How Much Does a Virtual Assistant Cost?

The question I am most frequently asked is “how much does a Virtual Assistant cost?” I always “hate” this question because I wholeheartedly believe a Virtual Assistant is not a cost, but rather an investment, but I will address that at another time.

dollarI don’t know how many times I have seen RFPs (Request for Proposals) come through the Virtual Assistant Associations job boards where the amount of money being offered is a fraction of what should be offered. In the same regard I have seen entrepreneurs pay way too much for Virtual Assistants.

I have a very strong opinion when it comes to pricing and Virtual Assistants and I want to stress this is my opinion only, but it is based on experience of what works and what should be expected!

Virtual Assistants range in price from $25 to $75 per hour and everything in between (in fact I have even seen Virtual Assistants that charge more than this and also some who charge less than this)! However I believe we need to stop making decisions based on hourly costs of a VA. Instead I encourage you to figure out your budget and figure out your list of tasks and do one of two things:

A – Here is my list of tasks, approximately how much do you think that will cost me each month on average

B – Here is my budget, here is my list – how much of that list can I get each month for my business.

This will allow you to compare apples to apples so to speak. The problem with Virtual Assistants and pricing is often due to inexperience as a business owner they pick a number from the air or they charge a price because that seems to be what everyone else is charging.

Consider this … if I find you a $25 per hour VA and they take 4 hours to do a project a $75 an hour VA would take an hour to complete – who is further ahead??

Stop making decisions based on hourly prices. Use one of my two strategies and please do your due diligence. If you are considering working with a Virtual Assistant ask them how long on average is takes them to do a newsletter as an example.

I know as a Virtual Assistant I used to scare people away when I told them I charge $55 per hour, but on average it takes me 30 minutes to an hour to do a newsletter. I have worked with a Virtual Assistant before who was charging $25 per hour and it took them almost 3 hours each time to do the newsletter. Bottom line don’t be afraid to ask how long it takes them to do projects or better yet ask their existing clients if they feel the time charged each month for tasks is fair based on the hourly rate.

One last point I would like to make … I am not at all suggesting higher priced VAs are faster at getting things done. I know $25 per hour VAs that are really fast and $75 per hour VAs who are not! All I am suggesting is please, please do your homework!

Customer Service is Everyone’s Responsibility – Creating a Team Who Supports Your Philosophy

CustomersFor all entrepreneurs we treat our customers in a certain way whether we realize we are or not. We have values and beliefs that shape how we do business with others. If you stop to think about this you will find that you too have underlying values and beliefs that shape how you treat your customers and expect their relationship with your business to be molded.

For example, in my business my core values are freedom and personal growth and I strive to assist my clients to have opportunities to find more freedom in their business so they can spend time on personal growth. It’s not that I say this in so many words, but it is my primary goal when working with clients. So how do I achieve this? Quite simply, by helping them to find the greatest Virtual Assistant for them personally; someone who understands their goals and philosophies and shares those philosophies.

It is for this very reason that when I am working with a new client to find them a Virtual Assistant, I ask them about their customer service mantras, about their values and most importantly about how they want others to feel after working with them. I then set out to find a Virtual Assistant who shares in this exact model for their own business. When I put this far and above the skillset (not that skills isn’t important, but I believe is secondary to a shared value system) it is then that the magic in relationships happen.

So today, I share with you three of my top tips for making sure your team understands and shares your philosophies, and more importantly follows through on them!

Tip #1 – It Starts with the Hiring Process

As I shared earlier, I start from the very beginning. When I am matching a Virtual Assistant for a client I spend time learning what values are important to each party. I also talk a lot about they types of clients they tend to attract and why. This gives me a very clear understanding of whether the Virtual Assistant will share in the client’s philosophies and be a good “face” for the client’s business.

Tip #2 – Your Virtual Assistant is not a Mind Reader
If you are already working with a Virtual Assistant it isn’t too late. There is probably a reason you were drawn to that Virtual Assistant and all you have to do is share your philosophies with your Virtual Assistant. Better yet, why not ask your Virtual Assistant what they believe it to be. You may be very surprised they already know!

Tip #3 – Keep the Lines of Communication Open
When your Virtual Assistant does something that is not reflective of how you would do business or want your client’s treated be sure to let them know. The important thing is don’t just point out the mistake, but rather tell them what you would have done differently and why. If your Virtual Assistant is not receptive to adopting your philosophies and customer service mantras it may be a good indicator it is time to end the relationship.

Remember when you begin to build a team they may not always be “behind the scenes” and even when they are they will continue to have a hand in the image your business is portraying on your behalf. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your Virtual Assistant (and all your other team members) get it! Instead make sure they do and make sure they follow the way you want to do business!


