You’re at your wit’s end, aren’t you?
You know a little bit about virtual assistants - i.e you know what they are and what they can do for you.
But you just don’t know how to succeed with one.
You’ve tried before.
(7 to be exact.)
All the assistants you’ve worked with in the past sound promising at first.
But usually, around a couple of weeks into the partnership, they…
Well, they fail.
You then realise they haven’t actually helped your business at all.
Your work pile is bigger than ever.
(Well, it would be if you’re constantly having to cover their mistakes, wouldn’t it?)
You might as well have been throwing your money away these past few years.
It’s not like it’s been doing you any good so far.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when hiring a virtual assistant, is settling on the wrong person.
You hear ‘30 jobs for ||$||15||$||’ and think that’s the perfect person for you.
Or maybe you’re like one of the clients that believe more money equals a better assistant.
You know what I’m going to say, don’t you?
You need to forget that mindset.
Especially if you want to avoid following those clients into debt too.
I’ll stop being a Debbie Downer now.
Instead, I’m going to fill you in on some things you need to consider before you hire a VA.
Trust me, you’ll be better for it.
How Much Spare Change Do You Have?
Don’t go broke just for the sake of a ‘better’ VA.
Just because one may charge more than the other, it doesn’t mean they’re more experienced or better qualified.
I mean, VAs set their own prices - so can charge extravagantly, even if they’re a 16-year-old, treating their job like a work experience placement.
Hell, I could become a VA and charge you $200 per hour if I wanted to.
I’d probably do a terrible job, but the prestige of a higher payment makes me seem better, right?
Never spend beyond your budget!
In fact, don’t even go near your limit (unless your limit is $5.)
I guarantee you won’t need to.
But, even if you’ve decided on a budget - you still have to compare that with two other things.
Let’s move on...
How Often Do You Need To Work With Them?
If your budget is $100 per week, you don’t need to spend it all on a VA you only see for 2 hours each month.
That’s ridiculous...you’re just throwing money away - yet again.
You need to assess how often you need to ‘see’ your VA, to work out how much you should be paying them.
If it’s not very often, paying them by the hour should work well for you.
If it seems like you see them more than you see your own parents, I’d suggest negotiating a package deal!
Read More: Virtual Assistant Job Description
What Do You Actually Need Them To Do?
If you need a VA to run your blog, analyse your reports and stalk your ex, you can’t just pick from any old assistant.
You need to branch out, and start looking at specialised ones!
They’d have the appropriate training in the area you’re after - okay, maybe not stalking your ex - which means they’ll be more successful at the tasks you set them!
If you hired a general admin assistant, and asked them to take on graphic design tasks…
Well, expect a logo that looks like it was made on the 1999 version of Microsoft Paint.
Have you asked yourselves those questions yet?
Now you can actually get on with hiring one.
(Yep, the fun part!)
Don’t Hire A Barista In The Place Of A Barrister
If you want your VA to be a social media whizz, why are you hiring an admin assistant?
Yes, VA’s can do everything.
But that doesn’t mean that every VA can do everything.
We wouldn’t have specialised assistants if they could - duh!
From our experience, some clients have chosen to hire a general assistant to do their complicated tasks because they think it will save them money…
Except, it actually just results in a stressed out VA and an angry business owner.
Plus, the client usually ends up losing money as they then have to hire another assistant anyway, to fix the last one’s mistakes!
So, if you require a special skill - or aren’t sure if your tasks count as specialised - mention it to the provider you use.
They’ll be able to send you off in the right direction!
You’re Not A Thief, Stop Trying To Steal Their Free Time
If I had $1 for every time I’ve seen this happen, I’d be a billionaire.
Time and time again, people hire virtual assistants without asking what their schedule is first.
VAs are not toys, free to play with whenever you like.
They have lives, kids, other jobs, other clients.
So, I’m sorry Rihanna, but you’re not the only girl in the world.
Don’t go hiring a VA and just expect them to work 9-5 like you.
Everyone knows that the best part about freelancing is setting your own hours.
So the VA you choose may only work late evenings, or during the day when their kids are at school.
If you need your assistant to work in a specific time frame, ask what hours they usually work - before you hire them.
Your VA’s Off To Ibiza Next Month, Don’t Hire Them For An 8 Week Project
Okay, this ties in with my last point… ext here
A virtual assistant isn’t always free!
They have other stuff to do, it’s not all about you Mcfly.
If you know you have an upcoming deadline and fail to tell your VA in the hiring process, you can’t moan if they’re not available to finish it by that date.
That’s a 'you' problem.
You’re the one who’s going to have to try and find someone else to finish the job, after all.
So, cut out any future hassle by taking note of all deadlines (that you know about obviously) before you hire them!
Ensure You Don’t Hire A Back-Alley VA
It’s not a nice thought, to know there are people out there that want to rip you off.
It’s even more uncomfortable when you find out just how easy it is to do.
Because a virtual assistant role sounds so easy, people think they can advertise themselves as one just to make some quick cash.
Even really popular VA sourcing sites allow these back-end VAs onto their systems.
(I won’t name names - but it’s not snitching if I ask you what half a tenner is, right?)
Always hire from a reputable site *cough* like us *cough* to ensure your future VA has been thoroughly background checked!
But, if you do choose to hire your VA from one of those sites, ensure you put in the research yourself!
You’ve done it!
You’ve found the perfect virtual assistant!
But now what?
Well, it’s time to get your VA set up!
Yep, that’s right.
You can’t just send them a message saying you want them to look after your social media accounts, and be done with it.
They don’t know anything about you, your business or what they should actually be tweeting about.
Let me tell you how to get your VA set up quickly and efficiently!
