Every time I talk, write or tweet, I always repeat one thing – your online ecommerce business needs a virtual assistant.
In fact you should hire a virtual assistant even before you think about hiring one!
If you want to create a true, systemized online business, it is important that you need to train your employees, especially your virtual assistant in systemization. Basically, you need to instill systemization into their mind set.
That’s what I want to focus on in this post. So let’s get into it.
Add “Systemization approach” in your core values.
Here’s the thing,
Every company needs to have its core values.
What are core values? They basic beliefs of your company. They guide you and your employees in their overall behavior and conduct.
And that’s not all. Core values help everyone in the company to know what’s wrong and what’s right. Having them help you and your employees gain a sense of what the company is about.
If you want to dig into core values further, you should look into this wonderful book that I read by Simon Sinek called “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action”. This book discusses how leaders like Steve Jobs inspired others.
The book discusses in detail why you need to have core values in your company and why they matter.
So when it comes to core values, make sure you add systemization approach in them. How would this help?
Basically from day one, your employees will know what your business is about, realize how important systemization is and that it is something that shouldn’t be comprised.
Here’s a snippet from my company’s core values:
Whenever someone joins my team, I tell them to read my core values, so that from their first day of onboarding they realize that systemization is key to our success.
But that’s not all, included in my core values are the reasons why we prefer systemization. The core values also list the benefits of having a systemized and organized business.
For instance, did you know that foremost benefits that all my employees enjoy with systemization is that they don’t have to worry when something wrong happens? Why? Because since everything we do in my company is through a systemized approach, we review the processes that led to the mishap or mistake. So the first step is to check the system.
What happens next? Basically it creates a sense of freedom among my team, since they know that if something is not working out, it’s not them, and it’s the system. And that’s where everyone looks into first.
Now let’s move on to something more important – why you need to use systemization yourself as the boss.
Lead by Example:
Here’s the thing –
As a boss, you must know by now that your employees look up to you. Not only that, they are also closely watching you, every move that you take is being noticed by them.
This isn’t because they don’t have faith in you or that they don’t trust you – it’s simply because they want to see that what you tell them is something you believe in yourself.
They want validation that you are actually doing what you preach – you walk the talk!
Same is the case with systemization. You need to believe and use it every day. And your team must know this.
Here’s what I recommend:
Live in Asana!
Yup – in almost every post on my blog will talk about Asana one way or another.
If you don’t know about it, Asana is a task management system where you can list everyone’s tasks, communicate with them and keep track of all the activities going on in your company.
Asana is central to my goal of systemization in my online Amazon business. There are other alternatives that you can look into, Zoho or Slack but the thing that I want you to focus on is that you need to live in your task management system.
Want to see how my VA is involved in operations? Download my free example Reordering Process. CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
How do you do this?
React to the updates – if someone closes a task, write a response, when someone tags you on something, immediately see what it’s about and respond to it. Also here’s a tidbit – make sure you act on those that are not really using it properly.
Every now and then, someone will forget to update their tasks, some will simply be lazy to do it.
Catch them in the act. Politely remind them that it’s not about them missing on their activities but in fact about the whole company acting as a single organism. This will definitely keep everyone engaged on the system.
Leave comments like “Good Job”, “Got It”, or even an occasional “sounds good” can show that you are as committed to the systemization as your employees.
Email – psst. That’s not how you do it
Emails are not your primary tool of communication any more with your team. Sure, use them to contact those that are outside your team, your suppliers, freelancers and other stakeholders that are working with you.
But when it comes to your employees, you should use Asana or your preferred task management system. If there is anything you want to discuss, discuss it on Asana. It makes things so easy.
You can easily respond to them and the interface creates a lovely thread for you that makes it very simple to track conversations compared to the long list of emails between two people.
Stick to the system yourself:
Like I said before – you have to lead from the front. If you are not using Asana yourself, then you can’t expect your employees to do the same.
You need to use it just like your employees are using it – create tasks for yourself. Whether it’s about meetings that you need to take during the week or to remind yourself to assign content to your content writer, do everything on Asana.
