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The Checklist Manifesto Summary

Checklist Manifesto Summary Header

Checklists are for everyone

What do Johns Hopkins surgeons, anonymous big-time investors and World War II pilots have in common? This isn’t the set up for a terrible joke but a demonstration of how widespread an often-overlooked tool is – they all use checklists to avoid disaster.

For surgeons, disaster is a lethal infection caused by straying from proper precaution. For pilots, it’s crashing a plane that was deemed far too complicated to fly – the Boeing B-17. For investors, checklists avoid what is sometimes known as ‘cocaine brain’; the drive to make snap decisions on high-risk investments that often result in huge losses.

For more information on a similar process, see Warren Buffet’s Investment Checklist. It details the steps taken by the man known as the world’s greatest investor prior to parting with massive sums of money.

The Checklist Manifesto, written by writer/surgeon Atul Gawande, is proof that checklists really work (whether anyone wants to admit that or not). Check out the the Checklist Manifesto Review I wrote for more details.

In his words, if another solution that could be even a fraction as effective would be a new drug or piece of technology it would be backed by billions of dollars, sponsored by the state and be the only thing the worldwide medical journals talk about. A case he cites is the development of robots to perform tricky laparoscopic surgery. It was widely backed and implemented in many hospitals around the US to the great excitement of the medical community.

Positive results? Next to none.

Robotic Surgery

Checklists, however, are deceptively simple. The Checklist Manifesto is the tale of how Gawande took an idea first popularized by pilots into the operating theater and then out into the hospitals of the world, with the help of the World Health Organization. Not only does the book document his own research, but implementations of similar strategies, from hugely complex construction projects to Walmart’s innovative yet highly organized approach when dealing with Hurricane Katrina.

Providing a solution to human error

One of the main problems with checklists is that some feel they are above them, unable to make silly mistakes in routine procedures and not subject to human error. Gawande references a 1970s essay by Samuel Gorovitz and Alasdair MacIntyre that boils down all situations to find the only two reasons for human dilemma:

“The first is ignorance – we may err because science has given us only a partial understanding of the world and how it works. There are skyscrapers we do not yet know how to build, snowstorms we cannot predict, heart attacks we still haven’t learned how to stop. The second type of failure the philosophers call ineptitude – because in these instances the knowledge exists, yet we fail to apply it correctly. This is the skyscraper that is built wrong and collapses, the snowstorm whose signs the meteorologist just plain missed, the stab wound from a weapon the doctors forgot to ask about.”

In practical terms, ignorance can be corrected by answering the question “what do I do?” and ineptitude with “how do I do it?”. Checklists can solve both of these issues. They are great teaching tools that can be used to convey information simply, such as our Podcast Publishing Checklist, as well as highly practical, no-frills documents such as the B-17 checklist, one of the most famous of all time.

B17 Pilot's Checklist

An example that’s likely more useful to our world comes from one of the stand-out passages in the book where Gawande meets with three high-powered directors who meet to make venture capital investments in companies that have a slim chance to make a huge breakthrough. Since these investments are usually nothing short of gambling against terrible odds, this exclusive group of investors  implement one very simple tool – a checklist.

For them, this checklist is worth millions. That’s how much it has probably saved them by helping to avoid bad investments. This quote explains how Mohnish Pabrai, managing partner in Pabrai Investment Funds in Irvine, California, has taken the idea from medicine and aviation to use checklists in his work.

“Pabrai made a list of mistakes he’d seen—ones [Warren] Buffett and other investors had made as well as his own. It soon contained dozens of different mistakes, he said. Then, to help him guard against them, he devised a matching list of checks—about seventy in all.

One, for example, came from a Berkshire Hathaway mistake he’d studied involving the company’s purchase in early 2000 of Cort Furniture, a Virginia-based rental furniture business. Over the previous ten years, Cort’s business and profits had climbed impressively. Charles Munger, Buffett’s longtime investment partner, believed Cort was riding a fundamental shift in the American economy.

