How To Work With A Virtual Assistant

All VAs are not created equal

A while back, someone mentioned to me that most entrepreneurs switch Virtual Assistants (VAs) every 6 months or less. Frankly, I was shocked!

While there have been a few VAs I’ve used for just a short period of time or one-off projects, I’ve been with my main team for 6 years. I’ve even worked with the same VA in India for more than three years.

To my mind this kind of VA jumping isn’t good for your business or theirs. Your VA team should function as an almost indispensible part of your business. If they’re really savvy, they’ll even anticipate your needs and make suggestions as to how you can do things better.

Treating them as a disposable commodity just leads to a lot of frustration for you and them. As well as whole lot of wasted time and money that could be spent far more productively.

But having heard a lot of horror stories from both clients and VAs, I’ve come up with a few probable causes for all the dissatisfaction. And as the author of “The Overworked Entrepreneur’s Guide to Outsourcing Success” ( http://www.getstartedoutsourcing.com ) I’ve got boatloads tips for making the relationship happy and productive.

Today I’ll just share a few of the common problems and how to avoid them…

1) All VAs are not created equal. Far too many entrepreneurs hire the first VA they find—or are referred to—rather than go through a more detailed hiring process. While you don’t have to wade through 100 resumes and three rounds of interviews, you should still do your due diligence.

If you don’t, chances are good you’re going to hire the wrong VA for your needs. And since you’ve made very little investment in terms of time and effort, you won’t hesitate to fire one and hire another.

Instead you want to interview at three to five potential VA teams to find one with a skill set and communication style that suits you. Then check references for the top contenders BEFORE you hire anyone.

2) If you don’t know exactly what you want done, and the specific results you’re after, you’re bound to be disappointed. Even the most skilled and savvy VA isn’t a mind reader. So if you think you can just throw a bunch of work their way and expect it to be perfect out of the gate you’re setting yourself up for frustration.

The best way to start is with a small project you’re already familiar with doing. Choose something where you’re very clear about the outcome you’re looking for. Then be specific in your project request.

Remember, all employees need time to get to know you, your communication style and your expectations. So you’re going to have to go back and forth a few times—especially in the beginning—until they get it just right.

3) Virtual Assistants are people too. Even though you pay them, adding please and thank you to your requests goes a long way.

This is easy to forget since you may never see them face-to-face. Do that, and they can quickly feel you treat them poorly. Then they won’t be excited to work with you or do their best.

The bottom line is…It does take time, energy and thoughtful communication to find the right people and build a good relationship with your VA team. But once you’ve got that in place the rest is so much easier. And they’ll truly become an invaluable asset that helps you grow your business while you focus on the things you’re best at.

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