In the podcast:
02:18 – From financial planning to virtual assistance
04:45 – Giving oneself permission
07:02 – It’s all part of the journey
09:05 – Handling that fear of failure
11:45 – Do you need a certain background?
14:23 – How the working relationship should evolve
16:25 – When do you hire?
18:25 – Tasks to hire for
21:53 – If you’re looking for a VA…
23:49 – It’s really about a relationship
25:11 – What happens in the interview
27:00 – The cheeseburger question
29:03 – Other interview methods
31:50 – What about documentation?
33:02 – The matter of compensation
James: James Schramko here. Welcome back to Episode 663 of SuperFastBusiness. This one’s about virtual assistants, and I’ve brought along a special guest, Gina Horkey, from the Horkey HandBook, to talk about this topic. Welcome.
Gina: Thank you. It’s exciting to be here.
James: Yes, it wasn’t that long ago, you were here in Sydney at SuperFastBusiness Live, visiting our local community with some of the other international guests. Of course, we had people from the UK and all sorts of places – Canada, New Zealand, of course, Asia. And it was really nice to have you in person. Did you enjoy the event?
Gina: It was amazing. I attended every session, took notes. I’ve already connected with a lot of people that I met there. And I would hope to come back again, depending on our family plans next year.
James: Yeah, that’s fantastic.
Gina: It’s really lovely.
James: Yeah, it’s a good time of the year. Not too busy. It’s still warm. Water’s definitely warm, which is great. I love what you’ve been doing over there with your virtual assistant business. I’ve had the great pleasure and opportunity to be working closely with you over the last few months, and I’ve seen behind the scenes of how much of an impact you’re making for your audience. And predominantly, you’re helping people become virtual assistants, and mostly in Western countries – in the United States, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand. So you’re getting some really amazing, talented people, you’re providing them tools and resources to get savvy with the online world and then to be able to work with employers. And I think you even help employers find these people. So I’d love to hear more about how your business is set up, Gina.
From financial planning to virtual assistance
Gina: Sure. So I’ll start by sharing a little bit of my story, if that’s okay, because it’s pretty relevant to where we are now. It’s about five years ago, in just two weeks or so, that I actually started a freelance writing side hustle. I had a full-time career as a financial advisor; I was the breadwinner; my husband had quit his job the year prior when our second child was born to become a stay-at-home dad. And I felt really stuck, because I was the only one bringing in money for our family, and we had bills to pay and kids to feed. But I didn’t want to do what I was doing for the rest of my life. I had my own small financial planning practice, and I worked as a part of this family-run practice doing support work, and they were lovely. It was close to home.
On paper, I had it perfect. I made good money, worked close to home; I actually negotiated a four-day work week. But I still wasn’t quite happy. And so I finally gave myself permission after almost 10 years to look at alternative opportunities. And as I was going about the googling process, I ran across freelance writing for the web. I was like, Well, I’m a good writer, a good communicator. I think that I could do well at this even though I don’t have a journalism degree. And I set up shop. And that’s actually what horkeyhandbook.com was. If you didn’t hear, that’s my last name, Horkey, and ties into the relevance. It’s German, which is a fun fact. And I married into it, obviously.
So I started this freelance writing side hustle, I put up shop as far as the website, which was just really a place to serve for writing samples so that clients could get a look at what I was able to produce and decide whether or not to hire me. And that kind of continued on into me picking up some virtual assistant clients doing email management and customer service for tech entrepreneurs, believe it or not. I never considered myself a very tech savvy person, even though I’m at the very top of that millennial category. But I’ve learned a lot since then. And now I’m in more of a teaching role. Actually, based on your advice, I left behind work with my final client in February; I found somebody within our own community that I had trained up, and I actually got to do advanced training with her behind the scenes of that client’s business. It was completely amicable. He was lovely, which made it so hard to make that transition. But you were right. And it has bolstered the success of Horkey HandBook as a result.
James: Well, I like to be right. That’s lucky.
