Productivity is a hot topic as of late. And understandably so with self-employment on the rise and entire cities bitten by the entrepreneurial bug.

When running a small business, the concept of time takes on new meaning. You become increasingly aware of every minute — trying to squeeze in more than the day before. Even if that means working well into those evening hours.

At first, the nonstop grind feels manageable. It may even be enjoyable at times when the rush of adrenaline from meeting an end goal fuels your fire.

When the days drag on and lack of sleep catches up with you, however, the truth becomes all too clear. What you’re doing is no longer sustainable for both running and growing a business. You need help.

Why You Should Hire a Virtual Assistant

For many entrepreneurs, it can be difficult to pull the trigger in hiring that first employee. Many operate under a sort of DIY work ethic, often translating into a do-it-all-yourself mentality.

You conclude that managing personnel would waste more time than it would save. And so you continue on solo, running in circles until the business plateaus and you’re forced to consider the alternatives.

Create More Time In Your Day

It’s hard to let go of the day-to-day when you’ve singlehandedly grown a business from the ground up. The connection is personal and the tasks are familiar. Why give up what’s become second nature?

The question here becomes the answer. In order to tackle the more hard-hitting to-dos on your list, something has to give. And administrative activities are among the easiest to pass off.

Alternatively, if there’s an area of the business you feel least excited about and/or skilled at (e.g. finance), consider hiring a specialized virtual assistant. Doing so may require an investment of time upfront, but in the long-term, you’ll free up hours for focusing on areas of the business most aligned to your passions and skillset.

Master the Art of Delegation

If growing your business is a priority, you’ll inevitably hire employees. Think of virtual assistant territory as the testing grounds for doing so.

You’ll learn quickly about your management style and the types of personalities best suited to the needs of your business. And as you transition from an operation of one to many, stumbling blocks are sure to arise. Go easy on yourself and the virtual assistant you bring on — knowing that overcoming learning curves are part of the journey towards maximum productivity.

How to Hire a Virtual Assistant

Once you’ve decided to hire a virtual assistant, the real work begins. Resist the urge to rush and instead, be strategic. Knowing exactly what you need from a virtual assistant and where to find them will make all the difference in hiring someone on that’s the right fit from the start.

Identify Low vs. High-Value Tasks

Before the search begins, audit your own workload. Where does the majority of your time go? Does it align with where it should be going? Identify high-value tasks that only you can do in moving the business forward versus low-value tasks.

Create Training Documentation

Begin to build out documentation around the low-value tasks that are easiest to offload. This can be as simple as creating a folder of Docs on Google Drive. Or use a platform like Evernote to organize reference materials for your virtual assistant to access during onboarding.

Write Up a Job Description

Before going public with your virtual assistant search efforts, write up a job description. It should clearly outline responsibilities and expectations. This will keep everyone on the same page from the very beginning and increase the potential quality of applicants.

Use a Freelance Marketplace

Marketplaces like Upwork are useful resources to turn to for your virtual assistant search. Without geographic restrictions, you’re able to pull from a larger, more competitive base of talent.

Tap Into Your Networks

Never underestimate the potential of your virtual networks for tracking down virtual talent. Post your intentions on LinkedIn with a link to the job description and see who comments. Finding a candidate from positive referrals is always the ideal situation.

Put Candidates to the Test

Once you’ve narrowed in on your top virtual assistant candidates, ask them to complete a short assignment. It should encompass tasks they’d be likely to encounter when working for you. Ultimately, you’ll be able to use their performance in gauging work style and proactive problem-solving.