If you’ve got more tasks in a day than you can sanely handle in your business—especially after automating everything that can be automated—then you really do need to consider hiring a virtual assistant. Before you go hiring a virtual assistant though, here are a few mistakes I see business owners make in the process. My hope is that, in reading this post, you can be mindful of the common pitfalls of the new VA relationship, avoid them, and keep the associated time/stress levels as low as possible.
Not knowing what you plan to outsource and how
In addition to thinking about the exact tasks you are comfortable handing over, get clear about the setup you’d be happy going with (Think: generalist or specialist virtual assistant; hourly, retainer or per project; agency or independent contractor; one VA or a team of VAs).
Placing all your emphasis on skills
Don’t get me wrong – having the right skills is important. A job can’t get done if you don’t know how. But, skills can be acquired… the right attitude and fit cannot.
Not having a system in place
You need a system in place to do a great job of onboarding your new hire and to then assign/manage tasks. It’s good practice to create a master business manual… to add to it as your business grows – every time you set up a new process or system. You could have this set up in a Google document (and that would work fine) but I think the visual nature of a tool like Trello would make it easier to navigate/access.
Not planning ahead
Most freelancers work with a portfolio of clients. So you’re probably in for disappointment if you think you can drop a project on your VA at 3 PM hoping for it to be turned around by close of business. You need to work within their system too. They may have a 48-hour time limit for work deadlines, or they might require you to give them all their work for the week by a certain date. You’ll also need to schedule calls ahead of time and pay for that time.
Not giving the virtual assistant time to learn the ropes of your biz
Many VAs get up and running pretty fast, but every new client has their own way of running their business, their own way of organizing records, their own way of assigning tasks, managing projects, communicating etc. It’s important that you give your new VA the time to set themselves up as well as to establish and agree upon expectations.
Not giving clear instructions
When you assign a project to your VA, it should include clear and complete instructions. Your VA shouldn’t have to ask a hundred questions about each assignment before being fully equipped to deliver on the project. This is simply a waste of their time and your money!
Not letting them do their work their way
If you contract with a social media virtual assistant who is an expert in their field, don’t tell them how to do the work. Instead, tell them what success looks like … what work will be “turned in”, when … what outcomes indicate completion.
Not reviewing their work and providing feedback
Once you start working with a VA, it’s super important that you not only review their work but also provide feedback. Imagine being given a project, giving it your 100%, delivering on your promise … only to hear nothing back. I don’t know ‘bout anyone else but for me, it’s incredibly demotivating not knowing if my contribution made a difference to the big picture. Plus, there is absolutely no way for someone working remotely to know if you’d prefer to have something done differently without your feedback.
Giving access beyond the scope of the role
Until you have established trust in your working relationship, only give access to data and systems that are needed to get the job done. Also, if your VA is going to be accessing sensitive client information, consider asking for an NDA to be signed.
If you can avoid these mistakes when hiring and working with a virtual assistant, you will be that much more likely to create a mutually beneficial and sustainable working arrangement.