  • Video Editor – responsible for editing your video clips – $6 to $12
  • Copywriter, Content Writer – a specialist in creating written content like engaging website and email copy, blog posts, and various forms of content, including marketing content for landing pages and specialized long-form content, possibly responsible for all aspects of the content process including planning, proofing, fact-checking, and sometimes even publishing – $7 to $25
  • Audio Editor responsible for taking audio files to edit and polish before final mixing, very useful for podcasters, YouTube influencers, and businesses that use video and audio marketing materials – $8 to $15
  • Graphic Designer responsible for creating custom graphics for you and collateral needed for various purposes like landing pages, website builds, featured images, social media posts, etc. – $8 to $15

Experts 

The cost of an expert runs from around $30 to as much as $75 per hour or more. Note that this range includes hires from countries like the US, UK, and Canada. For example, you can find an Organic Facebook Marketing Expert from the Philippines for $30-40 per hour, but the same from the US might range from $45-55 per hour. For the purposes of this post, we’ll give you rates from outside the US.

Here are some examples of tasks that you can hire experts to set up for you, and what they cost:

Expert Tasks

  • eCommerce Consulting – online arbitrage, drop shipping, marketplace-specific planning, Amazon private label – $40 to $50
  • Marketing & Strategy – SEO, PPC, Facebook Ads campaign creation, social media, and email marketing campaign planning – $30 to $40
  • Conversion Rate Optimization – $30 to $40
  • Excel – Vlookup, Macros, custom reports – $30 to $40
  • Amazon Merch – product photography optimization, store design and optimization – $30 to $40
  • High-End Custom Programming & Development – $40 to $60
  • Management – independent control over website builds, blogs, complete eCommerce operations – $30 to $40

Final Thoughts

Now you have a better idea of what you’re looking at in terms of skill level and the cost of a virtual assistant to make it all happen. Of course, the rate ranges listed here are estimates based on what we’ve hired out for at Outsource School and what we’ve seen from profiles and other peoples’ experiences. You can always adjust based on your budget and what you need to hire for as opposed to doing the work in-house. These ranges are just to give you an overview.

When you list out the different tasks that you want to pass off, think about the levels of skill and experience that you need to get the jobs done right. You always want to avoid going for the lower end if you have high expectations for the outcome. Consider as well the time and effort you are willing to invest in the person to reach your goals. 

 

Would you like to know how to be certain who your next hire should be? Or maybe you are having a hard time deciding what parts of your business can be outsourced with virtual assistants, right now. We can help you answer these questions, and help you to discover what new systems you should add to scale your business faster. Set up a free hiring consultation with us at Outsource School today – simply book here!

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Virtual Assistants

10 Tasks an Admin Virtual Assistant Can Handle

Are you a small business owner who’s struggling to get small and repetitive tasks done day in and day out? Why not outsource some of the more typical daily business operations tasks to an admin virtual assistant?

An admin virtual assistant can take over most if not all of the tasks that a typical administrative assistant does. Here are 10 tasks an admin virtual assistant can handle for your business. 

Schedule Management

Managing your schedule is the first thing to outsource to an admin virtual assistant. The small tasks involved in schedule management are scattered throughout the day and can get really tedious. For example:

1.  Calendar Management

Having an admin virtual assistant to keep you on schedule is super useful. This means making sure that you complete the most important tasks for each day. It also means making sure that you don’t burn yourself out. An admin virtual assistant can be that key voice that warns you of tasks that you’ve bumped off one too many times, or reminds you that you are overbooked and need to carve out some time for yourself.

You might have alerts set up for calendar events or like to look at your calendar yourself. Still, an admin virtual assistant can help you prepare for each shift of focus. They can send you the links to the materials you need, and give you important notes.

2.  Appointment Scheduling

Get an admin virtual assistant to take over blocking off time slots that have been booked. This is especially useful when you don’t always use a scheduling tool to automatically set up bookings for you. You might use something like Calendly, but others might not. Calendly will automatically add bookings to your calendar and mark that slot as taken so you don’t overbook, but without a tool like this, you’ll need to do manual calendar management. 

Opening up slots is another task that can take up time. There are certain people that you will want to make exceptions for in terms of what time slots you have available. This can sometimes mean rescheduling with people so you can move appointments around to make room. Sometimes, it means figuring out what tasks you can postpone to make time to meet with them. Have an  admin virtual assistant make all the necessary adjustments for you so you don’t have to use your time for such a simple task.

3.  Travel Arrangements

Planning for a trip, whether it’s business or pleasure, can eat up hours and hours of time spanning several days. Pass off the task of researching destinations and bookings and travel times and modes of transport. All you need to do is have a basic idea of what you want, and you’ll get the top options laid out for you to choose from. You can even have an admin virtual assistant create a travel to do list for you that covers everything from what you need to pack to where you need to be and what you need to have with you when you get there. An agenda is also no problem for a skilled assistant, and super useful for you. This way, you can get all the timings right to never be late or unprepared.

4.  Receptionist Duties

More than a reminder service, the right assistant can actually take over incoming calls on your business phone. This way, you don’t get interrupted for every little thing, and have focused time to provide top-notch service to your valued clients. An assistant can also check voicemails that have come in during off hours so you don’t miss a beat.  

It’s all about balance to battle overwhelm, and having this type of buffer is super helpful. Since they are managing your schedule already, they can very easily add in pre-approved items and send you new ones right alongside your remaining available hours.

Of course, when you’re hiring from overseas, you’re going to need a service that can connect your number to theirs so they can take calls no matter where they live. That’s not too hard to do, and doing the research for it can be their first task as a receptionist.

Email Management

Sorting through email can be one of the most time-consuming tasks for any business owner. Email can very easily become a rabbit hole that sucks you away from the important tasks that you need to get done for your business. Many times, you run away from email because it takes so much time. But then you miss important messages and other messages just keep piling up. Eventually, you see that it will take several hours or even days just to get it cleaned up. 

5.  Sorting Emails and Managing Spam

Remove yourself from working in your business by hiring an admin virtual assistant to pre-sort emails for you. They can tackle the big task of getting everything organized to start. Most email clients come with systems that you can use to label and file different senders and messages. An experienced admin virtual assistant can even show you a few tricks for organization and easy access.

One of the best things about having someone else sort your emails is that you don’t have to deal with spam of any kind. You sit down in front of your email and see only the items that actually need your attention. This is an essential step for you to become a more productive entrepreneur.

6.  Answering Inquiries and Customer Service Requests 

Not everything that crowds your inbox is spam. Very likely, you have a lot of important messages in there. The thing is, you can’t take them all on yourself, and you can’t ignore them, either. An admin virtual assistant is a vital role in the area of taking some of the simpler messages off your plate. They can answer common inquiries that come in, and even solve simple customer service issues. When issues arise that they’re not familiar with, they can ask you one time, create an entry in your SOPs, and handle it from then on out. If you also have a customer service chat feature on your website, or any other channel that you use to connect with customers, they can manage that, too. 

7.  Email Marketing

If you take special care when hiring an admin virtual assistant, you can target one who has email marketing experience. Email marketing is so important, and you’ll need help to grow your email marketing list and engage with that list on a regular basis. This is so that you can develop relationships with the people on that list and even make money through it — at least $1 a month for every name on the list.

You can have an admin virtual assistant create new lists in whatever email marketing tool you’re using, have them add and remove subscribers to keep lists fresh, and tweak follow-up emails and autoresponders under your guidance. They can even create and schedule newsletters and broadcast emails to promote newly published content and edit or proofread existing content you have that might need some freshening up.

Research and Data

Having a lot of different tasks to keep track of can keep any business owner distracted from what’s really important. An admin virtual assistant helps you to become and stay organized so that you can remain productive every day. Have an assistant systematize things for you and put new processes in place. For instance:

8.  File Storage 

You can get all your important files uploaded to a service like Dropbox or Google Drive for easy access, and also as a backup solution. This way, you also have a much easier time sharing files with whoever else needs them. Plus, these files stay updated so you know that you’re always looking at the newest version of every file. And, of course, all the files get and stay organized in folders so everyone can find what they need.

