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8 Essential Tips When Hiring a VA

If you’ve been following us for a while, then you’re likely to understand what a VA is, but maybe you’re looking to expand your team and are unsure of what exactly you can delegate. This is a common problem for most business owners, as it can be very difficult to loosen the grip on your business – we get it. You’ve likely been controlling 100% of your business since the start, and it can seem like a daunting task to outsource. But think of how amazing it would be to start each day knowing that you can focus on what you love most about your business, and not how many emails are in your inbox. Let’s explore some tips for when you’re ready to hire a VA to set you up for your best success.

What a VA is – and isn’t!

What is a VA? A VA is a virtual assistant and while some of the tasks that a VA does may fall in the category of administrative or clerical, others are not so simple. A VA is a trusted employee or sub-contractor who works with you day-to-day to provide all kinds of support services. When you use a VA, you gain flexibility and convenience—a true benefit of having a virtual assistant work for you. But it’s important to know how to use a VA effectively.

One of the best things about having a VA vs an employee is flexible scheduling. Having a VA on your team is a great way to increase productivity and reduce burnout. If you can’t afford to have a VA available 24/7, you should be able to at least schedule their availability for when you need it.

To find the perfect fit for your business, you’ll need to interview a few potential VAs. Ask them about their experience with VA services and how they can help you in your job. Find out how they will be able to work in your industry, who they have experience working with and whether they have any questions about your work.

Be specific. They take direction while doing a job for you. There are times when you may need to step in and give them direction. As they are working on a task for you, you can also ask them for their thoughts and opinions.

Know your own limits. You want to be sure that you have a VA who can give you the support you need and not take over your work. If you are a self-starter, then you can handle some of the tasks on your own, but you should be sure to let them know when you cannot.

The ins and outs of hiring a VA.

When it comes to hiring a VA or any other administrative professional, there are some things you should never do.

You should never hire a VA that has no experience, as you’re in effect paying them to do what they’ve never done.

Hiring a VA that doesn’t like you is a recipe for disaster. If you’re worried about their opinion of you, maybe you should be hiring a different VA.

Do have an idea of your VA needs.

Hiring a VA can be a time-consuming task. Take the time to properly review the tasks or projects you want to offload so that you’re searching for the right person. It’s important to note that depending on your delegation list, you might want to look at hiring more than one VA, as not all VA’s do #AllTheThings.

Do not hire a VA that doesn’t have your ideal availability.

Before signing any contracts, you want to ensure that you’re both on the same page when it comes to commitment and expectations. Whether you want them available to you between certain hours daily or for a once-per-week meeting, ensure this is clear and agreed upon first. Many VA’s have chosen this work for its flexibility so it should never be expected that they are always available. Once you both have agreed on availability, respect it. There is nothing more frustrating as a VA than a client who is texting or calling you at all hours and expecting you to not only answer, but work on the task at that moment. If it can’t wait until the next day, write them an email instead. It’s less invasive but still allows you to convey your thought or idea.

Set clear expectations on who you’re going to hire.

Most likely the biggest mistake entrepreneurs make when hiring a VA is that they aren’t clear on who they need. 

For this, we suggest exploring this with many brain dumps, writing out all the tasks / projects you don’t enjoy and can offload without having to micromanage.

Once you have all of these written out, group them into categories such as “admin”, “marketing”, etc. From here, develop them into a role profile and then take a look to see if you envision this being one or two roles. If it’s two, then break it out into separate ones and maybe add a few more to each to fully round out the role, if needed. 

We know bringing someone new onto your team can be scary, which is why we recommend you check out this great post, “The Fears of Outsourcing in a Virtual World“, to help you recognize and overcome these fears.

Important things you shouldn’t do in your first meeting.

A VA is not a personal assistant. You are not hiring a personal assistant. They are your administrative or office assistant.

While it is important to have a positive working relationship, you will be dealing with a VA who is NOT your friend. At the end of the day, they should be creating less work for you and creating space for you to grow and expand. They should be providing great service and producing quality work that continually validates you hired the right VA.

Getting started with a VA will create more work upfront, so make sure that your business can handle the extra work. They need to learn and understand your business if they’re going to be able to provide you with stellar results. With that said, they should have a proper Onboarding Process that you will go through, creating less work for you in a streamlined manner. 

Don’t say what you won’t do and what you’ll do..

If you’re going to hire a VA to complete tasks for you, let them complete them. All too often clients will jump in and complete a task that they’ve delegated solely because they had an idea or are just simply used to doing it, resulting in the VA feeling confused and likely frustrated. If you’re hiring us to help you – let us help you.

Don’t be pushy and annoying – they aren’t your employees.

There’s a unique dynamic between a client and VA that can be a bit of a balancing act at first. Beginning a new working relationship will always be tricky, as you’re both used to doing things in your own way. The VA’s role is to guide you through processes that will increase your productivity, save you time and frustration, and get you results. 

All too often, especially after longer-lasting working relationships, the lines tend to get blurred and the VA is considered more of the team / employee than a contractor. While this has its benefits, it also has pitfalls. The same rules and expectations that you have for your employees do not apply to your contractor. You have an agreement that lays out the terms of your relationship and those should be respected. It’s also important to note that comparing rates of employees vs VA’s does not apply here, as you cannot compare apples to oranges.

Trust their process and if it truly isn’t working for you, then absolutely have a conversation to clarify the issues.

A few other things to keep in mind:

DO NOT ask them to do anything that is not in their job description.

DO NOT ever ask them to do anything unethical or immoral.

DO NOT expect them to be your confidant. Some of us love being a sounding board for our clients, but not all. Again, this should be a conversation, keeping in mind there is a difference between an unpaid therapist vs. a sounding board for your business.

DO NOT expect them to do anything above their job description. It’s only an added bonus if they do (and most of us will!), but that expectation should never be implied.

DO NOT hire a VA just because they are cheap. Read that again. If you really want to move the needle in your business and make a significant impact anywhere, do not sacrifice quality for cheapness. You’ll get out of this relationship what you put into it.

Set clear expectations and keep in mind…

Hiring a VA is a complicated process that can be fraught with pitfalls for both the client and the potential VA. Setting expectations and expectations of the potential VA should be clearly defined and understood prior to the hiring process.

The expectations for the process should be that the VA will have a high degree of competency, the ability to handle the case and be able to work with the client to produce the desired results. The client should be clear about what he or she wants to get out of the process.

If the client hires a VA without clear expectations, there is a strong likelihood that the VA will not be able to produce the desired results. Being open and honest and checking in regularly will only reinforce this positive relationship.

Keep in mind that not only does the VA need to be able to work with the client, but the client needs to work with the VA.

Adding a VA (or multiple!) to your team can make the biggest difference for you and your business, helping you generate results you only ever imagined. This is why it is so critical to properly find and hire the right VA for you. The best client relationships we have are ones that are built on trust, open + clear communication, and mutual respect.

Have you hired a VA? If so, what part of the hiring process did you find most challenging?

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