The business environment had become more and more volatile and companies therefore needed to grow and shrink more rapidly than ever before. As a result, they were increasingly apt to lease office space rather than buy it—and, Munger noticed, to lease the furniture, too. Cort was in a perfect position to benefit.

Everything else about the company was measuring up—it had solid financials, great management, and so on. So Munger bought. But buying was an error. He had missed the fact that the three previous years of earnings had been driven entirely by the dot-com boom of the late nineties. Cort was leasing furniture to hundreds of start-up companies that suddenly stopped paying their bills and evaporated when the boom collapsed.”

Are checklists for egomaniacs?

This cautionary tale shows what happens when a formal procedure isn’t in place when it really should be. The fact that the human brain is not so great can be proven by the amount of productivity tools, to-do lists, products like this, this and – when was the last time you forgot your baby in the car? – this.

These are tools for the simplest things! Brain surgery, alongside rocket science, has the anecdotal title as being among the most complex and difficult tasks in the history of the world.

What makes people think they don’t need tools for remembering the proper procedure? The thing is, people in these professions likely have genius-level IQs. This can result in what is known as intellectual arrogance, the features of which are:

  • They have a “my way or the highway” attitude since only their views are supposedly the right way to think.
  • They regard themselves as experts in a particular field or subject.
  • They refuse to see the big picture or another viewpoint, especially of those they consider “ignorant”.
  • They like explaining, theorizing and dictating; basically they like hearing the sound of their own voice.
  • Their mood can become very nasty if their ideas and views are contradicted.
  • They regard any question as an insult or a doubt on their intelligence.
  • They are not above creating proof and arguments to defend their theories vehemently.
  • They are very confident in their own knowledge and do not want to learn anything new.
  • Sometimes they can come across as very wannabe and attention-seeking.
  • They can get very smug and snobby, especially if they are actually right about something.
  • They pretend to be very broad-minded but actually are very narrow-minded as they feel they know everything and in the right way.

(Source)

Friedrich Nietzsche
A man who fits the above description nicely.

 

Does this sound like the sort of person who would be open to the idea of being told what to do by a checklist?

That was the main problem Gawande ran into with the first large-scale implementation of checklists into hospitals worldwide. He notes how that the egotistical nature of surgeons plus the fact that checklists had to be read out by a subordinate created a large amount of friction among colleagues. He intended the checklists to promote teamwork in the same way we created our app to promote and streamline collaboration.

One of the first stages of the process was a friendly introduction to help everyone get on and work as efficiently as possible, knowing each others names and duties; you’d be surprised at the amount of surgeries performed by teams who have never met prior to the operation and leave the theater none the wiser as to each other’s names or positions. It was basically through the process of long trials and repeated exposure that Gawande managed to create success for his checklists.

After a while, people started to see results that were undeniable – checklists worked!

“More than 250 staff members—surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and others—filled out an anonymous survey after three months of using the checklist. In the beginning, most had been skeptical. But by the end, 80 percent reported that the checklist was easy to use, did not take a long time to complete, and had improved the safety of care. And 78 percent actually observed the checklist to have prevented an error in the operating room. Nonetheless, some skepticism persisted.

After all, 20 percent did not find it easy to use, thought it took too long, and felt it had not improved the safety of care.Then we asked the staff one more question. “If you were having an operation,” we asked, “would you want the checklist to be used?”A full 93 percent said yes.”

The Checklist ‘Eureka!’ Moment

The penultimate chapter of the book ends on a powerful note, summing up the unlikely turn of events that led to widespread checklist usage in the aviation industry. Nothing sums up the point of the book more effectively:

“We are all plagued by failures—by missed subtleties, overlooked knowledge, and outright errors. For the most part, we have imagined that little can be done beyond working harder and harder to catch the problems and clean up after them. We are not in the habit of thinking the way the army pilots did as they looked upon their shiny new Model 299 bomber—a machine so complex no one was sure human beings could fly it.

They too could have decided just to “try harder” or to dismiss a crash as the failings of a “weak” pilot. Instead they chose to accept their fallibilities. They recognized the simplicity and power of using a checklist.”

