A virtual assistant (VA) could be just what you need if you’re not in the habit of hiring full-time employees but have more work that you can handle alone – and charge enough to make an assistant worthwhile. This hired help is often the first hire of most people’s careers, which immediately raises one issue. You’re not an experienced hiring manager. At best, you may have been involved in the hiring process back when it was not your responsibility alone.
However, good help is not hard to find, especially if you’re happy to cast your net far and wide. Read on to see how to find the right person to supplement your operations.
1. You Only Need a VA if You Have Work to Do
Many people first think about hiring a VA when they feel that their time is better spent elsewhere. Indeed, one of the hardest parts of working alone or as part of a small team is that it’s tricky to find time for the big things when the small things won’t take care of themselves. However, if you have a VA in mind, it’s essential to have a framework in mind for what they actually do.
Part of this comes down to the balance between hiring per job and per hour. If you hire per job, there’s no guarantee that when you find the right VA, they’ll have enough time to squeeze something in as required. Conversely, if you pay by the hour without a strategy, you’ll pay for time spent by your VA twiddling their thumbs.
2. Ensure that It’s Actually a VA You Require
Some people fall into the trap of thinking a VA can do everything. In fairness to numerous VAs out there, many can go above and beyond responding to emails and data entry. However, once you start to introduce complex writing, design, coding or anything else that can benefit your business, you need a more specialised freelancer. It’s unfair on everyone to expect more from a VA than they can reasonably offer, especially at VA rates.
3. Set Your Expectations Outside the Work Itself
You have your list of tasks in hand and you’re ready to hire. However, there’s more than just work to consider and you should be able to visualise your ideal freelancer. Think about which hours of the day you need them, whether they need to be in the same time zone as you, which languages they need to speak and any software they must be familiar with. It takes time, but that’s time you’ll save when you reach the hiring process.
4. Know Where to Look
There are plenty of agencies out there that can have a VA lined up and ready to work anywhere in the world in a few hours. However, while they earn their fees, they are more expensive than hiring directly for obvious reasons. As with anything, it comes down to how much your time is worth to you. If the finder’s fee is lower than how highly you value three hours of your time, an agency is the best option. However, if you’re planning long-term, those fees don’t stop coming so it may be more valuable to invest an afternoon in the hiring process.
5. Don’t Hire on a Chat Alone
The nature of virtual assistance is that everything takes place online. You don’t get to meet your VA and you might never speak to them face to face either. They can tell you anything when they want the job. Do your due diligence – or get an agency to do it for you. If you specified tasks in the job description, ask for samples of previous work or request that they undertake a paid sample.
6. You’ll Need an Early Time Investment
If you want things done your way, you need to be prepared to train and educate your VA. Hopefully, you’ll find one that only needs to be told something once before getting it right every time thereafter. The early time spent doesn’t end there either, as you’ll need to pay closer attention to their work and answer questions before you reach the ideal workflow where you can rely on them to get things right.
7. Take Time Each Week to Catch Up and Focus
You may not think of yourself as such, but once you take on a VA, you’re an employer of sorts. As good as they might be, they’re not mind-readers, and the more they know, the more they can contribute. You don’t have to publicise all the inner workings of your business, but keep them in the loop on what to expect in the coming week and go over any issues that you didn’t have time to address before.
8. Be Patient
If you’ve got a VA, the chances are that you’ve got them relatively cheaply compared to a full-time employee. The trade-off there is that as great as they may become, they may not be perfect right away. If they make a mistake on the first task, don’t report them to the agency or find someone else right away. Give them a week minimum, as they can flourish once they get into a rhythm and you’ll save yourself time and money.
9. Keep Documentary Records of Everything
Ideally, there will be a mutual desire between you and your VA for success, but things go wrong and you need a leg to stand on in the case of disagreements. Give them schedules, deadlines, contracts, payment schedule and anything else crucial to the role up front. Try to converse through a platform that saves conversations so you can check back if anything doesn’t go to plan.
10. Learn to Trust Your VA
Once again, you don’t have to open up the entire business to a VA. However, you should ensure that they have all the information they need to perform their tasks to the best of their ability. Provide documentation, help with the nuances of software and make yourself available.