Time management as an entrepreneur is tough– it feels like there’s always more work to be done and never enough time. But as your business grows, your team should too, so your time and focus can be spent optimizing. This week, we were joined by Norm’s virtual assistant, Vandana, and discussed everything to know before hiring. They answered questions like who to hire, what to expect, and how to train a virtual assistant, plus explained how to prepare for a smooth onboarding process.
As your business grows, your team should too, so your time and focus can be spent optimizing.
The most important part of the process is being clear and straightforward about the job description and expectations. Be clear about what type of person you want to hire, and what they’ll be doing, and know ahead of time how you will be training them. To avoid any confusion, create a Standard Operating Procedure to be followed, ensuring uniformity and consistency. Vandana shared her go-to process, influenced by her experience both creating SOPs and interpreting other people’s SOPs.
The process of writing SOP
- Start with the purpose– inform the reader why they’re performing the task, not just how. Knowing how the process benefits the business is important.
- Keep the language simple and straightforward and explain your understanding of the whole idea and purpose of the topic.
- List the requirements– everything that is needed to do the task, such as equipment, software, and skillset.
- Explain important terminology, short forms, or definitions they need to understand.
- Finally, you can start explaining the procedure. Give a thorough step-by-step guide through everything that has to be done. Keep it simple and add screenshots for a visual aspect. A video screen recording of the process from start to finish is the best way to clarify the process and provides a reference for the future.
Listen to the full session above to learn more tips to navigate the process! If you want to learn more about Virtual Assistants, you can also check out this article!
eComm Weekly – EP28
[00:00:00] One of the topics that we’re going to cover today is virtual assistance. Uh, you may have heard a lot about virtual assistance. There’s a lot of people that may not be doing, or maybe doing the process improperly, uh, when hiring or looking for a virtual assistant, we’re going to be talking about what to expect.
How to hire how to train SLPs and just what kind of tests do you need? Uh, when hiring a, uh, uh, when hiring a VA, a virtual assistant. So I brought on stage today. Um, my virtual assistant, my senior, we have multiple people in our organization, but Vandana. So van donor stogie. So how are you?
So just, I do want to, uh, just thank everybody over at startup club. Um, if you’re interested in hearing more [00:01:00] entrepreneurial, um, rooms, just go and click the green house also. Um, just raise your hand if you’re interested or if you have any questions we’d love to hear from you. We love engagement. Um, if you’re not interested in being recorded, don’t raise your hand because this session is being recorded.
Okay. So. I guess, where, where do we start? You know, first of all, why, why is a virtual assistant important and probably all of us on this call aren’t entrepreneurs or trying to become an entrepreneur and. There’s something called the entrepreneurial or sales rollercoaster. And that’s when you have passionate about your product, all of a sudden it takes off, you have multiple sales, you’re working 25 hours a day.
You need somebody to help you. However, when you go and hire that person, you don’t have the time or that. Well, it’s all about time. Sometimes it’s about money. Sometimes it’s about resources, but it’s [00:02:00] usually about time to train the person. So things collapse and they collapsed very quickly. People scream and yell say that they, you know, the VA couldn’t do their job properly.
Because they couldn’t, they weren’t trained and then they go and they’d take it all back because they’re the only person that can do it. Right. And they go into that same vicious cycle. So this is, and this is all I learned about this through, uh, from Michael Gerber who wrote the, um, the, uh, E-Myth academy, which is a great book.
Um, Or the E-Myth revisited E-Myth academy is a program that he has anyways. One of the first things that you need to know when you were, um, looking for a VA is really how are you going to train them? And what do you do? Like how do you find them? So Vandana, um, Oh, this because I’m not the first person that you’ve worked with, but, or getting to [00:03:00] understand that person that’s hiring you, that doesn’t have all that much time.
What would you suggest they do?
