Article by: MaryEllen | Thursday, July 25, 2013

By Denise Gosnell

Many small business owners try to do everything themselves, either because they can’t afford to hire an assistant, or because they think that no one else can do the task as well.

The problem with this approach is that you will be pulled in too many directions and will never be able to make significant progress in the areas that will truly grow your business.

Luckily for you, there is a way you can get more productivity in the workplace and take some of the work off of your plate – hire a virtual assistant.

A virtual assistant is someone who can assist you in your business operations remotely from a virtual office. They generally use their own computer and can do various types of computer and phone tasks that do not require their physical presence in your office.

It may seem like a virtual assistant would be more distracted due to not being in the office, but you will be surprised to learn how much they can double your productivity and eliminate the constant multi-tasking you find yourself currently doing.

In the rest of this article, I’ll share 4 secrets on how you can hire a great virtual assistant at very affordable rates, and the simple processes you can use to double your productivity in the process.

Secret #1 – Make A Commitment To Start Delegating Things Others Could Easily Do

As a business owner, you should not be doing things that you can assign to others. Your time is too valuable to spend wasting it on easy tasks any intelligent person can do. Once you understand that, you can then commit to giving those easy tasks to somebody else.

Here are a few examples of the types of tasks you should consider delegating (and that someone in a remote location could do for you):

•   Various types of research
•   Managing email
•   Travel arrangements
•   Social networking (ex. blog posting, commenting and linking, social media)
•   Database entries
•   Bookkeeping

As you begin delegating some of these tasks to virtual assistants, you will be surprised to learn just how much more of your time you will retain each week.

Secret # 2 – Find An Awesome Virtual Assistant Without Spending A Fortune

You don’t have to spend a fortune to hire a virtual assistant.  People from all over the world are willing to work for you from their homes.

Here are some of the best places to find virtual assistants:


When you first contact someone who posted a resume, or when you post your own job listing, make sure you give each person specific instructions on how to respond to your open position if they are interested.  Include something that will allow you to see that they actually followed your instructions, such as using a certain subject line in their email if they’re interested.

Then, for the top 2-3 candidates, give them each a small “test” task first (that you will pay them for) so you can see how they perform.  You should give all 3 of them the same task, so you can compare how well each of them did.  You can then hire the one that you like the best.

Secret # 3 – Hire The Virtual Assistant As An Independent Contractor

You will want to make sure and hire the virtual assistant as an independent contractor, assuming that they meet the criteria for being an independent contractor.  The benefit of working with contractors is that they pay their own taxes to the government agencies.  And you also do not have to give benefits to your contractors, such as health, medical, dental, vacation.

Generally, if the virtual assistant uses their own equipment, sets their own work hours, and works independently from their own location, they can meet the criteria of being a contractor.  That is far easier than bringing someone in as an official employee of your business.

If you do end up hiring a virtual assistant as an independent contractor, make sure you have them sign a Professional Services Agreement that spells out the terms.

One of the most important terms to have in such an agreement is a transfer of intellectual property, so you will obtain ownership of the work product that you hire them to create for you.

Secret # 4 – Start Delegating To Your New Assistant Using A Project Tracking System

Once you have hired your new virtual assistant, make sure you use a consistent process and/or software system for delegating and tracking their progress on the tasks.

For example, at Thriving Business we use a software program called Basecamp.  It is easy to organize projects into Basecamp, and to track the complete history of the project.

What I like best about Basecamp is that it allows you to reply to projects from email, but also captures the email reply into the proper project thread.  So once the project has been created in Basecamp, you can view updates and give your feedback to the assistant through email without having to log in.

When you combine hiring a virtual assistant with these secrets, you should have no problem doubling your productivity. If you don’t believe me, give it a try, and see for yourself!

If you don’t take my advice about delegating, just be aware that you are making a critical mistake that will stall your growth and make your life much harder.

About This Author:
Denise Gosnell is the CEO and Editor of Inc. offers various free and paid training programs to help people start and grow their own businesses, while having a thriving life.

Denise has a unique background in business, technology, law, and entrepreneurship.  Denise has authored and co-authored eight business and technology books with Wiley Publishing.  Denise has also been featured in various newspapers and magazines, and has been a frequent speaker at various television, radio, and industry events for her expertise.