You can use this article in your ezine or on your website provided you include the following blurb at the bottom:

“Yvonne Weld is a Virtual Assistant matchmaker and she helps entrepreneurs find their ideal Virtual Assistant so they can have more time to focus on making more money in their business. If you are interested in reading more articles similar to this, sign up for her ezine and you will also receive her Free Report “How a Virtual Assistant Can Make You More Money.” Sign up at www.yvonneweld.com/sign

Ready, Set … Get a Virtual Assistant

across the worldMost entrepreneurs are self-proclaimed “do it yourself-ers!” Although when they started their business they were excited about turning their passion into a business, many didn’t realize just everything that would need to be done. However because their business is their “baby” the thought of bringing someone else in on that dream and admitting you just can’t do it all yourself, isn’t always an easy idea to swallow.

Having worked with many clients now I know the top reasons people say they continue to do it all on their own …

  • No one does it as good as me
  • It’s faster to do it myself
  • I wouldn’t know what to delegate
  • I am just not a good delegator

Do these statements sound familiar?

Well you really need to stop if you truly want a successful, thriving and growing business. There is absolutely no way you can do everything on your own and achieve your dreams as you will quite simply, burnout! Believe me I have seen it happen.

So what is one to do?

The simple answer … get help!

For many the first help they get is a Virtual Assistant, someone who can assist with many of the administrative, technical and/or marketing tasks that are just not second nature to us as entrepreneurs and eat up most of our time … time we would much rather be using attracting new clients and fulfilling our existing clients needs.

So for those of you who are saying right now … “oh, oh that’s me, I need help” here are some very simple things you can start doing today to get ready for the Virtual Assistant (or other team member) you know you will need very soon.

#1 – Figure out what to delegate

First and foremost you need to have a conversation with your existing team (even if it is simply a team of one, yourself) and figure out where the “holes” are. By “holes” I mean the following:

  • What tasks do you no longer want to continue doing
  • Which tasks are eating up your time each day with little to no return
  • What skillsets are lacking in your team dynamic

Once you know this you will start to see the formation of your delegation list.

#2 – Start documenting the tasks to be delegated

Once you have the list from #1 above, now start to really flesh out that list into tasks. I suggest putting a sheet of paper next to your desk for the next two weeks and start to add tasks to the list as you do them and they fall under the different “holes” above.

#3 – Determine what parts of your delegation list can be automated

Now take that list created in #2 above and determine which of those items can be automated. Are there tasks that are easily repeatable?

There are many programs and tools that can assist in automation such as email marketing, social media posting, etc. and will mean simply entering the task once into the program and the program will rinse and repeat, saving you time and money on delegation.

#4 – Take stock of who you are and how you work

Before you can determine the person to delegate to, you need to take a good look of who you are and how you work (as well as your other team members). Take the time to answer the following questions …

  • How do you prefer to communicate (telephone, email, IM, etc.)?
  • What are your personality traits and do you work best with people with complementary or dissimilar traits?
  • What pet peeves do you have with other people?
  • Who do you work best with?
  • What is your working style?
  • What do you stand for in business (values, mission, vision, etc) and how does that relate to how you treat your clients?

#5 – Create your ideal candidate profile

Now that you know who you are, it is much easier to begin to develop an ideal candidate profile. When creating that profile look to the answers of the questions above, but also ask yourself a couple more important questions.

  • What are you willing to train on and what do you expect them to know?
  • Does location matter? (Most importantly location will matter when it comes to things such as country exchange rates, time zones, etc.)
  • What are the must haves in a candidate versus the nice to haves?
  • Do you want to work with someone who is like you or the opposite of you?

#6 – Figure out your budget

The next question you need to answer is what are you willing to pay for assistance? To learn more about how much a Virtual Assistant costs so you can determine a reasonable budget, click here and read my article “How Much Does a Virtual Assistant cost?


Once you have completed these 6 steps and you are ready to build a business that can sustain itself even in your absence, I invite you to talk with me about how we can get the right Virtual Assistant on your team! Contact me at Send Mail to yvonne@yvonneweld.com or schedule a 30 minute complimentary VA Q&A call with me!

Help, I can’t afford a Virtual Assistant!

Getting your first Virtual Assistant can be very scary, I get it! It’s easy to simply say “I can’t afford it” rather than look for ways you can afford it. We convince ourselves when we have more money we will get one, but the more money often doesn’t seem to come and there is one very good reason for that. You are staying stuck in the statement of “I can’t afford it” rather than changing it to “how can I afford it.”

465239See here’s a little secret I am going to share with you … having a Virtual Assistant is definitely an investment, but it is probably one of the biggest ones that can have a positive return on investment. Done properly you will soon see your business can grow and prosper with a Virtual Assistant and it will be so much more than the cost or expense you see it as right now.

Think about it for just one second … how much time are you wasting right now on any number of the following:

  • Trying to figure out how to do things, especially technological things
  • Tasks you dislike doing so much they get put off until it is almost too late
  • Anything but the money-generating tasks and so at the end of the day your income for the day is near zero
  • Working endless hours in the evenings and weekends just to “keep up” and as a result you are starting to miss out on some of the things you would really love to be doing (especially with family and friends)

So hopefully you are starting to realize that there is a solution. There is a better way. Let me share with you three simple ways you can budget for a Virtual Assistant in 2016 without feeling you are going to break the bank.

