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NOTABLE! 5 Step Guide To Hiring a Rockstar VA To Handle Your Business

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Envision

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Alright, figured since Im in somewhat of a hiring phase I would document and outline how I'm going about the process.

While I've hired people within the US to manage my warehouse and operations I am going to specifically go over how to find and hire a VA for your company.

We start in the Phillipines, Im not going to get into the why and what makes them the best but essentially, their loyalty, skills, talent, and pay required makes them the ideal VA location to source from.

1. Start by going to Onlinejobs.ph and creating an account.

This is essentially a marketplace to hire VA's to manage all sorts of tasks - literally anything. Most jobs will range from $300-1000/mo for people working a 40 hr work week. Ive found great contractor VA's on upwork before but when you are looking for an employee I dont think there is any better than this platform because they provide you with extremely competent people looking for full time work.





2. Post your job, be specific, be clear, give instruction

I honestly believe that most people fail before they begin with this step here. They expect that their poor instructions and lack of clarity will give them the ultimate employee and then blame the employee for not knowing what to do.

I broke my posting very specifically.

- What three tasks did I want the VA to be skilled with (Amazon, Shopify, Inventory Mgmt)

- What specific things did they need to know, be willing to learn, or already be doing

- What apps,forms, etc did I want them to know



Important Note: I mind mapped out all the work that I was doing, that I needed to get off my plate, and then in order of importance ranked it in how I was going to hand it off.




Then BEFORE HIRING, I’ve created a process or system on how to train the VA on that task - I bought an amazon course that would train her on tasks, I bought a udemy course on shopify to teach her on those tasks, and I will spend the time training on suppliers,etc. By making videos and doing in depth training.

Note that this would be after shes proven herself with the first two videos so I dont waste my time training someone that isnt good/leaves.

3. Create a Google Form application form, ask ~10 specific questions to the job and give instructions on how they should apply.

Ex: Start your response with three sevens. If they dont, they are automatically out.

From the 10 responses to the application I got, three got it right and the three that did are rockstars and you can tell they are competent.




4. Once you’ve identified between 2-5 candidates for your position you will set up interviews with skype.

My candidate was open to talking on the phone but I opted for text. The filipino culture are generally shy and most will opt to chat via email/text as it makes them feel more comfortable. I generally spend this time asking them about their experience, current living situation, and try to get a feel for if they are right for the position I’m hiring for.

To give you an example of this - the woman I decided to hire to basically run my entire backend operation with me has an industrial engineering degree with a focus on both inbound and outbound logistics and has worked extensively on inventory planning. She was asking for $600/mo and wanted to stay home with her young kids.

To me that's priceless because she has the experience that I dont to continue scaling my companies and fills many of the gaps Im seeing in my business and I have the means to help her stay at home with her kids.

NOTE: If you have multiple candidates you like, set them up on a 2-4 week trial and determine which one you like more, if you still like them both hire them both and get them to work with each other. Otherwise, opt for the one that's most coachable.

5. Training and Implementation

If you’re like me you probably have 0 standard operating procedures written down and all of them jumbling around in your head 24/7. It’s a pain in my a$$ and I f*ckin hate the thought of sitting down and writing it all out.

So im not going to. If you’re VA is competent give them small tasks a few at a time and have them create your SOP’s. You may not want to do this if you don’t have the faith/trust.

  • Hand off all login info needed to take over necessary tasks

  • Send over training itenerary/plan

  • Send over instructions on how to communicate (Im using a mix of slack and asana)

  • Emphasis trail period

NOTE: You need to build trust and in the first month or two you should pay them their salary broken down weekly ($150/week) for my example to gain their trust and give them the stability they need.

Common Questions

1. When should I hire a VA?

Honestly, looking back I hired one way too late - Im literally hiring them because I am spending all my time working in my business and not on it. I figured 100k/mo was a safe time to afford to hire one but I should of done it at like half that revenue.

2. I dont think I have enough work for them

I’d hire them before you have the work and have them build the SOPS and take all menial tasks off your plate. Cause now im doing all the bullshit tasks I shouldn't be doing. Im my own bottleneck currently.

3. How do you pay them?

Paypal, they are paid as a contractor

-----

Onlinejobs.ph has some really awesome ebooks to study and learn from on this. Ive just condensed my process for all of you. I think its a great way to go and I know of a couple guys running 8 figure companies with entire offices of VA’s in the Philippines.

Hope this is useful to some of you!
 

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Eskil

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Nice write-up man, and basically exactly what I did when I hired my first ones from OnlineJobs.ph a few years ago. I've been recommending that site to others here ever since.

And yes, hiring too late is a mistake that is easy to make. A lot people are surprised how affordable quality VA's can be.

