How do you know when it’s time? In this article, I’m going to go over the personal decisions I’ve made in the past of when it’s time to scale your virtual assistant team. I’ll go over three key questions that I’ve asked myself when making this decision for myself, as well as the different situations I found myself in and how I set up my new teams of virtual assistants all for success and measured whether or not they were successful.
What was going on?
Before I dig into how I scaled one of my virtual assistant teams for the first time, I should give some background context into the predicament I found myself in. At that point in time, I was running a blog in which the company blog was a major inbound lead generator.
I had a virtual assistant that we’ll call Harry. Harry was a great virtual assistant in that he would give me a few hours every single week, just doing some general WordPress maintenance. He would do things like take the works that my writers had created and uploaded them into WordPress so that they were ready to go for publication on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. However, because I scaled my writing team to be 10 to 20 writers at a time, each of these writers were creating anywhere from one to five content pieces every single week.
This naturally led to a content bottleneck in which until I actually had the time to approve every single one of these posts, Harry was not actually going to upload them and publish them into our content calendar queue. I also knew at the time that Harry wasn’t particularly strong as an editor in terms of his own personal skills and strengths.
And so I couldn’t necessarily just delegate that task to Harry to complete for me. So in this situation, I knew just taking a step back that unless I was going to open up a ton more time to review every single post that was going to go out there, I needed to bring on some sort of additional help in the form of an editor or a team of editors to review all this content that was coming into our content calendar.
As a result, I put out a listing to bring on a virtual assistant editor to help you go through the queuing process of the approval for all of these drafts that my writers were writing. The key question I was asking myself as I decided to open up this position was, can my current team of virtual assistants handle every single task that I need to get done from start to finish in order to accomplish my business objective.
Then from there, I had to answer, if not, then who do I need to bring onto my team in order to fill that gap?
Question 1: Can my current team of VAs do everything I need them to do?
Can your existing team truly do everything in place or do you need to bring on additional help? Once you recognize your challenges and your current virtual assistant teams, you want to think about answering the question of, how to solve the gap that exists on your team.
How did I solve the problem?
So to solve this in my own case, I started to think about what type of editor am I actually looking for? Am I looking for an editor that’s going line by line and making direct edits? Or am I looking for an editor that’s just a quality assurance editor to make sure that my writers aren’t writing anything out of line or out there that might not want to be published?
So in my situation, I knew that I wanted to look for more of the latter in which I was looking for a quality assurance person to essentially do some spot checks, make sure the grammar was correct for the large part, and that the content was at a sufficiently good enough level. The reason why I took more of this approach was because I had a really lean budget at that time, and I need to get a ton of these posts out so that I could start to see the data of how people actually engage with that content before deciding to invest more money into that content.
Once I identified that I was looking for more of a quality assurance editor, I wanted to think about what sort of tooling or process they would need to take in order to address the gaps that I had with my current virtual assistant team. I had to think of things like were they going to use tools like Grammarly or what exactly would they be looking for as they worked through each of these posts in doing this sort of QA check.
I spent an afternoon writing all of those guidelines out. For example, making sure that certain things were always referenced, making sure that certain things were never referenced and so on. And then by the end of that day, I had a how- to guide that was essentially how I personally would go about checking quality assurance for these articles that need to go out on our company blog.
From here, I went on to Upwork and created a request for proposal in which I opened up applications for people that might be interested in my virtual assistant editor job. To test them out, I would give them a paid test task in which they would go through some sort of the previous article that had already been published on our blog so they could give me feedback as to what they would either improve or edit about that particular piece. By having them do this, I better understood what exactly they were going to bring me in terms of additional value to my virtual assistant team.
How did I measure success?
Ultimately, you need to have some sort of output goal behind the reasons why you scaled your team. For example, if your goal was to double your blog output from 25 posts a month to 50 posts a month, you want to see how close you got to actually hitting or overachieving on that goal after you’ve brought on your new team.
By doing this, you’ll be able to answer whether or not the results speak for themselves. Did, for example, bringing on that new virtual assistant for that editor actually allow us to reach our doubled output goal? And if not, do we need more bandwidth, less bandwidth? What’s the situation there?
When you take a step back to reflect on all of the personnel decisions that you’ve made, you’ll be able to become better at making quicker decisions and also understanding the constraints of your team as they go through different levels of growing pains. Sometimes you’ll need to hire more people. And you’ll actually over-hire. So the next time around you will know that you shouldn’t hire as many people as you did that other time. It’s only when you do this sort of active reflection though, after you’ve scaled up a team or scaled down a team that you will actually start to better understand the limits of a team and a team that you are building.
Ultimately, it really doesn’t matter what business you’re in. There are highs and there are lows to every single business. And so reflection is one of the easiest ways that you can kind of check yourself in both those highs, as well as those lows in whatever it is that you are working on.
Question 3: Was it the right call to scale up your team?
The answer to this question should be a straightforward yes or no. It’s either yes or no. And there’s no wishy-washy maybe it was the right decision. You have to be able to clearly define this for yourself and what success meant for you in terms of your team size at that time.
The reason why it’s important for you to do so is because it’ll make it so that you actually take ownership of both your successes, as well as your failures when you are scaling up and down in your virtual assistant team.
There are two things that I want you to remember when it comes to looking for signs that it’s time to hire a virtual assistant.
- The first one is if your current team is stretched too thin, then you’re already hiring too late. You always need to be hiring ahead of your actual need. The reason why is because it often takes you a longer time period to hire somebody new than you might think it takes. And you don’t want to lose that time and execution for onboarding your new team member.
- The second big takeaway is to make sure that you’re setting a clear goal for your new team of virtual assistants. Having a clear output goal is really important to make sure that you can measure success of this new team or failure in the case where that’s what you end up with. Whatever the case may be, though, it’s important for you to be able to be objective in terms of how you’re evaluating the effectiveness of this new team.
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That’s it for this time. If you found these five signs helpful and you want them for reference later on or any of my other virtual assistant tips and tricks, I’ve put together a quick free resource at the end of this article.