But how do you know if you are hiring the right virtual assistant for your business? If you are a solo business owner and delegating for the first time this process will throw up all sorts of questions and anxieties. This month's blog guides you through the process so you can find the right VA for you.
The first step is to clarify what you want from a VA. Ask yourself some questions:
- What does your business need?
- Where are your bottlenecks?
- What tasks are taking up your time and stopping you from progressing?
- What does your business look like with the proper support in place?
- Do you need your VA to have particular skills or be familiar with specific software?
Make a list or mind-map the answers to these questions and anything else that is important to you to provide clarity and identify your business's key needs.
Once you've identified your business needs you should move on to think about the type of VA you want. Time for more Q&A…
- What kind of person do you like to work with?
- What's your preferred way to communicate?
- How flexible do you need your VA to be?
- What working hours do you keep and when do you need your VA to be available?
- How formal are you at work - do you need very clear personal/work boundaries or do you have a more relaxed, 'matey' approach to your working relationships?
A huge factor in any successful working relationship is the personality fit. Ultimately it doesn't matter whether the skill set is there on paper - if your personalities or working styles don't complement each other then you are unlikely to work well together.
Where to find a VA?
The are four key places for business owners to search for VAs - via agencies, social media, Google or networking.
Agencies can be a good place to start for a first-time delegator. They are often run by a lead VA who assesses your requirements and pairs you up with an associate VA. Usually the lead will then check in with you on a regular basis to ensure you're happy with your associate. Advantages here include the resources as the agency can provide cover when your VA is sick or on leave. Also the lead VA has already vetted the associate and if it doesn't work out you can be matched with someone else. However it may feel less personal than hiring a VA directly.
VAs hang out on all the major social media platforms. To find one that will be a good fit for you start looking on the platform you prefer for your business interactions. For example, if you like LinkedIn then the chances are you'll find like-minded people there. It's also a great place to ask for recommendations. You can't beat a personal recommendation from a connection you already know, like and trust. Whether you have a recommendation or not consider using social media to research potential VAs. Do you like the tone of their posts? Have they demonstrated knowledge/a skill set that fits with what you're looking for? It's a showcase for them and a great way for you to see their 'shop window'.
Google is often the first port of call for VA hunters but not always the most reliable. The reason? SEO (search engine optimisation). Appearing on the first page of Google is entirely dependent on how good your website's SEO is and the agencies tend to rule this space. There are loads of VAs out there who don't specialise in SEO and don't hit that first results page. You'll miss out if you confine your search to Google alone.
In this VA's humble opinion the best way to find the right person for you is networking. A good chat in a networking group can give you a reliable indication as to how well you'll get on with any fellow business owner. Even if you don't meet a VA in a group you will get to know lots of people, who know lots of other people and will be able to pass on tailored recommendations for a VA that will be a good fit for you.
The discovery call
You've contacted a VA and set up a discovery call with them. This is your opportunity to get a feel for what type of person they are and to sell yourself and your business to them. Don't forget that the discovery call is a two-way process and is just as much for the VA to decide whether you're the right fit for their business as well.
Go back to the list or mind-map you created when you were doing the groundwork and use it as a framework for the discovery call.
You'll usually have around half an hour to outline your needs and ask and answer questions about ways of working. If it goes well a follow-up meeting, face-to-face if geography allows, is useful to get more into the nitty gritty and establish a rapport.
Once you've gone through the practicalities and skill set this is ultimately about your gut feeling. If they tick all the boxes and you get on well and they inspire trust then it's likely to be a good working relationship.
The first few weeks
This is the settling-in period, a time for both you and your VA to establish the best ways of working together, lay down some boundaries and evaluate whether you're both in it for the long haul.
Sometimes it goes swimmingly from day one, other partnerships take a little while to bed in. It's important to ensure that you have a 6-8 week review in place to discuss how things are going and if any changes need to be made.
This period will run more smoothly if both parties set out expectations and clear lines of communication from the start.
At the review meeting don't be shy to bring up anything you feel could be tweaked or isn't working as well as you would like. A good VA will welcome feedback and act on it.
In summary it's important to remember that this isn't just another business transaction but the beginning of what will hopefully be a long and collaborative partnership. By taking the time to identify your needs and preferences, you will lay the foundation for a productive and mutually beneficial relationship. Wherever you find your VA, it's critical to make the most of the discovery call and the settling-in period to find the ways you work best together and ensure that the partnership can thrive going forward. Finding the right VA is an investment in your business's success and your peace of mind. Good luck!
Helen Leach VA Services specialises in helping small business owners implement and streamline processes and reduce the admin burden. I take on the day-to-day admin enabling you to focus on your business and serve your clients. Get in touch to find out how to take your business from chaos to calm.