Giving oneself permission
You said you gave yourself permission. I think that was an interesting phrase. Because I suspect some people roaming around there in life don’t actually realize that that’s the only person they need permission from. Can you tell me how you came to that phrase there?
Gina: Yeah. You know, it was a hard decision for me to make because I’m pretty type A, as an individual. I laugh and tell the story of when I was like 10, 12 years old. And we have, in the United States, you have like, three months off in the summer, right? I know it’s a little different, how it works in Australia. But we had, like, this whole summer before us. And you know, this is before smartphones, we definitely didn’t have the internet, we didn’t have cable TV, and we did not have video games, really, we were not very well-to-do. And so we had outside and we had regular TV that you could not pause or fast forward through commercials. So weird to think about, because it’s so different to how my kids are growing up. But I would write out a schedule of every day, because I was type A and organized. It was summer break. And I was saying okay, well during this time, I’m going to do a little exercise. And during this time, I’m going to watch this talk show. And during this time, I’m going to clean my room. And so I’ve kind of always operated that way. And I like to you know, cross T’s and dot I’s and all that good stuff.
So when I commit to something, I typically commit to it kind of full board. I don’t know if you know this about me, but I actually started college when I was 16, my junior year of high school. I went full-time, moved out of my parents’ home because we lived in a rural area, not close to a community college. And I nannied for a friend of the family, and I went to school full-time in college. And then I also was a waitress on the side of that. And so I saw that through, obviously, graduating with my bachelor’s degree. I was 19 years old. And that was in psychology, which is a good major. But then I turned 20 the next week. So it’s not that impressive. Sounds good, though.
James: That’s pretty impressive. You know, I do know about you, you’re a hard worker, and you’re very smart, and brave. And I’ve seen you implement things that are scary for you, and you just do it. And you go forward and succeed. So it would have been quite amazing to go through such a tough academic environment at such a young age. And I’m sure you’ve got the results you’ve gotten because of that habit, I guess, of launching yourself into things that are a little bit outside your comfort zone.
It’s all part of the journey
At least when you were thinking of becoming a virtual assistant, you had some confidence in your ability to write, and you had a psychology degree, do you think it’s possible to do a job like that if you don’t have those things?
Gina: Yeah, I think you need to use what you have, honestly. So the rest of my story is that like, I felt like, personal finance, I had made this commitment, this contract, almost, to doing that until retirement. And it wasn’t until, you know, really early in 2014, that I gave myself that freedom to think about other things and say, Hey, you know what, maybe I have to tell my friends and family that I decided to sell my practice and change careers, maybe it’ll be embarrassing. But why should I wait out the next 30 years of my life, not wanting to go to work, because most of the activities of my daily life are around compliance and paperwork, and all of these things that I don’t enjoy, rather than meeting with clients and helping them to achieve their goals? And so that was my breaking point.
“You do have skills, but you can learn skills, which is more important.”
I started reading a lot. I read a lot of, you know, like, obviously, Tim Ferriss, and The 4-Hour Workweek was really popular then, it’s still very popular, and was before that. Jon Acuff is another great author that has a few different books, like Start. And it was really just opening up that mindset of, Okay, I can do other things. I do have skills, but I can learn skills, which is more important. And you’re right, I do jump in kind of with both feet, and I just take action, and it has worked out for me.
What’s really cool, and I had this conversation with my sister just the other day, is that personal finance and my career there, that wasn’t a mistake – that was a part of my journey. And I’m able to do what I’m doing now, because of what I learned then, as far as a foundation. I use some of those marketing techniques that we learned, and I teach those to our students. For example, I learned email management skills from that position, I was the one that held down the fort when everybody else, because they were family, would go up to Canada to Lake of the Woods and have a vacation. And I was cool with that. But I felt comfortable under pressure, and it was all based on those experiences.