An assistant can also do all of your data entry work for you as well as creating, updating, and managing documents and spreadsheets, writing up meeting notes and action items, and other information that you will want to keep organized.

9.  Online Research

Research takes up loads of time, like what was mentioned above in terms of creating travel plans. You can simply set parameters then pass off all research tasks to an assistant. This includes data gathering, data mining and development, lead generation, and so much more.

10. Bookkeeping

You can ask an admin virtual assistant to help you keep your finances in order. This is more than just filing bills and invoices. With a bit of experience or training, they can take over client invoicing and keep finances tallied up on whatever tool you use, like XERO or Quickbooks. They won’t do the actual accounting, but having everything neatly added into the software makes it a lot easier for your accountant when it’s time to do your taxes.

Ready to Hire an Admin Virtual Assistant?

Here’s a sample job post that you can use for recruiting an admin virtual assistant. 

Job Description:

I am currently looking to hire an admin virtual assistant to manage my email inbox and calendar as well as do some bookkeeping tasks. The ideal candidate must have excellent communication skills, is dependable, highly organized, and can take on other admin tasks when needed. Please do not apply if you don’t have prior experience.

The right candidate will be responsible for responding to my business emails, coordinating with other members of the team when you need information, and setting appointments on my calendar. It is important that you’re highly organized so my schedule is organized as well. You will be meeting with me at the beginning of every day to give me a run through of my schedule.

You should also be reliable, trustworthy, and have a keen eye for detail. You will be responsible for keeping track of company finances, monitoring project expenses, keeping track of client invoices, and payroll. You should be able to file all documents in an organized manner. You will be expected to create detailed financial reports and explain them to me during meetings.

Desired Hourly Rate:  $5 to $7 per hour

Location Preference:  Non-US

Hours Per week:  20 hours

Specific Hours:  Client’s business hours – flexible between 10am and 5pm Eastern Standard Time

Weekends Needed?:  No

Programs or Tools You Need to Know:

  • Calendly and Google Calendar
  • G Suite
  • Slack
  • Experience working on project management platforms like Trello and Asana

More Tasks for an Admin Virtual Assistant

An admin virtual assistant can actually do a lot more than just these 10 tasks, but these are a good place to start. You may also want to look into how they can help you to optimize content and manage publishing and comments on your blog, track projects that other team members are working on so they get done on time and within the set parameters, and take care of your social media posting, and maybe even some audience engagement. Miscellaneous tasks that you can pass off include sending ecards and event invitations, document format conversion, audio and video transcription, creating reports and forms and document templates, and putting slides together for presentations.

 

Would you like to know how to be certain who your next hire should be? Or maybe you are having a hard time deciding what parts of your business can be outsourced with virtual assistants, right now. We can help you answer these questions, and help you to discover what new systems you should add to scale your business faster. Set up a free hiring consultation with us at Outsource School today – simply book here!

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Virtual Assistants

Leading Remote Teams? 5 Things You Should Immediately Automate

When you’re leading remote teams, it’s important to know how effective hiring remote really is. Countless pieces of evidence showcase that remote working significantly boosts your business growth and productivity. With the emergence of increased remote working during the pandemic, managers and leaders contribute their immense efforts and crucial time managing and leading remote teams.

According to a study, 77% of part-time and full-time remote workers stated that they were more productive when working remotely.

With the evolution of remote development, more and more businesses are embracing their remote teams. The new normal trend has paved the way for companies to come into leading remote teams more effectively.

Although managing and leading remote teams can be challenging and tricky, it is far from impossible. You should establish clear and transparent remote working policies and remote team training in advance in this changing business environment.

According to the latest trends, the future of remote working seems promising. Product companies worldwide quickly adopted new ways of establishing and leading remote teams, using remote communication, and building remote collaboration to perform exceptionally well while working outside of the physical business office. 

Before going further, let’s first check out how remote working is working effectively all around. Here listed some quick statistics you can check:

  1. According to a report, 59% of software teams have increased their productivity while working remotely.
  2. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 3.6% of the US workforce worked from home in 2018. Now, “Our best estimate is that 25-30% of the workforce will be working-from-home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.” 
  3. According to FlexJobs’ survey, 95% of employees say their productivity has been higher or the same working from home, and 51% report being more productive when working remotely. 
  4. 2.9% of the total U.S. workforce works remotely at least half of the time.

Fortunately, we have come up with some quick steps that can help managers who are leading remote teams to improve the engagement and productivity of remote workers.

Automating Task Management

Task management is an important consideration to be taken care of when working remotely. To maximize productivity and effectively run remote teams, you must have a robust and effective team management plan for your remote workers.

Project management or task management tools help team members to get their tasks organized in a timely manner.

Look out for a tool that facilitates the management and tracking of each project’s and team member’s work status. You will get all task management activities to align teams with remote work using task management tools like Trello, Asana, Basecamp, and so on. Automated project management keeps your team on the right track and lets you focus on other core management tasks.

When it’s about automation, remote teams can choose Butler (Trello’s built-in automation tool) among the pool of other available automations. Butler is a one-stop destination for all automation lovers. It enables you to automate almost everything while making leading remote teams quicker and easier. It can help you create buttons on your cards that trigger actions when clicked. Also, it can help you schedule commands for tasks that you need to do regularly. There are many more automations you can set up with this tool. It will provide you immense opportunities for managing your teams remotely.

Set Common Availability for Leading Remote Teams

Remote working is a trend now as larger companies choose remote environments to make flexible work arrangements. It facilitates a balance between their work and personal life. Flexible working hours for differing time zones helps businesses increase productivity, and develop a healthy remote environment and a healthier lifestyle.

Make sure your remote teams that work across distributed locations have working hours in common for real-time collaboration. Predefine their common availability within a specific range and make sure that all team members worldwide are online and accessible during the set timeframe.

Comfortable working hours relieve team members from daily office stress, help them manage their personal lives better, and allow them to work at peak productivity. These remote members can still manage the rest of the workdays according to their chosen schedules.

Making work-life balance easier helps them understand that you care for them and value the work they do for you. It ultimately leads to increased morale and the work and dedication they deliver much better.

Make Use of Effective Communication Tools

Poor communication often takes businesses down through low productivity. Whether it’s about remote environments or in-house work, seamless communication is crucial for remote teams to work collaboratively to achieve a common goal.

Communication tools are the best way to keep every remote worker engaged. Efficient communication is essential for effectively leading remote teams. Businesses must implement messaging platforms like Slack and Skype to make communication and workflow flawless and smooth.

For this, you need to prepare a communication plan to manage a virtual team effectively. It helps the communication process between team members to be faster and more accessible. The purpose here is to document everything about how you will achieve communication needs.  Also, you can use it for multiple ongoing projects and adapt them as needed.

Slack and Microsoft Teams are two tools that are suitable for collaboration and communication. 

Slack is one of the widely used messaging platforms that remote workers rely on pretty often. It provides teams a healthy work environment where they can have clear and open communication.

You can share images, documents, and comments in threads to keep conversations organized. You can also integrate tools, messages, and voice call team members individually. 

Essential Daily Meetings for Leading Remote Teams

Smooth and real-time communication between the remote members helps resolve multiple communication issues and make personal relationships better. 

It’s beneficial to conduct daily meetings via video conferencing and voice calls while managing remote teams. This encourages smoother communication as both the members can analyze each other’s body language and facial expressions. Moreover, it prevents any confusion or misunderstanding between them regarding work, personal issues, etc.

Regular calls between remote team members ensure flawless communication and better collaboration between them. With video conferencing, remote members help ensure that project expectations are crystal clear. To get your remote members engaged, make it a point to seek their input when it’s time to give feedback.

