How to Work with Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive, and Build Your Dream Business
It’s the 21st century, and many things have gone virtual.
Why should your staff go virtual too?
Chris Ducker explains it all in:
Who Should Read “Virtual Freedom”? And Why?
Virtual Freedom is for all of the business leaders out there who suffer from a “superhero syndrome,” believing that in order to be successful they need to be able to do it all.
The truth is, that is impossible. And as Virtual Freedom argues – there’s a much better way than banging your head all the time over trivial matters.
Namely, hiring someone else to do that for you – and spending your time on the big stuff instead.
If you want to achieve that, then Virtual Freedom is just the book for you, regardless of whether you’re a small or a big business.
Or to quote Ducker himself, “If the word ‘recharge’ only applies to your cell phone, you need this book more than you know, believe me!”
About Chris C. Ducker
Chris C. Ducker is, in his own words, “a serial entrepreneur” and bestselling author.
Cambridge-based, Ducker owns and operates numerous businesses, and employs over 400 workers from all over the world.
A keynote speaker, blogger, and a
podcaster, Ducker is also the founder of Youpreneur.com. a website
“on a quest to become the number one resource for personal brand entrepreneurs around the world” and the host of the annual Youpreneur Summit held in London.
In addition to Virtual Freedom, he has also published a few other eBooks, most recently, Rise of the Youpreneur.
Find out more at ChrisDucker.com.
“Virtual Freedom PDF Summary”
“Remember when you first started your business? The enthusiasm you had? It’s my job as the author of this book to restore that feeling,” says Chris C. Ducker in Virtual Freedom, a step-by-step guide to building a business with virtual employees.
Why do you need them?
Well, let’s see!
The Benefits of Having a Virtual Assistant
Now, let us guess: before you decided to become an entrepreneur, you thought you were getting into a Steve Jobs/Elon Musk type of world where you’ll be inventing stuff and changing the world all the time.
Fast forward a couple of years, and there’s a big chance you spent most of your day writing checks, managing meetings, reviewing budgets, and answering emails.
Who knows, you may even like doing some of these tasks, says Ducker, and you may even be good at doing them. “The question is, should you bedoing them, as the business owner?”
The answer, of course, is not:
As entrepreneurs, time is our most valuable commodity (MVC). Money will come and go, but once you’ve invested your time into something, that time is gone forever. It stands to reason that if there are any actions we can take as business owners to free up more time in our daily routines, we should take them.
Fortunately, there’s a great way to get your money back: outsourcing some of the administrative tasks to Virtual Assistants (VAs).
Why not regular ones?
Mostly because of two reasons:
#1. Because it’s the 21st century and you can have a virtual assistant, namely someone you can contact almost all of the time even if he/she is living on the other side of the planet;
#2. Because there are some highly talented people out there, who are waiting to be employed as your VA. In fact, according to stats, every seventh American works as a freelancer or a self-employed consultant.
The Assistant to Manage All the Assistants
Now, just like you’re no superhero able to do everything yourself, your virtual assistant will never be a superhero himself.
One of the worst mistakes you can make during the process of outsourcing is dumping all of the administrative tasks to one virtual assistant.
Just think about it: the tasks you’re giving him/her took about 90% of your time, and you had serious problems managing them; and, should we remind you, it was your business!
Do you really think your VA won’t crack or do a lousy job if you give him so much work from the start?
A better strategy is to hire a few virtual assistants, and if you can’t manage them efficiently, to hire a GVA as well.
Yup, that stands for General Virtual Assistant, the one who’ll manage all of your VAs for you.
Tips and Tricks for Beginners
Of course, hiring a VA is easy, but finding the right one is not as easy as you may think it is.
The following few tips and tricks – which Ducker devised through experience and the ever-reliable trial and error process – may help you:
#1. What applies to hiring a “normal” employee, applies to hiring a “virtual” one as well; even though you’ll never see them face-to-face, VAs are people too; so, act as if you’re hiring someone for your office;
#2. Of course, the first thing this means is that you should never hire a VA via email or Google chat; always use Skype or Google Hangouts for at least one interview;
#3. Rule #1 also means that you should hire a VA suitable for the role of VA and not for the urgent job; if, say, you need someone to make Excel spreadsheets, it’s wrong to hire the VA who has the most Excel knowledge; you’ll need other things from your VA as well – so think about that in advance;
#4. In other words, pen a good job description and be very precise and clear in terms of what you’d like from your future VA; use bullet points and be straight to the point;
#5. Don’t ever sacrifice quality for cost. Good GVAs cost about $900 per month, about 3.5 times less than what a virtual app developer may cost you. Of course, you can lower that significantly if you find an oversee employee, as well you should if you find a good one.
However, the keywords in this equation are “time zones”: just imagine how difficult it’d be if you need to wait for five hours for your employee to answer an urgent task!
Speaking of which…
Training Your VAs
Hiring a VA is merely the beginning; training and managing are, expectedly, as necessary.