This will encourage not only you but your employees and nobody will have an excuse to not use the task management system in your company.
Something extra for you:
Here’s something that I want you to do, read this amazing ebook that I came across The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Micheal Gerber.
The book talks about almost all the silly myths people associate with starting a business. But that’s not all since the book also goes deep into the challenges faced by entrepreneurs from day one. But what I love best is how he details the lessons of franchising that can be applied to any business, whether it’s in franchising or not. There are a lot of stuff here that you can learn when it comes to systemization and I highly recommend it.
You can get your copy here: https://www.amazon.com/Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-About/dp/0887307280
Another book that I want you to read or recommend your Virtual assistant to read is
Making regular calls:
Every week, I talk to my virtual assistant – twice! This happens every week, at the same and day and since it’s marked by my calendar, nothing else takes precedence.
Since I cannot get any other bookings and this specific time and hour is dedicated, it helps me in keeping up with the promise to meet my VA and let them know that I have them in my mind. It generates a wholesome feeling in the team.
Another thing that you can do: use Asana while having a call with your VA!
During the call, there are various things that you want to discuss and then you want your VA to act on them. This might be the agenda for next week, what to say to the suppliers or anything else related to your business.
So whatever it is, all you have to do is ask your VA to make the tasks on Asana. And if something is due on your end, you make a task as well.
Also during these calls we review anything that went wrong. What do I mean? Well basically my company is a clock with every process being a gear in the system. But sometimes there are processes that require improvement. So during the call my virtual assistant and I discuss these processes and recommend changes that are again recorded on Asana.
Guess what? Next morning when I check my Asana for things to do, all the things that we discussed that need to be done are waiting for me and I get right into them.
Chances are that the people you hire may not have used Asana or any other task management platform. Here’s another thing, they might not even have worked in an organization, meaning they wouldn’t know what systemization is all about.
This where you will have to train them. It’s not as hard as you might think. Here’s what you should do?
Find online training videos from platforms like Udemy.com or Coursera but I would recommend that you should rely on yourself.
Here’s what I do – I record videos myself, explaining my new team members or newly hired VA how to use Asana, Wiki and other stuff that they will be needing to survive in an intensely systemized company.
This makes my life easy in two ways,
1) I can easily use the tools myself and while using a screen capture and recording equipment, create amazing tutorials for my new VA.
2) Since I have already recorded a tutorial, I can always use it again for new hires anytime I want. Basically I create a reusable tutorial for my processes!
Rewarding those that look after the system:
Did you know that appreciation is one of the core human needs?
Employees respond very well when you appreciate them, especially when you recognize their good work as it validates that their contribution is valued.
Whenever your VA updates the Wiki, responds to the manufacturers or others using your systemized process or if they regularly update Asana, reward them. A bonus now and then, showing appreciation that they did a great job and you appreciate it goes a long way.
Here’s a small thing that I do to ensure I know when my VA is doing a great job. On our wiki, I have enabled what is known as “Recent Updates”. What does this do? It shows all the recent additions made in the Wiki. So this shows me all the updates my VA did. And when she makes an exceptional one, I usually believe she is up for a bonus.
I also keep an eye and ear out for all the new things she adds into my process. Whether it’s about making a process better or telling me how things can be done with less money and more productively, I appreciate the suggestion and reward her.
It important since it encourages her to do the same again in the future. You need to create an environment where your virtual assistant not only adheres to the systemization but also works to improve it.
I did everything – but my VA still isn’t using systemization?
This is something that I have experienced myself and the answer is pretty simple – if your virtual assistant isn’t working with systemized processes and not being consistent, unfortunately you will have to let them go.
When you aim to create a systemized online business, it’s important that everything in it is working using the systemization approach, updating and improving it. And your VA is the heart of your company and if they are not adhering to it, then they cannot be part of your company.
This blog post was really important as I have been part of many discussions where people have asked me how to make sure that the systemization that they trust in, can be taught to their new hires, especially their new virtual assistant.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me.
Want to see how my VA is involved in operations? Download my free example Reordering Process.