:thumbsup:
 

Xeon

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For those of you who hire VAs to handle the admin part of the work, don't you feel worried that they might mis-use the data?

E.g: company related data, spreadsheets with customers/products info, or maybe you hire them to sort out your list of suppliers/manus.....what if they sell all these to your competitors? Or say, VAs that provide customer service. What if they reply your customers' emails with nonsense and rudeness?

I've also heard of people hiring VAs to manage their social media accounts for them. If the VAs decides to change the password / login info etc, you're screwed.
Especially since they're half the earth apart, there's no way you can control them.

Yes, control.
 
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Envision

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For those of you who hire VAs to handle the admin part of the work, don't you feel worried that they might mis-use the data?

E.g: company related data, spreadsheets with customers/products info, or maybe you hire them to sort out your list of suppliers/manus.....what if they sell all these to your competitors? Or say, VAs that provide customer service. What if they reply your customers' emails with nonsense and rudeness?

I've also heard of people hiring VAs to manage their social media accounts for them. If the VAs decides to change the password / login info etc, you're screwed.
Especially since they're half the earth apart, there's no way you can control them.

Yes, control.
Sure thats a fair fear, but it's a scarcity mindset. Any employee could take your data and steal from you - if you're going to be an entrepreneur you need to build trust and loyalty in your workforce.
 

Mike Partee

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Great write-up @Envision.

Hired my first full-time employee from OnlineJobs in January and he's been AMAZING.
Seriously, the cost vs value for labor in the Philippines is insane.

I've been in a weird middle area between doing everything myself and hiring part time subcontractors for a year, neither being effective. When I learned you could get full-time help for the cost of a part-timer, it was a no brainer.

I figured 100k/mo was a safe time to afford to hire one but I should of done it at like half that revenue.
Question about this...why does it seem Ecom guys hire so late?
Could be wrong but it seems like a pattern.

I know a guy doing $1.2MM/y as well, and he was reluctant to hire anyone for more than $15/hr for an admin/VA.

Personally, I NEED free time to THINK and DRIVE REVENUE, which IMO is the most important roles of the founder. Without extra help, I was spinning my tires.

My guy gets $225/wk and have cut down my personal workload to ~10ish hours/wk.
I'm still whittling it down, but that's a small price to pay for headspace.

Thoughts?
 

Mike Partee

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It's not a bulletproof solution, but I've wrote about how to filter potentially bad hires in the past: Interview Questions to Hire for Character

E.g: company related data, spreadsheets with customers/products info, or maybe you hire them to sort out your list of suppliers/manus.....what if they sell all these to your competitors? Or say, VAs that provide customer service. What if they reply your customers' emails with nonsense and rudeness?
These two are solved in the hiring process.

I don't know about Singapore, but there are definitely legal ramifications for leaking company data in the USA afaik.

Afraid an employee will be rude?
Then hire someone with customer service experience so it doesn't happen.

Expect a standard, and replace them if it's not met.
 

Mutant

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If the VAs decides to change the password / login info etc, you're screwed.
Especially since they're half the earth apart, there's no way you can control them.

Yes, control.
Would a password manager not solve that? Afaik (I don’t currently use one) you can grant & rescind access to various things, without them having knowledge of the actual password. They have their own password, & you control what it can unlock.



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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Envision

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Great write-up @Envision.

Hired my first full-time employee from OnlineJobs in January and he's been AMAZING.
Seriously, the cost vs value for labor in the Philippines is insane.

I've been in a weird middle area between doing everything myself and hiring part time subcontractors for a year, neither being effective. When I learned you could get full-time help for the cost of a part-timer, it was a no brainer.



Question about this...why does it seem Ecom guys hire so late?
Could be wrong but it seems like a pattern.

I know a guy doing $1.2MM/y as well, and he was reluctant to hire anyone for more than $15/hr for an admin/VA.

Personally, I NEED free time to THINK and DRIVE REVENUE, which IMO is the most important roles of the founder. Without extra help, I was spinning my tires.

My guy gets $225/wk and have cut down my personal workload to ~10ish hours/wk.
I'm still whittling it down, but that's a small price to pay for headspace.

Thoughts?
Frugality and lack of knowledge + thinking your the only one capable to execute the task properly. I have all those problems. And im not wrong, most people cant do things the way I do them and wont do them to the level I can.

But letting go and allowing that person to become competent is something that needs to be done to grow
 

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Envision

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Just an update on what a VA can potentially do for you.