If you enjoyed reading the Checklist Manifesto, take a look at our checklist software built on the book’s great ideas. If you haven’t read it yet, you can buy the book on Amazon here. If you have, let me know your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to hear your opinion!

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Business Process Management Marketing

6 Marketing Tasks You Can (and Should) Automate

The following is a guest post from Ben Mulholland, content creator at Process Street.

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Everybody — and I mean everybody — has tasks they could automate.

From basic tasks like saving email attachments to centralizing customer data, the possibilities for saving time are practically endless. Plus, as we all know, time is money.

Getting started with business process automation can be a daunting task, so I’m here to show off six tasks our marketing team automates (mostly using automation platform Zapier).

Use these to get started automating your efforts and giving yourself time to focus on the tasks that actually need your attention, like attracting clients and growing your list.

Organizing post ideas

Inspiration can strike at any time and from anything. You could be sat at your computer actively trying to think of blog post ideas, or one could take you by surprise as you browse a local shop. When that time comes you’d better be prepared to record and organize your idea properly, or risk losing it forever.

Our marketing team does this by creating a note in Evernote (which can be installed on any device) to hold the idea and then assigning a particular tag to it. However, rather than having to open up Evernote later and manually process these ideas, we use Zapier to automatically push notes into Trello and format them into actionable project cards.

In other words, when inspiration strikes we note it down in Evernote and that will automatically get pushed into Trello and organized appropriately.

Creating documents

While it may sound lazy or unnecessary, automatically creating a new document for the posts you write saves a huge amount of effort over time.

Rather than having to open up a writing app, create a new document, organize it, and post a link back to it in Trello, me and my team can just move the corresponding card into our “WIP” column. Zapier picks up on this, creates a document in Quip, sorts it into the correct file (according to who the Trello card is assigned to), and posts a link back into the card.

Again, it may not seem like much, but every little helps when you’re running a tight ship in a field where flow and minimum distraction levels rule supreme.

Triggering checklists

Whether it’s keyword research or guest posting, we have a documented process for everything we do more than once. That way we aren’t ever left wondering what to do next – we can look straight at our checklist, follow the next step, mark it as complete to track out progress, and then continue.

Unfortunately (much like creating documents), creating checklists manually adds up to a hefty chunk of time over any extended period. So, instead, we automatically trigger them with Zapier.

For example, blog pre-publish checklists can be triggered by moving a Trello card, and meeting checklists can be triggered at a set time (even without using Zapier). In fact, speaking of meeting checklists

Centralizing meeting notes

We’re a little mad on centralizing information – the idea that everyone should be able to access everything they might need to. Hence why we post notes takes from our meetings into our shared Slack channel.

Usually this would need manually pasting in, but instead we have Zapier detect when our meeting checklist is complete, then automatically ship the notes into Slack for us.

While it’s true that we technically have an accessible version of the notes with the checklist, having that second copy in a much more freely available space is a godsend. That way we can check exactly what we’ve each pledged to work on, what we need from each other, and our CEO doesn’t have to go digging around for the checklist to be able to see our progress at a glance.

In short, everyone wins.

Tracking activity

I’ve already mentioned how we use Trello to manage our marketing team, but it actually goes further than that. Each of our team members has their own personal Trello board, while we share boards for thing like “Blog articles” and “Knowledge Base Content”. That way we can manage our personal tasks separately from, say, blog articles and ideas we need to easily separate and track.

Now, the main problem with Trello is that is can be extremely difficult (and awkward) to get a concise summary of a person’s activity, or that of activity on a board in general. This can be easily solved, however, by once again using Zapier.

We’ve linked our Trello boards to various team members’ Slack channels, meaning that any activity in those boards is posted as part of a conversation in our messaging app.

So, rather than even having to open Trello, I can see everything that’s happened in the Blog board by just checking a Slack channel. Similarly, my boss can see all of the activity I’ve taken (along with a timestamp) on my personal board by checking a different channel.

This makes it incredibly easy to get an immediate summary of how our team has spent their day, thus increasing accountability and making everyone more aware of the need to report any work that they’ve done. It may sounds a little extreme, but it’s one of the best ways to keep on top of a remote team such as ours (especially if some members are new to remote work).