Important that before hiring, you have to put together the job description so that you and the person you’re trying to hire are very clear about the guns and donations and the work that is expected from that. I think that plays a very important role after the, after that it’s important to work with standard operating procedures alongside the work.
It’s very important. So you know that this has to be done. It has to be done in this way. It may take this time. This has to be the follow-up time. Everything that you need that has to be done has to be. So I think that’s the first and most important part to deal the things and tag on. Do we want them.
Right. And I guess one of the most important things right now is if you are overworked, I [00:04:00] mean, you’re working 25 hours a week, you know, how do you get that first SOP done? Where like, how do you even hire somebody? So there are services out there that you can go to there’s services, like multiply me. And that me at the end is M I.
There’s um, a free up.net. There’s online jobs got PHS, a ton of them out there, and some of them have the ability to have a recruiting aspect or you pay a little bit more and people will vet them. Um, You just find them on your own. So online jobs pH have both a free up is a vetted service. Multiply me as a vetted service.
You pay a bit more for it, but they go through that job description that vendetta was talking about and they meticulously, at least I know this for a fact, I’ve used multiply me and free up that they go through and they vet people on exactly what you’re looking for. Then you have the opportunity to interview their shortlist and you can see.[00:05:00]
Your personalities are working together, the type of task. So you finally figure out this is the person you can work with, what time zone. So you want to make sure that if you act to them on Eastern standard time that they’re available, uh, if, if they don’t have to, if you just needed in the morning or at night, that’s another opportunity now for van den and.
Wasn’t Poland now is in India and we just work together Eastern standard time. Yeah. So she goes to bed early in the morning, but she gets up late, very, very late. Right. Then, then
it is definitely something that we have to work on though, because. I mean, communication is one thing, but you have to manage those expectations and those expectations have to be up front. So the hard questions, you know, you have to look at it and sometimes I [00:06:00] asked you for this. So when we first had our first interview, um, we had a video interview.
You don’t have to do that, but we just had a, I think it was on zoom. Um, Yeah. I asked you to provide me with a few things, a screenshot of your phone, a screenshot of your internet connection. And what was the speed of your computer? You remember that? Right? Right. So we were on the zoom call. So we actually, it was like, you know, assigned to me that you have to be ready with this, this, this stuff you have to be there, give it them, then we’ll check everything.
We then we’ll talk.
Right. And one of the things that we looked at, so let’s say that you have, and I’m just going to throw out a, a figure. Let let’s say you you’re hiring somebody for $10 an hour. We’ll use 10 because it’s easy for me to figure out if a person low internet connection and they have a slow [00:07:00] processor in their computer.
You’re probably. At $30 an hour because they just can’t have the output that you’d need. Once we got, once the company got Vandana up and going, we noticed that her computer was running slow and we agreed to, um, purchase a computer. So her computer, um, it’s a Mac computer that we can at least communicate back and forth.
So some people are afraid to spend money. And it’s so important that if you don’t have, even with. I know in the Philippines, a lot of the times there’s problems with internet connection. So we’ll pay for that upgrade to get them into like whoever you’re working with from regular internet to, you know, 50 megabytes per second, or a hundred megabytes per second, because we do a lot of graphic and video work.
So these are some key things that you’d need to do and need to see during that initial [00:08:00] interview. And if. If you want to, like during the training process a month or two, go by to make sure that there’s a gel, then you should go out, take a look, get a refurbished computer, you know, if you can’t afford a new computer and provide that.
So the, um, so your VA can do their work, um, with their setup, with the proper tools to succeed. And if you don’t do that, You’re just going to be screaming and yelling. So also let’s talk about SOP. This is a, oh, I bet you won’t even like to tell what I do, but, um, day I’ll put together a whole bunch of videos usually.
And when Vandana wakes up in the morning, she has all these loom videos. So we work with an app called. We can record. We can highlight. I also use Snagit if it’s just to take screenshots and then I provide that [00:09:00] overnight. She wakes up in the morning and she can see what I’m looking for. And this is how we can communicate and get things going.
