Hiring Your First Virtual Assistant: The First Week

8 Min

I spoke about the hiring process in BC&D: My First Hire Part 1: Hiring Process.

I hired a Virtual Assistant! I had a bunch of tasks that I queued up to have my VA work on. First I’d have to spend a lot of time training my new hire, regardless of their past experience and work ability. I wanted to teach her about my business, processes, systems, style, code, so much… I started with the business.

Prep work

Before my VA got started on her first day, there were a bunch of tasks that I had to complete to get them setup in my environment. Some of these apply to just my business environment, but most are pretty general.

  • Setting up a business email: I thought about the differences between va@apollostu.com and glaze@apollostu.com. One is generic, while the other is personal. Both will accept email, but one is the primary account. I decided to go with the primary account being glaze@apollostu.com because I wanted my VA to feel a part of the team. va@apollostu.com is an alias of hers so both will work, but she is the owner of her own email.
  • Setting up access to Slack team and give access to channels: After setting up their email, you can sign into their email and sign them up for your Slack team and join their channels. I also added a simple custom avatar to her slack profile.
  • Setting up access to Notion: Notion is where I do everything related to my business, from task management, asset management, and all types of documentation Notion is a badass tool that has made my organization 10x better than before. I’ll be writing a lot more about Notion in future posts.
  • Changed Apollo accounts login from my personal account to a more generic and shared account. Theres a bunch of tasks that Glaze and myself are both going to sign into. I used a google group to have any email sent to the shared inbox forward to both Glaze and myself.
  • Aggregated shared Apollo accounts: Created a single place for username and passwords for Apollo and shared this document with my VA. These are only for accounts that we both share access to, I do not share my personal account password, the admin passwords, etc.

I spent a solid day getting everything set up- I believe this is an important step in hiring a VA and any employee. I documented this process in detail so when I go hire another worker, I have a step by step process to follow.

Start with Communication

Starting off communication strong was important to ensure my VA and I are always on the same page. One of the most common issues with outsourcing a VA is a lack of communication which leads to a lack of understanding, which leads to a lack of trust and productivity… That being said, I have a methodology that I applied to my relationship with my VA to ensure we’re always on the same page.

  1. Video conference meetings 2x a week: This takes place on Sunday and Thursday nights. There is a 12 hour difference between me and Glaze, so my Sunday night is her Monday morning. These meetings are generally between 30min to an hour in length. On Sundays we talk about goals for the week and what we want to be completed by Friday. On Friday we talk about what we completed this past week, what went well, what work we enjoyed and what work we didn’t enjoy.
  2. Daily Slack Updates: Every day I have Glaze complete a SCRUM style update. Scrum updates are quick and pose three questions.
    1. What did you do since your last update
    2. What are you going to do till your next update
    3. What is holding you back?
  3. Bullet Journaling: I personally follow a process called bullet journaling to manage my tasks, and keep my day prioritized. In order to understand what my VA did day to day I set them up with their own digital bullet journal that I could follow.
  4. Acknowledgement: Whenever I make a comment or give an update to my VA, I want them to have the final word – this lets me know that they read and understood my comment and message.

BC&D- Hiring Virst VA: The First Week

Our First Week

The first week started off with a two hour long introduction meeting that took place at 8:00 PM on a Sunday night EST. I introduced my company, and learned more about her goals and aspirations. I walked her through all the ccounts I set up, and my expectations for communication. It was a 2 hour training on how I wanted her to work with me. This was carefully thought out before hand- make sure you spend the time and think about how you and your VA are going to work together.

After showing her the Master Todo List, I walked her through each task I wanted her to complete this first week. The tasks were focused on training and learning about my business. Specifically I asked her to:

  • Learn about Bullet Journaling and Practice with Wes
  • Fill out her Master Goals (3m, 6m and 12m life goals)
    • Write down 3 skills you want to learn about
  • Set up a reoccurring meeting for Sunday and Tuesday night to do a video chat
  • Research everything you can about me, Wesley Vance, and write a summary about my hobbies, passions and life. (This sounds a bit narcissistic, but the better my VA knows me and my customers, the better they will perform).
  • Read my business book, LAUNCH and ask any questions you have about the business
  • Write a summary/blog post over LAUNCH
  • Find 3 articles you find interesting about Product Development, Startups, Software Development, etc. that could be shared on Social Media.
  • Summarize Episode 1 of The Freelance Afternoon Show to be shared on social media
  • Read up and familiarize yourself with Buffer and Recurpost

BC&D: First Week Todo List

None of these tasks were very challenging and only a few added real value to the business, but they allowed for my VA to get failure with and have an introduction to the business. This is already starting to pay off with some of the social media work she’s starting to work on. You have to be patient and deliberate with on boarding.

