7 Tips for Hiring a Virtual Assistant

You’re working your little heart out, losing track of time, and starting to consider hiring a little extra help. And you begin to wonder, “Am I ready for a virtual assistant?”

The reality is if you’re starting to wonder if you’re ready for a virtual assistant you may actually be in desperate need of one.

That brings us to tip #1…

Tip #1: Hire a virtual assistant before you need one.

Hire a VA to help you scale your business, not to dig you out from being buried by it.

If you’re already buried, that’s okay. Let’s get you positioned to hire the right person, fast.

Tip #2: Know what you’re looking for.

“I don’t know… I just need… help.”

Sound familiar? It’s time to do some reflection and figure out exactly where you need help the most. I call this the Task Audit.

How to do a Task Audit:

  1. Write down everything you do to run your business. Literally every task – big and little. Daily, weekly, monthly, and annual recurring tasks. What does it take to keep the wheels on the cart?
  2. Circle the tasks that only you can do or that you prefer to do. These are the activities that are core to your business. For instance, if you’re an executive coach, writing feedback summaries would land in this bucket. Also, if you prefer to book your own travel or schedule meetings yourself, there’s no shame in wanting to keep those tasks. Someone may tell you what you “should” be giving up but hiring a VA is supposed to make your life easier – not more stressful or uncomfortable. As you build trust over time, you may want to hand off more, but start with where you are now.
  3. Evaluate everything left over. What can you delegate?

Now – disclaimer, some of the tasks left on your list may be best suited for a specialist and not a virtual assistant. For instance, an accountant may be better to handle your bookkeeping and taxes rather than searching for a virtual assistant who offers it as a service.

Tip #3: Consider how you will work with your assistant.

This is a hard piece for a lot of business owners to visualize.

How does it actually work?

You need to think from preference and technical perspectives.

Preferences:

  • How do you prefer to communicate? Email, text, phone, chat?
  • When do you prefer your VA to be available? (24/7 is not realistic.)
  • How do you want questions handled? Fire off as they come up? Collect them and send a single email to be answered once a day?
  • How often do you want to have a comprehensive touch base meeting with your VA? Multiple times a week? Once a week? Every two weeks?
  • How will you pay your VA? Most will have a preferred method but it’s best to have in mind what works best for you. (Also, have you heard of Zelle? It will change your life! Not an affiliate link. I just love it so much!)

Technical:

  • Will the VA be interacting directly with your customers? If yes, do you want them to conduct business under their own email address or under one you set up for them?
  • What account access will your VA need to do the tasks you’d like? If you haven’t already, it’s time to sign up for LastPass. LastPass saves all of your usernames and passwords to cards that can be easily and securely shared with other LastPass users. You can even encrypt them so the other user can’t see your password.
  • How will you collaborate and delegate? Using a tool like Trello, Asana, or Monday.com will allow you to track to-dos as you learn to work with someone you don’t see every day.
  • Where will you share files? Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box are all great options.

Tip #4: Be realistic about what you’re willing to pay.

I’m only going to say this once – you get what you pay for. And never is that more true than in contracting a virtual assistant. Not only are you paying for their hours of service but you’re paying for their years of experience and knowledge. A good VA is worth their weight in gold.

Tip #5: Know where to look!

Before you just start randomly searching online, tap into your network first. Chances are you know someone who has hired a VA or knows someone who knows someone who has. Or you may even know someone who is a VA. Within your network, you’re also more likely to find a VA who specializes in or is familiar with your industry. Wouldn’t that be lovely?!

If you’re coming up short on resources, check out reputable virtual assistant organizations. Yes! Go to where virtual assistants gather. The International Virtual Assistants Association and the Association of Virtual Assistants have RFP processes so you can cast out your request to hundreds of VAs at one time.

Tip #6: Be Open and Honest and Remember This One Thing

You will likely be having a number of conversations while interviewing prospective VAs to partner with. To maximize these conversations, keep these things in mind:

  1. Be open about what your business really needs. Don’t sugarcoat the nature of your business to make it sound more appealing. Your assistant needs to know what they’re getting themselves into and most are thrilled to have a challenge.
  2. Be honest about who you are and how you work. Every assistant can handle their own special brand of crazy and you may be just their type. But if you cover up your more unflattering sides, you’ll waste time on-boarding someone who may not stick around.
  3. Remember this one thing… a virtual assistant is not your employee. Let me repeat this – you are not hiring an employee. This person does not work for you. Your virtual assistant will be someone who works with you. Virtual assistants are business owners and should be respected as such. Keep that in mind and you’ll land an amazing partner.

Tip #7: Do It Right

If this is your first time hiring a contractor, consult with an accountant to confirm you need to hire them under a 1099 for your business (psst, you likely do!) This also means you’ll need your VA to complete a W-9.

If someone resists providing a W-9 or asks you to pay them under the table, don’t. A professional virtual assistant will not hesitate to provide the necessary legal documentation to do business with you. I even provide a copy of my driver’s license with my W-9.

Also, a contract is 100% necessary. I don’t care who the VA is or how well you know them. You must have an agreement in writing. (Need help here? Check out The Contract Shop.)

Finally, make sure you track the information you provide your VA. This is why services like LastPass are so helpful. At any time, you can see exactly which accounts you’ve given access to and revoke it at a moments notice if needed.

Hiring a virtual assistant is supposed to release stress, not increase it. Start with these 7 tips and you’ll be ready to go!

Happy hunting!

Jen Lawrence Sign Off

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