Creating invoices

The final basic task you should be automating to save time and money is that of creating invoices. Everyone likes getting paid, after all, so why not make the moment even sweeter by taking the boring work out of the equation?

The exact method for this will vary depending on what you use to create your invoices (eg, an accounting app or something simple such as Google Docs) and how you wish to record your information, but we decided to keep things simple.

By filling in an invoice checklist in Process Street we can quickly note down all of the important information the invoice needs, such as the date, payment amount, personal and client details, etc. Once complete, ticking off the final task will (using Zapier) automatically push that information into an invoice template and email the final product to both ourselves and the client.

These are just a few of the tasks you could be automating to make time for the work which actually requires your attention – to make the most of automation you need to get creative and test the limits of what you can do. After all, wouldn’t you rather automate as much shovel work as possible?

What tasks do you automate? Have you got any automation tips of your own? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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Business Process Management

7 Marketing Tasks You Should Really Outsource to a VA

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It’s no secret that time is money in any business. No matter whether you’re selling the hottest real estate around or making toothpicks for a living, you don’t have time to do everything yourself if you want to scale (or even run) your business effectively. You need to outsource some of your workload, but what should you offload?

Whilst the answer is really “anything which you personally do not have to do”, as long as your time could be better spent on something else, we have the top 7 tasks to outsource to a VA right here. These are the most common, time / resource consuming tasks which (frankly) we could happily see the end of.

If you want more time to focus on the things that matter for your marketing efforts, go ahead and outsource these tasks before anything else!

Gathering Emails

Nobody likes the arduous task of trawling through hundreds of contacts, manually adding their email address to each one. Equally, the task of finding new contacts and their email address can happily chew up hours upon hours of your work day; hours which could be much better spent personally building a connection to those new contacts, rather than just finding them.

Hence, whenever you have a task which requires the collection of email addresses, you should be outsourcing it to a VA. This is a prime example of everything an outsourced task should be; it’s time consuming, monotonous and doesn’t require any of your personal input or expertise to carry out.

Finding Contact Handles

This task has many parallels to gathering emails; finding other contact information such as Twitter handles or LinkedIn profiles can be just as time-consuming as gathering their email. Time which, once again, could be much better spent creating content to market, improving your website or, as with the emails, building a personal connection to said potential contacts. Essentially, instead of building the framework, you’re shaping your network.

Curating Social Media Content

If this is not already handled by your business process automation system, social media is something which you (by and large) don’t want to be dealing with. You want to have your social media accounts topped up with content that isn’t just an endless stream of self-promotion, but where exactly do you get content that resonates with your audience.

Depending on your tastes, you might try social bookmarking sites like reddit, Inbound.org, GrowthHackers, or putting together a small list on Twitter of accounts that tend to share top notch content. Making a marketing process for this should be easy if you know the kind of content you’d like to curate.

Visual Content

Whether you’re designing the cover for your brand new ebook or just need to get some header images to pair with your Twitter and Facebook posts, you could spend the time to do them yourself. After all, if you just have to do one or two images you might as well take the 5 minutes it takes to whip up a good image.

However, when you get to the stage where you need professional-looking infographics, 20 social media images a week and a new ebook every couple of months, it only makes sense to outsource the task to someone more qualified. Hey, just because the task is going to a VA doesn’t mean that it’s going to be worse quality! All you need to do is make some inquiries to learn who has experience with creating visual content, and then boom; you’re away.

Blog Commenting

Other than being a fantastic way to get your name and brand out there and seen on more popular sources, blog commenting is another monotonous task which can take up hours upon hours without ever being complete (as long as there are more blogs and new posts, blog comments can be made). So, rather than tackle it yourself, you can quite happily hand the task off to a VA without too much trouble.

The only problem which can be posed by outsourcing this task is that the comments should have some sort of review process. This could either be yourself (even if you review each comment, you’ll still save the time taken to write them) or a permanent member of your marketing team, but there should be at least a little quality assurance before a VA is allowed to say anything under your name.