Handling that fear of failure
So when I talk to other people that want to change careers, they want to start a side business, fear of failure is always the thing that holds them back. And I try and tell them that you can totally do the what ifs, like the worst case scenario thing, which is not very much fun, but that’s where we all default from, like, a fight-and-flight probably perspective. But instead of thinking about the worst possible scenario of trying something, instead think about the best possible outcome. So if you were to try this new thing, if you were to, you know, start a virtual assistant business, or you were to hire a virtual assistant, and you have never had a team member before, or if you were to decide to run a marathon – like, it really doesn’t matter what that end goal is – imagine the best possible outcome. And then hopefully, you will fall somewhere between, you know, failure on one end, not doing anything, which means failure in the middle, and achieving your best possible scenario.
James: Nice. I’ve seen this. There’s a few extremes, isn’t there? There’s the Robert Ringer way of expecting the worst, so you’re only ever excited about what happens because it can only be better than what you expected.
“Whatever happened up until now is a part of your journey.”
I made a video about this yesterday, actually, I like to look at the possible best and possible worst case scenarios to give myself a range of the hypothetical outcomes, and then decide if it’s worth that trajectory. But almost certainly, if you don’t move forward with something, then you can’t have any outcome, really. And I also agree with what you’re sharing here, that whatever happened up until now, is a part of your journey, and it’s the skills that, you know, even if you did something that you might not think is relevant.
For example, one of my sons has been a mechanic. I never thought that he would end up as a mechanic in the end, I don’t think he will. And I just knew that the skills he got being a mechanic would help him appreciate a better outcome when he gets a job that pays really well that isn’t as manual on his hands, like, he’s not crawling around and cars and things. It’s giving him an appreciation. It’s like when I used to dig holes with a shovel for one of my jobs. We had to dig out a pool in the backyard of a house where they couldn’t get a digger or a crane, so we had to do it by hand with, you know, a shovel, jackhammer and a wheelbarrow. And I actually emptied enough soil from a backyard to make a pool. And it was a crazy, hard job. But you know, the blisters and calluses and the hard work made me appreciate the job I have now, where I’m not having to do manual labor. I’ve got nice office hands.
So one of the favorite episodes I ever had on this SuperFastBusiness podcast was with Nam Baldwin. And he said, use whatever happens. So whether it’s finance or university, you’ve built up your skill set. Do you find that people applying with you to learn about becoming a virtual assistant come from a very varied background and skill set and and still able to be successful in the role?
Do you need a certain background?
Gina: A hundred percent. We have people in our community that have their master’s degrees, so they’re obviously extremely educated. But they don’t want to go back to corporate America. Maybe they had a family and they were able to raise their children and they’re looking at going back and restarting a career or, you know, going into business for themselves and having the flexibility and the income potential, really, that comes alongside of that. We have people that probably never went to college, and maybe they’re, you know, with a young child at home and just looking to bring some income into their household. We have other people that are recent retirees that are a little tech savvy, that want to bring in extra income to supplement their retirement income. We have people that, you know, wanted to change careers like me, and they come from some sort of background, but it’s not the same background that they decided to offer services in.
You know, a fun story about me getting started in freelance writing, is that my first few projects, later on, I branched into personal finance writing, which is very lucrative, it pays very well. I think I had to wait until I made that transition in order to do so from a compliance standpoint. So my first paying gig was writing gluten-free coupon articles, and it was as a ghost writer, and I’m not gluten-free, and I don’t use coupons. But you can still do things that you don’t have the background for.
My second gig was writing WordPress theme descriptions. And I didn’t really understand what a WordPress theme was. But I put myself out there; I never have lied about my experience or my capabilities. And I just, you know, seize the day, took the bull by the horns and said, The worst thing that’s going to happen is they’re dissatisfied with my work. I get some feedback, and I don’t take their money. Right?
Gina: None of the things that I was doing it was going to, like make or break their situation or you know, cause somebody to die or anything like that.
