How to Find and Hire a Virtual Executive Assistant in North America

How to Find and Hire a Virtual Executive Assistant in North America

Learn what a North-American-based executive assistant can do to help you scale your business

 

How awesome would it feel to take your to-do list from “overwhelming” to “complete”… and keep it that way?!

Manage Your Tasks More Effectively

VEA is a virtual Executive Assistant (EA) and bookkeeping company. We help business owners and executives free up their time so they can focus on what matters most – working on (not in) their companies!

You probably have a number of administrative tasks that are taking up too much of your time. VEA offers a solution that will help you focus on the most impactful tasks to grow your business while delegating other jobs to a trusted partner.

Administrative Tasks

In many cases, checking email, booking travel, managing expenses, and scheduling appointments is not the best use of your time. We call these items menial tasks, and offloading work to an executive assistant is a great step toward focusing solely on the biggest projects that help scale your business. 

 

When deciding what to hand off first to an EA, a good rule of thumb is to pass along the tasks that drain your energy, you don’t enjoy, and drain your time. 

For example, many of our clients have told us that they spend hours a day sifting through endless emails, many of which do not even provide valuable information. A skilled EA can help you achieve Inbox Zero, which is the idea that you spend less and less mental energy on managing your emails as your EA oversees that task for you. Can you imagine waking up one morning with no emails in your inbox? Miracles can happen.

What Tasks Can My Virtual EA Perform?

All of VEA’s EAs are highly experienced and possess a broad professional skill set. Here are a few of the top ways you can work with an EA to lighten your daily workload and refocus on the things that generate growth.
  • Email Management: Productivity and mental well-being improve when your inbox isn’t cluttered with hundreds of unread and un-categorized emails. Your EA will not only help you manage incoming emails but also establish filing protocols that will ensure you can stay on top of emails well into the future. Inbox Zero is possible with the right executive support. 

 

  • Document Processes: Make employee and customer onboarding a more successful and rewarding experience when you can easily share your tried and true business processes with stakeholders. Your EA can draw up detailed descriptions of how to execute processes and outline the exact steps needed to complete a task from start to finish.

 

  • Calendar Management: Ensure important meetings and deadlines don’t fall through the cracks. Your EA will manage appointment setting, reminders, and even help you get ready for appointments so you are always prepared and in control of your workday.

 

  • Travel Booking: Have you tried to change or cancel your travel arrangements in recent years? An experienced EA can effortlessly navigate the world of flights, hotel reservations, and rental car bookings. They also know all the tricks for transferring vouchers, using your points cards, altering itineraries – so you can be on your way without losing years of your life to on-hold music in meantime.

 

  • Vendor Management: If you run a business, or even head up a department within a larger organization, chances are you contract out for various vendor services on a regular basis. Your EA can communicate with vendors, track and place orders, and stay on top of contracts. There is a lot to do, and nobody should be expected to manage it all on their own.

 

  • Research: Similar to vendor management, an EA not only keeps tabs on all current vendors, but they can also help research and vet potential vendors, suppliers, product research options, software, etc. If you give your EA the parameters, they will be happy to find relevant options.

 

  • Data Entry: It may feel tedious to some, but accurate data entry is essential to knowing your customers and building valuable relationships. A good EA has an eagle-eye for precision, and fast typing fingers don’t hurt either, so your databases are always up-to-date and working for you.

 

  • Appointment Setting: How often do you set a meeting, only to have someone change or cancel it? Or, perhaps your unpredictable schedule oftentimes leads to scheduling gymnastics in order to accommodate you and the team? Rather than risk missing meetings or feeling frustrated over the amount of time you spend on rescheduling, let your EA take over this menial, yet critical, task, so you can be sure you are showing up to the right things at the right time, and not stuck in renegotiating times and schedules if something changes on the fly.

 

  • Transcribing: Yes, there are a host of tools and apps these days to turn audio into text. However, no technology is foolproof, and transcribed audio still requires some heavy editing in order to make it understandable. No surprise here that a good EA is happy to take on this transcribing challenge. Also, not all conversations can be perfectly recorded by a speaker. An EA can also transcribe what is said during key meetings or presentations so you have a long-lasting record of what was discussed, and when.

 

When is it Time to Hire an EA?

How do you know if you are ready to hire an Executive Assistant? Ask yourself – what is one hour of my time worth? Calculate your current hourly rate by dividing your salary by 48 weeks (assuming you take vacation) by 40 hours/week.

$125,000 / 48 weeks / 40 hour = $65 hourly rate

Or, calculate your intended future salary by dividing your desired salary by 48 weeks by 40 hours/week.