Transcriptions

Although this mainly applies to those of you who produce a podcast or video content, transcriptions are easy to do and provide you with extra content with relatively little effort. If you outsource the task you’re not even wasting any time on it – you’re essentially getting several mediums of content for the effort put into just the one.

Content Creation (Be Careful Though)

This may be a bit of a controversial one, but content creation doesn’t always have to be handled by an internal member of your team. You can outsource your content creation to a VA with little problem and, although you’d better have a thorough employee onboarding process to help them along, it should take little time for them to produce similar quality content to yours in the same (or even a shorter) time period.

As with the blog commenting, this should always be monitored and go through at least one of your team members before being pushed live; although many VAs are very talented and can most certainly deliver on what they promise, there’s always a chance that an error has snuck by them or that they haven’t got your tone right.

And there you have it! With a little caution and training, VAs can be a massive boon to your marketing efforts if you let them take these time-consuming tasks off your hands. However, why not take it one step further? Get creative with analyzing your day-to-day tasks and you may find that you can outsource more than you thought to great effect!

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Business Process Management

How to Build Efficient Processes for Your Remote Team

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Working remotely is a skill. People often don’t realize this.

Working remotely is something you learn to do and you get better at with time.

As a manager, you have to recognize this as much as anyone on your team. You have to recognize this because you have to take responsibility for your team members’ ability to deliver.

That’s why I’m writing this article to give you an insight into some of the processes we use to keep our team’s productivity high while working remotely, and to give you some idea of how we constructed these processes.

We’ll look at:

How to build a process without bringing in consultants

The first step to running any remote organization well is to create processes.

The thing is, you probably already have a stack of processes you use day to day whether your team realizes it or not.

As such, the first thing we need to do is identify one activity central to your team’s activities so that we can begin to look at the method of improving the team’s performance.

To make this easy, we’ll take an example process that I would use within my team as a writer – the content creation process.

This process already exists. Let’s say it happens in the following way:

  1. An article is assigned
  2. Keyword research is undertaken
  3. I do research for the article
  4. I write the article
  5. The article is formatted
  6. The article is approved and published

Super simple, no?

What we have above is the most basic iteration of a documented process. Once we have this, we can start analyzing its constituent parts; adding detail or assigning roles where necessary.

How is the article assigned? Does an editor send an email? Does the writer propose the article and have the idea accepted or rejected?

These are the little questions that need to be asked of that basic documented process.

Eventually, we’ll start to see that there are multiple smaller processes within this workflow. The process of researching for keywords could be considered a standalone process. The process of formatting an article could be too. You can see two basic version of these processes here:

You don’t need to go into this level of detail at the beginning. Start by doing what you normally do and document each step of it. Every action you take, note it down.

This will give you a clear linear flow of how your team operates on a daily basis.

From here, you can present this process to your team and collaboratively improve it. Some team members might have tools they use to improve steps: e.g. Use an extension like Grammarly to be continually checking spelling and grammar, saving time in the proofreading.

Your team are the ones who will be using this process regularly so they need to be the ones most comfortable with it.

When your process is fully documented, make sure your team use it each time they undertake that activity. Over time, this will highlight any obvious mistakes in the process and naturally result in proposed improvements.

In the meantime, we want to find ways to improve these remote processes. Which brings us to the tools which help remote teams thrive….

Tools you can use to improve remote working

I’ll give you our 4 key tools to help a remote team get more done. I’m of the school where I believe less is more. Every interruption during a task is a potential moment for lost productivity. As such, if you keep your team working from the smallest number of platforms, you’ll see less moments of distraction.

My 4 recommended tools:

  1. Slack
  2. Process Street
  3. Airtable
  4. Trello

Slack keeps your team connected

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I hate email.

I blame it on having done sales in the past. A few quick reasons:

Email just isn’t fun to use. It feels formal and stale. Even the best organized inbox will distract you with unimportant mail. It’s terrible for multiple people to communicate through together. I don’t like using it on mobile.

All of those problems, conveniently, are items where Slack does well.

Provided you learn to use asynchronous communication techniques, a remote team using Slack can be really well connected. Slack’s instant message approach with both individual messaging and team channels creates a really well streamlined way of keeping up to date with each other, and other teams.