The three training tenets advocated by Chris Ducker are the following:
#1. Just like you are obliged to pen a good job description before hiring (see above, #4), you are also required to clearly define the expectations you have from your new VA (or GVA) and the limits of his role; take your time to explain everything; don’t let them make mistakes;
#2. Allow your new VAs to ask you any question they like during the first month or so; our age is just too dynamic, and you shouldn’t allow them to learn through the oh so familiar trial and error process; that’s not a luxury you have;
#3. Be always aware of time zones; if you decide you hire one who’s living in a different time zone than yours, then be clear both about the demands and the fact that, at least during the training process, he/she will have to change his/her biorhythm; after all, you don’t want to have to answer questions at midnight!
Managing Your VAs
Now that you’ve hired and trained your virtual assistants, it’s time to learn how to manage them.
The best way to do it?
Start with an FAQ and an IFTTT.
You probably know what the first thing is: better than being asked all the time about things you know you will be asked, just prepare a document of frequently asked questions in advance.
But also, prepare an IFTTT cheat sheet.
Now, that may be something new to you.
IFTTT stands for “if that, then this” which is short for “if that happens, then you should do this, no questions asked.”
So, basically, it’s like an emergency evacuation procedure.
Treat your business the same way.
After all, not many people are heard during a fire or an earthquake in a hotel when the emergency procedures are followed.
The good part about having an IFTTT is not only that it helps you to focus on other things, but also that it helps your VA develop without being micromanaged.
Children get too clingy when they know their parents are there for them, no matter what; the same will happen to your VA if, instead of training him/her, you just make his work dependent on your micromanagement practices.
Now, in time, if all goes well, no FAQ or IFTTT will be able to absorb the complexity of your projects and internal communication.
That’s why, you should always have in mind a good Cloud managing system, using either Dropbox or Google Drive to communicate with your VAs on anything.
The best part about this?
Your VA wouldn’t have to file any more reports!
Key Lessons from “Virtual Freedom”
The Five Rules for Hiring a Good VAs
2. The Three Tenets of Training VAs
3. How to Manage Your VAs
The Five Rules for Hiring a Good VAs
When you’re hiring a VA (that is a virtual assistant), always have in mind these five rules:
#1. Act as if you’re hiring someone to work
in your office;
#2. Use Skype, Google Hangouts, appear.in or some other video chat software to make a face-to-face contact before making the final decision;
#3. Hire for the role, not for the job;
#4. Be very clear and straightforward in your job description;
#5. Don’t sacrifice quality for cost.
The Three Tenets of Training VAs
It would be wrong to expect from your virtual assistant to be exceptional at everything from the start.
Of course you’ll have to train him/her first!
These are the three tenets of training, according to Chris Ducker:
#1. Clearly define the role for your VA
once you hire him; be as exact as you can be;
#2. Allow your VAs to ask you any question whatsoever during the first few months; don’t allow them to learn through a trial and error process, because this might cost you more;
#3. Be always aware of time zones if you hire someone living in another country.
How to Manage Your VAs
Managing VAs is also an essential part of the process of getting the best VA possible.
Use these tips and tricks from Drucker’s book and vast experience:
#1. In addition to allowing your VAs to ask
you anything at the beginning, create an FAQ
so that you save yourself the trouble from answering a question you know you’ll
#2. Also, be sure to provide your VAs an IFTTT cheat sheet, aka a document not unlike an emergency procedure which lists everything your VA should do in case of some predictable events (IFTTT stands for “if this, then that”);
#3 Finally, use cloud services such as Google Drive and Dropbox to manage processes and stop dealing with annoying things such as reports.
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“Virtual Freedom Quotes”If the word 'recharge' only applies to your cell phone, you need this book more than you know, believe me! Click To Tweet Remember when you first started your business? The enthusiasm you had? It's my job as the author of this book to restore that feeling. Click To Tweet You like doing certain tasks, you might be good at doing them. The question is, should you BE doing them, as the business owner?!! Click To Tweet As entrepreneurs, time is our most valuable commodity (MVC)... It stands to reason that if there are any actions we can take as business owners to free up more time in our daily routines, we should take them. Click To Tweet Money will come and go, but once you’ve invested your time into something, that time is gone forever. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
Many of the things written in this book make sense. But one can that about many other books as well, and some of them have proven to be a combination of impractical and wishful thinking.
Fortunately, Christ Ducker both talks the talk and walks the walk. As Derek Halpern, the founder of SocialTriggers.com says:
“Who would you rather trust to learn about building a virtual team, to help grow your business? Someone who ‘talks’ about outsourcing, or someone who lives it? Chris Ducker lives it – everyday – and this book proves it!”
Michael Hyatt’s review is even more glowing:
“Think about the most useful book you’ve ever read. It will now become the second most useful. This is the field guide for building a team, outsourcing, and taking back control of your life.”
If you ask us, some things Ducker advises in this book come too early, others not early enough. We have no doubt in our minds that, very soon, some of the practices suggested by Ducker in Virtual Freedom will be mainstream practices.
Maybe it’s not a bad idea to try to implement some of them and catch the early train, ha?