If you’re a time-poor business owner, hiring a Virtual Assistant can be a great way to help you focus on the tasks that will help you generate more revenue.
However, working with a new team member can create new challenges, which you won’t yet have experienced as a solopreneur.
You want to see the biggest return on your investment so it’s important that you manage your relationship in a way that supports your virtual assistant to succeed. Get it wrong and you may give up on virtual support too soon, but get it right and you’ll soon see your business thrive.
Here are 4 tips to get the most out of your virtual assistant:
1) Hire the right virtual assistant with the right skills
This might sound obvious but a lot of busy entrepreneurs try to short-cut the hiring process because they want to have their VA on board as quickly as possible.
This can happen in a couple of ways – You might not spend the time figuring out what tasks you need help with so you end up hiring a Virtual Assistant with the wrong skills. Or you might not speak to them before hiring and partner up with a virtual assistant that doesn’t have a personality which complements yours.
Firstly, it’s important to understand that there’s no such thing as a Super-VA who’s skilled at everything a small business owner could possibly need help with.
So you need to know what tasks you’d like to delegate and what skills your VA needs to complete those tasks well.
Chris Ducker, Founder of Virtual Staff Finder, talks about this in his blog:
“As a business owner, I can relate to the multiple hats entrepreneurs need to wear in order to get things done. However, filling your business with more entrepreneurial types who think they can do it all is the last thing you should do. Your focus should shift from finding a Super VA to identifying the specific roles your business needs to fill.”
Hire a virtual assistant who specialises in those skills, so you know that they will be able to produce work to a high standard.
Secondly, think about the types of people you’ve gelled with at work, in the past. Are there any similarities between the people you tended to enjoy working with? Look for these traits in your virtual assistant because it will help you to build a successful and lasting partnership.
2) Provide the right training
Many business owners get frustrated when their VA produces work that wasn’t what they’d had in mind. It’s easy to blame your virtual assistant when this happens but it’s often the result of insufficient training.
It's easy to blame your virtual assistant when mistakes happen but it's often the result of insufficient training
Most VAs will be keen to make a good impression and won’t want to look foolish by asking too many questions. They might well try to figure things out on their own, especially if you’re very busy. This can lead to mistakes, and disappointment on both sides.
The reality is that if you don’t invest enough time in training your VA, it’s probably your fault. Rory Vaden, Author of Take the Stairs, suggests investing 30 minutes for every 1 minute it takes to complete a task.
As he explains in his blog for the American Management Association:
“[Good delegators] know that any task that takes you 5 minutes per day * 250 working days in a year = 1250 total minutes that will be spent on that task over the course of a year. So investing 150 minutes (30 X 5) in training someone to do a task that takes 5 minutes a day is still a very effective use of time”
Once you’ve invested the upfront time in training, you’ll be able to hand over the task without having to worry about it in the future.
3) Do not micro-manage your virtual assistant
I totally get it – your business is your baby. And you’ve been doing things a certain way for a really long time. Then someone else comes in with new ideas and new ways of doing things, that might seem a bit scary.
Micro-managing comes from a place of mistrust and fear, and building a culture based around fear isn’t the way you want to go.
Not only will it make your VA feel insecure and unhappy, but you’ll feel like you’re doing twice as much work as you were before you hired your assistant.
According to Forbes, Micromanagement creates,
“rebellious, hapless employees who are unable to make independent decisions. This leaves you, the leader, constantly putting out fires, rather than focusing on the larger tasks that only you can perform.”
Learning to let go and trust an outsider is hard but it’s the only way for you to free up your time to focus on the big stuff. Remember that your virtual assistant is an expert in providing support to small business owners and they’ll probably be quicker and more effective at the tasks you don’t like.
Try to delegate the result of your tasks, instead of the process. And once your virtual assistant is comfortable and well-trained, give them the freedom to refine your processes. This will be a game changer for your time and really help you to make the most of your virtual assistant.
4) Clearly set out your expectations
The final way to get the most out of your virtual assistant is to set clear expectations. When it comes to delegating, a lot can get lost in translation. Not being clear about your expectations can cause a lot of upset for both of you.
When you first start working with your virtual assistant make sure you establish your bigger picture policies from the beginning. These are things like:
- How much notice you’d like when your VA plans to take time off
- What are your customer service policies
- How you like to communicate
- How frequently you plan to check in
You should also set out your expectations for each, individual task you delegate. For example:
- How much autonomy your VA will have to make decisions over the process or customer enquiries
- How often you’d like progress updates
- What outcome you want to achieve
- The impact of the task on your business as a whole
When you start working with your VA make sure you set out your big picture policies from the beginning
Being clear on what you expect and how your Virtual Assistant fits in to the bigger picture of your business, will help them to feel like an integrated team member. And it helps to avoid any confusion and disappointment further down the line.
For a lot of small business owners, hiring a virtual assistant is a big financial and time commitment. You might feel anxious about whether you’re making the best use of your money. Or you might be unsure how to build a successful partnership. Of course you want get the most out of your virtual assistant.
Working with a virtual assistant can help you to free up your time to focus on tasks which have the biggest impact on your business. But you need to make sure you put in place the right foundations from the start. If you take the time to hire the right person, train them and set out your expectations clearly, you’ll be well on your way to building a successful and fruitful partnership.
Do you feel nervous about how you’ll get the best out of your virtual assistant? Let me know in the comments.