James: Let’s hope not. Gluten-free, you may be unlikely. For you to understand gluten, gluten is just the protein responsible for happiness. As a gluten-free eater these days predominantly, I’ve discovered it’s a little bit harder to find nice-tasting stuff, if you used to love pastries, and croissants and things.
Gina: Oh, there’s more available than ever before, though.
James: Oh, yeah. Well, when the bread manufacturers come out with a really good recipe, it just flies off the shelves. Like, sometimes the brand gets the new recipe just right, and it is a hot commodity. I actually have to hunt in a specific supermarket at a specific time of the week to get the goods. Otherwise, it’s off the shelves.
Gina: Do you have a VA just for that, James?
James: Well, I just start making the bread. I’m doing a fair bit of cooking these days.
How the working relationship should evolve
Gina: Oh, that would be fun.
Gina: The other thing is, for people that are listening and are thinking about scaling using team members, virtual assistants and such, is that you don’t want to get started in a working relationship where you’re giving somebody that much of a chance to impact your business in a negative way. So a really good point I like to make is when you’re starting a new relationship, typically you’re going to start with one or two different tasks. They’re going to be things that you can kind of manage the process on, you’ll understand the implications. But as your working relationship grows with a virtual assistant, or with a client (if you’re a VA), then there’s a level of trust that increases, and typically the scope of work can be changed, you can take on more challenging activities. And it’s a controllable process, I guess is the point that I wanted to make.
“It’s a controllable process.”
James: Yeah, that’s a really good point. And I’m thinking back to when we hired our last employee, we started on a safe site to work on, that mistakes could be made, it wouldn’t change anything in our business to a large extent. And it was a good place to build confidence. And I think a lot of employers throw their team member into too difficult an environment. Typically, they’ve hired them too late, there’s too much pressure, the stakes are too high, there’s not enough training, the communication is not clear. And they’re setting that person up for a bad experience. And then that person invariably underperforms against the expectation, or quits. It’s something I hear about a lot.
I tell you what, I reckon a huge amount of the responsibility really points back to the employer. There’s some really bad bosses out there, and I’m on a bit of a mission to help people be way better leaders. And I never realized how poor people are at leading until I got involved in being on the other side of it, especially through my wife’s own recruitment business, which predominantly focuses on the Philippines’ market. So it’s a different style of service. I’m just seeing how people just don’t get the basics.
So I think it’s worth us talking about when we should hire someone, where we can hire them, and what we can expect from them. And even things like, what would we say in the interview? So these sort of things will be great to discuss, let’s start with when we need to get someone.
When do you hire?
Gina: Yes. And that’s one of the things that I learned in my personal finance career, they beat it down that you need to hire help before you’re ready. So if you think about your max capacity being that 100 percent, then you’re maybe in the 80 to 90 percent range when you should start reaching out for help. A big misconception is that you have to hire somebody for like, 20 hours a week. Most of the clients that are looking for help, the leads that we put out to our community are people that are looking for less than five hours of help per week. Sometimes it’s 20 hours, but that would be an anomaly, more on the rare side of things. But the beautiful thing is that, again, your VA can grow with you. So you can start them on a couple of tasks.
“You need to hire help before you’re ready.”
And I think that one of the differentiators between how we train our students and possibly other training programs that I haven’t taken, so I can’t really speak to, is that we really empower the virtual assistant to be in the driver’s seat with this process of working with a client. So not all clients want to lead a team, James, and train staff and be an HR manager. So if you can hire a virtual assistant, somebody else that’s self-employed, that understands what running a business is all about, that can onboard you and guide you through the process of working together, sounds kind of nice, right?
James: That’s a very good differentiator. And you often hear the complaint from an employer that their team member is not thinking for themselves, or they’re not doing what seems to be common sense. So if you do have a self-managed assistant, then that is a terrific asset.