Start Small

You don’t have to start with a really big budget when it comes to a lot of Virtual Assistants. With a lot of Virtual Assistants you can sign for as little as 5 or 10 hours a month. And here is the interesting thing … Virtual Assistants can get a lot more done in those 5 or 10 hours than you think!

Some Virtual Assistants are even open to working on an even smaller budget such as a project basis or an hourly basis for a single project as a “test” to show you what they are capable of. I say just go and do it to “get your feet wet.” If this is the way you want to go then think about something you have on your plate right now and experiment with the Virtual Assistant experience. Of course there are a lot of benefits to signing a long-term contract and it does open more doors, but just try it I know you will like it!

Commit to Increasing Your Sales

The biggest mistake I see entrepreneurs making is they hire a Virtual Assistant and then only look at it as getting back some of their time. This may be true in the long run, but in the short term when you initially work with your Virtual Assistant don’t change the number of hours you work, but instead change the way you work. For example, if you contract with a Virtual Assistant for 5 hours a month then commit to using an additional 5 hours a month for sales calls or attend a new networking event. You must use this newly “found” time in a productive manner that will affect your bottom line. When you can increase your income because you use the hours to increase sales you will not notice the cost of the Virtual Assistant as much because your bottom line will stay the same or increase.

Let me give you a little more clarity. What does one new client mean to your business on a monthly basis? With 5-10 hours of Virtual Assistant services you are looking at somewhere in the neighbourhood of $200-$500. For most one new client will mean more than this amount of money and I am sure if you dedicated 5-10 hours each month on this very thing you could increase your sales by the amount of the cost of your Virtual Assistant quite easily.

Hire for Automation

Another mistake many entrepreneurs make is they delegate tasks that could easily be automated. A good example is your client intake process. Does every step of this process need to be handled by a person because it is different every time? The answer is probably not. There are quite likely many aspects that are the same every single time. Start to look for these patterns and ask your Virtual Assistant which ways they can be automated.

A great example I use with every one of my clients is scheduling. This is one of the first things I suggest getting automated if it isn’t already. I personally use TimeTrade, but there are a number of other options out there. I (as well as many of my clients) used to spend a lot of time going back and forth with clients to try to schedule appointments. Now I simply share my online calendar and it does everything for me. My clients invest the time in the beginning to have it set up, but then once it is set up there is no more (or very little) investment of time from either my clients or myself as their Virtual Assistant.

So now that I have given you a few ideas of ways you truly can afford a Virtual Assistant, it is my hope for each one of you that you will look differently at 2016 and stop procrastinating. You can afford a Virtual Assistant and I am sure once you do you will be exactly like many of my clients and wonder why you waited so long.

For those of you ready to treat yourself to a Virtual Assistant, I would love to chat with you and help you work through exactly which tasks on your plate are best outsourced. Click here to schedule a complimentary 30 minute VA Q&A using my online schedule!

Make 2016 Your Best Year Yet … Here’s How

As a New Year quickly approaches many of us take the opportunity to review 2015 and begin to set goals for 2016. Many of these plans and goals will include new ideas, increased revenue targets and streamlining what we are doing right now. Many of us will take the time to review what worked in 2015 and make it even better and also to look at what didn’t and what lessons we can learn so we don’t make the same mistakes.

dreamstimesmall_16147684The only “problem” with this annual review and our 2016 goal setting is it usually will mean more work is needed in order to achieve those goals (because let’s face it the only way to achieve a goal is through implementation). Increased revenue targets, implementing new ideas and streamlining what we are doing in order to make 2016 great are all possible, but only if we are willing to put in the extra work to bring our ideas to fruition. It is for this very reason that many of us abandon our dreams and goals long before they ever go anywhere. They stay just that, dreams and by the end of 2016 we are in the exact same place we are today (and possibly still setting the exact same goals for 2017).

Don’t be that person who in December of 2016 only recalls excuses of “someday,” “if only I had the time,” “I know there is a need for this, but I don’t have the knowledge/energy/resources to make it happen” … and regrets that they have not moved any closer to their dreams and goals!

It is possible to reach every single one of the goals you set … you just need a little help and here are 3 simple ways to do just that.

1. Hire a Virtual Assistant 
For those of you who are still trying to do it all and haven’t yet learned just how wonderful a Virtual Assistant can be for your business, this is the perfect time to start looking. Take a really good look at your goals and be honest with yourself as to how much really only you can accomplish. Sure it is important that you are the one doing certain parts of your business (especially the money-generating ones), but there are many tasks that truly don’t need your attention and input. You don’t have to do this alone … so why do you continue to try? I know some of you are caught up in excuses like:

  • I can’t afford it
  • It will take longer to explain it then just do it myself; and
  • No one can do it as well as I can

Well just stop it … you can afford it, there are ways to explain tasks quite easily and actually there are many out there than can do almost as good a job as you (if not possibly better – I know gasp!)

