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How to avoid the pitfalls of hiring a virtual assistant

Virtual Assistants. If you haven’t already noticed, they’re becoming a ‘thing’. Still don’t know what they do, or how they might be able to help your business? I can guarantee that the benefits far outweigh the pitfalls as long as you are savvy about how you go about hiring one.

 So - Would a Virtual Assistant work for you?

(Short answer. Yes!) Longer answer: This depends solely on you. If you have trouble delegating or letting go, it might take some getting used to, because delegation and trust are fundamental to working effectively with a Virtual Assistant.

A savvy VA should be able to teach you how to delegate though. You can always start out by handing over small repetitive tasks to build trust before handing over more involved business admin duties. 

So what’s the difference between you delegating to an EA/PA sitting in your office, and a VA working remotely? There is very little.

Because of technology, Virtual Assistants are able to log into your business just like an EA sitting in the office next to you. You'll use ways to communicate with your VA like phone, text, WhatsApp, email, Zoom, or Skype instead of in person and often VAs work in companies with more than one VA so you'll get access to a vast array of skills. Unfortunately, they just won't be able to make you a coffee!

Some of the things you could consider outsourcing might include: bookkeeping, event planning, inbox management, document formatting, transcribing, web design and other business marketing, social media management, database maintenance, processing online orders, travel arrangments, booking in jobs, and liaising with your customers. For more ideas download a list of 101 tasks to delegate to a VA here.

Just remember that not all VAs are created equal though! It pays to do your research to find the right one for you. Google ‘Virtual Assistant’ and ‘VA Companies NZ’, check out testimonials and client feedback, even ask other businesses how they found their superstar VAs.

OK, I want a VA. What next?

First things first – make a list. You want to note down all your daily/weekly/monthly tasks. We mean everything. Right from answering the phone, and checking emails, to ordering supplies, making sales, sending quotes, and producing client work.

Once you see your (probably enormous) task list laid out, you can set about working out which things can be outsourced. Outsource anything that you don't like doing, anything that you don't have the skills for, anything that is repetitive, anything you have been meaning to do but don't have time for.

You should be left with the things you love doing, are revenue producing and that only you can do. You could use a colour-coded system to illustrate the tasks that can be delegated, kept, or those that you are unsure about.

Remember to be brutal with these! The overall idea of using a VA is to free up your time so you can focus on the more important things in your business. You know, the things that bring in money and that you actually love doing!

Once you’ve done your homework on VAs, make a list of potential ones, as well as a list of questions you want to ask. These can be things like:

  • What experience do you have with (XYZ task/system)?
  • What hours do you operate?
  • When would you be available to me?
  • What is your onboarding process?
  • What is your turn around time for tasks?
  • What other services do you provide?
  • Can you give me an overview of how you work with clients?
  • What happens if my VA goes on holiday or is sick?
  • What security measures do you have in place to protect my IP and confidential information?
  • Can I call and talk to a few of your current clients?

You'll soon be able to sort the great from the not so good just by how they answer the questions. Because trust me the upfront time spent choosing the right one will save you all sorts of headaches in the future.

The Business End

You’ve decided you are going to go for it, you have your list of tasks ready to be delegated, and you have done your research and found a VA company that fits your needs. “So how much is this going to cost me?” – you might be wondering.

As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. If you want quality, you need to be prepared to pay a little extra.Most VA businesses will have varying rates depending on the number of hours per week/month you need. Generally speaking, the more hours you purchase, the cheaper the hourly rate gets.

Whatever way you look at it, having a skilled VA on hand, is a lot cheaper than recruiting a full or part-time permanent employee. VAs keep accurate track of every single minute they work for you too. This means they are extremely productive and you never pay for more than you use. (Gone are the days of having to pay a staff member for ‘dead time’; meandering around the water cooler, or surfing the net for potential weekend activities...)

Just like any new relationship, things can take a bit of getting used to. Your VA will need to learn about your business and personal preferences with regards to communication and workflow, and you might need to take baby steps to learn to delegate. (We suggest video calling! Sometimes seeing someone ‘face-to-face’ can be helpful, especially if they’re in a completely different region to you).

If things aren't going well - communicate with them! Tell them what you want, why they didn't do something right and what they can do better. They aren't mind-readers so just make sure you let them know.

They also can't complete tasks for you if you are never available and don't answer their questions! So be prepared to put the time in upfront.

Once things start getting more comfortable, you can start delegating more, and before long, you’ll be so in awe of how amazing your VA is, you will be wondering why the heck you didn’t get a VA sooner!

Jo Muggeridge | Founder & Leader at Strictly Savvy & Savvy School 

Want to hire a VA from the leading virtual assistant company in New Zealand? Call Joy at Strictly Savvy on 04 934 5668.