Gina: That’s what all of the – we’ll call them clients. When I say clients, typically the people that are coming to us have small businesses; they could be a business of one; they could have a small team in place already, that could be in-person and employee-related, versus everybody being a subcontractor and virtual; or they could have a virtual team already. And then entrepreneurs, people like me and you that can’t stick with just one business, right? Like, you have too many ideas popping in your head, and so you have different – and for good reason – revenue streams that make up your overarching business threshold, but you need different people in order to help you to carry out these tasks, because we can’t do it all and nor do we want to.
Tasks to hire for
So when you think about getting ready to hire somebody, again, it should be before you’re ready. But then how do you choose what services to hire out for? Well, I like to do a few different things. I learned the first tip from Noah Kagan, I believe, so I’ll give credit where credit is due. And he was talking about how to find clients and what services to offer and really just having conversations with people and saying, Hey, dude, what’s been on your to-do list for the last two weeks that you haven’t done but that you actually still need to do? Like, would you like some help with that?
So, one way to analyze your own tasks that you should hire out for is to look at your own to-do list, to see what things go in that Eisenhower matrix of, this is urgent but not important. This is urgent and important. This is not, you know, all four of them, I’ll let you do a little more digging on that so I don’t screw it up. But what are the things that are possibly not urgent, but important, that you either need to free yourself up for because you have to be the one to do those things, or that somebody else can take off your plate that will make a positive impact on your business?
And then I would also tie that in with ROI. So return on investment – how can you free yourself up to do more, higher level things for your business that result in a higher level of ROI, where if you’re hiring somebody for a half or a third or two thirds of what you’re able to earn, as a result, you’re increasing your profitability in that example, right? If you’re able to do a higher-paid work, and your other stuff still needs to get done in your business that contributes to the whole thing functioning properly. But again, you’re able to hire that out at a lower rate.
“What do you hate doing?”
And then the other way that I would consider thinking about this is, what do you hate doing? Like in your business, what things do you not have to do yourself that you really know have to get done, it’s just a core part of your business, but that you can hire out, that somebody else can do it, it doesn’t have to be you? And those are also great things, because you’re going to get freed up when it comes to mental space, your energy, like, just your enthusiasm for work, which is a huge thing for a lot of us, right? So those are a few different ways to figure out what, and again, when to hire. Does that help?
James: It does. Now I know why you’re such a fan of my book, it’s like, I think we’ve literally just went through one of the chapters, which is great, because we’re most definitely on the same page. The book, by the way, is Work Less Make More, on Amazon or Audible. We don’t have big sponsor things on this show, Gina, it’s pretty organic.
That was great. I love it. So I mean, we both feel very strongly, there’s no point doing stuff that you don’t want to do, shouldn’t do, and that you’re just not getting to that really does need to be done. Different approaches, of course. I’ve often talked about my approach on this show, which is to build my team of full-timers in the Philippines, and that suits my business model. It’s not going to suit everyone else. Because of course, some people also want someone who’s already trained to do certain things, like WordPress website, or content creation, or social media management, email management, customer service, outreach, etc. And some things are going to be great to source from Western society. And of course, you’re going to have differences in rates, most likely, between the markets, which means you don’t need full-time or part-time. In many cases, as you said, someone wants a person for five hours a week, or they might have a collection of different people doing different tasks.
James: And so it’s quite a flexible thing. As we’ve mentioned a few times on this show, there’s more than a few ways to approach this, and there’s no right or wrong way. It’s just what suits your business style.
If you’re looking for a VA…
Now, you build up quite a surplus of people who have put their hand up, who want training, who go through your Horkey HandBook curriculum, who then want to be employed, and you actually help people find a VA as well from your website. So you’ve got a page there, on horkeyhandbook.com/virtual-assistant-finder, where you can actually source a virtual assistant if you’re looking for someone who’s been trained up, right?
Gina: Yep, yep. And again, we try to make the process as easy on you as possible. It’s free, so there’s no payment gateway. And our goal is just to really help peers in our industry to scale up their businesses by working with talented folks that are in our community. And again, these are people that potentially have like, a bachelor’s or master’s degree, like, smart people. And a lot of them that didn’t go to college are also still very smart. So we’re not saying that one is better than the other. In fact, I’m not sure if I will push my kids to go to college in the future. But that’s a topic for a different day.
