So, you’ve decided you need to hire a Virtual Assistant?
Hiring a VA will be one of the best decisions you ever make for your business. We can serve as not just a task master but also an accountability partner, a confidante, a motivator and cheerleader, so many other things.
However, there are a few things you’ll definitely want to do before you hire. Here are 3 of the things that, as a Virtual Assistant, I think you should have or consider before you go down that road. Some of these things I have experienced personally, some are things that I have spoken with other VAs about who have experienced them. Either way, I think they are valid points to consider. And, they might not be exactly what you expect to hear.
As in… be sure that you know exactly what it is that you need your VA to take off of your plate for you. You must be clear on what specific things you need to delegate before you delegate them. If you have no idea what your needs are, this is a recipe for disaster. Or, failure on your VA’s part which will be of no service to you. Now, a great assistant will be able to anticipate your needs for the most part, but in the very beginning of that relationship, there is a learning curve for both parties to grow through together. Having a solid idea of what you need and then clearly communicating it to your new assistant is a must.
As I stated above, eventually the right assistant will be able to anticipate those needs but in the beginning, having Standard Operating Procedures in place is really helpful. Not necessary, but definitely helpful. They will help you in guiding your VA through your systems and processes so that any work to be done can flow smoothly and be completed within the designated time frame. They will also create a consistency in the way that tasks are completed. If you don’t have any SOPs documented, now is the time to do it. I know that for the most part, you’ve been doing it all yourself, but now it is time to write them out if you haven't already. Get them on a google doc at least. That’s a start. This could even be one of the tasks you assign to your new VA once you are comfortable. Have that shiny new VA of yours turn those written SOPs into a Loom video. That way, you can have a permanent documentation of the process in action to use as training material for new hires as your team grows. Now, Not everyone is going to have total clarity on all areas, if you did, you wouldn't be on the hunt for the perfect V.A., right?
If you have no clue what you need from your assistant, how on earth is he or she to know what to do?
I think clarity is also important as it helps to prevent Scope Creep from happening early on. What’s that? You ask.
Scope Creep occurs when a client begins to add tasks to the to do list that’s outside the scope of work that is outlined in the proposal and contracting stage. I don’t believe this is intentional, I think it just happens when someone is finally comfortable and trusts that their VA can get the job done. It’s liberating to know that you have someone you can trust to handle the laundry list of tasks that you are used to doing yourself. It can however be a negative thing, when suddenly the lines of what was originally decided on in the beginning of the work relationship start to get blurred. There is an easy fix to this, though. Sub agreements to amend the original contract or a new upgraded service package may be the answer.
Just make sure to be communicating clearly with your VA what your needs are. We understand that as your business grows and our working relationship with our clients grow, adjustments will have to be made.
This is a big one. Most VAs I know are going to touch on whether or not you have ever hired a VA before or not. Heck, I flat out ask this in my New Client Questionnaire to any prospective new client who approaches me about my services. Why do we need to know?
Well, for starters it gives us a roadmap to navigate regarding what works for you and what doesn’t, because that is crucial to your success as a business owner and to mine as your assistant.
If you encounter this question in your search for a VA, please be as honest as possible. This isn’t a trick question to make you feel awkward for never having one, and our feelings aren’t going to be hurt if you say "yes, I have had a VA in the past and it didn’t work out". Its sole purpose is for us as VAs to gauge where you’re at in your journey as an entrepreneur. And as I said before, when we know what worked before and what didn’t it sets us both up for success all around by giving us a roadmap for what you truly need and allows us to avoid the hazards of what isn’t going to serve you in your business.
I can promise you this, if you tell your VA you’ve never had one before and he or she finds out later that you were uncomfortable being truthful, it will definitely feel icky and awkward. It creates distrust in the relationship and, jus as in any relationship, distrust is a killer. Do you really want to add questions of integrity into the mix so early on?
Nope. I didn’t think so. I don’t know anyone who enjoys that scenario, so, please be honest from the get go regarding these things. I promise, we aren’t trying to trip you up or make you feel silly. We’re just gathering all the information we need so that we can serve you in the best possible way.
Be patient with not just your VA but also yourself. Finding the right VA can be time consuming. You may hire one or two before finding the right fit. That is ok. Once you find the right one for your business, the sky is the limit and you will be so glad to have one by your side.
And, again, like I said earlier, in the beginning stages both you and your VA will be on a learning curve. Not just regarding SOPs but regarding each other’s communication and working styles, too.
Patience is also important in the early stages when dealing with minor issues such as tech related problems. For instance, I use LastPass when gathering the pertinent info needed for accessing my clients online accounts, but find that it can be buggy and inconsistent at times when it comes to using it.Occasionally, it likes to tell me that a password that was shared with me is incorrect when it isn’t. Patience in the beginning is a must when your VA may have to ask you to resend a password that didn’t work or had a typo in it. Also, when using two factor authentication, you may need to be on standby when the email or text message with the passcode goes to your phone or inbox, because it won’t be going to your VA’s.
Usually, within a couple of weeks or after couple of zoom meetings to touch base, these growing pains are overcome and we settle right in.
So, if you are thinking about hiring a VA that is wonderful! Just remember that Clarity, Honesty and Patience will go a long way in helping you to find the right VA for your team as well as help to set your new assistant up for success. That is a win-win for everyone!
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