$250,000 / 48 weeks / 40 hour = $130 hourly rate

Once you have learned your business and you become profitable, start handing off tasks that drain your time and energy so you can focus on the highest-value jobs. If you are taking out a business loan or bringing on a VC, you can start to build your team and outsource faster.

 

 

Free up Your Time and Grow Your Business

VEA offers a range of executive services to support busy business owners. We find passionate, creative, experienced, and dedicated talent in many of the departments necessary to run a successful company. 

 

In addition, our staff is 100% North-American based. Whether you need a virtual Executive Assistant in Canada, a virtual Executive Assistant in Texas or anywhere else in North America, we will provide one for you. 

 

Our specialty is long-term partnerships that come at a fraction of the cost of traditional, in-house employees. There is only a 20-hour minimum requirement per month for our EA services and no minimum requirement for bookkeeping and fractional controller services. And, we’ll never ask you to sign a long-term contract. Set up is quick and easy, and your EA will become a vital part of your team in a short time frame.  

 

Contact VEA to learn more! Visit our EA services page to discover more about the many ways we can help you grow your business.

 

 

Derek Burbidge 

Manager of Sales & Marketing

Working On vs. In Your Business

Working On vs. In Your Business

What is the Difference?

Working In vs. Working On

Working In = Short-term projects, regular work processes and day-to-day operations

Spending all your time here can turn you into a full-time employee. While this is necessary in the start-up phase, in order to be most effective in growing your business you need to transition out of these functions to a leadership role.

Working On = Long-term planning, overall strategic planning, growth and value initiatives

You are now overseeing the business, hiring staff, creating new products/services, and building a business that can run without you in the day-to-day operations.

Doing vs. Leading

Ray Silverstein on Entrepreneur.com calls it “doing” (working in) vs. “leading” (working on).

Both are very important. You need to know what is going on in your business in case a key person quits (as mentioned in this  Success.com article). Not so much that you can then take their role on, but so you can hire appropriately with a proper job description and deliverables.

Working on vs working in your business infographic

Conclusion

The goal of a leader is to create a business that runs without you. The employees are motivated and know how to complete their tasks. Your managers have clear directions, goals, and targets to reach. This leaves you to grow the business in new ways, whether that is implementing new strategies, services, products, or helping your team run at higher efficiency.

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing

Our Guide to Inbox Zero

Our Guide to Inbox Zero

The initial meaning behind “inbox zero” is because of the brainpower or mental capacity you use towards your e-mail is very minimal. It could mean you have zero e-mails in your inbox, but overall it means you spend less time in your inbox.

Inbox zero was first made popular by Merlin Mann in 2007 during a Google Tech Talk.

Quick Tips:

There is no exact science to this but these general rules should help you get well on your way to Inbox Zero.

  • Turn your e-mail notifications off
  • Create specific folders to quickly organize what is important, urgent or can be delegated
  • Set up time blocks every day for your focused e-mail time

Watch the Video

The video will cover:

  • Ending the “mass CC’ing” in your corporate e-mails.
  • Making sure your e-mail time is intentional.

How does an Executive Assistant (EA) help?

  • 2-3 15 minute checks per day
    • That can go up or down based on your volume
  • Calendar + e-mail management
    • Don’t let appointments and important messages fall through the cracks
  • All folders except urgent + regular
    • Helping you stay focused on the most important e-mails

Did the Webinar Help?

What are you looking to implement?
Do you have any further questions?

Comment below, we would love to hear from you.

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing

Book Recommendations on Inbox Zero:
Inbox Zero: How to Stop Checking Email and Start Finishing It by Ian Charnas
21 Days to Inbox Zero: Control E-Mail by Marshall Hughes
Daily Inbox Zero: 9 Proven Steps to Eliminate Email Overload by S.J. Scott
The Email Warrior: How to Clear Your Inbox and Keep it That Way by Ann Gomez

VEA Testimonial: Flexibility

VEA Testimonial: Flexibility

Jeff Bradshaw, President & CEO of V Strategies, has been working with us for a couple of years.

(VEA) provides us with the flexibility of scaling up or scaling down as needed.

Jeff Bradshaw

As Jeff mentioned, our hours are flexible. We have some of the lowest minimums in our industry at 20 hours per month, If you need us for 50 hours one month, but 20 the next, we scale as needed.

Instead of hiring or delegating full-time staff to various functions, our clients hire us to manage these workloads, such as:

  • E-mail/calendar management
  • Bookkeeping
  • Travel planning
  • Social media management
  • Expense tracking
  • Client follow-ups
  • A/R Follow-up

As well as many more tasks that we do for our clients on a day-to-day basis. If you are looking at strategies to better manage your payroll, you may want to consider talking to us first.