If there’s a new task, if there’s a task, that’s a repetitive task that van den has never done before the video is used usually to create a policy and procedure or an SOP. So you want to talk about. The videos and creating an SOP. And what does that SOP look like? Uh, sure. So basically I am this person. I have redid a lot of these already, but, um, that’s, you know, something that keeps going on.
It’s not something that it’s one standard and it’s Spanish. So for everything, every single work or task that we do, and our organization has to really have an SOP on. Uh, and there are different steps for those SLPs. It’s important that, you know, we [00:10:00] follow those steps. So we also have an SOP on how to write.
So that’s how we like to be noticed as regard things that we do. So. Uh, to start with, there are a lot of things, a widget from vecino we look for, or it has to be, first of all, the thing that has to be has to be written by a person who does that. So on the first place, there’s some tasks that is done by this particular course, and we would reach out to that person and give them that, you know, you have to write this as a B, but step by step on how you do it on it starts with.
So the first thing that we put in as obese focus on it has to be brought. It’s not this, you know, a van liner or something. It has to be properly explained that what is the purpose of writing this as we work on the single modal, it’s not that you know who ever is looking at this SOP, just task to follow the depth and just finish the dots.
The idea is that the person [00:11:00] should know each and everything about why it is done, how it is done after you finish the study. You know, when do you have to report, then do you have to follow up? What else you should also know along with this thing when you’re doing, been doing this. So, um, I’ll go one by one, but the steps are the things that are included with in the SLPs that we write.
So we start from purpose. The second thing is introduction.
The purpose. Why is that? For you or when you’re training. So you have to remember, we don’t have one VA, we have multiple VA’s that have specialties in different areas. So why is purpose so important to you or for the other VA’s so, uh, basically, you know, to inform that person, why are you doing this? It’s not just, you know, this world is being told to you, you search for this word [00:12:00] and find the SOP.
You should know that how it helps. So in future, if a person has to say it, doesn’t have to give you this exact goal. If I say like, you know, go and do something when you know that there’s others, there’s other things that you do for that. So it’s not, as, you know, the name of this will be, it also has to be the detail information that why are you doing this in future?
You know, when you have to do this. Right. Okay. Next next is introduction. So, um, it’s like about the topic. This is about whatever the topic of the SOP is an introduction. We explain that in details, in know, uh, break those words, put it in a simple language and it has to be a very simple language, not even a single difficult word into, in that SOP that a person should not understand or might not know.
So that’s what end reduction looks like to us. [00:13:00] And that also plays a very important role because that’s how you understand that the whole idea of this particular topic that is taking you. Right. Right. Okay. So after that, the third point of requirement. So, uh, before you even start looking at the steps or anything, we put down all the things that is required to make sure that you have all those people bring to the restaurant, the steps.
So each and every single thing that you’re required to do this particular task as mentioned here. All right. Next. Right. Okay. So the point as, um, important words are definition. So if there are anything or any words or short forms that you have used in the SOP being actually, uh, put the full form of that order, explain that word in this [00:14:00] school.
So every short form, like, you know, if we are writing about FBA, so we explain it in there, even though it is a very common term and people might know about that, we make sure, so that anybody looking at it might not get infused at any point of time. They want an explanation for the world. They come back and look at the section and know what it is about.
Uh, yeah, so then we start the procedure, right? So then we go step by step, like procedure van proceeded to step-by-step with each and everything that has to be done on me, you know, put it in a very simple way. And also, you know, to what, everything, it’s not like, you know, just do it. No, it’s like click here, go to this option.
Come back, click here. Um, we also make sure that it put the [00:15:00] screenshots of all the steps that we are doing. So we did a screenshot of each step and we highlight whatever has to be done or wherever it has to be, what pages you have to select that. So we highlight that suppose in looking at the SOP we read and see what has to be done.
