Hiring a Virtual Assistant creates more time for small business owners, allowing you to focus 100% on business growth. However, without any thought about why you’re hiring them, or providing any guidance, it could all end in disappointment.
Avoiding these 7 common mistakes though will ensure your Virtual Assistant, or VA, provides a valuable service to you. As a result, the time created allows you to focus on the things you really want to be doing.
Mistake #1: Didn’t identify the real need
Firstly, understand fully why you are considering hiring a Virtual Assistant and what you want them to do. Some people know immediately what they need assistance with.
For others, they know they need help but have no idea where to start. If you identify with this feeling, the exercise in the ‘Where To Start’ chapter in our e-book ‘The Small Business Owners Guide To Streamlining Their Business’ could help.
Identifying the specific tasks you want help with, informs you of the precise skills you are looking to hire. Hiring the wrong person with the wrong skillset wastes everyone’s time.
Mistake #2: Not getting to know them
Working with a VA is all about building a good working relationship. They are going to be your ‘right-hand’ person, in much the same way as if you employed a PA, so it’s important you can work together from day one.
Obviously, there is no fool-proof way to ascertain whether you’ll ‘get on like a house on fire’ during the interview. But, as well as discussing their experience and skills, take some time to ask about their life outside of work.
Having a more casual conversation gives you a better feel for who they are as a person. If you’re ‘butting heads’ the moment you hire them, it’s not going to end well!
Mistake # 3: Being too vague
You need to be specific about what you want your Virtual Assistant to do, and the results they should deliver. If not, you are leaving everything open to someone else’s interpretation of what they will provide for you.
VAs are highly experienced with a strong skillset but they still need clear guidance, otherwise the work will take longer. This is particularly true in the early days as they get to know you. And if it’s not what you wanted, it takes even longer for either you or your VA to put right!
On the other hand, being really clear with what you’re asking your VA to do makes a massive difference. It enables them to not only work faster but think of better solutions.
Mistake #4: Insufficient training
Of course, we’re all used to using all types of software these days, such as Microsoft Office, Google Docs, Asana, or Xero, but that doesn’t mean people use these all the same way.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems are a prime example of getting this wrong.
Your Virtual Assistant (VA) may be used to using several different ones, for example Hubspot, Less Annoying, Salesforce etc. But, if you’re using something a little less common, such as 17hats (which we’d never used until we started working with a client who does), they’re going to have to learn about this.
The reason you hire a Virtual Assistant is to make your business run more smoothly in the background. Being clear about how you use your systems goes a long way to achieving this.
Mistake #5: You play ‘hard to get’
Communication is everything and although Virtual Assistants enjoy working independently, they also need confirmation they are on the right track. They need to know they can talk to you whenever they have a question.
While the reason for hiring a Virtual Assistant is to free up your time to do the revenue generating stuff, make time in your diary to have at least a weekly catch up call. In the early days it will probably need to be more than this. But it will quickly settle down into a routine that suits everyone.
Also let them know your preferred ways of communication if they need to ask something that is time critical.
Good communication helps a VA understand you value their support. And in return, they’ll go out of their way to do a better job for you.
Mistake #6: Don’t accept feedback
While you should be giving your Virtual Assistant feedback about their performance, which is all part of good communication, you should also accept any feedback they give you. Unless it’s become a really poor working relationship, professional VAs are constantly thinking about how things can be improved, for your benefit as well as theirs.
They are looking at things with outside eyes and can sometimes see things that you don’t. Or, with their experience, they simply know a better way of doing things.
Don’t be blinkered into the “I know best” syndrome, or “this is the way we’ve always done things” mantra. Be prepared to take on board what your VA is suggesting. Then make up your own mind about what is best for the smooth running of your business.
If you’re not open to feedback, their enthusiasm for working with you will wane. And if their feedback is more about how you’re managing them, really pay attention!
Mistake #7: Don’t think ahead
By claiming back time, what are you going to do with it?
Sit back and expect your VA to skyrocket your business?
Use the time constructively, planning your business growth?
Of course, you’ll use it to focus on things like your clients, lead generation, product/service development and business strategy.
Also give some time to think about how your VA can get more involved in the future. They may have started working on just 2 or 3 basic tasks, but they’re getting to know you and your business. If they’re showing the right ‘can do’ attitude and their work is excellent, think about how you can utilise them going forward.
Talk to them about your thoughts and if they like the idea of getting more involved, consider any training that might be necessary.
You have a valuable resource on your hands, why lose that and spend more money and time recruiting and training someone else?
Of course, there are other aspects that can either make the working relationship a roaring success or absolute disaster. After all, we are talking about human-to-human interaction here! However, by avoiding these common mistakes, you’ll go a long way to ensuring you hire a Virtual Assistant who enhances your business.
If you have any thoughts about the points we’ve raised here, please get in touch. We’re always happy to answer your questions about working with a Virtual Assistant.