It‘s pretty beneficial to schedule monthly or regular team meetings with a tool like Skype. Video conferencing helps create the space for remote workers to stay engaged and connected. Here, every team member can discuss the projects they are currently working on, and they can always keep coworkers in the loop.

Scheduling video conferencing is an excellent way to build empathy and bridge the gap between in-house and remote team members. Try making use of popular video conferencing tools like Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and so on.

Conducting daily meetings is the key that assures everyone can see the bigger picture and achieve a common goal.

Integrate the Latest Tools 

Working with trending and top-notch technology can take your business to the zenith of success. 

Make sure to integrate these robust tools into your tech stack. The team should be able to access them via any channel. The tool stack should also be kept consistently accurate with each tool kept up-to-date. 

Keeping that in mind, it’s worth noting that not every piece of software will perfectly fit your organization. Similarly, even the best tool may not be the right tool for your team’s current situation. Part of leading remote teams means understanding your team’s technological needs and capabilities and how your tech stack’s current tools meet these needs.

You need to adopt new tools and upgrade current tools to address your team’s evolving needs. Also, if needed, you can migrate to a different tool that better aligns with your team’s processes. As time passes, be sure to revise your tech stack regularly and make changes whenever needed.

Forget Micromanaging and Start Automating

Managers often fear accountability and productivity while leading remote teams. They usually go into micromanagement by default.

Micromanaging everything is challenging and distressing to the manager and affects remote teams’ productivity. You need to empathize with your remote team members and try to step into their shoes. Prioritize their thoughts, mindset, and values, and give them the independence to work freely. If you have hired intelligently, you should have no problems trusting them to align with your business culture and values.

Try to build trust and show your team how much you value them. It validates the team’s work and motivates them to do much better in the future.

Automation helps you keep track of your remote team’s activities without micromanaging. These tools help you assign tasks, check each task’s status, project progress, and maintain regular communication. With the right tools, you can monitor everything without micromanaging. This ultimately helps you balance trust and accountability with remote workers.

Leading Remote Teams

It is no secret that the pandemic has changed the way many people do business. The evolution of remote work as the norm brought on some significant changes in the current business world. Remote work has become more than a trend. It has become a necessity for companies to work efficiently by leading remote teams successfully.

Leading remote teams might be daunting, but remote work can take your business to new heights if done correctly. You need to invest your efforts into smart strategic planning and the right technology to boost performance.

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Virtual Assistants

Should You Hire a Virtual Assistant in the Philippines?

A wide variety of businesses all over the world have hired at least one virtual assistant in the Philippines. This is because Filipinos have proven to be A-players in the freelance world. 

Hiring a virtual assistant in the Philippines is Connor and Nathan’s go-to when they need tasks done for Outsource School. In fact, it has been this way for all of their businesses going back to when they got started back in college. They discovered that hiring a virtual assistant in the Philippines was the best course of action because Filipinos are great for a remote team. 

Here are the reasons why they choose Filipinos, and why we think you should, too!

(1) English Skills 

A virtual assistant in the Philippines has a high probability of understanding English and using the language well. The accent is also quite clean in comparison to other countries because most if not all Filipinos speak more than one language, so they’re used to new languages and can adapt very easily. English is also a native language to many Filipinos. Most Filipinos grow up around people who use English, consuming English media, and using English in school with English language textbooks and other materials. They move on to using English at work in a country that uses English as the language of the courts and government. 

English is everywhere in the Philippines, and actually, English is used more in an official capacity than any other language or dialect. To illustrate, if you walk around in the Philippines, you’ll see notices and signs written in English, read property listings written in English, and hear radio personalities speaking in English. The country also has robust local literature in English, possibly more than literature written in all other languages combined.

(2) Understanding of US Culture 

Aside from direct language difficulty, misunderstandings occur primarily out of cultural differences. The Philippines has experienced long exposure to outside cultures, particularly American. Because of this, Filipinos have a good understanding of US culture in particular. This makes it very easy to communicate with and build rapport with a virtual assistant in the Philippines. As a result, you have less of a chance of running into communication barriers that arise out of cultural differences.

(3) BPO Industry 

BPOs, or Business Process Outsourcing companies choose the Philippines as one of the top countries in the world to put up call centers. This is mainly because of the overall English language proficiency in the country. They also love the Philippines because the people are so easy to get along with and work with.

The IT-BPO industry is one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing in the country. The Philippines hosts knowledge process outsourcing and back offices, animation centers, call centers, software development centers, game development centers, engineering design centers, and medical transcription centers. Many Filipinos have experienced working in the IT-BPO sector, and this adds to their skill level in terms of working for foreign companies and working and communicating with other nationalities, and all that this entails.

(4) People-Focused Culture 

Filipinos have a strong focus on personal relationships. This is an integral part of their culture. Building and maintaining good relationships with others is very important. This means that a virtual assistant in the Philippines will take care of relationships with clients and coworkers. You don’t have to try and teach them how to be understanding and kind and respectful to others, or how to avoid conflict and focus on resolution instead.

This also means that Filipinos are very accommodating to outside cultures. They will actually make added effort to understand and blend in, which is not a common trait of most other cultures. If you have people from other cultures on the team, the Filipinos will be the first ones to want to learn about them and make future hires feel welcome.

Out of that, you also get an adaptability that applies directly to the work environment. Filipinos know how to adapt, and do it willingly, too. Plus, because of the growth of the IT-BPO industry and freelancing in the country, most are used to working strange hours. Different time zones are not an issue for most Filipinos. It’s even safe to say that half the country works night shifts, if not more as a result of the boom in overseas freelance work opportunities.

(5) Adaptable and Flexible

You could say that flexibility is in the Filipino’s DNA. You will often hear a virtual assistant in the Philippines say “Yes” to almost any work demand and do their best to execute their assignments efficiently. Of course, you need to sometimes look beyond this enthusiasm and be careful to make sure that they are actually prepared to do the work. This eagerness to please can lead to early burnout if you don’t provide support in terms of giving them the important details that they need to do what you ask. One great thing about this attitude is that a virtual assistant in the Philippines will usually have no problem studying and learning new skills to do tasks better.

When a virtual assistant in the Philippines loses power or internet connection, they won’t just give up. Most people might simply sit around and wait for it to come back, or say that they don’t have a choice and that the people who rely on them will just have to be more understanding. The Filipino takes commitment seriously, and you will find many in nearby internet cafes, coffee shops, business centers, coworking spaces, or wherever they can get internet service so they can keep working. 

(6) Hard Workers 

Filipinos have a reputation worldwide for being hard workers, and this truth has been proven in Nathan and Connor’s experience. Sources like OFW Update reflect the same thoughts on the hardworking nature of the Filipino. Filipinos are also industrious, so they are easily motivated to go above and beyond the call of duty when treated well. A paycheck is not the main focus of a Filipino, so they don’t just do tasks for the sake of getting them done. Quality output is important to them, and this is a rare trait that that is key to growing any business and that you can’t train any hire to acquire.

Filipinos are also resilient, as Gallup International points out. They will always find ways to adjust to be able to deliver on expectations to satisfy clients. Just make sure that you reward this with appreciation and bonuses so you don’t wear them out! This resilience also means that a virtual assistant in the Philippines does not run away from difficult situations. You will often find virtual assistant in the Philippines continuing to work by whatever means are available despite natural calamities raging outside.

(7) Value Family 

If family is one of your core business values, then a virtual assistant in the Philippines is a great choice for your business. Family is valued above all in the Filipino culture. The majority of Filipinos are family-oriented, so they will fit into a family-oriented business model very quickly and snugly. Moreover, family values like relationship and cooperation and collaboration come naturally to the Filipino. They are always helping each other to learn and grow, always calling each other brother and sister and auntie and uncle even when they aren’t related. This stems out of their deep respect for elders and those who have more experience to share.

