Have you started your search for a Virtual Assistant, and then stalled because you don’t know what you’re supposed to look out for?
As a business owner, you have a unique set of needs when it comes to hiring a virtual assistant. It’s tempting to ask a friend to recommend a VA but what works for them might not necessarily work for you.
So it’s really important to put in the work to nail exactly who you want to work with, and on what.
Taking the time to prepare in advance will also allow you to ask the right questions and to get a better understanding of how well you’ll work together in practice.
So what are the key things to consider when hiring a Virtual Assistant for your business?
VAs come in all shapes and sizes. From generalists who handle the more traditional PA duties, to tech Virtual Assistants who can help with your sales funnels or web development.
As you can imagine, their skill sets are completely different.
It’s important to realise that there’s no such thing as a SuperVA who can handle every task you’d like to out-source. As Chris Ducker, CEO of Virtual Staff Finder explains,
“One of the biggest misconceptions in the world of outsourcing is that one virtual assistant can literally handle everything for you”
So take the time to understand the core competencies you need to help you the most in your business before beginning your search.
I know you don’t want to spend too much time worrying about rules and regs but there are a couple of important legal bits and bobs to consider before you hire your Virtual Assistant:
- Are they ICO registered? – Because VAs handle personal data they’re required by law to register with the Information Commissioner’s Office. Most are registered but some aren’t so make sure you run a search on the ICO Register to make sure.
Your VA should have suitable systems and processes in place to protect your data
- Are they insured? – It’s important to double check that your VA is covered by a suitable professional indemnity policy. Some will also be covered by cyber insurance, given the nature of their work. Ask to see copies of insurance certificates so you know you’ll be covered in the unlikely event of any mistakes happening.
If you decide to work with your VA long term, you’re going to want to make sure that your personalities complement each other.
You may be putting in some long hours, and working together closely on large projects over extended periods of time.
So finding someone you like is as important as the skills they bring to the table.
Try to think about the type of personalities you’ve worked well with in the past, and the ones to avoid. You might also want to consider certain aspects of your own personality – for example, are you a good starter but a terrible finisher of things?
If so, you ought to look for someone more detail-oriented who is good finisher. According to Kate McFarlin of the Houston Chronical,
“Different personalities can motivate one another, while similar personalities may actually prove to be detrimental in a workplace environment.”
Although it might seem fun to work with your personality doppelganger, you could find that you exacerbate each other’s weaknesses. Definitely not what you want when you’re trying to build a super-efficient micro team!
- Analytical – Likes data, hard facts and specific language. Dislikes emotional conversations. They tend to work best with step by step instructions and clearly defined expectations.
- Intuitive – Likes the bigger picture and broad views. Dislikes detail and nuance. Intuitive communicators aren’t interested in the detail so keep things at a 20,000 ft view.
- Functional – Likes details, timelines and plans. Dislikes being hurried into making decisions. Functional communicators like to know all the steps involved in a project to make sure they aren’t missing anything.
Intuitive communicators aren't interested in detail
- Personal – Likes building relationships. Dislikes discussing facts and figures. This type of communicator is great at listening and understanding your motivation for completing a project.
If you’re more of an analytical communicator, you might struggle to work with someone who isn’t interested in discussing the detail.
Finding a VA who talks the same language as you, will help you both avoid confusion and give you the confidence to delegate without micro-managing.
5) Back-up Procedures
The final important thing to consider when hiring a Virtual Assistant, is whether they have any sort of back-up procedures in place in the event of an internet or technology failure. They don’t need to have a 20 page documented plan in place, but it’s worth checking that they’ve thought through how they’ll stay contactable if there was any kind of tech issue on their end.
Something as simple as access to a spare laptop, or a secure internet connection at a relative’s house is sufficient to give you peace of mind that they’ll be able to meet your deadlines, even when their Plan A tech fails.
If you’ve always worked solo, knowing what things to consider before hiring a Virtual Assistant can feel like a minefield. Every business is different and your needs will probably be very different from the needs of other business owners you know.
But there’s no need to over-complicate things when you start your search. If you follow the 5 key things to consider before hiring a Virtual Assistant you’ll have the foundations of a winning search.