So we have the VA Finder service, for short. And you basically fill out a Google form telling us what you’re looking for. And I have designed it in a way to really extract the information that a virtual assistant needs to know to know if they would be a good fit for you, and vice versa. We actually highly recommend video pitching. So it’s a fear for virtual assistants to get on camera, but once they do the first couple, they get comfortable, and it’s not that big of a deal. So this is an awesome way for you to get a sense of their personality and style and professionalism in a very quick way.
So if you do submit an inquiry, a lead, a job through the VA Finder service, you hopefully will be pleasantly surprised by getting you know, a dozen or so videos that are saying, Hey, James, I know that you’re looking for help with X. You know, this is something that I’ve been able to do, because… and here’s my experience.
It’s really about a relationship
We also talk a lot about that human-to-human factor that was spoken about at the conference. So I’m a huge fan of personalization and customization, and it really being about a relationship, about two cool people – whatever your definition of cool is – working together, because that’s the beauty of online work. That’s the beauty of being a VA, of being an entrepreneur, is you get to choose who your customers are, for the most part; you get to choose the people that you work alongside with.
James: The people side of it’s incredible. I was reading a post, from another entrepreneur recently, who is always on the phone. He’s like, on the phone constantly. And the way that he justifies that is he says that he is mostly on the phone to his team, and he just loves talking to his team. So it’s not work, it’s pleasure. And that was interesting. I love my team. I don’t want to be on the phone to them all day long, though, we do meet once a week for 15 minutes, and we have a good chat. And we care about each other, and we have a great working relationship.
James: And we’ve built up such fantastic culture over the time we’ve worked together that we just intuitively know who’s doing what, and we cover each other. And there’s something special about that, about it being bigger than just yourself. And you know that you’re contributing to different family household incomes, that you’re supporting a bunch of people. I’ve seen that, when you hire a virtual assistant, in any country, you’re taking the strain off the government trying to support that person. Like, it’s helping create value. So it’s a really good thing to do.
What happens in the interview
When you get someone in an interview situation, let’s say the video goes well, and you want to hop onto a call, I imagine you’re using Google Meet or something like that. What do you discuss with that person in what we might classically call the interview phase?
Gina: Sure. So at this point, you’ve submitted a job lead to the VA Finder, or you’ve polled your own community to see if there are people in your community that are interested in working with you. I mean, obviously you can go the marketplace route and try an Upwork or Fiverr thing, but that would probably be my last resort. I would go towards my community, and then somebody that has a trusted resource like us, first. And so then you’re going through those pitches, and you’re going to kind of limit it to probably the top two or three candidates. And hopefully, you’ve made a connection with them, and they sent that video to you and you just feel in your gut, like, this could be a good potential fit for me.
And so then you’re going to get on something like a Google Meet. I mean, you can do it via phone call, and some people actually hire just off an email alone. So that’s more common than you would think. Personally, I like to get on a video call, because it just is friendlier, and you can get to know somebody by their mannerisms much easier than, definitely, text communication. So if the VA is from our community, they might lead the call and ask you the questions about what it is that you’re needing help with, why that’s a pain point in your life, what kind of a home-run scenario would look like with working with somebody. Obviously, there’s going to be some dialogue, warm-up, usually at the beginning, just like any kind of, I guess, interview or meeting somebody new for the first time. And then you decide at the end, hey, like, I really like you and we’re going to move forward, or I need to take my time to review these other applicants, and I’ll be in touch.