(8) Optimistic and Enthusiastic

The Philippines has a long history of invasion and colonization and natural disasters like earthquakes and typhoons and floods. This could have caused them to become a morose people, but instead, the Filipino has chosen to build a more positive outlook to deal with difficult circumstances. When you hire a virtual assistant in the Philippines, you will quickly notice how they have developed a knack for staying optimistic and enthusiastic when faced with challenges. You definitely want a team of people who are looking on the brighter side of things instead of grumbling all the time.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for someone who has good English skills, the ability to pivot and adapt, a great work ethic, outsourcing experience, family values, a great attitude, and a general love of people, then you should hire a virtual assistant in the Philippines.

Would you like to know how to be certain who your next hire should be? Or maybe you are having a hard time deciding what parts of your business can be outsourced with virtual assistants, right now. We can help you answer these questions, and help you to discover what new systems you should add to scale your business faster. Set up a free hiring consultation with us at Outsource School today – simply book here!

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Virtual Assistants

How to Track Virtual Assistants Daily Progress

You need to track virtual assistants to increase their efficiency and maximize their results. The best option is to use a special program to help you to track daily progress and improve their productive flow. This also improves their time management and increases business profitability for you. 

Here, in this article, we will take a gander at different types of software that will help you track virtual assistants as they work.

Virtual Assistants and the IT Solution

Many companies practice hiring virtual assistants. Compared to hiring in-house employees, the labor cost often turns out to be lower. This is of great benefit when they also come with high professional competencies and experience in their fields. A company that leverages these remote talents saves even more because it no longer needs to spend money on additional training. 

Such businesses often use special software to monitor work and track virtual assistants to keep an eye on their progress. Some kind of content management system is a must-have tool to run any business smoothly and successfully. As a rule, most use-cases prove that programs to track virtual assistants increase the overall team’s productivity and efficiency. This helps businesses get higher ROI.

Deep down, choosing a service for tracking the progress of remote hires depends on the specific purpose and type of industry. These services range from those that record screens to simple organizers allowing companies to check on how a project is running. While some of them are available for free, others charge you a certain amount of money. The majority are adaptable and easy to use. To make the right choice and get the most out of these tools, you first need to understand why and how you aim to track progress of your virtual team. So, let’s dive into different solutions offered by IT technologies. 

Software to Track Progress: Types and Cases of Use

File-sharing Software 

Here, the market gives us a variety of tools among which are Dropbox, Google, and Huddle, to name a few. Team members can upload their finished work and that’s the main virtue of these tools. Of course, there are more features that help you to collaborate and manage content. This type of software comes in handy for companies that have multiple virtual assistants engaging in different aspects of the same project. Tools that offer features like task management and team communication rolled into one are even better than pure file sharing apps.

Task Management Software

One of the most effective of these tools is Todoist. Its robust system can handle tasks varying from grocery lists to large-scale projects. This to-do-list software allows for listing down tasks, setting deadlines, and assigning people to perform them. Besides, it makes it easy to visualize how an entire project is going. A big benefit is the ability to track virtual assistants progress with a simple click of a button.

Performance Platform

To know your remote team’s achievements and the pain points they might struggle with, you can opt for a performance platform. For instance, 15Five allows you to view the issues that your virtual assistants are facing. Actually, it can be used for both in-office and remote work. Anybody under the jurisdiction of a team leader will be able to inform them of any pressing concerns. This platform integrates performance reviews, feedback, and periodical objectives.

Project Tracking Software

An overall project can be broken down into tasks, and these tasks can then be titled and given a description, as well as a checklist. Here comes Trello, the most popular and highly-used project tracking software. It helps greatly with tracking task completion and meeting project deadlines. If a task is assigned to a particular person, when it’s finished, it’s possible to even attach the file associated with the task. This can then be moved forward to the next phase, or labelled complete by the overall project head.

Hybrid Services

Combining the features of a project management tool and a time-keeping software, it becomes easy to track virtual assistants. Wrike is especially efficient when a company is working on various projects with different clients and a different team of virtual assistants for each project. With Wrike, you can track project progress on a daily basis, and see the amount of time and money spent on each project. Also, it allows you to break down the project into tasks, and assign these tasks to particular individuals.

To provide proper communication between the members of the team and allocate the right person for each task, go for Hey.Space. This tool is a well-organized program that allows you to check everything on one screen. This software also shows a to-do-list, the assigned person for each task, and a unified board with an open chat stream going.

Supplemental tools

When you track virtual assistants who are located in different time zones and different countries, it can get tricky. You and the team might get confused when discussing dates and times and face misunderstandings. The app called World Time Buddy is an excellent tool to handle the problem of scheduling when it comes to different time zones. It helps to keep everyone on the same page when setting deadlines and scheduling meetings and calls.

Project Management Software

An example of this type of software is Asana, which helps managers and team members stay focused on projects and keep track of progress throughout the entire process. The best feature of this tool is its simplicity. Yet, you can integrate multiple things into this program. Users can tie in emails, files and other items. Once a task is done, it can easily be ticked off the list and a team leader can create customized fields to monitor pertinent information. 

All in all, among all the software discussed above, time trackers prove to be a one-stop and win-win tool fitting all types of businesses and purposes of use. Now we’ll discuss why these tools deserve attention and how they can benefit you and your company in the long run.

Time Trackers: What, Why and How 

What is a Time Tracker?

Time tracking software is a little plugin to track virtual assistants as they work. Each person activates the plugin on their computer, and it times them. Needless to say, there are plenty of time tracking systems on the market now: Hubstaff, AtTrack, Timely, Desktime, to name a few. They offer different functionality, depending on objectives and industries. Whereas some of them deliver screenshots to strictly monitor activity, others just help to make sure that projects are running along at the required pace. 

To show you the ultimate functionality of time trackers, let’s have a look at one, which is noted for complexity, multifunctionality and flexibility. 

AtTrack is a reliable, easy-to-use and affordable time tracker. AtTrack keeps a per-second record of work time, evaluates projects precisely based on time spent, simplifies the task reporting process, analyzes activity and efficiency levels, tracks the applications used and websites visited during workflow, and creates detailed reports of work-related activities. Its biggest selling point is a modular structure, so you can even build your own customized time tracking system and use only the features necessary for you.

Why and How? 

The best time trackers are of vital importance in managing virtual teams because they don’t just track work time. Some trackers help to prevent professional burnout by providing valuable statistics on users’ work days, so that you can manage their workloads if things get too intense. You will see when it’s time to give them a break by looking at how their activity levels change. 

When using a time tracker, you get the ultimate picture of an individual’s work routine, and can better control what is happening with the team. It becomes easier to streamline work since you see who works more than others, who’s overloaded, who struggles, and with what. 

Also, time trackers help you to make sure that everyone is accountable for the money you’re paying them and don’t charge you more than they actually work. They give a clear overview of what people have worked on, what they’ve accomplished, and what their day looked like. This will help you to improve work processes.

One important point to note about using time tracking software is the trust factor. Before you decide to track virtual assistants by logging their time input, make sure that you are not doing more harm than good by implying that you don’t trust them to work and not play. Outsource School does not recommend using time tracking software for this reason. Instead, the key to high productivity and all-around efficiency and satisfaction in the workplace is hiring A-players to begin with.

Conclusion

When leveraging virtual assistants, the distance between both sides can make it impossible to have face-to-face meetings. So, physical monitoring of work becomes problematic as well, and you can face the possibility of wondering what they’re doing. If you want to get higher ROI from hires by regularly keeping them productive and effective, you need to manage teams properly. The key is to track virtual assistants daily to stay on top of their progress. This way, you are always aware of how projects are going. Then you will know how to streamline if something is not going according to plan. 

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Virtual Assistants

When Is the Right Time to Delegate Work to Others?