2. Give your Virtual Assistant even more responsibility
So maybe you have completely skipped #1 because you already have a Virtual Assistant, but there is definitely a way for you to make 2016 even better than 2015. With many of my own clients (yes I still do Virtual Assistant work too) I take this time of the year to ask my clients their goals for the upcoming year so I can let them know what extra responsibilities I am open to taking on. If you already have a Virtual Assistant and you aren’t quite ready to expand your Virtual team, maybe this is the best route for you to take.

Each year many of us create more goals and have dreams to expand our businesses, but we get so caught up in what our Virtual Assistant is doing we forget to ask them where they would like to go in the next year (or even where they have gone in this current year). Perhaps your Virtual Assistant learned a new skill this year or has had a recent change in their business that will allow them to take on a little more responsibility for you.

3. Hire another Virtual Assistant
Okay so you are saying to yourself, I already have a Virtual Assistant and my Virtual Assistant is stretched to the limit, there is absolutely no way I can add more to her plate. If this is the case then now is the perfect time to start thinking about adding another Virtual Assistant to your team. If this is the direction you are headed than I suggest start first with a conversation with your Virtual Assistant. Ask them to help you create your new Virtual Assistant model by asking them the following:

  • What tasks would you like to keep for yourself and which would you like to give away
  • Are you open to “managing” the new Virtual Assistant or would you rather me take that role
  • Do you know anyone you feel would be a good fit for our team

Don’t make the same mistake that many business owners make and simply bring a new team member on without the initial discussion with your Virtual Assistant. Let them know you value them and why you are bringing someone new onboard. The more they are a part of the process the less likely they will create friction at the new team dynamics.

So I guess you get the idea. A Virtual Assistant is a must-have if you want 2016 to be different. Not having a VA or not allowing your Virtual team to expand may hold you back from achieving those goals in 2016.

Your dreams and goals can be achieved this year and if you are ready to make them happen I currently have only two openings left in my calendar for Virtual Assistant matchmaking. If you schedule a call with me right away I still have time to help you to get a Virtual Assistant in place for the beginning of January. This is your last chance to start 2016 right with a Virtual Assistant (or another Virtual Assistant) on your team!

Here’s the link to get your Virtual Assistant search started!

The 4 Critical Factors to Discuss in a Successful Production Call

For those of us who began our careers in a corporate setting, many will recall having team meetings. The really successful companies were those who figured out how to do these meetings effectively enough it would encourage the team to improve the business and ultimately the bottom line.

One of the biggest factors I found from my days in Corporate was that the more they encouraged each team member to participate the more “buy-in” they would get from the individuals. It’s the same in any business; how can you expect someone (ie your Virtual Assistant) to get as excited about your success as you if you don’t bring them in and make them a part of that success.

Production Template Dec 4

A Production Call Template

This is why production calls are so important to the success of your team and ultimately of your business. Perhaps the biggest reason many people don’t have these calls with their teams (even when that team is simply them and a Virtual Assistant) is they just don’t know what to cover to make it successful.

Preparation is the key to your success in making sure you are moving the business of your dreams to a reality and as such there are four critical factors (or areas) to consider and discuss in each production call with your Virtual Assistant. I would suggest that you make an agenda based on each of these critical factors such as the template I have created (shown to the left).

Critical Factor #1 – What are we doing well? What are we not doing as well?

The first thing you need to discuss is existing and outstanding tasks. Start by first looking at each task from your previous production call and ask yourself these questions:

  • For the completed tasks …
    • What did we try new that really worked well and we could implement again in the future?
    • Is the process for this task documented? If so, does it need updating or was the process easy to follow? If not, who can create this process before we “forget” how to do it?
  • For the outstanding tasks …
    • Is anything or anyone holding up the process or are we on track to meet our deadline?
    • Do we need to bring in someone else to assist or reassign the task to someone else or are the appropriate parties still involved?
    • What changes need to be made to move this task forward again if it is “stalled”?
    • What changes need to be made to our current policies/procedures to ensure the task is completed more efficiently the next time?
    • Were our deadlines met or are our deadlines still realistic or do they need to be adjusted?

Once you have the answers to these questions you will begin to see patterns (especially after several weeks and months of doing the production calls) as to common strengths and weaknesses of your team. Changes, improvements and enhancements can be made to ensure everything is working well.

Critical Factor #2 – Time to look at the next week and what is on each of our plates and how best to finish the projects that have been started.

The process is only as good as all of the moving parts in any situation. It is critical that you are always setting realistic deadlines and not setting yourself up to fail. Many of us get excited about a new idea and want it to happen right now without any regard for timing. The other thing to remember is often this particular project is not the only thing on your plate and so you need to understand and ask each team member what is on their plate for the upcoming week. Do they have the time available to allocate to this project and/or what deadline should be set that realistically reflects their available time.