The cheeseburger question
And it’s really a conversation. And so I actually talk about, we have a lesson within the course from the VA side of what an interview is and what it looks like. And I talk to them about the fact that it’s not what you would imagine in corporate America. I have this girlfriend, her name is Noelle, and she told me the funniest story one time when she was going on an interview, or she was asking questions. She was a hiring person, so it was probably the latter. And one of the questions that she was either asked or had to ask the other person was, if you were a cheeseburger, what part of the cheeseburger would you be? And so we’re laughing about this, because you’ve got, like, a bun, you got a piece of cheese, you got the beef, you maybe got some pickles or onions or other. But like, who cares? Like, what relevance does that answer have to the skills that you possess and can demonstrate and bring to the table? I mean, it might show your sense of creativity or humor, but it’s not what you’re going to sit down and talk to a potential client about. Instead, you’re going to be like, okay, let’s size each other up. Let’s get through some pleasantries and see what we have in common, and then explore what it would look like working together. And then, you know, plot out a next step from there. It should last, like, five minutes.
James: What part of the cheeseburger was she?
Gina: Oh, I don’t know, probably the cheese. I think she likes cheese.
James: I think it’s an interesting question. I mean, because I think a lot of people would gravitate towards the cheese as the answer. So it might help an interviewer decide if this person takes the logical answer, or if they’re going to be like, artsy or creative, you know? They might be the little pickle or the onion, or the sauce, you know? Without that, it’s sort of missing something.
Gina: So, one question like that, for an icebreaker perspective, I can get, but you know, there was a whole slew of those type of questions. And honestly, I don’t think, and I could be wrong, that the person that’s interviewing them has the psychological…
James: I agree with you on that. It is a ridiculous question. I’m not disputing that at all.
Gina: Okay. You’re totally going to ask it, though. That’ll be on your next podcast. That’s an important question for you.
Other interview methods
James: Yeah. It’s not as good as one of the good interview questions that I’ve heard of a friend of mine, Dan Dobos, does. And he usually interviews people face-to-face, but you could do this virtually. He’s got different things on strips of paper. And then he asks the candidate to arrange them in order of importance.
Gina: That could be meaningful.
James: That’s a really, really great diagnostic tool to see who you’re dealing with, you know? Like, what things do they think is more important or least important in a ranking system? That’s a very good technique. And he’s a smart guy, and I like that question.
When I’m interviewing someone, I always use a checklist. And I make sure that on that checklist are the must haves, that would indicate the likely success of the person in that role. And then there’s some sort of desirable attributes. And I’ll make sure that I do the questions without trying to put too much gut into it in the beginning. And then I would later then see how I feel about it, so that I’m not trying to bias myself out of the game.
James: It’s easy for us to look for the good in everyone, because we’re entrepreneurial. And it’s also because some people will go on a bit of a power trip, they start assessing things that have no relevance whatsoever to someone’s capacity to do the role. Like, if someone’s cranking out articles, does it matter if they’re fantastic on camera?
James: Maybe not.
Gina: I know that a lot of clients, especially that run bigger teams, are starting to do some personality testing within their interview pool. And the biggest reason is just to see if they’re a personality fit for the role that they’re going to fill within the team. So it could be the duties of their job, but then also, you know, whether they’re an I, N, F, J, or whatever these different personality types are. I took one recently, and I’m trying to find the name of it, it’s not on the screenshot that I have. But I’m type seven, I’m the enthusiast. So I’m energetic, lively and optimistic, and I want to contribute to the world. It goes on and on and on. But it was actually very accurate. It talked about, like, what you like about being a seven, and what’s kind of hard about it. So, not having enough time to do all the things that I want is a challenge for me, James.
James: That’s a surprise.
Gina: But anyways, you could do that with your interviewees, too, and this is a free one. And I’ll try and get a link to it so that you can share it with your audience. It’s a free test. Because you can learn a lot about yourself; you can learn about the people that you’re interviewing; they can learn about themselves in that process. And then you could see, you know, do we have complementary skill sets here? Or do we have the same? And if we’re the same, would that be a conflict?
James: I see a lot of people also like the Kolbe for that sort of stuff. So, go to superfastbusiness.com, Episode 663, and we’ll put the amazing, not sure what name it is, test link Gina recommends.
