When I first started MoneySavingMom.com in 2007, I could have never imagined that the site would grow to the caliber that it is now. I never dreamed I’d make more than a full-time income from blogging, and I certainly never could have imagined being the place to hire on virtual assistants and full-time employees. It truly is astounding to me!
Learning to delegate and outsource is essential to the growth of any successful business. I’ll tell you right now that if you think you can grow a successful and thriving business all on your own, without any help, think again. Okay, well you probably could, but you’d likely also be exhausted and burnt out.
As my business has grown, I’ve learned just how much I need a good team around me whom I can rely on to help me do a much better job of running the business than I could ever do on my own. And not only that, but they ensure that I still have breathing room in my life, too!
The biggest benefit of having a team has been the realization that investing some of my income in great help frees me up to focus on those few things that only I can do well. In turn, this increases the overall business income, allows me more margin in my life, and gives us the opportunity to be able to impact more people!
If you are at a place where you’re feeling overwhelmed with running your business or thinking maybe it’s time to consider hiring someone on, here are some tips to help you navigate the hiring process and build an effective team:
1. Hire someone for a few hours a week.
Before you hire on someone part-time or full-time, consider contracting out some of your tasks for a few hours a week. You may be really surprised at how much an efficient person can accomplish in just 2-3 hours each week!
I’ve found it helpful to write down exactly what tasks I want to/need to hand off and then design a job description based upon that list of tasks. Once I have a job description written up, it’s much easier to determine what kind of person I’m looking for and what kind of experience and personality will be best suited for the position.
2. Start with a personality test.
It has been highly beneficial to me to have potential contractors/employees take the Myers/Briggs personality test.
I’ve found that I work best with certain personalities, and knowing a person’s personality type beforehand saves me a lot of headaches when it comes to turnover. If I find a person has the right type of personality for me, then I will consider bringing them on for a short-term project
3. Begin with a two-week trial period.
I rarely ever hire someone without a test period first. This is usually asking them to take on a small job or project or for a trial period.
In some cases, I tell them it is a trial period. In other cases, I don’t; I just hire them on to do a short-term job. It depends upon what position I’m thinking of hiring for long-term and my relationship with the person as to whether I disclose these things or not.
In any case, I find it very helpful to test things out first without making a long-term commitment. Hiring someone on a part-time or full-time basis is a big commitment — both for you as an employer and for the potential employee. I want to make sure it’s a win-win for everyone involved before taking that leap.
4. Don’t walk on eggshells during the trial period.
During the trial period, don’t walk on eggshells or be overly nice. If you are the type of person who often will send one-line responses or quick and direct emails, don’t feel like you need to sugarcoat your emails or add two paragraphs of filler greetings and small talk. Just interact with your potential employee exactly as you’d hope to interact with them when you hire them.
Be kind and gracious, of course, but don’t change who you are in fear that you’ll scare them away. People need to know exactly what they are getting themselves into and exactly what it’s going to be like to work for you. Being anything other than yourself is doing a disservice to them and to your future working relationship.
Having a trial period gives you a chance to pay close attention to the way someone handles your requests, responds to your emails, completes projects, handles deadlines, and deals with constructive criticism. Finding people who are approachable and teachable is very important when building a lasting team.
You need to be able to send an honest e-mail asking them to make changes without worrying about hurting their feelings. Sometimes everyone on the team will need to put on their “game faces” come crunch time and get the work done. Having to tip-toe around someone on your team will affect the entire team’s productivity, not just yours.
5. Increase their obligation.
If you like how the person is handling your projects and communications with you, then it’s time to consider increasing the amount of time each week that they work for you by extending their trial period or asking them to consider working a set number of hours each week for the next 2-3 months.
As you hand off tasks, you will learn more and more of what they are capable of doing and how well they handle juggling multiple responsibilities.
Once you feel confident that someone can meet your expectations, it’s time to not only talk to them about coming onto your team in a more “permanent position” — be that as a part-time VA, a contractor with a set number of hours each week, or even a full-time employee. Have an honest conversation about what would work best for both of you.
If they are willing and able to move forward, then it’s time to take a look at your to-do list and start delegating more. Remember, many hands make work light! Don’t be afraid to delegate — even if it means that you have to put the effort into training someone to take on new tasks. It will be worth it in the long run!
Over the years, I’ve learned a lot of hard lessons when it comes to hiring people to join my team. I have whittled my hiring process down to these five steps and these steps have allowed me to create an amazingly strong team of effective and incredible people who not only do a great job, but who I also love working with!
Do you have any additional tips for someone considering hiring a virtual assistant?