Another mistake entrepreneurs make is often referred to as “shiny object syndrome” where we have too many ideas going at any one moment. I was at a business conference a few years ago for Virtual Assistants and the speaker was telling us that as Virtual Assistants the best thing we can give our clients is to help them complete their many unfinished projects. It is best to see a project from start right through to completion so that you can start making money from that project. If you are a shiny object type person then make sure you ask your Virtual Assistant to hold you accountable to getting each project done before moving to a new project.

Critical Factor #3 – You have to make sure you have all the tools needed to complete the project in a timely manner

Nothing will stop a process more than when someone is waiting on someone else for something so they can move forward. As a Virtual Assistant I often found I was waiting for passwords, newsletter content, … the list goes on. If your Virtual Assistant (or in some cases your client) doesn’t have what they need to move forward on a project, the entire process will stall and very little progress will be made.

As my business coach told me, ‘only you can hold yourself accountable.’ In other words way too many of us look to others to hold us accountable. If you are going to tell someone on your team you will have something to them then make sure you have it to them. Don’t be the one who is constantly stopping up the process.

When it comes to this part of the production call it is important to write down, verbalize and share what those tools (passwords, resource links, etc.) and deliverables (newsletter content, website copy, etc.) are, who will be responsible to provide those and most importantly when they promise to deliver.

I can’t say it enough … don’t be the one responsible for stopping the process! Commit to getting what you say you will and when you say you will.

Critical Factor #4 – Upcoming events and promotions are an important thing to discuss as preplanning means greater success!

One of the tips I love sharing is about events and conferences. If you are planning to attend an event or conference and want to have the greatest success, share it with your Virtual Assistant. There are a few things your Virtual Assistant can do to help you have greater success at these events.

Each of us has (or should have) goals when we choose to attend an event. For most it is the same goals:

  • Education and learning
  • Meeting potential clients
  • Meeting possible joint venture partners
  • Researching potential markets

When you share your goals with your Virtual Assistant they can actually help you to achieve your goals, even if they aren’t attending the event. Get your team to do research ahead of time on attendees so you know who you MUST reach out to. Often these events have facebook groups and/or a hashtag on social media they are using. Utilizing these tools your Virtual Assistant can start to put together a “must meet” list of attendees for you. Using this list they can arrange coffee and/or lunch dates with these people even before you leave home.

Free Ways to Say Thank You to Your Virtual Assistant

thanks-Nov 27Your Virtual Assistant is an integral part of your business and if you are like me you couldn’t imagine your business without them. Many will talk about how they like to send little tokens of appreciation to their Virtual Assistant, and although very appreciated today I would like to share with you some simple ways to show your Virtual Assistant just how much you value them without having to spend a dime.

Given my years of experience as a Virtual Assistant any one of (or all of) these gestures from my client would have me wanting to continue doing a great job for them. A simple thank you or one of these gestures below meant more to me than anything because they symbolized that my client appreciated me and valued me.

See when your Virtual Assistant feels appreciated and valued then you stay on their “favourite” client list and that’s when the team magic really happens. Let’s get started with some ways to say THANKS.

Tell a friend. Referrals go a long way and your vote of confidence will mean a lot to your Virtual Assistant. A quick note … before you give a referral make sure you know exactly who your Virtual Assistant is looking to work with.
Have realistic timelines. Nothing bothers a Virtual Assistant more than clients who leave everything until the last minute and then expect them to drop everything for you.
Add more tasks or hours to your contract. Each Virtual Assistant has a desired number of hours they want or need to work in a month. It is so much easier for a Virtual Assistant to work with fewer clients so reward them by adding more time to your contract.
Notes of encouragement and thanks mean a lot. A simple thanks for doing this or you did a great job goes a long way. My personal favourite is I love working with you, you make my life so much easier.
Keep paying your bill in a timely manner. It is important to respect your Virtual Assistant by keeping your account with them current and making it easy for them to collect your payment is high on what makes an ideal client for many Virtual Assistant.
See them and treat them as an equal. Your Virtual Assistant is an important part of your team and brings something to the team no one else can. Acknowledge what they bring to the table and treat them as the important person they are. Respect their opinions and ask for their ideas.

Good luck and I would love to hear other ways you thank your Virtual Assistant! Join me over on my Facebook page and share your ideas of thanks!

Creating the Virtual Assistant You Want (and Need) in 5 Easy Steps

Virtual AssistantOne of the things that frustrates me more than anything is when a Virtual Assistant/Client relationship breaks down. Whether it be because the Virtual Assistant decides to move on saying it wasn’t the “right fit” or the entrepreneur “gives up” on their Virtual Assistant it is equally disappointing. Why? Simply because I believe a lot of these relationships could be “salvaged” with a little bit of work. [Of course there are some that can’t, but I believe for the most part given a little extra work they could turn into long-term relationships.]