So then it’s the reporting. That’s the final step, correct? Right. Then once you finish all the steps then comes to the, okay. So once you have all of this, people can have a clear insight to exactly how to do it, but here’s the catch. Now you have to move on. And when we train, usually like if I’m talking to Vandana and I want to show her a new, um, uh, something that we’re doing, I’ll usually have a video call.
We’ll kind of go through it. Um, I’ll go through the process. Let’s say if I’m responding to, uh, an Amazon. [00:16:00] Um, message or feedback. All right, this is how we’re doing it. This is the templates that we’re using. So here’s some canned responses. Um, so they’re all stored in one area. I’ll run through it. And if there’s any questions, we’ll take it.
The Mo of course, then Vandana is, um, she will go and do this on her own. Now this is key. If there is a mistake. They happen. And usually it’s on the person who wrote the SOP because there could be a difference in the interface or in the app. But what you want to do is like, for us, it’s kind of like, I hate saying three strikes, but it’s all education.
Nobody gets upset. I don’t, nobody gets upset when there’s a mistake. We go back. I asked Mandana okay, how do we fix this? Because I don’t want to be that person, you know, saying, oh, here’s the answer. I want Vandana to go check out what the answer is. And if I’m thinking a little [00:17:00] different, I’ll give my opinion and then we fix it.
If it happens a second time, we have to figure out why that. Maybe, you know, maybe it’s a training thing. Again, maybe it’s a, uh, a revision, but we have to try to figure that one out in the same thing. Um, Vandana would come back with how to fix it on the third time. It’s probably obvious for that particular task that they’re not suited for it.
And I would probably assign it to somebody else because they’re not, I always like VA’s working on their strengths, which brings me to another point. Yeah. When people hire VAs, there’s a tendency to think that a contractor, a freelancer, a VA is an expert in everything. They’re not bandana specific, um, uh, specific talents, you know, and strengths.
And I want to focus on. I [00:18:00] don’t want to focus on our work, a weak spots. If I went and asked Vandana to go and put a whole, um, Google ads campaign together, uh, or work with Google, my business or Google profile now, um, anyways, that’s probably not the best time spent or money spent, but if I asked her about most like Amazon listings, how to optimize it, how did you keyword research?
She’d kill it, but that’s proper training. I have seen terrible mistakes and you’ve, I don’t think you’ve ever been with, um, or worked with, uh, anybody like this. But I have heard, I have seen people who have not managed the expectations between them and the contractor and the unloaded. On them, they scream, they yell, they insult, uh, that’s not going to get you anywhere, uh, by, by losing your temper at somebody who’s trying to help you out.
Um, [00:19:00] all that’s going to do is hold back any type of, or there’ll be more reserved to giving any suggestions because. They’d be afraid of speaking up like Vandana or you, how I’m doing things wrong. So,
so basically for this particular thing, I follow the street rule. It’s like problems are going to come. That will be every now and then some problems, some issue that has to. But that’s not how you look into it. You have to come back with the solution. You just don’t have to come and say, okay, listen, you have to come and see there’s a problem.
And working on it, let me find a solution and get back. All of this is the solution. Let’s do this. So that comes with obviously proper training, proper information, you know, uh, refreshing your whole knowledge or your information that you had about the particular thing. Obviously like things don’t [00:20:00] remain intact or same.
They keep changing. You have to keep revising. You have revisions on those things that you are doing. But I think that’s the way when there is a problem, come with a solution. And I’m not saying that, you know, we’re living in a butterfly unicorn world. We’ve got. No Veneto, I will vent, but we always backed each other.
And there’s never a time where we have to worry about, you know, really screaming and yelling and just disrespecting each other. The other thing that’s. Very important. I I’ve gone to so many. I’ve probably gone to hundreds of events. I heard this topic a million times and I cringe when I hear people say this well, you can negotiate with the VA.