My company is growing exponentially and my second one is also starting to take off. Some of the tasks that I need her to be competent in are:

  • Forecasting inventory on a 90 day cycle
  • Managing listings, optimization, complete backend for amazon
  • Managing and working with suppliers while I sleep
  • Sourcing and essentially being a lead generator for future suppliers/products.
(All these things she's showing signs of complete competence in)

Bigger picture breakdown:

Mathematically, I know to hit a 10MM revenue mark I need X amount of products and assuming they're all under 2-3 brands while it seems big... it's manageable with roughly 3-5 employees and about 3-5 warehouse staff. My sole job is to ensure they are good at what they do, happy with what they do, and are focused on our goals.

My fault is in myself trying to constantly be the one producing, managing, and scaling where we are at. Im writing this out not only for myself to reference to but to anyone who's trying to grow a bigger company beyond 1-2 employees and past 1M revenue/yr
 

Greg R

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Thanks @Envision. Great stuff.

Recently hired a full-time VA for customer service.

Quickly ran out of things for him to do, so I'm currently training him to work on sales.

Right now, I'm making video SOPs and uploading them to Youtube. Starting a small collection of video documented tasks.

Also spoke with a Forum member recently and his best advice was to find one that was self-motivating.

So I choose the person that bothered me/ followed up the most for the job.

Heard that the best VA's right now are Fillipino, but this guy is from Pakistan.

We currently work from Skype, Trello, and Slack.

Skype- quick chats
Trello- Task Managment
Slack- Knowledge Center
 

Frank H.

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Brilliant posts! Does anyone have any book recommendations to build stronger bonds and understand the Philippino culture better? It is important that the VA and employer have a strong work relationship.
 

AppleUnited

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One question, guys. If you need the VA to handle your support email, how best should I go about doing it? Do you give the VA the credentials to your support email?
 
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Envision

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One question, guys. If you need the VA to handle your support email, how best should I go about doing it? Do you give the VA the credentials to your support email?
Yeah,

Create a library of canned email responses in slack and slowly hand off repetitive emails and teach them how to respond on a case by case scenario. Any escalated or complex emails would go to you until they are competent
 
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Envision

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Brilliant posts! Does anyone have any book recommendations to build stronger bonds and understand the Philippino culture better? It is important that the VA and employer have a strong work relationship.
No need for books, just do it and treat them how you would want to be treated.
 
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Just wanted to update this thread. My company has a bit over 100 skus ranging in sizes/colors etc through various sales platforms. It's complex and my biggest bottleneck is the management of inventory between manufacturers our internal warehouse and our 3PL's.

I hired the VA I did for $600/mo with logistic experience and prior Amazon knowledge and instructed her that I needed a complete backend system to manage all inventory, forecast forward, and get accurate cogs on each order incoming dependent on the shipping situation, country imported from, etc.

Due to doing this poorly, Ive been spending money air shipping to ensure I dont run out of stock, running out of stock on various sizes, not managing my inventory properly at ALL.

Within 2 weeks, she had created a complete inventory management system to operate the entire backend of my company within excel (not a single page document - a 5 page multi functioning, trend line, 365 day updating forecasting model), many of the functionalities added in I didnt even think about and she added them in anyway. The money I could lose on one error has covered her salary for the next couple years with this system.

Im blown away at what was created and I've even cancelled some Saas programs I was running which will eventually bring her salary in half with the saved costs on the systems. If you have weaknesses, hire them out, and definitely look at allocating and testing tasks with VA's. It works.
 

Jeff Noel

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Lots of value in this thread ! Thanks a lot @Envision and @Greg R for all these posts. I'll need to reread them a couple of times as we're looking to hire our first VA for my GF's business. We might have to go with locals since we're working in a specific language, but the hiring/training process and SOP building process is really valuable !
 

AppleUnited

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I just had some bad experience with VA hired at OnlineJobs.ph. Basically them not responding to Skype messages. I am not expecting an immediate reply but some replies came in as late as 12 hours. By the way, in case you are wondering, our timezone is only an hour difference. Some messages do not get replied at all.
 

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Wolfman

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Thanks guys for posting this info. I'm looking for a VA for a different purpose. I will either have to buy a list of potential buyers or have the VA generate it. Then there will be the initial opening....pitch....contact for sending samples...follow-ups and close...
Any suggestions about how this fits w/ the VA scenario outlined above is much appreciated. Wolfman
 

Ocean Man

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Just wanted to update this thread. My company has a bit over 100 skus ranging in sizes/colors etc through various sales platforms. It's complex and my biggest bottleneck is the management of inventory between manufacturers our internal warehouse and our 3PL's.

I hired the VA I did for $600/mo with logistic experience and prior Amazon knowledge and instructed her that I needed a complete backend system to manage all inventory, forecast forward, and get accurate cogs on each order incoming dependent on the shipping situation, country imported from, etc.

Due to doing this poorly, Ive been spending money air shipping to ensure I dont run out of stock, running out of stock on various sizes, not managing my inventory properly at ALL.