We have a rule where all communication must exist in public channels. This fosters a stronger sense of company culture, and means that you learn from reading other people’s conversations. The knowledge spillover which results from public channels is a resource and you should be using it.

Keeping communication strong across your team will make sure productivity doesn’t take a hit. No one likes mass emails, but a post in a public channel feels less intrusive.

Process Street lets you track your processes

Process Street lets you build your processes in template form and then run each process as a checklist whenever it needs to be done.

As a manager, you can see these checklists and monitor the progress. It also means that when the template for the process is updated as part of your never ending attempts at optimization, all employees will now be working from the updated process.

This simply allows you standardize company activities and iteratively improve them.

What’s not to like?

When you’re part of a remote team you need to make sure everyone is doing each task properly. The best way to do so is to Stick To The Process.

Airtable is your database in the cloud

We’ve moved a huge amount of our activity to Airtable over the last year.

Airtable is primarily a cloud based database set up which allows you to view your data in a spreadsheet form. Much faster than Google Sheets much more comprehensive, Airtable lets non-techies manage data like they’d just done a course in MySQL.

It’s a great place to store information and we first started using it to archive and track all of our output – articles and the like.

However, in 2017, Airtable released a new feature which allowed line entries to be viewed as cards on a Kanban board. This along with an improving calendar feature encouraged us to switch over for our task management.

The result being that all information entered into our task manager was now archived forever in our database. Very smooth and very manageable.

Trello manages your tasks so you don’t have to

Full disclosure: it is Trello which we’ve been moving away from.

For us, the amount of data we had on our Trello boards made it slow and difficult to find things from the past.

However, for less data-intense teams, Trello is a great option because it is intuitive and the Kanban system is a very effective means of organizing.

When you’re working remotely, it is beneficial to be able to hop onto someone else’s Trello board, find the task they’re working on, and check their progress. Particularly if your work is reliant on some of their work.

You don’t need to reach out to that person, you can simply enter their virtual office and see if they’ve uploaded that file you need yet.

It saves you interrupting them and it saves you waiting for their response.

How to optimize these processes over time

Once your team are working from standardized documented processes, your job as the manager is to improve those processes.

Utilizing tools like the ones mentioned above can improve your processes through speeding up communication or making helpful resources easier to locate.

But optimizing a process requires you to pick it apart and look at different sections:

  1. How well is the desired output being achieved?
  2. How often does the process break down, and why?
  3. How much of the process can be automated?

There are whole libraries of books to help you improve your processes. You could use techniques related to the Deming cycle, like PDSA or PDCA to improve the quality of the output.

Or, you could employ Six Sigma techniques to reduce the defects in the process, like DMAIC.

But point three is even easier.

Tools like Zapier, IFTTT, and Flow can be used to cut out some of the more time consuming menial tasks like data entry. They can also be used to set up notifications to other team members automatically when another activity is created.

These third-party automation tools – of which Zapier is my personal favorite – can shave time of your processes and allow your team members to focus on the work they do best.

Build effective processes designed for your remote team

According to the McKinsey report Four Fundamentals of Workplace Automation, the typical marketing executive could save 15% of their working hours by automating simple tasks.

Automation is here and it can help you.

But automation will be of little use if you’re not working from set processes. Because if you’re not working from set processes, how will you know what to automate to attain best results – not just for yourself but for the whole team?

With a mix of process management philosophies, cloud based modern SaaS products, and one eye on the future, you could drastically improve the performance of your remote team.

Not with a whip. But by building processes which help them focus on what they do best.

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Business Process Management

How to Hire a Virtual Assistant for Startup Success

In recent years, the idea of small business owners using a virtual assistant to outsource daily business tasks has gained popularity. But many people don’t know how to hire or benefit from one. As someone who has successfully hired a personal assistant for my business as well as several virtual employees, here’s an overview of the issues involved in setting up and managing such relationships:

Related: 10 Things to Outsource to a Virtual Assistant

1. Determine if a virtual assistant will suit your business needs. First, figure out which tasks you would like to assign to an assistant and if it’s cost-effective.