Spill The Tea
Your VA knows nothing about you.
At present, you’re just a name on a page.
So - guess what - you need to fill them in on all the juicy details.
This is your chance to let them in on everything you love, and everything you hate.
No, I don’t mean your hatred for pickles, I mean business-wise.
Are you sick of certain cliches being used in emails?
Do you despise being contacted between 7 PM - 7:30 PM?
Well, tell them that then!
Not only will they keep all this info on file…
(It’s a handy way to remind themselves of your preferences, after all.)
So you only have to do your 4-hour introduction once - wahey!
Spill Even More Tea
You’ve turned into Gossip Girl today, haven’t you?
But, this isn’t a game of Guess Who, it’s essential that you tell your assistant about your business.
It would be pretty stupid not to.
I mean, how can they support someone if they know nothing about them?
Simple, they can’t.
You need to tell them who you are and what you do - they’re not going to know you’re a vegan bakery for dog treats unless you tell them, are they?
(Not unless your company name is ‘Vegan Dog Treat Bakery’ anyway.)
If you’re asking them to complete more specialised roles, like writing content for you, they’ll also need to know the tone and style they need to follow!
Basically, the more information you give them about your company, the better.
Give Them Your Passwords
It’s scary, isn’t it?
Handing over all your passwords to someone else I mean.
But they’re not using them to hack your Facebook, they’re merely trying to upload content for you.
If you’ve hired your assistant through a reputable company, safety should never be an issue!
But, if you still want to stay on the safe side, you can use sites such as Lastpass to manage your security.
With services like two-factor authentication and master passwords integrated, it’s easy to see why this site is so popular!
If you still think that you’re handing too much information over to your VA, you can use sites such as Hootsuite instead.
(This is great for assistants that specialise in social media management.)
It allows your VA to, for example, post on your social media on your behalf - without ever having access to your passwords.
You’ve got your assistant all set up - and they’re just raring to go!
And by all means, let them begin.
Just make sure you keep an eye on them, so you can make their job as easy as possible.
Not too much of your eye though, no one likes a back-seat driver.
Here are 5 things you can do to ensure efficient management of your VA:
Be Clear, Crystal Clear
“Can you get that report done for me, no wait 3 reports, the ones in my inbox by um Thursday...or Tuesday.
Either way, just the first two.”
How on earth does that make sense?
It’s the literal opposite of clear and concise…
The worst thing about it?
It’s not just a dramatic example - one of our clients actually received that email!
A better way to send that same message to a VA is -
“I’d like to see those 2 reports I’ve flagged in my inbox completed no later than Thursday.”
That makes sense now!
Ensure you cut the waffle, to limit any confusion between you and your VA.
Remember, Sharing Is Caring
You’ve asked your VA to write some content for you while you’re on holiday, and informed them that everything they need to write is on the content plan.
You jet off to...Cornwall.
Forgetting that the content plan is only accessible on your computer.
You’re in the middle of nowhere, with no signal - so, your poor VA has no way of getting through to you.
You return to work 2 weeks later and realise those 3 important deadlines your VA was meant to cover have been missed.
This is why we always advise our clients to store work on shared drives, so you never need to rely on another person to do your job.
Apps such as Dropbox are just perfect for this!
Go Hard Or Go Home
Essential, but annoying.
Especially if you forget to tell your VA you have one.
Wrong wording is one of the biggest issues that cause missed deadlines - (I already told you to be clear and concise in your messages remember.)
Though you can have both soft and hard deadlines, it’s important for you to differentiate between the two.
No “Tuesday would be great!” if Tuesday is the deadline here!
Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate
It’s always good to check-in.
You both want to discuss how the partnership is going, after all.
Providing frequent evaluations - (the actual frequency depends on how long you’re working with them) - is the best way to iron out any issues!
It’s also a time for you to share ideas, and discuss what is and isn’t working.
That’s it then.
You’ve found your VA, got them set up and they’re happily working away.
Surely I must be all out of tips?
This isn’t the end of your journey.
You want to make sure you keep that VA, right?
Well, here are the four ways you can ensure you and your VA have a good relationship:
Talk Good You Must
Giving your VA an unclear message when you first hire them, then never speaking to them again… Well, I surely don’t need to tell you that that’s not very good communication. Not only does the communication between you both need to be clear and concise… (Okay, that’s the third time I’ve said it - I’ll stop.) It needs to be frequent too! I recommend chatting with your VA around once a week. Not too often that they start considering blocking your number. And not too little that you actually forget you have one.
Don’t Be A Peeping Tom
Seriously… You have no reason to be (virtually) peering over your assistant’s shoulder every second of the day. Not only is it super annoying, but it sabotages your relationship with them. They’ll feel like you don’t trust them, and their stress levels will go through the roof. If you feel like you have to micromanage your assistant, you either have control issues, or you picked a bad one. (If you’ve followed my advice up to this point, it’s the first point - sorry.)
Snitches Get Stitches
Okay, they don’t really. Informing your VA of any issues you have is a good thing. Better than them waking up one day and see that you’ve cancelled your contract without telling them anyway. Unclear communication is the biggest cause of VAs mistakes. And something that can be easily fixed, as long as they’re actually made aware that there’s an issue in the first place.
They’re Not A Ballet Dancer, Don’t Ask Them To Pirouette
Is it ever a good idea to ask someone to do something they, well, can’t? They’ll be stressed because they won’t know how to do it, and you’ll be stressed because they’re not doing it. It’s a lose-lose situation. And if you keep putting them in it, your relationship with them will be strained beyond control.
That’s it then.
A collection of all my best tips, just for you!
Think of this as your ultimate resource for virtual assistant advice…
(If you want success, anyway.)
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