Working with a Virtual Assistant (VA) can mean saving yourself from administrative headaches and freeing up your time to focus on important aspects of your business. Once you have found a VA that could be a good fit with your business, it’s still going to take some time to figure out each other’s working style.
Below are the five most essential tips when working with a Virtual Assistant so that your business runs as smoothly as possible.
1. Start with a trial period. Even if you think you have found the perfect VA, trial periods are so important for both of you. You learn their quality of communication, their grammar when writing, how often they check in with you based on projects, etc. I always offer a 30-day trial period before signing any client on to a contract, but some VA’s offer trial projects, etc. If you found a VA that does not want to consider a trial period, study the pros and cons before working with them. Do they have shorter length contracts or none at all? Are their prices more reasonable than others?
2. Write a list of all the tasks you want done and know how to do them yourself. I mentioned this in my last article, but I can’t stress enough how important the second part is. A Virtual Assistant is great at thinking up new ways of streamlining your business and making it more organized, but they need to understand the basics of what you want done thoroughly. There will be questions in the first few months and if you know the answers off the top of your head, it’s easier for the both of you. As you continue the relationship and both of you get more comfortable, suggest they create a manual of the administrative side of your business and openly share it via Dropbox or Google Drive. That way the information is always on hand and you both can refer to it when needed.
3. Communicate. Every VA has a different style of communication, but unless you have specifically hired a VA who offers phone services, most VA’s like to communicate via email. However, I believe that every working relationship should have check-ins via phone or Skype as well. It lets you hear their voice and confirm they are a real person, which gives this extra feeling of security within the relationship. Some people do not like Skype for various reasons, but at least insist on a phone meeting every once and a while. Make sure you have a list of things to talk about and if there are problems in their methods or an issue that did not work out the way you hoped, be sure to bring these up over the phone as well. Emails can be misinterpreted, whereas it’s easier over phone to clear any misunderstandings.
4. Be specific. This ties into my last point on communication, but due to the fact that you are working with someone outside of your office (and sometimes on the other side of the world!), you need to be able to clearly share what you are looking for with your assignments. Deadlines are also very important. Even if the project is due for you in a vague “few months”, be sure to convey with your VA that it is due by a certain date. This will help them manage their time better and won’t leave you stranded when you all of a sudden realize that your few months have gone by and you need the project done by tomorrow.
5. Review the VA’s work. In the beginning of the relationship, it’s crucial to review and confirm all of your VA’s work. Not only does this help you learn how they work, but it also helps the VA understand if they are on the right track. It’s very frustrating to be working with someone and be turning in results for a few months only to find out they would prefer the results in a Word document instead of an Excel spreadsheet. By reviewing what they do early in the game, it helps prevent problems, misunderstandings, and mistakes later down the road.
Working with a Virtual Assistant is an exciting step for your business and it shouldn’t be a headache. By keeping your work as organized as possible and making sure you communicate effectively, your relationship with your VA will create hours of free time so that you can focus on getting your business to thrive.
Kiri has been working in the administrative field since she was 15 years old. What started off as a part-time job after high school blossomed into a full-time business when she realized she loved supporting people but wanted more flexibility than corporate America provided. Currently a Virtual Assistant for almost four years, she is constantly striving to figure out ways to make other people’s lives easier. Kiri is a Mount Holyoke College graduate and currently lives outside of Boston, MA with her family. In her spare time she blogs about Star Wars, drinks tea, and eats olives.