A summer intern is one way to get the support you need. But, another incredibly popular option amongst self-starters is hiring a virtual assistant. “I was thinking of hiring one,” so many of my self-starter friends messaged me when I posted about it on Instagram. “Let me know how it goes.”
As someone who has worked solo for the past few years, hiring support is uncharted, slightly terrifying territory. (I’ll admit it’s difficult to reallocate some responsibilities to another person.) That’s why I am so excited to introduce you to Saba Ferdinand. After working in (and blogging about!) the travel industry for nearly a decade, Saba started her own virtual assistant business in 2020. Not only has Saba been able to seriously scale her business over the past year, but she’s also trained other aspiring virtual assistants — and connected them with their dream clients. (I know, she’s pretty incredible.)
To help, Saba is sharing everything you need to know about virtual assistants. From understanding when you truly need a virtual assistant to finding the right one for your needs, you’re just a few scrolls away from leveling up your business.
Do You Need A Virtual Assistant?
Well, it depends. According to Saba, it’s important to think about your bandwidth.
“There [are] things you need to get done for your brand and business, but you no longer enjoy doing them or just don’t have the time,” she says. “That’s when you know it might be the time to get someone to take [those tasks] off your hands, so you can get more business or be in a space you actually enjoy.”
If you’re just starting your business and have a great handle on all your tasks, you might want to pump the brakes on hiring a virtual assistant. But, if you’re so busy that sending an invoice seems like a big undertaking, a virtual assistant could be a game-changer. (Even Saba has a team of virtual assistants to streamline her days.)
I know what you’re thinking: Having a virtual assistant sounds great, but won’t that be expensive? Not necessarily.
“I think there’s a stigma that people think [it’s] going to break the bank because they’re bringing on a team member,” Saba says. “But, it doesn’t have to be so many hours because virtual assistants have a lot of clients. So, start small and test it out.”
I mean, hiring someone to help clean out your inbox for a few hours can make a huge difference.
What Does A Virtual Assistant Do?
Right off the bat, Saba says virtual assistants do mostly admin work such as checking your DMs, answering emails, keeping up with your customers, or helping you with invoices. Need help with something specific? Don’t worry, there’s probably a virtual assistant that’s perfect for your needs.
“There are virtual assistants who specialize in social media,” she explains. “So, they could create graphics, help you with captions, or schedule [your posts] out.”
Speaking of which, Saba says it’s important to understand that a virtual assistant is not a social media manager.
“It’s the number-one thing that gets most misconstrued,” she says. “Unless they specify it, a virtual assistant is not going to tell you what’s the new strategy on Instagram or explain a new feature to you.”
As a general rule of thumb, your virtual assistant will do more administrative work for your business. But, if you need something more? Specify that in your search.
How To Find The Right Virtual Assistant
Sure, references and interviews are important for finding that perfect virtual assistant. But, when Saba was hiring her own team, she placed a big emphasis on personality.
“I needed someone [who] actually shared the same personality as me, or [was] pretty close,” she explains. “I was going to need them to talk like me, so [they could] write out my emails.”
Plus, having a virtual assistant who meshes well with your personality makes working together easier and more enjoyable.
“Your ideal client is literally a version of yourself, either earlier or later on,” she adds.
How To Work With A Virtual Assistant
As a self-starter, there’s a good chance you’re very protective of your work. (I mean, I’m right there with you.) The mere thought of having someone else answering your emails or responding to DMs sound downright terrifying — especially when you’ve worked so hard to get where you are today. Don’t worry, Saba says that feeling is totally normal. To help, she says it’s important to get a feel for your virtual assistant first.
“One way is to do a trial,” Saba says. “I believe in giving them a few things that you were going to pass off anyways, just to get a feel for them. How do they show up? Are they on-time? Are they catching your mistakes?”
At the end of the day, you’re the one who calls the shots, so you don’t have to move forward with a virtual assistant who doesn’t match your needs.
But, on the flip-side, it’s important to treat your virtual assistant with respect. Just because they’re here to help you doesn’t mean you need to put everythingon their plate.
“The number-one mistake a lot of people make is that they’ll get a virtual assistant, and have no idea what they want them to do,” Saba says. “If there are things piling up on your to-do list, make a separate list of what they can help with. Maybe even [include] the steps for [those things].”
Just like you, a virtual assistant is running their own business. So, giving them a clear list of tasks and actionable steps will help your and their businesses succeed.
A huge thank you to Saba for such an important conversation! Give Saba some love by following her on Instagram to learn more about her services, sign up for her course, and subscribe to her newsletter.
Hustler of the Week: Nora Wolf
What inspired you to become your own boss?
Before working for myself, I worked at two other PR firms, both boutique and women-run. I was interested in our work, in our clients, and how the business was run. I’m so thankful that these women took a chance on a young kid and were really transparent with their operations. It gave me the confidence to take the learnings and turn it into my own business.
The other thing that really drove my decision-making process was being in charge of my own time. I don’t think I was ever destined to let someone else dictate my time off, when I wake up, or how much money I make. I need to make the most of whatever time I have to travel, show up for important events in my friends’ and family’s lives, or just take a nap when I’m tired.
What is your favorite part about being your own boss?
The absolute best part of being my own boss is making the rules. I decide nearly everything about my business and I can deviate from industry norms as much or as little as I like. This month, I’m starting to introduce profit sharing for my employee because it feels ethical and that’s the kind of business I want to run. There is nothing cooler than deciding I want to do something, and then getting to do it.
There are a few things I dislike about being my own boss, to be honest. I wish there was just less work, but I don’t think that has to do with being my own boss. Honestly, I even like doing paperwork, taxes, and accounting. I guess my least favorite is not having enough hours in the day!
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since becoming your own boss?
Take time off! And, don’t apologize to your clients for it. Just take the time you need.
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