Many business owners wonder when the right time is to delegate work. The choice to delegate is even often easier to make than choosing when to start letting go. The problem is that many contradicting pieces of advice exist out there. So, most business owners don’t know what words of advice to follow.

In this article, we’re going to lay out what has worked for us here at Outsource School. We’ll highlight the top times when it’s a clear sign that you should start delegating. This comes from the common problems that business owners run into when trying to do everything themselves. Then we’ll provide some simple tips for how to start delegating. 

When to Delegate Work

The simplest answer for this is to delegate work when you need to. That’s where it gets tricky because your needs are different from others’ needs. We do have a few solid markers, however, for when anyone should delegate work.

1.  Time Crunch

When you find yourself working close to 40 hours a week, you should start thinking about delegating some tasks. Most business owners wait until they are working more than 40 hours a week, and that actually makes delegating work much more difficult. You need time to delegate work properly, starting with the right hiring process all the way up to onboarding and monitoring hires. Plus, you probably did not choose to own a business over being an employee so that you could have less freedom, right?

So, when you feel like you are hitting the 30-hour mark, start thinking about what tasks you will want to pass off in the coming months. In the next section on how to Delegate Work Smoothly, we have some tips for you on how to choose the first tasks to delegate.

2.  Mundane Tasks

When you find yourself working in your business instead of on it, that’s a sure sign that you need to delegate work. Basically, you should delegate work that eats up your time and does not make the best use of your talents and skills. We all know that you can do these tasks, but that’s not the point. You need to delegate work that’s not at your level so that you can start taking on tasks that really need your expertise. This is the only way that you can grow your business instead of getting stuck in the hamster wheel.

If you are feeling like your business is running you, it is very likely because you are doing mundane tasks. Sit down and think about all the things you are doing that are not really tasks for someone in your position as the leader of your company.

3.  Letting Go

This might seem a bit strange, but it’s true that you can only effectively delegate work once you’ve learned to let go. You need to let go of control in your business to the degree that it will allow you to delegate work without turning into a micromanager. This is absolutely key if you want to delegate work to free up your time and reduce stress. You simply can’t delegate work if you are always running through scenarios in your mind that make you wonder about all the things that could possibly go wrong. 

We recommend that every business owner put some time and effort into exercises that will help you do this. Having outsourcing and hiring guidance is super helpful in this process. With guidelines to follow, it becomes less scary to actually start passing off work because you know how to pick the right people to get the job done well.

Delegate Work Smoothly

Now you’re ready to avoid the mistake of trying to do everything in your business yourself. And you’re ready to pick up a strategic approach to hiring so you can begin to delegate work successfully. Here are our top tips for how you can start to delegate work without running into issues.

Review Tasks to Delegate

The first tasks that you should think about delegating are all the small things that always seem to get in the way. These are little tasks that don’t really take up much time on their own, but do add up. They could be scheduling meetings or booking appointments and flights, data entry or copy and paste work, and other administrative type tasks. These are also very simple tasks most of the time. Delegate work that falls into this category to an assistant. In most cases, you can hire virtually for these tasks. For additional tasks that must be handled in person, you can look into hiring a personal assistant or booking an errand service if it makes sense in your situation.

Next, you can delegate tasks that take up a lot of time, such as everyday repetitive tasks. These can be posting to social media channels, answering basic customer inquiries, and cleaning up your email inbox and keeping messages organized. Some tasks do need a certain level of special skills, but are not that difficult to manage. Just make sure that you are looking for someone who has those specific skills and you’ll be fine.

Finally, delegate tasks that you are not well suited for or simply shouldn’t be doing because you have owner-level tasks to get to. This is anything that requires specialization that you don’t have or that you don’t have time for. Website maintenance and updates, graphic design, copywriting and article writing are a few examples. Basically anything that does not require your specific expertise is a task that you should think about delegating. Think about tasks that need to get done quickly, too, that would cause you to have to drop other important tasks. It’s better to delegate tasks that are time-sensitive instead of being forced to choose what gets done when everything is important.

Target A-Players

When you delegate work, much of your success comes from the people to whom you are delegating. You must find the right people for each task or group of tasks. This means that you need to approach delegation from a mindset that you are going to hire only the best. It doesn’t matter if you are passing off the most tedious and simple of tasks. You still want to hire only those who have great attitudes and professionalism. You are not going to get the help you need to free up your time and destress if your people are not taking the work seriously or not communicating their progress or just basically flaking out on you.

Prepare by writing down exactly what you need done, then the qualities that you want the perfect person for this job to have. You also want to give special attention to what qualities are a good fit for your company culture, or at least the way that you personally work. Then reiterate all of that by explaining the responsibilities that the right candidate will have. Then you can start sharing this job description to attract A-players.

Use the IOTM Method

You need to follow a proven system for Interviewing, Onboarding, Training and Managing hires. Hiring the best is more than just attracting people who like your job post or think that they qualify. 

You have to confirm if each candidate is right for the job by being intentional in your interview process. The interview is also where you set expectations to see if candidates are really prepared to work with you, and better yet, excited to be a part of your business. This is how you identify the best applicant and make sure that there are no loose ends before you make the hire. 

When you onboard, you need to have a system that you follow to take the new hire through everything that they need to know about working in their new position. This includes your company culture, the people they will be working alongside, and getting on the same page about the specifics of what you expect from them in their new role.

No matter what role you are hiring for, you must expect to provide some level of training. The key is to hire in a strategic manner so that you will not have to provide a lot of training. But, you can never just hire someone and send them off to work. Your business is unique, and some guidance is always required if you want that person to work effectively and be happy staying with you.

Managing is an important part of delegating work. The way you maintain work relationships with hires makes a big impact on how productive they are over the long term. It also spells the difference between facing high turnover and developing loyalty among team members.

If you’re not an Outsource School member yet, it’s time to get on board! We will give you what you need to hire smoothly and avoid the common hiring mistakes that cost you time, money, and turnover headaches.

Build Trust

Trust is so important, whether you are hiring for short-term projects or long-term positions. It doesn’t have to take a lot of effort to develop trust, and it doesn’t actually take a lot of time, either. All you need is to understand how valuable trust is to see that building it is one of the greatest investments you can ever make for your business.

Simply put, you can develop trust with hires by being trustworthy yourself, and by reassuring hires that they are valued members of the team. Even if you’re outsourcing, you can make ways to connect with hires and build a remote company culture that fosters mutual accountability and builds relationships. Even just the effort itself to touch base with hires and set aside time for them goes a long way.

Final Thoughts

The right time for you to delegate work can be very different from the right time for someone else. These three basic markers are universal, however — time availability, task types, and readiness. They are a good place for anyone to start evaluating whether or not it is indeed time to delegate work. 

Generally speaking, we actually believe that if you are even here reading about delegating tasks, then that’s something to think about. It can already indicate that you are ready to delegate work, at least on some level. If you are feeling something that you think passing off tasks may help with, we invite you to look into it and figure out what’s at the root of it all. You will likely find that it actually boils down to an issue of either time or talent!

 

Would you like to know how to be certain who your next hire should be? Or maybe you are having a hard time deciding what parts of your business can be outsourced with virtual assistants, right now. We can help you answer these questions, and help you to discover what new systems you should add to scale your business faster. Set up a free hiring consultation with us at Outsource School today – simply book here!

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Virtual Assistants

8-Step Customer Value Journey to Increase Referrals

How important is the Customer Value Journey to referrals?

We all know that word-of-mouth is a strong source of new business. But I bet you didn’t realize that you could put a system into place that would help you get more referrals.

This system starts with a simple and understated tool called the Customer Value Journey. This tool helps you document and improve every step of your customer lifecycle, from first touch to raving fan and every stepping stone along the way. With each step, you systematically build trust, position yourself as an authority, and create a relationship that will be profitable for your business and beneficial for your customers.