Many entrepreneurs have the misguided notion that it’s up to the Virtual Assistant to make sure the relationship works because after all they have experience working with other clients. This is so not true. You are the key to making sure the relationship with your Virtual Assistant grows and prospers.

Before I share with you some ideas for “turning your relationship around” you first have to decide you want that relationship to grow and prosper and deserves your time. To do that ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Do I genuinely like this person and would like a long-term relationship with them?
  2. Do they have the gumption and smarts to figure things out given the right environment?
  3. Do they have the program skills (Mailchimp, Infusionsoft, etc.)  that can be built upon and support my business needs?

If you have answered yes to these questions than it is good to know that most situations can be salvaged and ultimately turned around when you follow these five simple steps!

#1 – Share your vision

When your Virtual Assistant can connect everything you do to your “bigger why” then everything (no matter how big or small the task) starts to make sense. It is when your Virtual Assistant doesn’t understand why you are doing certain things that the day-to-day simply become tasks and the implementation of these tasks become “robot-like.”

For most Virtual Assistants it is when they start to understand your passion and your drive and the why behind everything that the relationship can begin to grow and prosper. I suggest not only sharing your long-term why and vision, but share your goals and shorter term goals that will fit into that long-term picture.

#2 – Model the behaviour you are looking for

The best way to have someone work efficiently and effectively with you is to model the behaviour you are looking for. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you get things to your Virtual Assistant when you promised?
  • Are you respecting your Virtual Assistant’s time?
  • Do you take the time to make sure your communications are understood?
  • Do you ask questions to make sure you understand everything clearly that is needed from you to move closer to your vision?
  • Are you allowing others to do what they do best or are you micromanaging?

If you expect your team members to act a certain way you first have to check that you are acting the way you wish them to act. Don’t become a “do as I say, not as I do” type client.

#3 – Check-ins are important

Nothing is more important than checking in with your team members from time to time. Make sure there are no bottlenecks in the process and if there are ask yourself “what do we need to change to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

The biggest mistake you can make is to assign a project and forget about it. In no way am I suggesting you micro-manage the project, but you need to have a system for checking in to make sure everything is moving forward. Perhaps the best way to do that is by scheduling weekly check-in calls to ask the following questions:

  • What have we accomplished since the last time we spoke
  • What tasks are at a stand still and why
  • What systems do we need to change or tweak to make sure we don’t run into this problem again in the future
  • What is the next step we need to take to progress closer to our vision

#4 – Give praise where praise is due

Nothing makes someone want to do better than to be complimented and appreciated for the work they have put in to date. Each person on your team needs to be made to feel as important as the next member and seen for the contributions they bring to the table.

It is important to remember that everyone (no matter how big or small a role they play) plays an important part in the big picture. Think of and picture your car; every part of that car from the engine down to the oil that is running through the engine is important to ensure the car continues to keep moving and operate like a well-oiled machine. The same is true in your business and of your team. When one team member stops moving in sync with the others it can throw everything off.

Appreciation goes a very long way … it doesn’t have to be big and a simple “Thank you” will often suffice!

#5 – Stay on your Virtual Assistants “A” list

Just as I am sure you have an A list of clients (you know the ones you absolutely love and would do anything for) so too does your Virtual Assistant have a similar list. The best ways I know to stay on your Virtual Assistants “A” list is to:

  • Pay them when you promise to pay them
  • Commit to the hours you “promised” them
  • Work hard to grow your business
  • Don’t fall victim to “shiny object syndrome” and continually change directions
  • Love your business more than they do and stay close to your passion every day

Implementing these five steps will get you well on your way to creating that relationship you are looking for. It will take some work, but I guarantee it will be so worth it in the end!

Virtual Bookkeeping – How Does It Work?

Bookkeeping

So you have taken the step and decided bookkeeping is just one of those tasks you really would prefer to outsource. You have interviewed several candidates, but no one has really felt like someone you could totally depend on. Your friend suggests someone, but they live several hours away. You would love to work with that person, but you ask yourself how it can be done?

There are several ways to work with a virtual bookkeeper and it is be best to talk with your virtual bookkeeper (VB) to determine which is best for you, but here are just a few ideas to get you started.

How to Get the Documents to Your VB
Option #1 – Set up Virtual Post Office
By Purchasing a Post Office Box in your VB’s hometown and ensuring all your bookkeeping related documents are sent to that mailing address will make matters easy for your VB. They simply visit the post office regularly to pick up any items that are delivered. If asked about the address by your clients and/or suppliers, you can simply state this is the location of your satellite office.

Option #2 – “Snail Mail” or Courier
Once you receive the documents you can bundle them up and forward them to your VB by “snail mail” or courier. The only drawback in choosing this method is there can be a delay and deadlines may be missed. Of course, it does give you the opportunity to review your invoices and approve or reject them.