Do an analysis of your business activities over the course of a day if not an entire week, writing down the minor tasks that are taking up time. Don’t rule out anything as a task a virtual assistant could not do.

While a United States-based virtual assistant can earn a salary that can start at about $15 an hour (and those with a specialty might command higher rates). Solid administrative-task virtual assistants from abroad, though, can be secured for as little as $3 to $6 an hour.

Related: 6 Creative Ways to Use Overseas Virtual Assistants

2. Understand the pros and cons of hiring a freelancer from an agency. It might be costlier pound for pound to hire a virtual assistant who’s working for an agency, due to overhead costs, says Rich Pearson, senior vice president of categories and geographies at Elance-oDesk. (His company provides an online marketplace for hiring freelancers through the Elance.com and oDesk.com websites.) But an agency might arrange for an entrepreneur to use multiple assistants to smooth over gaps in availability or in skill sets. 

Listings of available freelancers on the Elance and oDesk platforms include those who are paid by agencies and those who work independently. The entrepreneur can also post a job listing.  

Pearson says using a freelancer who’s not on contract with an agency can result in more personalized attention, given that it’s just that one person on the gig. An agency might rotate in multiple virtual assistants for one assignment or pull one away at a whim. The most dedicated personal assistants almost always are independent freelancers with whom the entrepreneur builds a relationship with (as opposed to those freelancers hired through an agency), Pearson says.

When deciding between choosing a virtual assistant who’s located in the United States versus someone abroad, Pearson says, consider how important is it for the person to be awake while you work and how aware of American culture you need the person to be. 

Related: 4 Ways to Manage Remote Employees

3. Do prep work to create a great job listing. When writing your well-edited, detailed job listing, always put in a call to action that merits a response to see if the applicant has read the description. For example, ask the applicant to provide examples of his or her work.

There will be indications when a candidate seems motivated. I found it particularly telling one Saturday to receive a phone call from Nairobi from Joan, who’s now my personal assistant, asking if she could be interviewed right away (even though I had not yet had a chance to look over all the messages from those who responded to my ad).

Related: How a Manager Can Promote the ‘Future of Work’

4. Hiring the assistant. Go through the bids that come in and create a list of the applicants whose responses you like, read their reviews and then line up interviews. A platform like oDesk’s can show an entrepreneur how a candidate scored on an English proficiency exam and how many jobs he or she has previously done. I like oDesk for its ability to generate a contract, monitor work and set up a payment system.

A video conference interview with an applicant is a must and will serve a few purposes: It can reveal the person’s grasp of English and the setting that he or she will likely be working from — and if it’s an orderly place from which to make a phone call on your behalf and the applicant’s overall demeanor (enthusiasm and ability to think on his or her feet).

Related: Siri’s Founders Are Building Viv — the Personal Assistant Siri Should Have Been

5. Managing the assistant. While the hiring of a virtual personal assistant can free up your day, the burden is on you to allocate tasks smartly and effectively so that happens. Generally speaking, the more specific you are in explaining tasks, the better. Ideally, as a result of good management, a virtual assistant will in time learn your work style and you will be able to give that person more responsibility and encourage more initiative taking.

Don’t hesitate to share with the assistant Google Drive documents outlining the who, what, where and when of daily tasks, including relevant rules, permissions and passwords.

A Google search for “virtual assistant tools” reveals an abundance of gadgets that can be used by entrepreneurs who are open to managing assistants on their own.

Online social-media entrepreneur Audrey Melnik of ZootRock in San Francisco explained to me how she hires and manages her virtual assistant. “We use two tools,” she writes in an email. “The first is called Process Street that allows you to set up a repeatable process,” for the virtual assistant to run through each time. The person checks off the steps and add comments where appropriate. “The second is a screen shot tool that takes images of the [assistants’] screen regularly and tracks their productive time so you can be clear on what they are working on when and capture evidence of them working the hours they are charging you for.” 

Encourage your assistant to offer you feedback, lending more warmth to the remote-work arrangement. Assistants might not provide feedback unless you ask, yet their ideas are often spot-on given their proximity to the work.