So we’ve talked about when to hire, things we could ask, the way that you might get your application, what sort of expectations you would have initially, start in a safe environment, not life-or-death sort of situations.
What about documentation?
James: Where to get them. Didn’t ask you about documentation, but do you suggest some kind of documentation with a work agreement?
Gina: Yeah, so we actually have a client contract template that we sell as something in our shop. I had one of my girlfriends, who is a corporate attorney, put that together for us. And it’s customizable per client relationship. And I think it’s a great way for our virtual assistants, again, to take charge and say, Hey, like, let’s clearly flesh out the expectations of this agreement.
In the course, we recommend that people get started on a trial project or basis. So maybe there’s one project that they can take on and see to fruition for you guys to kind of test each other out and date before you get married. It could also be a trial period of time. So most recently, I’ve added a new person that does social media management – actually, he doesn’t do it, but he’s from my community, he’s brand new, he’s hungry, he’s energetic, and I like his personality. And so we’re going to train him to take some stuff over for one of our other team members to free her up. And so we’re doing a trial two-week period with him. And then at the end of next week, we’ll let him know, Hey, we want you more permanently on our team, or Hey, it didn’t work out how we thought, and no hard feelings, right? That’s really important. I feel like in the beginning of a relationship so that you’re not feeling guilt, it’s just an open communication type of thing. But contracts are good.
The matter of compensation
James: Yeah. And it’s a paid trial, right?
Gina: A paid trial. Always, yes.
James: Of course. Because we got a few people here, it’s just like, try the old free trial out until there’s nothing. Never ever hire.
Gina: No, we tell people to charge what they’re worth from the beginning. And then, you know, obviously, you can work your way up from there. But a lot of people will start on an hourly basis, because it’s a great way for them and their client to figure out what the fair exchange of value is, and then potentially change that into a package pricing or retainer, where they know what things they’re doing on a regular basis, and they’re accountable for them and they’re getting the same amount of pay.
And that’s what I looked for when I was first taking on virtual assistant clients and freelance writing clients, is I wanted recurring revenue. I was gearing up to leave work behind, and again, I was the only breadwinner. And so a lot of what we teach is from that standpoint as well, like, don’t worry about never knowing where your next gig is going to come from, by filling in with a lot of one-off projects that are short-term. If you’re looking for kind of some sort of security, having multiple clients is actually more secure than having one employer, by the way. And, you know, having different things that you do for them on a recurring basis and having a retainer is kind of the best case scenario for most people long-term.
James: It’s exactly how I quit my job. Two clients on recurring retainer, combined with my affiliate income. And that was enough to pull the parachute. So Gina, I suspect we could talk for many hours on this topic. And maybe we’ll get you back to cover other questions, if we get any around this episode.
I just want to say, thanks so much. I’m very glad to have met you. And I’m super impressed with what you’ve been doing at your Horkey HandBook site, and the work you do with helping people make this transition. You’re clearly a leader in the field. And thank you for coming and sharing your insights with us today.
Gina: Yeah, I really appreciate the opportunity to be on your platform. I’ve gotten to know your community in-person through the event and, you know, just being a part of both SuperFastBusiness and SilverCircle. You guys put out quality everything, which is amazing. And I refer people your way all the time. And if anybody needs a virtual assistant, hit up horkeyhandbook.com and the top menu bar will be VA Finder or Find a VA, and you can click on that. If you know of anybody that’s looking for a different career, that either wants to do something part or full time and has a little bit of an entrepreneurial spirit, you can also send them our way. And we have a ton of free blog content, both geared towards virtual assistants and freelance writers, but also on working with a virtual assistant or freelance writer on the blog.
James: Nice. There you go. And that test that you refer to, I think it’s the enneagramtest.net.
Gina: It it is, yeah. So if you’re a seven, let me know on Twitter or something. We’re best friends.
James: Thanks, Gina. Take care.
Gina: Thanks, James.
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