Option #3 – Scan Documents and Send by Email or FTP
Finally, if you are still a small business, a very viable option is to scan all the documents that need to be inputted into your accounting software and either email or FTP these documents to your VB. If you are a larger company, this may not be a feasible option as you would probably spend more time scanning and emailing then you would simply entering the items. If you do choose this option, please remember to email your VB every transaction you make including on-line payments, checks written, invoices received, credit card receipts and invoices sent. If there is not an actual paper document then details can be sent to your VB for entry.

What Options are There for Systems to Use
Option #1 – VB Maintains Records
This is perhaps the easiest system to use. By having your VB maintain the records solely there will be no concerns about missed entries, incompatible software programs and lost data. Also, from the VB’s point of view it is the best alternative simply because it is easiest for them. Why?

Option #2 – Online Options
Several bookkeeping software programs now have an on-line capability. All data is entered on-line and can be accessed by both parties; the VB and the client. There are several advantages and disadvantages to using this system and if this is your choice it is best to do a lot of research before deciding on the software package you will utilize.

Option #3 – VB Logs Onto Your Computer to Access Bookkeeping Program
Another option is to have your VB access your computer directly. There are several programs that make this a viable option as well. You can also set up your system to allow your VB direct access to your server. Keep in mind that with some programs since only one person can access your computer at a time this may not be a viable option for you. Also, your VB will have troubles as printing will no longer be an option. For many reports it is key to have a paper trail and this may not always be a possibility.

I Still Want Access to My Records, but How?
Option #1 – Online Options
If you do choose one of the on-line options you will always have direct access to your computer records. Of course, these records may not mean anything to you unless you ask your VB to interpret them or you have some simple bookkeeping background.

Option #2 – Transfer File
You can choose to have the data file transferred back and forth between yourself and your VB. The only risks you take with this are that the file is somehow corrupted, you overwrite a current file during transfer or entries are missed because each of you enters transactions at the same time. Another thing to keep in mind if you choose this option is that you and your VB will have to maintain the exact same software package. Many VBs update their software frequently so this could be a costly choice for you.

Option #3 – Maintaining the File and Having VB Work Utilizing Your Computer
If you do choose to have your VB work on your computer file directly by accessing your computer, you will have full access to your records. Of course again you may not fully understand what you are looking at and may need some interpretations.

Option #4 – VB Sends Full Reports Each Month
At the very least, even if you fully trust your VB and allow them to maintain full control of your bookkeeping software, you should be receiving a full set of reports each month. This will allow you to stay on top of your financial decisions and make crucial business decisions.

What Things Should I Ask to Be Included in My Monthly Reports?
1. Financial Statements
Incl: a) Balance Sheet showing all your assets, liabilities and your investment in the company
b) Income Statement showing profit and loss for the month (nice to have a year-to-date too)
2. Balance in Bank Accounts
3. Accounts Receivables listing including all amounts owed by your clients/customers
4. Accounts Payable Listing including all amounts owed to your suppliers
5. Bank/Merchant Account Reconciliations
6. Detailed Trial Balance Showing All Entries Made during the month

Of course, this can be modified to suit your needs, but if you are making financial decisions these items will be critical to make the best decisions for your company.

How Will We Pay the Bills?
Option #1 – Separate bank account – on line access and/or signing authority
This is a fantastic idea and one where you can set up a “bookkeeping” account wherein you deposit only the funds needed to pay bills in that particular month. All incoming monies from payments from your clients/customers are maintained in a separate main business account. As funds get low, you can transfer more funds from your main business account to this operating account. This way the only access that your VB needs to your main business account is one of simple data entry. For your operating account the VB can have signing authority and on-line access as the funds will only reflect the amount required to pay invoices.

Option #2 – Prepared Checks – Attach to Invoices
Your VB can also prepare the required checks and attach them directly to the invoices with an addressed envelope. These would then be returned to your attention and all you would be required to do is to sign the check and insert it into the envelope for mailing.

Option #3 – Supply of Signed Checks and Ask for the Stubs to be Returned Each Month
Another option is to pre-sign some checks for safe keeping by your VB. If this is an option you choose I would suggest ensuring that the stubs are returned to you frequently so you can maintain a record of what the checks are being utilized for.

Option #4 – Email Listing of Accounts to Be Paid and You Issue Checks and Return to Your VB
Perhaps the popular option is to simply have your VB send you a listing of the checks to be written and the amounts. Once you prepare the checks you send a return email showing the check numbers and date the invoice was paid. This will allow you to maintain full control of what is actually paid for and when that payment is issued.

How Do I Stay Knowledgeable with my Clients/Suppliers?
Option #1 – VB Gives Full Detailed Reports to Client (in layman terms)
If you would prefer your VB to remain “behind the scenes” and hidden from your suppliers and purchasers, it will require several things be in place for this system to work. The first thing is to have detailed reports, written in layman terms for your advantage, so you always are aware what is happening in your financial picture. The second is to have the ability to contact your VB at a moment’s notice to ask questions of them. Finally you will require some knowledge of simple bookkeeping and how it works.

