Hiring A Virtual Assistant: Do’s and Don’ts

Are you thinking of hiring a Virtual Assistant? If your routine tasks are becoming overwhelming, or are simply just taking up too much of your valuable time, outsourcing to a Virtual Assistant might be the solution. In our other posts, we discuss the many benefits of outsourcing to a Virtual Assistant and how a VA can help to grow your business. Whether or not you should work with a Virtual Assistant is entirely your decision to make, but should you choose to, here are some important ‘do’s and don’ts’ to consider!

DO your research

Before hiring a new Virtual Assistant, do your own due diligence. Check examples of their previous work, client testimonials, and make sure they have all the relevant insurances and policies in place.

DON’T think you’re the only one who needs to do your job

Many of us have been there – starting a business by ourselves, with no help from investors or partners, trying to juggle absolutely everything yourself. In many cases, you’re the admin person, marketing team, accounts manager and sales director. Entrepreneurs can wear many hats. But as you grow your business, it will become very difficult to scale if you continue to juggle everything on your own. The solution? Outsourcing! Letting go of your fundamental business tasks can be daunting, and for business owners who like to remain in control, it can be particularly difficult handing over responsibility to an assistant. However, try to remember that experienced Virtual Assistants are very competent, and spend most of their working day helping to manage other people’s businesses. They have the knowledge, experience and expertise to help you grow your business and free up your valuable time so that you can focus on the things you do best.

DO establish your communication preferences

When you begin working with a VA, it’s important to make them aware of how and when you like to communicate. With everything technology offers us, there are many ways to communicate with your Virtual Assistant – email, phone, WhatsApp, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, project management tools, to name a few! As Virtual Assistants, it’s our job to work with our clients in a way that works for them. A great assistant will be flexible in accommodating your preferences, where possible, but it is important that you establish what these preferences are during the onboarding period in order to set your working relationship up for success. It will also help your assistant to manage expectations and organise their schedule accordingly.

DON’T underestimate the time it takes…

… for a highly-skilled, experienced VA to complete certain tasks. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to communicate. You might think that a particular task will take an hour, but in reality, it may take three times that. If you are working to a budget, when delegating tasks to your assistant, give them an estimation of how long you expect them to spend on that task. Your VA will soon be able to let you know whether your estimation is accurate, or whether they will need more time. If they know you have expectations in terms of how long you think a task might take, they can work with you and be mindful of your budget. If you don’t communicate this to them, they might assume that you want them to just get the job done, no matter how long it takes. That said, some tasks do take time and can be tricky to estimate (graphic and web design, for example). Communicate with your VA and understand that sometimes, in order to produce a high standard of work, it might take longer than you expect. Also bear in mind that some tasks can be done very quickly, whereas others will take much longer, depending on the nature of the task.

DO be realistic with your expectations

Try to understand that your Virtual Assistant will usually work with multiple clients. They will try to make themselves available to you as much as possible during their working day, however, there may be times when they are on a call with another client, or concentrating on an important task. If you cannot get hold of them straight away, leave them a message and follow up with an email, asking them to contact you as soon as possible. Also check your assistant’s terms of business, which should indicate their response times and when you can expect their reply.

DON’T think you’re the only one who CAN do your job

Although you’re an expert in your field and have no doubt put in a lot of time and effort to get there, you will always be able to find an assistant with the same skills and experience. Outsourcing gives you access to the best assistants on a national scale (and even international). Rather than trying to find an in-person assistant, where you’re usually restricted to people in your area only, outsourcing offers a pool of talent from a much wider range of highly skilled assistants who will often exceed your expectations. In addition to this, there are Virtual Assistants skilled in a vast array of industries. Some assistants specialise in certain job types or industries, for example, property VA’s, or graphic design VA’s. You can find assistants specialising in IT support, web design, marketing, lead generation, and so much more. Some have hands-on experience working with lawyers, doctors, or in the construction industry, for example. Many have excelled in a former career before becoming a Virtual Assistant. Whatever it is you’re looking for, you can be confident that you’ll be able to find a VA who is a great match for you, your business and your needs.

DO always check with your VA what other skills they might offer

Your assistant might have always supported you with your day-to-day admin, emails and diary management, and you may not even consider what other areas they are skilled in. Say you have great admin support from your assistant, and you’ve been working with them for a while, but you now need help with social media management and graphic design. Before you begin your search for additional help, ask your assistant if they can help you with this too. Even if they aren’t skilled in these areas, or don’t have the capacity to take on extra work, they may be able to recommend someone who can. Many VA’s in the U.K. have a great network of other highly skilled assistants, and the chances are they’ll be able to help you find someone who comes highly recommended. You might even discover that they have the skills and expertise to help you, so it’s always worth an ask. They might have the skills to help you with more than you think!

DON’T refrain from sharing feedback

As with any profession, it’s important to receive feedback in order to improve and provide a better quality of work. If you feel that your assistant isn’t quite on the same path as you, it’s important to have a constructive conversation about what you’d like to achieve and how they can better support you. Also, remember that feedback goes both ways, so if you’re assistant is doing a great job, tell them!

We hope you find these suggestions helpful. Onboarding a VA is an important process, but it should be straightforward and enjoyable. Set yourself up for success and give your Virtual Assistant the opportunity to become a valuable member of your team.

If you’re interested in finding out more about how a Virtual Assistant can help to support and grow your business, you can discover more here.

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