Have you considered hiring a virtual assistant for your craft business? Make sure that you read this before you make a decision…
One of the most popular chapters in our e-book How To Launch A Successful Vinyl Cutting Business is the one entitled “When To Hire People (And Who To Hire)”.
For everyone that runs a business, whether it’s a craft business or something completely different, there will come a time where you’ll realise that you’re at a tipping point: your business can’t grow when it’s just you doing all the work.
At this point, it’s time to start hiring.
Now, you don’t want to go out and immediately hire a corporate team of ten — that’s one way to really tank your profits — but starting slow and hiring the right people is a surefire way to put a rocket up your business and push for real growth.
And the first person you should hire?
A virtual assistant.
Time to find out more…
- 1 What is a Virtual Assistant?
- 2 What Qualities to Look For in a Good Virtual Assistant
- 3 Where to Find a Virtual Assistant
What is a Virtual Assistant?
Some people see virtual assistants — also commonly known as VAs — as shrouded in mystery.
But all they are really is a remote-working version of a personal assistant.
Exactly what tasks you hire your VA to do is entirely up to you, but generally they specialize in things like administration and organization.
Some people hire a virtual assistant who purely works within their business while others have one with more wide-ranging responsibilities in their personal life — we even know a VA who schedules her employer’s gym workouts and arranges his vacations!
Here’s an interesting video of a ‘day in the life’ of a virtual assistant so you can see it from the other side:
It’s really up to you.
What Tasks can a VA do in my Craft Business?
One of the worries people have before they hire a Virtual Assistant is that they won’t have enough things for them to do.
But if you hire the right person, you’ll be able to delegate plenty of ‘busy-work’ (i.e. admin) to them which leaves you more time to work on product creation.
And remember, you can always hire them part time to start, then increase their hours as you need them.
Here are some of the best tasks you can delegate to your VA when you run a craft business:
If you’re not there already, you’ll reach a point in your business where you’ll start receiving more emails than you know what to do with.
Emails always seem important and urgent when you first receive them, but the truth is that they’re just distracting you from the important job of running your business.
A virtual assistant will be able to cut down through all the rubbish you receive so that you only have to focus on the emails that are truly important.
It’s a good idea to come up with a strategy for your VA to follow. Something based on the following should work well:
- Deleting any junk mail
- Flagging emails that require a personal response from you
- Answering basic queries
- Flagging emails that could represent future business opportunities so you can decide whether to pursue them
- Doing relevant research on any more complex enquiries that require your response
When a VA is in charge of your inbox, you’ll never have to deal with the mountain of untouched emails coming your way again.
We honestly believe that the best social media accounts are the ones that are run by the person who’s in charge of the account, but that doesn’t mean that a Virtual Assistant can’t help you with putting them together.
While you should ideally be taking photos and writing captions/posts, your VA will be able to use a scheduling app such as Buffer or Hootsuite to get them scheduled up to be posted at the best times for you.
They can also do things like create pins for Pinterest, answer any basic direct messages, and moderate Facebook pages or groups to make sure that everything stays on message for you.
If you want someone to completely manage the financial side of your business then you’ll need to hire an accountant, but a virtual assistant can come in handy if you just need some basic bookkeeping done.
Recording transactions in and out of your business, creating invoices and handling receipts are all things that an experienced VA should be able to do.
As this is slightly more of a specialist task, be sure to ask for bookkeeping experience in your job post.
One really easy task for a VA that will make a huge difference in the amount of time you have to run your business is inventory management.
This will require them to manage a spreadsheet of all your materials and supplies that you use in your business and to document their levels as stores deplete — you should let them know how much you’ve used/how much you have left at the end of every week to ensure that all information is up-to-date.
When supply levels get to a certain limit, your VA can then order more to be delivered straight to you so you never run out and have to do a last minute run to Michael’s…
Some business owners will have a very busy schedule and so will require a little diary management from their virtual assistant.
This will be particularly useful if you attend a lot of craft shows, fairs and expos and find it hard to keep track of them.
When a VA has control of your diary, they’ll be able to coordinate things like attendance at the above events, as well as more mundane things like conference calls and personal appointments.
You can block out certain periods on your calendar for product creation, personal time or picking the kids up from school to make sure that these times are held sacred and your VA never books anything during these periods.
Much in the same vein as the social media point above, we believe that the best content will be published by you, rather than your assistant.