It will be up to you to decide whether to trust your assistant with information like passwords and other sensitive materials. Start out with small things, such as granting access to social-media accounts. You may want to consider having an assistant sign a nondisclosure agreement.  

“Big things like the virtual assistant’s booking your vacation can come later,” Pearson says. “Training starts with trust, and that means small things at first.”

When possible meet your virtual assistant at least once in person and try to have a video conference at least quarterly. Ultimately, a virtual assistant is not just another cog in your business machine, but an employee and certainly a human. So remember to treat this person as such.

Related: 3 Qualities Every Remote Manager Needs (Infographic)

Editor’s Note: This piece has been updated to clarify that a virtual assistant in the United States can earn a salary that starts at $15 an hour. 

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Business Process Management

Going Viral: eight Straightforward Approaches to Get Maximum Traffic for your Weblog Post

Going Viral: 8 Effortless Ways to Get Maximum Site visitors for your Weblog Post

This comprehensive write-up will tell you the best way to go viral in just eight simple stages. The complete nature of this amazing weblog post will guide you by way of every step you may need to maximize your possibilities of going viral, having targeted traffic and, what all of us want, creating dollars.

When going viral depends a whole lot on luck, with study, relationship-building and great planning it is going to all be a lot a lot easier for you personally. Do you realize exactly exactly where you'll want to publish your content material? If not, take a look at the guide I linked earlier to fill in the gaps. Good luck with obtaining additional visitors.

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Business Process Management

How to: The Ultimate Content Promotion Checklist

You have got your killer article prepared to go. Perhaps you’ve produced a behemoth of a skyscraper post, or maybe you have taken advantage of a gap within the current market; either way, it’s all set to go. Now all you’ll need is the ultimate content promotion checklist to move it around and let the post catch fire.

By performing this content promotion checklist, you can go through the easiest and most beneficial methods in which you can give your content the best possible chance of becoming noticed; from detailed syndication guidelines to reverse engineering your opposition.

Start reading on to take away the ultimate content promotion checklist, for nothing more than a single click.

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Business Process Management

5 Lesser Known Productivity Products for your Legal Practice, at Home or on the Road

Put technology to work for you with these 5 unknown productivity tools created to save you time. Also integrated is actually a terrific time-saving tip for emailling so you in no way commit far too long on one point, and constantly meet your deadlines.

When you’re functioning in a high-pressure carreer like law, you need to make certain your tools are effectively designed and trustworthy. This list consists of a gadget for smartphones that brings a complete physical qwerty keyboard into the court and meeting rooms for swift note taking.

You ought to also verify their strategies for workflow management, which includes a superb app for keeping you and your team on track.

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Business Process Management

Forty-four Social Media Apps Used only by the Top Influencers

44 Social Media Tools Used only by the Experts

If you're seeking for the most complete list in the ideal social media tools, you are in the correct location. Learn the tools used only by the authorities inside the know so it is possible to drastically improve your social media promoting efforts. This will likely drive site visitors, enhance conversions and brand engagement.

Get sensible with this list of tools, as well as your organization will thank you. The days of relying on oneself are more than, for the reason that now you are able to rely on flawless technologies like these social media productivity apps created and made use of by only essentially the most qualified specialists.

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Business Process Management

Conserve Your Time by Building Systems Into Your Business

Irrespective of whether you’re the head of a software conglomerate or manufacture plastic wishbones for your living, you should continually be building systems into your business. Documenting these techniques not only gives the entire workforce precise guidelines on how to consistently and effectively execute their typical jobs, but the current faults in the systems become very clear.

Using the very same theory that UPS has seen tremendous success with (conserving tens of millions of litres of fuel), this post will take you through every detail you need to both record your business’ processes and put them in a format which highlights their faults. The advantages don’t end there, however! Getting your processes documented and solidly built will pay dividends when hiring new staff, lowering the amount of training needed, as exact instructions to guide them through all of your SOPs are prepared and waiting.

So what are you waiting for? Go on to obtain the greatest success in building systems into your business!