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing

Staying Productive While Working From Home

Staying Productive While Working From Home

Working from home is new for a lot of people, which means you are trying to figure it out quickly. I have been working from home for 4 years. In that time, we have had two kids (a now almost 4-year-old and a 3-month-old). I have been through the ringer, so here is advice from me, someone who has seen a lot.

Everything Starts the Night Before

Sunday night is crucial. It can set the tone for the whole week and allow you to go to bed with a clear plan Monday morning. I take a good 15-30 minutes to get prepared – here is what I do:

Sunday night:

  • Create my to-do lists, breaking down each task and goal to accomplish by the end of the week
  • Clear my notifications – E-mails, social media, and Slack notifications so I don’t have to clear a big backlog of junk, and unnecessary messages Monday morning
  • However, I do not respond to clients, staff or colleagues at this time. I don’t want anyone to expect that they can call or e-mail me on the weekend or after hours and get a response

Sunday-Thursday Night:

  • Prepare my clothes & toiletries for the next morning, including laying out my gym clothes to change into first thing
  • Place my books/journal for my morning routine on the table next to my chair
  • Prepare healthy snacks – Veggies, nuts, etc.

The Morning Routine

Starting well in the morning sets your pace for the whole day, I am sure many of us have seen the “Make your Bed” speech from William McRaven a US Navy Admiral.

I have created a morning routine that works for me in this season. If you count all of the morning routines I have created in the last 10 years alone, you would find at least 8-12. It constantly has to change. One season it’s working, another it gets stale. Here is my current morning routine under quarantine:

  • 6:00 – Read, meditate, pray
  • 6:30 – Read a business book
  • 7:00 – Clear notifications (e-mail, social media, Slack)
  • 7:15 – Make Breakfast with my oldest daughter
  • 7:30 – Eat breakfast and play with my kids
  • 8:15 – Get ready for my day, brush teeth, etc.
  • 8:30 – Start working

Due to my structured night-time routine, my mornings are seamless. I am working on being a morning person, but since it is still a battle, I want to make sure my only task is to shut off my alarm, get dressed and sit in a chair.

Three Ways to Stay Productive While Working

As mentioned above, every season looks different for what works and what doesn’t. When it comes to productivity, the first two months this year were tough. In the past week, I have hit my sweet spot of productivity thanks to these three recent finds.

The Mastery Journal

I follow John Lee Dumas (JLD) from Entrepreneurs on Fire. He created a “Mastery Journal” and this week I downloaded the fillable PDF. It has been a game-changer! He focuses on productive hours worked in short bursts. The goal of short bursts of time is to do it completely focused. No e-mail, no phone, no social media. You choose a task you want to accomplish and go 100% at it until your timer goes off. Here are two ways to keep on track.

Egg Timer

Use the ‘Egg Timer’ on-line. This keeps your phone away from you and even turned off if needed. Be careful with the volume on your computer when the egg timer goes off, it usually startles a few choice words out of me.

Stay Focused Extension

Download the ‘Stay Focused’ Chrome extension. I have added websites I waste time on to the extension like Facebook, LinkedIn, Gmail, & Twitter. I am allowed 10 minutes on those 4 apps during my workday. It keeps me from going down rabbit holes where you expect to be on Twitter for 10 minutes and an hour later you end up finally getting back to work! If you need LinkedIn for your time block, delete it from your list of “blocked sites” the day before.

Finish Well

Finishing well is just as important as starting well. I like to close off my day by again clearing notifications, creating a to-do list for the next day and decompressing. When I used to work full-time, I was a good 15-20 minutes away from home. In that time, I was able to settle my mind and come home without the burden of the workday on me.

Now my transition is down 12 stairs in a few seconds. This is the hardest part for me right now, switching from work mode to family mode. Here is what has worked:

  • Taking 10-15 minutes to myself
  • Closing off my computer
  • Listening to music on my phone
  • Pacing the hallway and setting my intentions for the night eg. play with my kids for 2 hours, cook dinner, ask my wife about her day
  • Playing a game on my phone or scrolling personal social media
  • To end this time, I leave my phone upstairs and head downstairs

None of those things are work-related and not having my phone on me (or even in sight) when I head downstairs helps me relax. The end of day decompressing is something I still need to work on so if you have any tips, please comment below.

Added Resources

Books:

Podcasts

What works for you in this season? What isn’t working? I would love to hear from you.

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing, VEA Pros