Updated: May 1
So, you’ve made the decision to outsource some of your admin tasks, leaving you free to focus on growing your business - great! But how do you make sure that you get the most from your Virtual Assistant?
If this is the first time you’ve ever outsourced any work, you may need a little guidance to ensure you are getting your money’s worth and that the VA relationship works for both you and your assistant.
1. HIRE THE RIGHT PERSON
This one is a bit of a no-brainer but I am continually shocked by the number of people I see online who have had terrible experiences with their Virtual Assistants - people getting ghosted by their VA, VAs making basic mistakes, and VAs not actually being able to do what they said they could.
I’m not blaming the person who hired them for the VA’s incompetencies BUT you can reduce the risk of this kind of thing happening by making sure that you’re hiring the right person.
Here are a few things to consider:
Make sure that you know exactly what tasks you want to outsource before you start the hiring process. You can’t possibly know if someone is capable of doing a task if you don’t know what the task is!
Do they have experience of the tasks/systems/tools that you want them to do/use? Do they have evidence of this?
Do you know someone who has worked with them? Are you able to see testimonials etc.?
Cheapest isn’t always best! Whilst it might be tempting to go with the cheapest VA you can find, in order to save money (especially if your business is fairly new), this might not always be the best decision for your business. Make sure you’re hiring someone with adequate skill and experience.
Interview any potential VAs before hiring them. This will give you more of an idea of their personality, their strengths and weaknesses, and their capacity (if they can’t fit you in for a call for 3-4 weeks, they might struggle to fit your work in!)
If you aren't sure how hiring a VA works I have created a PDF guide on Hiring your First VA
2. START THINGS OFF THE RIGHT WAY
There will be some prep work you’ll want to do before you jump in and start working with your VA (you VA will be doing their own prep work too, trust me!)
You need to make sure you know the answers to the following questions before starting work with your VA (although feel free to discuss them with your new VA during the hiring process - we’re always more than happy to chat to you about these things to make sure we’re working together in a way that suits everyone):
What tasks do you want your VA to do (e.g. Content writing, designing, admin, research, emails, etc.)?
How many hours per week/month do you need from them?
How are you going to share documents and tools with them?
How are you going to share passwords with them?
How are you going to assign tasks to them?
How will they track their time?
How will you communicate on a regular basis?
If you jump in too quickly, you risk not having things set up in time. Ideally, once the contract is signed, you want to start working with your VA immediately. Whilst me might be super excited to start working with you, if these things aren’t in place, there’s not a lot we can do!
3. COMMUNICATION IS KEY
This seems obvious, but it really can’t be stressed enough!
Communication is the most important part of a VA relationship and will really help us to get our tasks done.
How you communicate with your VA is a decision for you to make with your VA - there’s no point in deciding to communicate via Slack if one of you never checks it.
There are so many options to choose from, from Slack and Voxer, to WhatsApp, email, and even a good old-fashioned phone call! Whatever you choose, you both need to agree so that you know how to get hold of each other quickly if needed.
In addition to regular communications, it’s important to have a clear process for assigning tasks if you want to make the most of your Virtual Assistant. You need to assign tasks in a way that is clear, contains relevant materials that your VA may need, and is somewhere that your VA will see. Having things written down will help to ensure that mistakes aren’t made, tasks aren’t missed, and that everyone is on the same page.
The clearer you can be with what you want, the better. If you have examples or templates, make sure to share them with your VA. This can be a really great way of making sure your VA doesn’t spend ages on a simple task, only for you to have to redo it, or ask them to make 1000 changes, because they’ve misunderstood. It’s better to over-explain than be too vague and end up with wasted hours!
4. BE TRANSPARENT
The more open and honest you can be with your VA, the better they can work with you. Think of them as a teammate, with a shared goal of success for your business. Plus, you know, we’re people too!
Share with them your hopes and aims, let them be excited about being a part of your business, and helping it grow. For example, if they are monitoring your analytics and tracking your stats, tell them what you’re aiming for. That way they can take some ownership of helping you achieve those goals. It also makes the work you assign to them have more weight and meaning. Remember, they are business owners too, so your business goals will resonate with them.
5. WORK WITH SYSTEMS
You don’t want to be micromanaging your VA constantly, and if you’re both working in different timezones, you will need systems in place.
Make it easy for your VA to find exactly what work you want from them, and all of the information needed, in one place. I'm a big fan of Google Drive folders. Create a new one and pop all the information into there, organise it by folders so we can both see what you've got.
6. DON’T BE AFRAID TO DELEGATE - IT’S THE WHOLE POINT!
A lot of us are kinda control freaks - and that’s okay! But when it comes to having a Virtual Assistant, you have to learn to let go of some things and let them take over, otherwise, what’s the point?
There are so many little jobs that are taking up your time, but not utilising your skills and talents, and this is why your business isn’t able to grow. As long as you choose the right VA for you, and explain things well, there’s no reason that they shouldn’t be able to take over some of these tasks and allow you to work on growing your business (or even having a little bit of you-time!)
It can be hard to delegate and release that control so start off small. Let go of the things that you hate doing the most, first. It's easy to hand off tasks that you really don't enjoy and you'll be pleasantly surprised by how much of a relief it is to not have to do those tasks! Once you've experienced that sense of relief and freedom, you'll be delegating things left, right and centre.
As you gain more time and freedom to focus on the things you love, you'll be more willing to let go of the things you don't love (but you know, are still essential for you to run a business) And, as you get to know your VA better, and you start to trust them more and more, there will be less hesitation in letting them take over things.
7. REMEMBER THAT YOUR VA IS A BUSINESS OWNER TOO
I know I don't need to tell you this but...if you want to get the most from your Virtual Assistant, you have to treat them with respect!
If you treat your VA like the valued part of your team/business that they are, they are much more likely to treat your business as their own. They will show it the same love, care, and dedication as they do their own business and that will shine through in the work that they do.
Having a VA can absolutely transform your business and your working life, and hopefully, this has helped you see how you can really get the most out of them!