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How I have set up a small company, with Virtual Assistants.

Here is exactly how I do it.

Why do I like to work with VA’s?

I enjoy the “hands-off” way this works. I assign each VA a narrow, very specific task. I don’t have to supervise. I pay “by the piece”. I don’t care if it takes one hour, or one day. I just want results.

Over last three years, I have successfully built a small team, from VA’s. And I don’t have to supervise. My work product hits my computer weekly, without demand or instruction from me.

1.Define a specific task that can be done remotely. Such as, “Find addresses for all the little old blue-hair ladies in Arkansas.”

2.Perform the task yourself, preserving each step, each link, each phone number (although, I have yet to ask VA’s to use phones.) Time your work.

3.Write up the job, and save it, as a WORD document. You will use this over, and over. I have a WORD document for every VA task.

4.I try to assign one task to one VA. Each VA is a specialist in that one particular task.

The PAY. How does that work? Do you do it to save money?

Of course I save money, but it is more the ease of supervision. I can just assign the work, and walk away. I now have a great small company, and I don’t have to supervise!

5.Time yourself. Be liberal. You don’t know-your VA might work with a cat in her lap.

6.To compute your pay offer, double the time YOU would take (or at least time and one-half.)

7.I use an average of $4/hour, as prevailing wage rate. Apply that rate to your task. That is your pay offer.

8.If you have a problem, say, “My other VA’s do this job, and this is what I pay.” Never allow VA’s to communicate with one another. Always tell them that they are part of a large team. If pay becomes a problem, hire someone else. My VA’s believe they are part of a large company, and I have to report to a Supervisor. (My dog, Daisy, gives me regular supervision.)

How do you feel about “Hire America”?

I sometimes “Hire America”, when price is right, or I need some specific skills, best served by someone from here. Such as Voiceovers.

The work product created by my VA’s allows me to hire locally for painting, rehab, other actual jobs. I can hire more locally, because of the work done by my VA’s. I can also purchase more real estate, because my arms are now wider.

9.I have hired VA’s from India, Bangladesh, Philippines, St. Louis, UK, Jamaica. I always have a team at work. Today, my team is only three. I have found some remarkable workers through, for specific, short-term tasks.

Where do you find your VA’s?

10.Advertise your job on Odesk. I have used others (Guru, People-per-Hour). I find Odesk attracts the VA’s I want to hire. Fiverr is also good, for limited tasks.

How do you pay? Can you lose money?

(I don’t think you can lose money. Odesk holds back your first payment to a VA for several days, to ensure you are satisfied.)

11.I always pay by “Bonuses”. I don’t know why. Other choices include “Mileage reimbursement”. “Milestone Payments.” Odesk has a handy tool that shows your payment history per VA.

12.Don’t try to circumvent Odesk on fees. They provide a valuable service. I gladly pay 10%. I prefer to pay the Odesk fee myself, but some have the VA pay the fee. I try to motivate my VA’s all the time. This costs very little, and they do a lot for me. They like for me to pay the fee! (10%)

13.When you advertise your job on Odesk, give the rough description of the job. State how much you are willing to pay. State you are not willing to pay more. Applicants must understand this is the pay. (This screens out applicants who want more. This will reduce your applicant pool from 2,400 to 24.)

14.Odesk suggests you just advertise the job and ask for “bids”. Standby for a full inbox, if you do. (I don’t recommend that.) State your FIRM pay.

15.When you receive applicants, screen for experience. Odesk will show you examples of what they have done. Pick one applicant, and send your WORD document. Ask the applicant to do two or three samples and submit them. Review and hire, or move on. I have found it is likely you will try two or three applicants, before you settle long-term for one (or two).

16.I always insist upon English language proficiency-at least 4 (out of 5). Odesk ranks English proficiency.)

17.Pay “By the piece”-never “By the hour”. “By hour” requires supervision. “By piece” requires you to count the pieces! Odesk has a way for you to track, if you pay “By Hour”. You can look at that, if you wish. I never did.

18.Don’t pay too much. What you pay, you will be stuck with long-term high pay, unless you change VA. I think it is better to be conservative, and pay periodic bonuses. I send my ladies $10, pretty often, and tell them to go to the beauty parlor. $10 goes a long way in India, or the Philippines. One of my VA’s recently married. Think I paid for her hair? You bet I did.

19.You will find two kinds of applicants: Individuals, and Teams. I have worked with both. Teams are good for fast work-short fuse. Individuals are great for long-term solid work. With teams, however, quality of work may vary, depending upon which team member does your work that day. Each time, your actual worker may change. For my part, I prefer individuals. Exception: Something highly technical, such as “Build a website”, you may be better with a team. I find, in India, there is at least one community that consists of many technical workers. They have a local University that turns out Internet Experts. There are lots of teams there. Odesk will ask you if you want a team.

How do you communicate?

20.For some reason, the applicants always want to talk with you, via Skype. Maybe they teach that, in their schools. I don’t want to talk with them. I just want them to work. I want to assign work and go about my daily business. I always insist upon email. You may feel different about this.

More tips?

21.Diversify. I often hire two people to perform the same task. That gives backup-often error checking. There is one task I do that is technical and detailed. I hire two VA’s to do the same task. It is easy to compare output. Errors pop up.

22.Don’t “lend” your VA’s. You have a business relationship you have developed. Someone else may screw this up.

23.Be reasonable. Sometimes, a VA may have a “My wife, she; my dog, It”, problem. These people are of great value. Treat them as you would want to be treated.

Have you ever had a problem?

Yes. I worked with a team out of India for almost a year. They were prompt, efficient, and accurate. They worked for reasonable pay.

A friend got in a jam and asked if she could “borrow” a VA to help her with creating a spreadsheet.

I let her borrow my team.

She grossly over paid!! She paid $180, for a job I would have paid about $6.

Next time I offered an assignment to this team, they wanted more money-lots more money. I had to let them go.

Never “loan” your VA’s.

Fortunately, I had other VA’s, and I didn’t miss a beat, but I sometimes miss that wonderful team leader. He explained some tenets of Islam to me.

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