Let us show you the 8 steps of the Customer Value Journey that you can use to create an army of super-fans that will help you grow your business.

Step #1. Build Awareness

Building your brand and growing your business begins with increasing customer awareness. If clients don’t know you exist, how can you expect them to find you? 

Engaging with potential clients involves advertising your business. However, it’s not enough to just announce your presence. You need to show prospects what you can offer them. They need to know that they have a problem and that you have the solution to that problem.

In this step of the Customer Value Journey, you create awareness of the problem through top-of-funnel content. This content addresses the problem and lines your business up as the solution. There are numerous ways to set up this content to build awareness of your business:

  • Blog posts
  • Infographics
  • Advertisements
  • Podcasts
  • Social media posts 
  • Digital products (ebooks, PDFs, etc.)
  • Word of mouth referrals

Anything that catches the eye of your prospects can build awareness. However, if you don’t target the information to your ideal client, the prospect may not see the content. They may also ignore it because they don’t know you’re a good fit for them.

Most advertising platforms make it easy to target your ideal audience. It can be trickier with social media platforms, but if you search for your ideal client, you can get a better idea of where they hang out so you can be more visible to them.

Step #2. Engage with Prospects

Engagement is a crucial part of the Customer Value Journey. There are many ways to grow and develop a dynamic relationship with prospects, but engagement is the key to walking your prospect through this  journey. If your prospects aren’t engaged, they’re not emotionally invested enough to become clients. A lack of engagement makes it easy for them to walk away. 

So how can you actively engage with prospects that aren’t yet fully committed to you? 

Videos are a valuable engagement tool that allows prospects to know, like and trust you and your brand. Videos that educate and inform prospects are great because they do two things. First, they establish you as an authority on the subject matter at hand. Second, they open up the door for your prospect to seek more information from you and help build a rapport between you.

Videos have another benefit in that they are well-suited for both social media and your website. Use the same videos across multiple platforms to efficiently engage with more potential clients, and you’ll save yourself the work of creating new content for each platform.

Social media itself is another great platform for building engagement. Stay active on your social media channels by delegating the work to a social media team that is ready to address questions or comments at any time. Being responsive to and interested in prospective clients shows that you’re committed to building a relationship with them.

Step #3. Get Them to Subscribe

Once you’ve got your prospect engaged, maintain that relationship by capturing their contact information. If they know and trust you, it’s the next natural step in the Customer Value Journey — that of becoming a client. 

Now, you need to offer something valuable enough for a prospect to hand over their email address. For example, you can offer exclusive content to those who join your mailing list. You can also provide a quality lead magnet that pulls your prospect in and lets them know that you are the answer to what they’ve been looking for.

Lead magnets can take many different forms.

  • Free ebook or other digital content
  • Video webinar
  • Quizzes/surveys and results
  • Educational resources
  • Discounts
  • Software downloads

While it’s true that you will inevitably get freebie seekers, you can help weed out unlikely converters by segmenting your mailing list. An assessment or grader can help you segment your subscriber list to identify those prospects most likely to stay and convert to clients. It uses identifying information to help you categorize each subscriber so you can send them targeted emails in the future.

By segmenting your subscriber list and targeting each group specifically, you can increase your number of conversions and keep those prospects happy once they’ve become clients.

Step #4. Convert Subscribers to Clients

It’s not enough to have a subscriber list of happy prospects. You need to convert these people into paying customers. Before that, however, you need to guide them to the next step, sharing some of their valuable time or making a small purchase.

Prospects aren’t ready to commit fully at this stage in the Customer Value Journey. With a little motivation, though, they soon will be. Offer an entry-level product or service at an exclusive rate, and provide one-to-one consultations to deepen the relationship. 

Information calls or consultations are an excellent way for B2B businesses to engage with prospects and convert them into dedicated clients. Highlight your value during these calls. Showcase testimonials of how you’ve helped your other clients. Social proof is a powerful tool, and these testimonials demonstrate your commitment to helping these new clients become successful.

At this point in the Customer Value Journey, you’re not looking to make a profit. Instead, by offering value at an entry level price, you’re firming up the relationship between your new client and your business. 

Step #5. Generate Excitement About Your Business

Generating excitement about your business doesn’t necessarily mean making big, bold gestures. Clients can get excited about you just by buying your products, but only if they see them as truly valuable. Aim to offer unexpected value, or surprise and delight your new clients.

A simple, small gift can be the perfect way to thank and excite your clients. Personalize the gift, if you can, to better reflect your new business relationship. For example, a book, magazine, or even a simple card can all add a deeply personal touch that reminds your client exactly why they chose to do business with you. Use this step to ensure your client continues to work with you by making your core offer the obvious next step in their journey.

Step #6. Ascend the Relationship

The ascension step in the Customer Value Journey is where your client purchases your core product or service. In addition, this step is where your first-time buyer buys into bigger and better products and/or services, or repeatedly purchases from your business. 

Simple upsells are a good way to grow your relationship with your client. Add-ons and ‘done for you’ solutions are also popular. Anything that makes it easier for your client is a smart way to provide value and generate more sales. 

Take care not to ignore your clients at this point in the Customer Value Journey. It can be tempting to spend all your time and energy searching for new prospects. Don’t forget to market to your existing clients. It’s easier to sell to warm clients than to sell to warm prospects because they already know you’re a good fit for them.

When you continue to market to existing clients, you continue to help them overcome challenges. This also gives them opportunities to strengthen their bond with you. Show them a little love, and they’ll return the favor.

Step #7. Turn Clients into Advocates

At this point in the Customer Value Journey, you are building a strong bond. You’ve shown them that you can deliver above and beyond what was initially expected. They’ve been receptive to your new and upcoming products and/or services because they know you provide value and care about them. So now, they’re primed to become a part of your company’s voice.

Take advantage of the natural advertising that your success with these clients shows by using their words to sell to others. Record your client meetings, ask for feedback, seek out testimonials, and then use this priceless content to boost your marketing and drive awareness of your business.

Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews from your clients. Most are happy to oblige, especially if you’ve offered them great value for their money and time. But don’t stop there — make this a part of your standard operating procedures. Each time you hit a milestone or phase with your clients, have a process in place to request a testimonial or review.

Step #8. Empower Your Promoters

The ultimate step in the Client Value Journey is promotion. Promotion is different from testimonials and advocacy in a significant way. A testimonial is something you ask for from your client. Your client may give it happily or freely, but you still have to take the reins and utilize the testimony yourself.

When your client becomes a promoter, they actively promote your business and its benefits without being asked. However, it doesn’t mean they will always do it out of the goodness of their hearts. You can help fuel the fire by providing tools to help your clients promote you. For example, referral programs where the client earns some reward for referring others to you are still a form of promotion, and if you do it correctly, it can benefit you and your clients enough to become a standard part of your business as well.

Consider strategic product and/or service bundling with your clients. Do they have a product that pairs well with one of your own? Could two small, paired products bring both of you more success? Get creative and use what you have, which is an excellent relationship with a client who wants to see you succeed almost as much as they want to see themselves succeed.

Are you ready to elevate your business with the customer value journey? Contact Manny Torres today to apply for a complimentary workshop

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Virtual Assistants

How Outsource School Helps You Save $5,000+ Per Year

Outsource School helps business owners save thousands of dollars every year. The premise is avoiding the cost of a bad hire. Here are the facts:

When a business makes a bad hire or faces turnover, it can expect to lose at least 30% of that hire’s salary for the first year of their employment. Even when hiring an entry-level virtual assistant at $5 per hour, that comes to over $3,000. 

If you have been hiring for a while, you have probably experienced either turnover or making a bad hire — and probably both. If you have experienced this with 5 people in the same year, then your losses are estimated at $15,600. And that’s only counting this one factor. Additional financial costs must be counted, like how much money was spent throughout the hiring process, including interviewing, onboarding, and training each person. The opportunity cost involved in replacing a bad hire must also be considered. 

