Remember: broke is not a permanent state of being; you're experiencing a season in your life that you need to grow through. This is a temporary fix to help you level up even if you don't have the funds to hire help.
Hiring help before you can afford it
The biggest mistake I see bloggers and online biz owners make is that they wait until they can “afford it” to hire help. The thing is: you'll never be able to afford it, in the same way you'll always be able to afford it.
Clear as mud, right?
Seriously, it's like anything else: if your car breaks down, you can't necessarily “afford” to fix it right away … but I'm betting you can't afford to NOT fix it, either.
Hiring a virtual assistant is the same way. You won't feel like you're ready, but the sooner you do it, the sooner you can increase your revenue.
How to hire help
When I am looking for help for a project that doesn't have much of a budget, I think about two things:
- what I need/want help with
- what I can offer in exchange
Read my post about blogging tasks you can hire out to a virtual assistant.
For example, I needed a video created in Spanish so I can help my local friends start a blog. I know this is a valuable service but I also know this is a difficult project for me and it won't make money any time soon. And, even when it does make money, it will all go to my friends, right? So the budget is limited, but I still want to accomplish the task.
When I found someone who was willing to complete the task, I asked how much they charged. Both people who responded said they'd charge $25 or less per video. Knowing that, I could then decide if I wanted to pay them in cash or if I wanted to offer a value exchange instead.
You'll do this the same way, whether you're hiring help for business or home. We have a housekeeper who comes to clean our house twice each week (who has now become one of my best friends!) and two friends who often cook for us.
Hiring those tasks out gives me more time to rest. More time to rest means I'm more creative when I work.
Offering a value exchange
I know I can easily make $100 an hour, so if I was going to offer a value exchange it would need to be worth my time. Because they were only charging $25, I decided to pay cash.
A value exchange at $25 would not make sense for me in this instance.
However, I have another example where it was worth it for me to offer a value exchange.
When I hired my assistant for Passive Income Pathways, I knew I needed to do a big value exchange because what I was asking of her was something most people would charge $25-$50 an hour for.
I knew I had a winning idea, and it would get me to my ultimate goal of $5K/month. But the thing was, I wasn't financially ready to hire someone to help.
Pam was one of my coaching clients already who was paying me for my advice, but she wasn't really putting it into action. We got to chatting about my PIPs idea, and she offered to be my assistant. The payment would be partial cash, partial value exchange.
Hiring non-U.S. Virtual Assistants
This gets people into a tizzy but I really don't care; non-U.S. assistants are worth hiring, and you can save money without being slimy.
In the 4-Hour Workweek, it was inferred that you should hire VAs from the Philippines and pay them a few bucks an hour to run your business, while you soak up sun on the beach.
While the way it was presented was a bit icky feeling, the truth of the matter is there are many countries that have an amazing selection of English-speaking virtual assistants ready to help you grow your business for a fraction of the cost of what those in the States charge. You're going to miss out if you insist on only hiring U.S. assistants.
With that being said, I've hired assistants from the other side of the world and the time difference made it difficult for my business. I need someone I can communicate with in realtime, so that limits me to countries that line up with my time zone here in Mexico.
If you're going to hire outside of the U.S., do some research so you know what a livable wage is in the country you are hiring from. Don't pay peanuts just because you can get away with it.
For example, minimum wage here in Mexico evens out to about $1USD per hour ($10USD per day).
However, there are many jobs that pay more – so paying $5USD per hour would be a blessing for a mom trying to work from home here in Mexico, even though it's much less than what a U.S. worker would require. Things cost much less here, for the most part.
Only you can decide where your assistant should be from and how much to pay them, but I do challenge you to ditch the indoctrination and do your own research on this topic.
Humans are humans; borders are imaginary. As long as someone can complete the tasks you need completed in an efficient manner, the place they live should not hold weight when deciding whether to hire them or not.
You can hire paid or unpaid interns. There should be a massive value exchange either way.
Last year, I got hired as an unpaid intern for a PLR website owner. The deal was we would work for free a certain number of hours each week for an entire year. In return, we'd get coaching the next year.
I only lasted in that program for a few weeks – the owner fired me for working from the hospital (she told me it was “too stressful for me” even though I got all of my work done on time and never complained).
After this experience, I knew my internship program would deliver value from the beginning – and I'd never hold someone's chronic illness against them.
This year, I started a small intern program for Passive Income Pathways. We have 5 interns who each work 10 hours per week.
In exchange, we offer them training, coaching, and more from Day 1 – with an option to get hired at the end of the year. The goal is that they'll use the coaching and be making six figures so they won't need the job. 😉
There are pros and cons to running an internship, and if you're in the U.S. there are requirements you must fulfill to make it a legit internship program. Be sure to investigate those things if you're going this route.
Things to keep in mind before hiring help
Over the years, I've learned a lot about building a team – and keeping them happy.
Keeping lines of communication open is so vital to the success of your business. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
Hire someone who understands your communication style and will work within your preferences. I have slack for my interns, but I don't understand or enjoy using it, so my assistant deals with slack and the team, and she sends me info that is important via email so I don't lose it.
Be open to feedback.
I ask my team for a lot of feedback, but it stings when it's not what I was wanting or expecting to hear. You've gotta be open to listening to your team's feedback; sometimes they can see the business in a different light and listening to them will help you grow.
At the same time, you're the business owner and you have to know when to set boundaries. Just because a team member provides feedback doesn't mean you have to take it.
I struggle with being “the boss” – but I'm firm in my decisions, especially with my “happy price” formula. Even though nobody in business would agree with me charging $7 a month for coaching, I am happy doing it and it moves my business forward in the way I want it to.
Listen with an open mind, consider the feedback, and move forward in a way that makes sense for you and your business.
Always over deliver.
One of my mottos in business is “always over deliver” and it extends to building a team. I always want my team to feel like I've given more than I promised. This includes regular raises, bonuses, and additional 1:1 coaching opportunities so I can help them grow their own businesses.
If you treat your employees how you want to be treated, and always go above and beyond just like you'd want them to for your customers, you will have few problems growing your team.
Yes, growing pains will happen – but if these things are kept in mind, they will not be as difficult to navigate.
How to ensure success While Building a Team
Creating SOPs (Standard Operating Procedure) is probably the most important thing to do before you find someone to help with your business. It's tedious, it isn't fun, and it's something I procrastinated on heavily for the first year while I built PIPs.
If you don't have SOPs set up, your new assistant can help you set them up – but that's a lot more hands on time with you and the point of hiring out is to better automate your business.
Setting up SOPs
I use a tool called Tango to record my processes and operating procedures for each task. Then, my assistant cleans them up so the interns can follow them. You will create SOPs for everything, including:
- social media processes (approving group members, scheduling posts, etc)
- email (unsubscribe process, sorting process, replying with canned responses)
- your website (updating plug-ins, refreshing posts, interlinking, prettylinks, etc)
- and more!
Automating your business
Dig deep into building a second brain and using tools like Zapier to automate tasks you have to do each day.
Your next steps to hire help
Join Facebook groups like VAs for Hire and search job boards like VirtualStaff.
Figure out what you want to hire out for – maybe for some of these VA tasks.
Work out your budget and value offer.
Hire someone ASAP!