When we start our Virtual Assistant business, it’s almost always just us doing it all.
We do all the work, we bring on new clients as our schedule can manage it, and we build and grow at a pace that we can sustain.
But at some point (hopefully!) it becomes necessary to consider getting additional help.
Is it time for you to consider getting subcontractors?
If so, here are a few pieces of advice to make sure you get the best help you can:
- Be specific in what kind of help you need. When you know what you want to get help with, it makes the search easier. You will also know the skill level that you need. Sometimes you can train someone, but sometimes you need some expertise. Make a list of what you want to subcontract and decide whether you need one person to do it all, or if you need several subs to handle different levels of expertise. Sometimes two is better than one!
- Set your subcontractor rate. You need to have a budget set for what you can afford to pay someone. It’s important to still make a profit, or subcontracting is not the way to go. While you can ask people what they charge as a subcontractor, it’s better to be able to tell them what you can pay. Many VAs pay 60-75% of their billable rate out to a subcontractor (you can decide what’s right for you). If you are not yet in a position to pay well, you might consider raising your rates prior to expanding your team. Profit is still the most important part of your business! And making sure you will be profitable is a big step in expanding.
- Track time and tasks. Good project management is essential when you bring someone in to sub for you. You need to make sure you can see easily what they are working on, and what’s done and not done. The less time you can spend figuring this out the better. There are lots of great project management system options – find the one that works for you and be sure you and your team use it. Your admin time is very important when you have team members. Make sure your systems help you maximize your own time spent managing the work.
- Communicate well. Not only do your subs need to have the skills you are after, they need to be able to communicate well. Much time can get lost in the communication process if you are not a good fit for each other. You need to make sure you are a good fit for each other personality wise – but also you need a system for communication that helps make the work between you more seamless.
- Have a contract, and an application process if possible. Many VAs find people to add to their teams on the social forums – which is great – but you want to make sure you are getting quality people to subcontract for you. An application process can make this better. Collect the information you need, conduct a professional interview/consult. And you can make a better decision on who can join your team.
- Meet regularly. Be sure that you are connecting on a regular basis with your subs. A regular (brief) production call is a great way to build and grow a better business relationship. Consistent communication helps you to make sure everyone stays on the same page, and it’s a great addition to just email communication. Problems and concerns are always better addresses face to face (or on the phone!).
- Develop procedures. The best way to make sure your work is being done to your standards is to write out procedures for everything you do. If you have tasks that require multiple steps, make sure you build checklists so that steps do not get missed. Procedures help streamline your subcontractor’s work by freeing up brain power too. Documenting your procedures makes it quicker to train someone who is coming on to help you with your work, too. Time is always money in business!
These are simple things, but they are essential when you are considering expanding your business.
You can’t bring on subcontractors and then end up with no profit at the end of the day. Properly planned and managed, working with subcontractors is an excellent way to scale your business growth.
By planning your communication, project management and making sure your rates are maintaining your profit level, you can build a much bigger business than just you!
Tracey D’Aviero is a veteran VA and Founder of Your VA Mentor. Tracey trains and mentors professional women and men who are brand new to the VA industry or who have been struggling to make their business successful. Her mission is to educate professionals on how to build and grow successful and profitable virtual businesses in the VA industry by implementing systems and smart principles. Contact Tracey for speaking engagements, group training or private coaching at www.yourvamentor.com.