This is a guest post by entrepreneur and author Chris Ducker.
As a Social Caffeine reader, you know that the best online brands and businesses rely on such talent to get their “buzz” on—the energy and muscle needed to growth their audiences and develop more raving fans. The smart entrepreneur, social media marketer, and small business owner realize they can’t do everything themselves. That’s where smart and talented virtual staff come into the picture.
Here’s the thing: We all want to be payed what we believe is our worth. This is no different for your virtual staff. In fact, it’s your duty to do so.
Just as you require goals to achieve and rewards to attain, so should your staff. In the online world, you can hire virtual assistants with college degrees for a fraction of the price you would pay in the UK or USA. The market is flooded with prospects and finding the right person can be a tedious task if you don’t know what you are doing. Thus, once you have found a great addition to your team, you need to keep him or her interested and motivated to stay working for you. Otherwise, you risk losing that talent, which can stifle your career and business.
If you want to survive the maze of finding, hiring, and retaining your best virtual team members, follow these handy guide.
Assessing Worth and Value
This is kind of like asking how long is piece of string. There are many kinds of virtual assistants (VA), and their value changes depending on their employer. If you desire a VA who is a native speaker of your language, particularly if the language is English, expect to pay significantly more than a non-native English speaker. Why? Because that skill is more valuable to you.
VAs based in the Philippines, however, are commonly know as an exception to this rule because English is the country’s primary language. As a result, many online entrepreneurs and Internet marketers concentrate on the Philippines when searching for a VA with a great command of English.
Beyond English, the nature of a VA’s work directly influences the amount of money you can expect to (and should) play. For example, good programmers cost significantly more than writers because the talent pool for programming is smaller than for writing. Also, the barriers to entry are lower for writers than programmers. And with the nature of technology and media, programming is arguably the most important in-demand skill to build, run, and support Internet-based businesses. Those market forces lead to higher wages for programmers, because they’re worth it. The worst thing you can do, therefore, is pay a cheap wage for a cheap programmer because you’ll be undermining the very foundation of your online business.
Aligning wages with the value provided for services rendered is the common denominator among any type of VA. Thus, if someone is offering to do work for a low wage, lower than you’d expect for that role, then you should seriously question just how much value that person can generate for your business. As the business axiom goes: You get what you pay for.
Ultimately, it comes down to you—the virtual boss—to decide what rate you can afford to pay for virtual staff. Find staff within your price range, and consider hiring part time staff rather than full time staff if your budget is limited, and/or if you have never hired a VA before.
Motivating Your Staff
Paying a fair and respectable wage is good, but is often not enough because money isn’t the only thing that motivates people. In fact, lots of research shows that intrinsic (internal) motivations are far stronger than extrinsic (external) motivators. Money is an extrinsic motivator. Thus, it is essential to develop a productive culture within your VA team so that the various team members are excited and self-motivated to do the work.
Inclusion is a big variable that helps or hinders intrinsic motivation. We all want to feel included in the work we’re a part of. So providing transparency to VAs into the work that you do and giving them the opportunity to join in on conversations related to the business is a smart maneuver because the VAs will feel like they are a valuable and trusted member of the team.
Further, encourage personal and professional development. Help your VAs get better at their jobs and advance their careers not only because their improved skills help you but also because they’ll enjoying doing the work more. And don’t forget the compliments.
Remember the last time a client, partner, or payment process didn’t deliver money to you on time? Remember how that made you feel? Your VAs feel the same way. So don’t drag out your payments to them even if you have extended payment terms.
For example, even though you may not be contractually obligated to pay until net 30 or 45 days, try to pay a VAs invoice as soon as possible after it’s received. Such attentiveness shows great courtesy and respect toward the VA, which will inturn cultivate courtesy and respect toward you. Your most talented VAs will expect to be treated fairly. Paying on time is being fair. Paying early is loving them, and they’ll love you for it and go the extra mile because of it.
In the end, how well you treat your VAs will reflect in how well they treat you. If you and your VA team become an unstoppable force, don’t become a buzzkill by becoming picky about how much you pay them or how quickly. Your team determines your success, today and tomorrow. Respect them. Include them. And make them successful. When you do that, you’ll all be happy and ready to jolt your business to the next level.
Chris Ducker is a successful entrepreneur, blogger, and podcaster known for his thought leadership about building businesses and lifestyles that thrive with virtual teams. His highly-anticipated book Virtual Freedom: How to Work with Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive, and Build Your Dream Business comes out April 1 and is available for pre-order now.
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