But that doesn’t mean that your VA can’t help out with drafts and research to get you started on content writing.
Here are the sort of things that they can help with:
- Articles and blogs for your website
- Etsy listings
- Captions and posts for social media
- Email responses
- Social media ads
- Email newsletters
Just remember to always edit and proofread before you hit publish, and to put your own spin on things!
And remember, this works the other way as well — you can write all your content yourself, and then get your VA to proofread for you so it looks perfect before it’s published.
Another task that a virtual assistant is invaluable for is carrying out market research.
This is particularly helpful when you’re considering launching new products.
They’ll be able to find out what’s already on the market, what your competitors are doing and what they’re charging, and what the public appetite for your product already is.
They can also keep up to date with what’s new in the craft world by reading relevant industry websites, blogs and journals and let you know if there’s any events or the like that you should be attending.
What Qualities to Look For in a Good Virtual Assistant
Not everyone makes a great VA — and it’s worth it taking some extra time to find the right person rather than just simply hiring the cheapest person that first applies.
We’re going to go out on a limb here and say that the $5 an hour virtual assistant based in The Philippines may not be the best fit for your craft business.
There are definitely some qualities and attributes, however, that are well suited to the role and it’s these things you should be looking out for in applications when you’re sifting through them.
We’ve got a list of standard things we look for when hiring VAs — remember that you may need to adapt some of them depending on your specific needs.
Ability to Work Independently
Although your VA will be working closely together, especially at first, you want someone that will eventually be happy and confident to work on their tasks independently — you can’t hold their hand forever!
While it’s natural that there’ll be some back and forth emailing between you, you really need someone who can manage their work on their own with minimal help.
Otherwise, there’s not much point in hiring someone to take care of these tasks for you in the first place!
Make sure that your instructions are clear and easy to follow from the beginning to make sure that your VA starts off on the right foot.
Attention to Detail
Many of the tasks that we outlined earlier require a high level of attention to detail if they’re to be carried out correctly.
You don’t necessarily need a perfectionist as a VA — but you don’t want them winging by the seat of their pants either.
Someone who is naturally attentive and who will take the time to double check their work and proofread is worth a lot.
If you’re looking for someone to help you out with bookkeeping, social media and content writing, it would be wise to hire someone who already has experience in these areas.
More generic VA tasks like email management are easy and intuitive to pick up, but more specialist tasks are best done by someone with some experience or even qualification — especially bookkeeping.
You may find it more budget-conscious to pick a candidate with less experience but who has an aptitude for learning and is happy to learn on the job.
VAs like this generally have cheaper rates and often don’t have the bad habits that more experienced assistants have learned.
In the Same Time Zone
As well as someone who can pick up new skills quickly, it’s a good idea to choose someone in the same time zone — or at least very close — to the one that you’re working in.
This should ensure that you’ll be able to back and forth over email very quickly and that any urgent enquiries can be dealt with there and then, rather than waiting for someone halfway across the world to wake up and start working.
While virtual assistants all work remotely, you won’t even notice if you’re working at the same time as each other.
Many small business owners are a little wary at first at opening up their business to outsiders — whether that’s their email inboxes, social media accounts or financial books.
That’s perfectly understandable — our businesses are our babies, after all! — so it’s imperative that you find someone trustworthy to undertake the job of VA.
If you’re hiring online, look for someone with great, legitimate references from other employers.
If you’ve found someone in the community, make sure that you ask for references or find another way to verify their trustworthiness.
Where to Find a Virtual Assistant
Not only are there literally thousands of VAs on these sites looking for work, but it’s very easy to manage them through these platforms — you can view their references and previous work experience on their profiles, payment is managed automatically and you have the added back-up of the site’s infrastructure to handle disputes if necessary.
Of course, there are plenty of other ways to hire virtual assistants — including other websites and even on social media if you’ve got enough of a following.
You might also want to think about hiring someone in your community — perhaps even a family friend — or someone in school who’s looking for some paid, part-time work.
Essentially, you can find a good virtual assistant anywhere — you just need to know where to look.
Are you considering launching a craft business?
Make sure you check out our comprehensive 130+ page guide ‘How To Launch A Successful Vinyl Cutting Business
It includes everything you need to know to launch your own vinyl cutting business and start making sales today
Find out what really works, and what doesn’t in 2019 — how can you come up with design ideas that your audience will love, and pay you for?
Have you hired a virtual assistant for your craft business yet?