Within 2 weeks, she had created a complete inventory management system to operate the entire backend of my company within excel (not a single page document - a 5 page multi functioning, trend line, 365 day updating forecasting model), many of the functionalities added in I didnt even think about and she added them in anyway. The money I could lose on one error has covered her salary for the next couple years with this system.

Im blown away at what was created and I've even cancelled some Saas programs I was running which will eventually bring her salary in half with the saved costs on the systems. If you have weaknesses, hire them out, and definitely look at allocating and testing tasks with VA's. It works.
Wanted to say that this thread has tremendous value, thank you @Envision. As for your VA with the kids, after doing all this, do you plan on giving her raise? Keep her more motivated and do better.

In addition, I noticed that you hire them as contractors. I'm not familiar with the hiring process, as I'm still in the slowlane. But before you start a job, you typically have tons of papers to fill out, get money taken out, etc... How does it work with your end when hiring someone out of the country? (Legalities wise... Taxes wise...)?

P.S. Have you considered using Shopify's Partner Academy to teach your VA?
 
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Ubu_roi

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Great post @Envision !

As I'm also in the process of looking for virtual staff, and I've found great value in a couple of books, both available on Kindle:

1. Virtual Freedom, by Chris Ducker
2. Outsourcing Mastery by Steve Scott

The first one has the best tips to hire full time virtual staff (and talks extensively about hiring Philippino staff).
The second is more a "tips and tricks" kind of book, and might be better to experiment on short term projects before hiring full time staff.

I found both helpful.
 

Mac

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If you want to save yourself time with hiring all those peeps, you may want to consider hiring a project manager or HR manager that can do all of that for you, on a rolling basis and monitor them to make sure they're hitting KPI's. If you focus all your time and energy into choosing the right project manager, then they will build out an effective team.

You can also get them to write out SOPs for each task/department.
 
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Envision

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Wanted to say that this thread has tremendous value, thank you @Envision. As for your VA with the kids, after doing all this, do you plan on giving her raise? Keep her more motivated and do better.

In addition, I noticed that you hire them as contractors. I'm not familiar with the hiring process, as I'm still in the slowlane. But before you start a job, you typically have tons of papers to fill out, get money taken out, etc... How does it work with your end when hiring someone out of the country? (Legalities wise... Taxes wise...)?

P.S. Have you considered using Shopify's Partner Academy to teach your VA?
She makes above average for the Phillipines, I believe average ranges around $450. If we hit the metrics needed this year I will raise 10-25%.

In the US i have myself and my US employees as W2's - im required to pay payroll taxes and yes there are more legalities that go towards establishing that. With the VA I pay her bi weekly via transferwise and our agreement is she works 40 hrs/wk in reality she probably works somewhere around 25 at the moment. I dont track it nor do I make her track it - as long as it gets done I dont care because the money Im paying her is saved through her efforts.
 

MJ DeMarco

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Marked NOTABLE, not sure how I missed this. But I see I miss a lot.
 

Esquire

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Hired a VA in the Philippines after reading this thread. It's been about two months now since. Some days I put her to work doing mundane tasks. Other days I don't have anything for her to do. But at $8 per hour, four hours a day, when it happens, that's just fine by me.

I'm taking it slow. Trying to figure out what I can effecticely delegate. I don't feel comfortable having her directly interact with clients. I need someone in the states for that.

But so far she seems to be doing a fairly good job. And in the long term, I think this experiment will pay handsome dividends.

Cost savings aside ... no bureaucratic paperwork to deal with ... no equipment or office space to rent ... no concerns about workplace discrimination or sexual harassment claims ... all big advantages over a worker here in the states.

And she never complains. No entitlement attitude like you often get from disgruntled Americans.

Glad this thread inspired me to action.
 

Gunnar

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Fantastic thread guys. Thanks for all the information. Will definitely look into this for doing what I need to do. I'm looking for more of an executive assistant/admin for both my life and business. Someone to manage my calendar, appointments, reminders, book stuff while also helping out with business tasks, as right now my business is not that intense or require a lot of business specific knowledge. Will report back on my experiences.
 

BrianPM

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This may have been asked (and answered) so if I missed it, my fault. But I think a VA would be an extremely valuable cost benefit when the workload interferes and exceeds more productive activities. I consider it margin producing activities and non-margin producing activities.

What solution could someone utilize with a VA when you are an independent sales person, but working for a corporation (i.e, realtor/real estate agent, sales manager, sales rep, etc.).

The company I work for requires VPN access to the company server to compile documents and submissions, which is exactly the time consuming non-income producing tasks that come along with a sale. I was considering logging on my workstation and allow remote desktop/teamviewer software, but what other ideas has the community thought of?

Much appreciated if there is a brainstorm or possible solution.
 

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