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How To Easily Expand Your Virtual Assistant Business – Pyramid Method

Michelle Dale - Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Every really good VA will one day reach their capacity – there are only so many hours in a day, and there is only so much you can do in these hours. Often, as your clients’ businesses expand, so will your hours, and with new clients coming in, this could potentially leave a lot of additional hours which you won’t be able to fulfill on your own. You will get to a point in your business where you will have to make a decision, to either:

Option A: Stop accepting new clients.
Option B: Outsource your overspill to another VA – perhaps for a commission share or referral fee.
Option C: Decide to expand in-house and take on assistance.

Several years ago, when the administration services which I was providing for my clients just got too much for me to handle alone, I went for Option C – and with this I went through a learning curve on the best way to expand my business and bring in new VA talent to Virtual Miss Friday.

I actually started out by hiring one VA, but it didn’t occur to me until later on that I had made a mistake, and it would cost me additional time more than anything else down the line. I go on later to highlight the problem with only hiring one VA*. What I should have done was to create a “Trio.”

I call it, “The Pyramid Method” – it’s a way to expand using Option C, and not leave yourself high and dry, or overworked. (By the way, to make this work — you need to be very selective with who you hire — they must be dedicated and competent, but the key ingredient is that they are reliable, and have a team spirit.)

So the first golden rule is that when you start expanding, don’t look to take on “1″ other VA – look for “2″. This will be the start of your Trio, you and 2 others.

Here’s how it works…

Stage 1 – You Train

Currently, it’s only you who knows everything about everything, and you need to pass your knowledge on to these 2 assistants that you have hired. You can do this in 2 ways:

1 – You can train one assistant, which will be easier for you if you have never done any kind of online training before. Once that assistant is trained, they can then train the other one. This is how I started, but there is another option.
2 – You can dual train. This is easier if the assistants have been working with you for a while, and have an idea of how you operate your business and the systems you use.

Either way can work well. But in both cases you need to develop a training system, and in fact this is something I wish I had started from ‘day one’ of my business, from the very  first client. If you have not yet expanded and are planning to, I would suggest you begin considering how you are going to set up a training system now, ready for when the time comes.

Stage 2 – You Delegate

As the business owner you can work on taking the clients in, and securing the work, and overseeing all the business. During the training process you should have started to now delegate the work out to a point where you can begin to move away from doing all of the billable time yourself (providing you don’t have any NDA’s with clients that suggest you must process the work yourself), allowing your 2 VA’s to take the load.

*Delegating needs to be as systematic as the process of doing the tasks.

VA 1 and VA 2 can work to a rota. At Virtual Miss Friday we started off splitting days, but splitting weeks worked out much better for us – think about what works best for you…

First of all split your clients into 2 groups, and let’s say you have decided to work to a weekly rota.

VA 1 – Takes Group 1
VA 2 – Takes Group 2

Each VA will work exclusively for that group during the week, and then rotate around the week after.

By using this method, both Virtual Assistants get to know all the work for all the clients because of the rotation which occurs. This means that when VA 1 is sick or on holiday, VA 2 can cover, and vice versa.

*If you don’t hire 2 VA’s and you only hire 1 instead, you could end up in a situation where you have an entire workload back on your shoulders if the VA you hired takes a break.

Stage 3 – You Repeat

When the clients get too much for these VA’s, start the process again, asking VA 1 and/or 2 to train VA 3 and/or VA 4. The VA’s will always work in pairs, with you remaining at the top of the pyramid. It’s very important that you ‘never take your eye off the ball’ in these early stages of expansion.

So the outcome of it could be that if you find you need some time off — after extensive training, and experience working with you, there is a good chance that VA 1 or 2 will be able to cover for you as well, and they can be at the top of another pyramid.

This method has worked quite well for me, not just in administration, but in other project-based services I offer also.

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Hi I'm Michelle, an entrepreneur specialising in virtual assistance, a digital and real world nomad, and a down-to-earth mother of three.

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