Depositphotos_25755561_xsThis is Day 30 in the 31 Days to Become a More Efficient Virtual Assistant Series

Previous post: Six Reasons to Consider Subcontracting for Another Virtual Assistant

Earlier this week I published a post outlining some ways we can maximize our capacity for billable hours and in that post I suggest starting to build a team. I also promised to share some tools and ideas on how to go about building the foundation of what can become your all-star VA team.

Six Tools and Tips to Build a Strong Foundation for Your Team

1. Start creating checklists. Not only are checklists useful for yourself, they will become crucial once you have teammates in place to handle specific tasks.

2. Create (and maintain) a company Wiki. Creating standard operating procedures, checklists, training videos, how-to screenshots, etc. in an organized manner is a must. While Google Docs has so many benefits, they are not the most effective to maintain a growing infrastructure for information. I learned about Confluence from a client and have since started implementing it in my business.

The main reason Confluence is so much better than Google Docs is its ability to manage and navigate large amounts of different types of information. Confluence allows the creation of parent, child and sub-child pages. You can also add a Table of Contents to desired pages which will automatically update when new child/sub-child pages are added. The only thing I haven’t found is a way to have a spreadsheet that performs calculations (this is the one thing I am still keeping in Google Docs… I include the link to the spreadsheet on the applicable page in Confluence.)

3. Video instructions. Implementing video instructions has been one of the smartest things I’ve done and it’s saved me so much time with both my own team members and with team members I manage for clients.

Written instructions have several downfalls. They can be time consuming to create, it’s easy to forget steps, most people benefit from a true visual, and once written you have to hope the person using them understands them enough to produce the desired outcome.

Video instructions are incredibly easy to create with Screenr though if you’ll be showing sensitive / private information you’ll want to spring for the paid plan. I’ve created a spreadsheet in Google Docs and have one team member who is responsible for adding new videos to the “master list” as I create them. I also have a JotForm for team members to easily suggest a new video they’d like created (read more about JotForm).

4. Quit Relying Solely on Email. Early in this series I wrote about Asana and why I love it for Project Management. Tammy commented on my checklist post about IQTell and how she loves the Evernote integration. Whatever tool you use, use it! You’ll find managing a team is a lot easier when you have a central tasking hub vs. relying on tasking in regular email.

If you prefer tasking through email consider making team members responsible to put the tasks assigned to them into Asana and adding you as a follower.

5. Automate. This has been a recurring theme in many of the posts throughout this series. One tool I’ve recently been experimenting with for automation is one I learned about from Coach Charlie. It’s called Zapier and it’s simply amazing how many different “zaps” can be set up between numerous services for automation. You have to do the intial zap set up but once you’ve set them up you’ll see just how great the additional automation is.

Here are some “zaps” I’ve been experimenting with:

  • I rave about how incredible Freshbooks is but one pain point I’ve been experiencing is that I have to manually enter invoices into Quickbooks. I now have a zap set up to automatically add invoices into Quickbooks Online after I’ve created and sent them to clients through Freshbooks.
  • After a new customer is added into Freshbooks there is a zap in place to add that customer into Quickbooks.
  • Once the customer is added into Quickbooks another zap adds their information into my Google Contacts.
  • My new blog posts are automatically added and scheduled into my Buffer account.
  • The JotForm zap I mention above—where team members can request a training video—has a zap assigned to it which automatically puts the request into Asana as a task assigned to me.
  • I have a client who uses JotForm for new annual paid memberships/subscriptions and there is now a zap in place which will add all of that person’s information into Constant Contact.

6. Dot your I’s and cross your T’s. It recently came to my attention that I’ve been incredibly lax on having a subcontractor agreement in place. It may not seem important but if the state authorities decide to audit it’s going to be a lot easier to prove your people are subcontractors vs. employees if you have all of the necessary paperwork in place.

Additionally it’s a lot easier to clearly document expectations for both parties by having a contract in place.

I worked with a few different people to help develop this Subcontractor Agreement and Non-Disclosure Agreement and it’s now available for sale over on Virtual Assistant Forums. It’s not intended to replace legal advice so you may want to have an attorney in your state review it. NOTE: This is an agreement specifically for virtual assistants who subcontract work to other virtual assistants.

Implementing the tips above will hopefully make your team building process a lot less painful than mine has been.

For those of you who work with a team: what other tips and tools do you recommend?