Option #2 – VB Sets up Invoicing, etc. to Have Their Direct Line for Inquiries
One method that works amazingly well is to have your letterhead and invoices show your VB’s phone number listed as Accounting Department – Direct Line. Although this won’t stop your clients from contacting you, you can simply direct them to send all accounting related inquiries directly to your accounting department. Of course your VB would have to be willing and able to handle these inquiries on your behalf. Most people will not even realize they are calling somewhere not local, especially if your VB has a toll free line. It will also create the illusion you are a large company with several departments.

What about the Filing System
Option #1 – Virtual Filing Setup, Your Maintenance
Virtual filing can be done, but the first thing you will want to do is to send everything you have to your VB. That’s right, box it all up and send it by UPS; all your blank checks, cancelled checks, your receipts, invoices, etc.. This will allow your VB to set up a filing system for you. They will document and record the names of your files and send these files, already prepared, back to you. By allowing your VB to set up your files they will know which files you have and will keep a record. Then each month they will return your documents with labels as to which files each document is required to be filed in and if a new file is required they will create that file for you. Still worried about finding the time to file, that is fine too once a year you can send a few files at a time to your VB and they can organize them for you and send them back.

Option #2 – Simple Filing System
A second option for filing that some VBs have used is to simply put all the documents in large brown envelopes and mark the month on the outside. Within that folder they will have smaller envelopes for sales, purchases and miscellaneous documents. Then the only thing you have to do is put the envelope in a large box for year end purposes.

Option #3 – VB Maintains Filing
If your VB has the capability and desire, it is a great idea to allow them to maintain the files at their location. The biggest advantage of this is all the records are at their fingertips. This is key when they are dealing with phone calls from your suppliers and purchasers and need to have the answer within minutes.

Finding the right filing system will depend on whether your business is large or small and how often you will be required to access previous month’s documentation.

Perhaps the biggest advantage to outsourcing to a virtual bookkeeper is you are not limited by your geographical location. You can find the person that feels right for you and will be the best fit for your company regardless of location. That means that you can find a person you feel you can trust even if they live several hours away or across the other side of the country it can work.

One cautionary note I always suggest is to have someone else do tax preparation even if your virtual bookkeeper is capable. This will provide a check and balance system for your accounting records and eliminate any worries you have of trust.

Do it, Delegate it, Delete it!!

7K0A0192For us, as entrepreneurs, it is so easy to become overwhelmed by the mounds of work that comes into our office, especially via E-mail. I know that I myself have easily fallen victim to the trap of letting my in-box become overwhelming. A great deal of our time is wasted having to empty out an overwhelming inbox. Many times we might read the same email several times thinking “I don’t have time, I’ll deal with that later” and before we know it our inbox becomes so overwhelming that it takes an entire day to sort through it. As we work our way through it we soon begin to find things that should have been dealt with or that have been overlooked and undoubtably the stress begins to build.

I use the 3 D’s Strategy for keeping email messages under control: Do it, Delete it or Delegate it.

Each and every email I read from here on out will be handled in one of 3 ways:

1. DO IT – These are the emails that will require an action by me. If it isn’t something I can answer immediately or act upon immediately, I have also set up two folders and one is “To Read” and one is “To Do”. When it falls under one of these categories I will move it to those folders for later action. I have now also worked into my schedule a half hour at the end of each day and a half hour at the beginning of each day to go through the “To Do” folder and make sure that it is completed each day.

2. DELETE IT -Let’s face it we are inundated with emails, several of which are not something we ever plan to act on. We also receive several emails where a conversation is ended by the other party that should be deleted. Also, once you have answered an email and for which you are not waiting for a reply, you should delete it. By removing it from your inbox, it will tell you that it no longer requires anything to be done.

3.  – Finally if I am unable to handle something in an email and it needs to be handled by someone else I “delegate it” to them and forward that email.

My final piece of advice is to create a folder entitled “Waiting for a reply“. This will be for all those emails that you have acted on and you are waiting for a response from someone else. These are those emails that you don’t want to delete just yet for fear of forgetting that you are waiting for something before being able to “Do It“, but that clutter your in-box nonetheless. By moving these from your in-box or your “To Do” files they will not clutter these spaces and cause you to read them several times. Always be sure, however, to make it a point of checking your “waiting for a reply” daily and deleting those that you have received a reply on.

I hope that by implementing these tips you will soon find that checking your emails is not taking up huge chunks of time in your day. With any luck, the next time you hear “you have mail” you will not want to jump under your desk and hide.


About the Author:

Yvonne WeldYvonne Weld is the Virtual Assistant matchmaker and she helps entrepreneurs find their ideal Virtual Assistant so they can have more time to focus on making more money in their business.

If you are having difficulties getting started with your Virtual Assistant or have questions simply about Virtual Assistants in general, schedule a free VA Q&A and Yvonne can help you navigate the Virtual Assistant world!  https://www.timetrade.com/book/66TR1