Hours, days, weeks months and sometimes even years can be spent trying to grow or develop a business. But how you spend your valuable time could actually end up hindering your company from becoming successful. Hiring a virtual assistant can free up some of the time you may be spending on administrative work and replace it with what you do best.
An extra set of hands can help with some of your most time-consuming tasks such as data entry, creating newsletters, posting content on your blog, answering emails from clients or responding to social media mentions. A virtual assistant, which is an independent contractor, can also take charge and become an all-out project manager for a campaign strategy or product launch. A VA can be short-term or long-term, and an assistant can fill in for a specific project, or commit to a certain amount of hours per week or month. This can be especially helpful during a crunch time or a busy season like the holidays.
Here are some tips for creating a great working relationship with a virtual assistant:
Determine your needs before hiring
Start by figuring out what relationship you want with your virtual assistant, rather than starting by dictating to-do lists at them. Deciding in advance whether you’re looking for a project manager or someone with a more task-oriented role assures that you and your virtual assistant are on the same page and will prevent a lot of awkwardness and uncertainty. Not having clear expectations and clear boundaries around the roles can be frustrating and awkward and off-putting right (from) the get-go. .
How to find a virtual assistant
Ask around. Finding a virtual assistant via a referral gives you insider information on his or her skills and projects they’ve worked on. I’m always happy to provide a list of past and present clients for anyone to speak to regarding my services and quality of work. If a VA isn’t quick to offer this to you, run the other way!
Take it slowly
Start off simply with a “get to know you call”. If you aren’t able to connect before agreeing to terms, at least make sure to start out on a trial basis instead of signing a long-term contract right off the bat. The last thing that you’d want to do is get roped into a long-term contract and then realize that you’re not a good professional match. However, I don’t sign contracts with my clients. Instead, I offer them the flexibility to simply call only when they need me. NO long term commitments or contracts to worry about.
Specify any technical skill sets needed
A virtual assistant with a highly technical skill level can jump into a new content management system fairly quickly without a lot of problems, but the learning curve for another virtual assistant with shaky technical skills may be far more steep. If you have requirements or preferences, make sure you discuss them in advance. Ask the candidate if he or she can provide examples of prior work to help you determine if this is the right person for the job.
Manage — don’t micromanage
Once you find the right virtual assistant, the first few weeks of a project will be a learning curve for both parties. It is very important that you trust your VA enough to do the work you give them without second-guessing him or her. Always remember that there’s a difference between watching the work that your assistant does for you to make sure it’s up to par and quality work and being a micro-manager. As a VA for 16+ years, when I find that a client is micromanaging me, I feel that they don’t trust me. If you feel the need to micromanage me, then unfortnately you hired the wrong VA.
And most importantly….
Remember why you got a VA
Working with a virtual assistant allows you to delegate activities that are tedious, energy draining or simply time consuming, so you can spend more time doing work that inspires you and keeps your business moving forward. Keeping that in mind will help you decide what to delegate, what to work on and what to do with your new-found free time.