Ongoing

Having a solid workflow and defined process allows you to be a much more effective manager. Before I assign any task to my VA I make sure I have a clear definition of what the process of completing that task looks lik e. I write down this process, and explain it to my VA, answer any questions and ask them to repeat back to me the instructions to make sure we’re both on the same page. As my VA completes a step in the process, I have them update their bullet journal and I receive a subtle notification informing me on the progress. Similarly, every time I make a change to our shared documents, my VA gets a notification and knows to check in.

Slack Notion Updates

So far my VA has been really responsive to new tasks and challenges presented. She asks questions when necessary and isn’t shy about taking on more independent work. I’m going to continue to let her run with tasks and give her some level of autonomy with how tasks are completed. I ask her to document her process whenever possible, so if we hire someone else, we can build a scalable business.

One challenge I have been running into… With the new addition of my VA, I am tasked with managing another persons tasks and constantly checking for a notification. My brain is always on the lookout and its distracting me from being completely focused on my value-add work. This is a personal issue and I’m working on ways to eliminate all notifications during certain hours, and getting my daily schedule more structured. This is a personal issue and has nothing to do with my hiring process, or the VA I hired.

Because my experience has been so positive I’ve thought about more technical tasks that I could outsource to the Philippines. I’m always looking for Javascript developers and often have tedious coding tasks that could be delegated to save myself some extra time. I’ve assigned my VA to get some more info about the coding climate and pay rate.

So far, my experience with hiring a VA has been amazing- its really a cool feeling to go to bed and then wake up with work complete, waiting for your reviewal. It has saved me 3 to 4 hours each week, and I’m just getting started! The ROI is a no brainer for anyone that has their own business, or tasks that take away from your value-added work and can be automated!

TLDR: Get a VA for you business, hire right then train right, and save time!

Have you outsourced any work, what has your experience been?

I’ll post an update after a few months of working with my VA with any tips and suggestions I find.

If you enjoyed this post, subscribe to my blog below! I put out an article each week on Business, Code and Design. My next article coming up is all about The Business Journal- I’ll explain my process of digitizing a bullet journal and adapting it for my business!

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Wesley Vance

I spend my time helping small businesses, validate, design, develop and code their wildest ideas. I spend my time helping small businesses, validate, design, develop and code their wildest ideas.

3 Comments

Comment Author Avatar

Tomer S

This is neat! Thanks for sharing this process. A few things came to mind when you were talking about permissions and logging in to some different services. This is obviously a complicated problem. Did you look into any SSO options? As that will allow the flexibility of each user being able to log in individually but also give them access to the required services. When you say ‘aggregated shared accounts’, do you mean a password manager? Which one? If not, why not?

Comment Author Avatar

Wesley Vance

Thanks for the comment- I event looked into any SSO options. I’ve just been using accounts@apollostu.com for any service that is shared between my VA and I. As I have admin control over the VA’s email, and I have admin control over the accounts@apollostu.com group, there is little risk for me. This accounts@apollostu.com has a shared password as well (Although now I’m probably telling everyone a bit too much!). At this point, I only share non-compnay critical apps with my VA such as Buffer, and other social media tools. Do you have a better idea on how to manage these permissions and accounts?

Comment Author Avatar

Tomer S

Ideally, an SSO option would be best I think. Otherwise, I’m a fan of LastPass for managing passwords. Though it requires some setup up front, I think this is absolutely necessary for sharing passwords (but I’m that guy :). There are some other password managers out there that can do the trick. I’ve done the ‘shared account’ before and it definitely gets the job done. But that won’t scale well long term.

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