Then you need to think about the probability of running into turnover and/or making another bad hire when you replace the people who have left or were fired. If you’re using the same hiring process again, the likelihood is high.

Our top priority is to eliminate waste in the hiring process. So, here’s how Outsource School helps you to avoid the costly effects of common hiring mistakes that lead to bad hires and high turnover. 

(1) A Proven Hiring System 

Outsource School helps business owners become outsourcing and hiring experts. You can learn through their proven hiring system how to find and hire the right person the first time around. This way, you won’t have to worry about the problem of wasted money, time, and other resources. Outsource School offers their unique hiring method to business owners, called the IOTM Method. This system works for any business, and you can start implementing it immediately.

(2) Fast to Implement Playbooks for Hiring Different Positions 

Outsource School has 20 playbooks to date that members can access. These playbooks help them to make good hires for specific roles within their businesses. They fall under management, administrative, marketing, design and development, sales, and finance. New playbooks are released every month to show business owners exactly how to hire and outsource for a specific skill.

(3) A Private Community Where You Can Get All of Your Questions Answered 

Outsource School helps business owners connect with other business owners who have encountered similar hiring issues. Together, these business owners can learn and implement solutions faster and more effectively. 

Outsource School offers support through the platform, but a strong community is always a valuable resource. If you run into any problems and are not sure what solutions to use or how to implement them, Outsource School and the community are available to help you get through faster and more safely.

In the private Facebook group, Outsource School does weekly live coaching calls for all members. These calls are open calls where the Outsource School team takes questions on anything outsourcing. The calls stay up in the group, too, so members can go back and listen to any calls that they may have missed.

The best thing about the Outsource School group is that Nathan and Connor themselves maintain a strong presence in the group. They regularly do live Q&A calls, answer questions in the comments, and encourage active members. That’s free access to the experts themselves without having to schedule anything on their calendars.

(4) SimplySOP for Creating and Sharing SOPs 

Outsource School helps a lot of business owners with the SimplySOP subscription itself. SimplySOP is bundled into the Outsource School package, so full members get this basically for free. 

SimplySOP is a proprietary software that is valued at $497. It helps business owners to create their own SOPs based on a templated formula that has served Nathan and Connor for years. Currently, members also have access to several different SOPs in the private SOP library that have been uploaded to serve as examples and/or templates. There are also various trainings to help you make the best use of the program and churn out effective SOPs for their businesses.

(5) Ongoing Releases of New Trainings and SOPs. 

Cracking the VA Code is an awesome mini-course that helps business owners to learn the exact hiring system that the owner-founders of Outsource School have used to hire hundreds of virtual assistants and freelancers. This mini-course contains everything that you need to master interviewing, onboarding, training, and managing. It even has templates for interview questions, cheat sheets, training methods, screen shares, meeting agendas, and much more! On top of all that, it only takes about 5 hours to complete the entire mini-course.

Final Thoughts

Outsource School helps business owners save thousands of dollars every year. With expert training, templates, guides, software, and community, you get a great deal. But that’s not all there is to the Outsource School program. You also get a rate sheet that shows you common rates for different roles, access to 50 pre-made Job Post Templates that you can post straight to online marketplaces after simply changing out a few details, and more!

 

Would you like to know how to be certain who your next hire should be? Or maybe you are having a hard time deciding what parts of your business can be outsourced with virtual assistants, right now. We can help you answer these questions, and help you to discover what new systems you should add to scale your business faster. Set up a free hiring consultation with us at Outsource School today – simply book here!

Categories
Virtual Assistants

5 Little-Known Secrets for Small Businesses

One might think that the best secrets for small businesses come from recognized expert sources. The real experts, however, are the people in the trenches – small business owners!

I recently caught up with one of our long-term clients to understand what we can do better to support their business. As we talked, it became clear that the majority of advice given to them was passed on from a friend or another small business.

It emphasized the value community but brought to light some key secrets that small businesses should be aware of. We have brought together here some of our best kept secrets for small businesses to help you and your business’s journey.

These are the 5 little-known secrets for small businesses:

1. Find a community of small businesses

Given that the premise of this article is based on secrets for small businesses shared by other small business owners, it makes sense to start with finding a community – This is where the best secrets originate.

Small business owners tend to hang out in certain communities. These can be small businesses that provide support in areas of a business or in dealing with competitors in the industry. 

The first step in joining a community is to find out where like-minded business owners are hanging out. Some communities are great for sharing ideas and collaborating. In the UK, BNI and Chambers of Commerce are great places to start. In these groups, business owners meet up regularly, typically once a month, which provides a good opportunity to build relationships with other small businesses.

2. Don’t underestimate marketing

A man looking at digital marketing analytics.

Whether you’re a B2B or B2C business, you must prioritize the marketing of your business. One of the best secrets for small businesses is that your marketing efforts now are crucial to the revenue generation of your business, even in the long term.

Marketing can have a profound impact on your lead generation, and as a small business, you may not know where to look.

Start by analyzing your competitors closely and looking at what marketing channels they are using. Take what they’re using, make it better and maximize your lead generation efforts.

We would recommend starting with:

  • Your website
  • Google PPC
  • SEO
  • Outbound email marketing

3. Use a virtual assistant

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran working in a small business or starting a new venture, you know the impact that admin can have on your workload.

One of the most common secrets for small businesses is to delegate whenever possible. Most small business owners aren’t quite sure how to do this, and who to delegate to.

The rise of virtual assistants has been driven mainly by more and more businesses finding out about them. This makes hiring them one of the best kept secrets for small businesses.

With a virtual assistant, you can delegate admin and secretarial tasks, and you only pay for the time you use. 

4. Do your research before purchasing data

Two people looking at documents.

As mentioned before, a common marketing strategy is to go outbound and purchase data, then send a lot of great emails and turn them into sales – that’s the goal!

However, without the right research and know-how, this strategy can potentially have long lasting negative implications for your business. This is another “don’t do” among the 5 little known secrets for small businesses – a key risk that all small businesses should be aware of. What you want to avoid is your email sending domain getting flagged as a ‘spam sender’.

Purchasing data is a high-risk strategy, so do make sure you do thorough research first. We would recommend finding the right supplier, too, before purchasing data. Find a supplier who is there to support you and guarantee a return.

5. Hiring is the most difficult thing you will do

Now this one might seem simple, but is the most often missed of our 5 little-known secrets for small businesses. People are the most important part of your business, and the challenge of hiring is enhanced when you are a small business. 

Hiring the right person to join your company, and make an impact is possibly the biggest hurdle of them all. The challenge when hiring someone new is that they not only need to have the skills to fit the role, but the ability to integrate with your culture.

We would recommend taking a hiring course sooner than later because getting hiring wrong can be very costly!

Categories
Virtual Assistants

9 Common Hiring Mistakes Costing Time and Money

Are you making any of these 9 common hiring mistakes? If you are, it’s very likely costing you lots of time and money! This means both hard costs — actual money out — and opportunity costs. Plus, not only can common hiring mistakes bleed you of these two valuable resources, but they can also hurt your company growth. 

Your company leadership team is responsible for the vitally important function of selecting, interviewing, hiring, onboarding, training, and integrating talent into your business. If you’re a small business, this likely means that the job falls to the business owner.

It’s time to evaluate your business’s hiring practices so you can stop making these common hiring mistakes. So, here are the 9 common hiring mistakes that you should make sure you are not making in your business.

(1)  Not Creating a Detailed Job Post

Most companies make the mistake of getting openings out to the public too quickly. Sure, time is of the essence, but being careless about posting openings invites a lot of unqualified candidates. You may save a bit of time and money by just scribbling out whatever comes to mind at the moment that you put out your ad or fill out a form on a hiring marketplace. You will stand to lose a lot more, though, but not taking enough time to thoughtfully jot down a clear description of the exact person you are looking for to fill that role.

