I get this question from a lot from attendees on my talks about virtual assistants. Some are looking to invest in setting up a virtual assistant business. Others are veteran virtual assistants who are thinking about taking what they do an expanding what they do without having to do all the work themselves.
Regardless, these tips hold true for anyone thinking of setting up a VA Agency. My insights come from having grown my agency from a team of 2 VAs with a total of 4 clients to a team of 30 VAs working for over 100 clients. And here is what I know to be true.
Tip #1: Ensure You Have Clients Before Your Hire VAs
The biggest challenge to running an agency is ensuring you have a strong client pipeline. You need to have access to a deep pool of clients who you can work with and assign VAs to work with. A lot of people make the mistake of doing the opposite, in that they set up a business and hire people and then struggle to find clients.
Nothing is worse than having to let VAs go because you don’t have enough work for them. On the flip side, having so much work you have to constantly hire new VAs is a great problem to have. Although that comes with its own challenges as well.
Tip #2: Hire VAs Who Are Consistent
The second biggest challenge when it comes to running an agency business is finding the right talent. In fact, there is an almost unlimited supply of talent when it comes to finding Filipino VAs to match with American Clients. But finding the ones who are a good long term fit for your agency takes a lot of work.
By its nature, freelancers who work from home, do not make great full-time employees as virtual assistant. A lot of Filipino VA have the talent but lack the commitment to consistently apply the talent to help a business owner grow their business. Also, the nature of home based means you are more susceptible to internet downtime, power outages and family commitments that can get in the way of showing up to work online every day.
So when you hire VAs make sure they have the commitment to your business and to your clients businesses. Consistency is the key to a VAs success.
Tip #3: Have a Project Management Mentality
One of the most important skills I ever learned was project management. I was a project manager for several years early in my career and without that experience, I’m not sure I would be successful today. Keeping things organized, on time and making sure deliverables are met is paramount to being successful with online work for foreign clients.
So, if you are not a project management kind of person, you need to partner with one or hire one. Its non-negotiable. If you consistently miss deadlines, produce sub-par quality and do not communicate regularly, you will lose clients. And if you don’t pay people on time, give them confusing expectations on what and how they are supposed to do or don’t help them balance their work load, you will lose VAs.
Tip #4: Plan On Delegating Everything You Do
You should find people to do everything you need to do… maybe not all at once, but definitely over time you have to free yourself of anything that only you can do. Of everything I talk about, this is probably the hardest lesson for new agency owners to grasp, but one the that most successful agency owners already figured out.
Most successful agency owners start with their biggest weaknesses and hire for those needs. For me its graphic design. I am horrible at designing graphics so that’s the first thing I delegated. I’m not great at managing details either, so an assistant to help me manage my time was number 2. And so on.
Eventually I got to a point where just about everything I do can be done by someone else… which allows me to make money every day, even days when I am at the beach. It goes back to the concept of the 4 Hour Work Week (by Tim Ferriss). I made it to that point a few years ago, but only because I delegate things to VAs who provide a great level of service to our clients.
Mr. Dan Meyer is the President & Founder of Sonic VA, a virtual staffing agency which specializes in matching Filipino Virtual Assistants with American Small & Medium Business clients. Mr. Meyer holds a master’s degree in Education, has over 25 years of business process outsourcing experience and has been a leader in the virtual assistant industry since 2011.
Dan is also an accomplished public speaker and corporate trainer who has personally trained over 10,000 Filipinos in areas such as virtual assistance, data analytics, business process outsourcing and social media marketing & management. Dan’s passion is upskilling the youth with 21st Century skills like graphic design, video editing, & data analytics to empower them for the dynamic job opportunities that lay ahead for millions of Filipinos.