You know, when they, when they want $3 an hour, try to get them down to $2 and 50 cents or people bragging that they’re only paying $200 a month for a V. [00:21:00] But they’ll also say in the same breath that the VA that they’ve hired, you have to be careful because the VA that I hired had all these emergencies, family emergencies.
Well guess what, buddy? The reason why is the they’ve probably been on Upwork. They’ve probably found somebody who’s going to pay them 10 cents or 15 cents more. And yes, they had a family emergency, which really wasn’t, it was a virtual family emergency and they got paid more. Uh, this is something that I hate hearing.
I think to build, if this is going to be long-term, you need to have somebody that at least on the VA sign side, that they can feel that you’ve got security. So, if I’m working with somebody in the Philippines or somebody in India, they’ve got a family to support. And if [00:22:00] I try to screw them around or try to get them so they can barely, you know, eat at the end of the week.
What does that say? So we always, and I’m not saying, you know, Hey, we’re the best. But what I try to do is I try to figure out the country what the average pay would be for that job and pay a lot more. And I do that. So people can go to bed at night, take care by groceries, not have to worry about, you know, the next day’s pay.
So, and I give a set set set of hours and a lot of. If I can hire full-time, even though I might need 30 hours a week or 20 hours, I’ll hire for a 40 hour a week because it is less expensive. And one of the other things that we do Vandana loves this, but, um, so if any of our VA’s want to learn other areas of the business, social media, Facebook, uh, Google, like Google, a business [00:23:00] profile, uh, and.
We’ll pay for a hundred percent of the training because that’s the only going to benefit us at the end of the day. So anyways, that’s just sounds like I’m blowing my own horn, but I think it’s so important. Yeah. I tell you that is very important. And we’ve been there like. A lot of courses that we have already signed for and people in our organizations keep using them, keep up to date using those applications, watching those videos or finishing those courses so that they have this extra thing that they didn’t knew when the join.
Right. Right. Okay. So we’re getting to the bottom of the hour. The last thing, I’m just going to repeat. I have nothing to do with these, but for those of you who are looking, there are a bunch of companies out there that can definitely [00:24:00] help you out. And again, like I mentioned, they can vet people for you or you can go and you can just, uh, figure out, you know, the w well, you can, um, you can just receive the resumes yourself and go through them.
I will put in. One recommendation is that when you put out your job description, like Vandana was saying, be sure that it’s very, um, uh, very detailed, but also when they’re responding, maybe have something in the subject, you know, maybe square brackets around something, just ask them to respond with square brackets, use a different font, use a different color, something.
So you can see that they’re paying attention and that would get rid of. Um, a lot of the fluff, the people who are just responding cause they see, oh, a VA, um, this, you know, all of a sudden that’s attention to detail and that can happen even in your second interview or even your third interview, but you want to make sure that that happens, but here’s a few companies so vetted, [00:25:00] you can go to Upwork, they do have that service.
Uh, they also have a free or a service where you can just post a. You can go to ZipRecruiter. That’s going to cost you a little bit of money. You can go to free email@example.com. They have a vetted service. Very good service. Multiply me is another one that I really like with, but it’s, um, the me is M I, I, at the end, they’re very good.
And the other, uh, kind of go-to company for at least the Philippines is online. Got pH. So then Donna, do you have anything else to say before we close out? Um, no, I think that’s all that said we covered everything that we had most of it. Okay. Very good. Well, thank you Vandana for staying up and staying on.
Really appreciate you coming on today.
All right, everybody. [00:26:00] So thank you for joining us today. Join us every Thursday at one o’clock we, uh, usually go half hour, 45 minutes. Uh, every Thursday, the, the, uh, the room is called e-com a week. E-comm weekly. We always have different guests on, and we talk about relevant content for the, uh, the industry, the e-comm industry.
So if you want more entrepreneurial. Go up to the left-hand corner, click on the green house and you’ll, you’ll, uh, sign up for notifications for startup, uh, uh, start up club. And I think that’s about it. Thank you everybody for joining. And we will see you next week.