First of all, you must know and clearly list out the skills (both hard and soft) and the type and level of experience that the perfect candidate must have, the responsibilities that they must take on, and the deliverables that you expect. This will then guide you in crafting a recruitment strategy and interview flow that will help you avoid common hiring mistakes throughout the hiring process. 

(2)  Not Reviewing Target Skills and Experience

Many business owners skip the vital step of reviewing the information that candidates submit. This process can be tedious and time-consuming, so they just speed-read through the applications and end up looking more at how they are formatted. When you let appearances lead your decision-making process, you will miss the important information actually contained in the text, and in between the lines. 

Sometimes, business owners are keen on certain skills, experiences, and character traits. That’s a good thing, but it can be manipulated. Candidates can throw in these “buzzwords” to grab the attention of someone who is simply skimming through applications. Don’t be easily wowed by a candidate’s awesome experience only to learn later on that it is not relevant to your immediate needs. It can be hard to let go of someone you’ll definitely want to have on your team in ten years, based on your goals. But think — are you really prepared to sustain this person until you get there? And if you indeed maintain that same plotted path?

Only entertain candidates who have the sets of skills and types and level of experience that they need to do the exact work that you need them to do at this stage, right now. 

(3)  Not Checking for Other Commitments

In the world of employment, this means allowing candidates to look around for other opportunities while you interview them. In the world of freelancing, you can’t really expect candidates to sit around and wait for you to choose them. This is true in any scenario if you are hiring for a part-time position. You can, however, always ask candidates nicely if they can commit to holding off for a set number of days to give you — and them! — some time to see if it’s the right fit and make a decision. Most A-players will appreciate this, and then you’ll get the bonus of confirming that they have a good attitude and are therefore a good choice.

If you are doing hiring right, you will spend a lot of time and effort in the later stages of hiring. This is one of the common hiring mistakes that has smaller components. So, that said, you want to make sure that you are not investing in people who will turn around and take a different job at the drop of a hat. Early on in the hiring process, make sure that you confirm that each of the best candidates is indeed interested in the role that you are offering. Before you get to the interview stage, confirm that the final top choices are sure that they want to take the position. Ask them why as well. This will give you a lot of clues as to how much they want to join your company. If they give you any indication that they are playing the field, ask them about it straight out. Develop this habit of qualifying candidates throughout the hiring process so that you can reduce your chances of making common hiring mistakes.

(4)  Not Providing a Smooth Hiring Experience

The best applicants for any position are not desperate people. Forgetting this will get you to fall into this most slippery of common hiring mistakes. The best applicants know their worth and will not want to work with you if you are not presenting as a good opportunity. This might be a clunky application page, poor response times, or coming to an interview unprepared — yes, the best candidates can tell! 

Top talent evaluates clients and opportunities just as you evaluate them and their applications. They appreciate an experience that does not make them jump through unnecessary hoops or make them feel like they are not respected. It doesn’t take a lot to simplify the process so that you can show that you value candidates’ time and don’t want to leave them hanging.

(5)  Not Interviewing for Actual Experience

The easy way to prepare for interviews is to have pre-set questions that you ask every candidate. The problem with this is that your questions will be hypothetical. It’s really easy to answer hypothetical questions. Anyone can tell you exactly what you want to hear when you give them an imaginary scenario. What you want to know is what they actually did in a very real situation that they went through. 

Once again, spending less time preparing may seem to be a good use of time, but ends up putting you in a place where you are more likely to make a mistake.

(6)  Not Interviewing for Skill, Attitude, AND Culture Fit 

If you have not identified the handful of must-have skills for a position, then you will not be able to conduct a proper interview. You will end up just having a conversation instead of getting down to the specifics that will help you hone in on the perfect fit. This wastes a lot of time, energy, and money.

In terms of attitude, you must know what character traits you want within your workforce. Attitude bleeds into teams, so you want to make sure that you are targeting the traits that will have a positive impact on the whole. If you do not confirm that a candidate has the right attitude during the interview, then you are headed for a bad hire, regardless of their skills and experience. 

The pitfalls for culture are similar to what was said above about attitude. Your culture is a vital, living force for your business. You don’t want to make decisions that will turn it against your business because you did not cover culture fit during the interview process. Consider as well that an otherwise good candidate will not be able to perform well and be successful in the role you are hiring for if they are not a good culture fit. This imbalance will quickly turn a good candidate sour and hurt your business. 

Make sure you evaluate properly and make your final selection based on the handful of key, non-negotiable qualities that you have thoughtfully determined for the role. Don’t allow secondary or irrelevant concerns to take your attention away from these most important success factors.

(7)  After Hiring, Forgetting to Onboard 

Hiring someone is just the first step in their official experience with your company. Of all these 9 common hiring mistakes, onboarding is the one that most companies make knowingly. Most business owners just don’t see the value in designing and maintaining an actual system for bringing new hires onboard. They think that they can just wing it and that this works out better. In our experience, it most definitely does not.

When you fail to onboard new hires, you miss a vital opportunity to get them properly settled in. This means that the new hire will be uncomfortable as they start work, which leads to poor performance right off the bat. They are likely to be stressed, unhappy, and unable to perform at their normal level — forget about peak performance. Onboarding is an essential process that prepares any new hire to enter a new environment. No matter what kind of experience they have under their belts, your company is unique. They need guidance to fit in perfectly. When you onboard properly, you make sure that each new hire can hit the ground running.

(8)  Not Talking About Schedule 

Probably the most common of our 9 common hiring mistakes is not discussing work times. We could have covered schedules in the points on interviewing and onboarding, but we feel that this deserves its own special spot because it’s so common and so important.

Most business owners assume that hires will conform to their schedules, no matter what they are. This is because a lot of businesses still have a hangover from the olden days when everyone worked the 8 or 9 to 5 grind. Some business owners also expect hires to conform simply because they are the “boss” and hires must do whatever they say, no questions asked. Sure, you have the right to expect compliance and service because you’re paying for it. However, the attitude is what’s important here.

Before the interview and during onboarding, you need to confirm and reconfirm working times. Don’t assume anything, and don’t carry expectations that you have not laid out plainly. Especially when you are hiring overseas, you need to make it very clear what hours you need the person to work. If some of this is actually flexible, it’s better that you allow flexi-time. When you have identified the top candidates, consider what times this schedule means for them. You may be looking at someone who lives halfway across the world, for example. Are they available during those times? Will they be effective working those hours? You must be absolutely certain before you move ahead with a hire.

(9)  Not Setting Clear Expectations on Communication

This is another of the 9 most common hiring mistakes that merits its own place. It must be discussed and confirmed during the interview and during onboarding, but with special emphasis.

Communication is, as we have discovered in doing business for over a decade, one of the most important factors in ensuring good results from our teams. If you are not thinking about communication throughout the entire hiring process, you are missing a key element that can spell the difference between a good and a bad hire. Poor communication for us means automatic disqualification, regardless of skills, attitude, experience, or cultural fit. In fact, we have made it part of our non-negotiable soft skills, and it is a huge part of our culture.

When you don’t make good communication a priority, you are opening yourself up to a wide array of negative experiences that will cost you a bundle in terms of time and money.

Avoid Common Hiring Mistakes

Stop making common hiring mistakes so you can start making good hires. Valuable team members make good use of their time and yours, and bring more money into the company. Think of it this way: what you lose from a bad hire is easily what you gain each and every year when you make a good hire, and that’s just for starters. Every good hire grows, and as they grow, so does your business.

 

Would you like to know how to be certain who your next hire should be? Or maybe you are having a hard time deciding what parts of your business can be outsourced with virtual assistants, right now. We can help you answer these questions, and help you to discover what new systems you should add to scale your business faster. Set up a free hiring consultation with us at Outsource School today – simply book here!