How to Prepare Your Business to Work with a Virtual Assistant
If you're looking to boost productivity and efficiency in your business, working with a Virtual Assistant (VA) and other freelancers can be an excellent solution. However, if you're new to the concept of working with a VA, it's essential to follow a few steps to establish a seamless and effective working relationship.
In this blog post, I have outlined (from my own experience) the key measures you should take in order to prepare your business to work with a Virtual Assistant.
Define your business goals
Before hiring a virtual assistant, you should clearly define your business goals and the tasks you want the VA to handle. This will help you to determine what kind of virtual assistant you need and what specific skills and qualifications they should have.
Identify tasks and responsibilities
Start by making a list of the tasks and responsibilities you want to delegate to your virtual assistant. This could include administrative tasks, customer service, social media management, email management, and more.
If you need a little support with how to work out what to delegate then why not read my blog post What Tasks Can You Outsource to a Virtual Assistant?
Choose the right virtual assistant
When choosing a virtual assistant, consider their qualifications, experience, and references. Look for someone who has experience working in your industry and who has the skills necessary to complete the tasks you need help with.
Most of my work comes via referral to ask your own network, LinkedIn etc for recommendations.
Set clear communication channels
I can’t stress how important this is. I have worked with lots of people and the one thing I have learned is how differently people communicate. First, you need to decide on the preferred methods of communication, such as email, messaging apps like Slack or Microsoft Teams, or project management tools like Asana or Trello. If you're new to working with a VA, you could ask for their thoughts on their preferred working methods. Experienced VAs often have their own established and effective communication practices that they can share with you.
Then define your availability and response times to avoid any miscommunication. Schedule check-ins, weekly meetings, or progress updates to discuss ongoing tasks, address questions, and provide feedback. Establish how you wish to check in Zoom, mobile, landline etc. Encourage open communication to foster a collaborative working relationship.
Protect data and privacy
Establish protocols to protect data and maintain confidentiality. Implement secure file-sharing systems and password managers – again, ask the VA for advice on this if you need to. A VA will have their own contract and data processing forms – if not, this is a big red flag. And if necessary, issue your own non-disclosure agreements to safeguard your business information.
Provide training and resources
Make sure your virtual assistant has access to all the resources they need to do their job effectively. This includes providing any necessary training, access to software and tools, and clear instructions on how to complete tasks.
Set clear expectations
Be clear about your expectations for the VA, including deadlines, quality standards, and communication protocols. This will help to ensure that the VA understands their role and can deliver the results you need.
Start with smaller tasks and gradual delegation
It takes time to build trust, and it’s natural to be nervous about outsourcing work, particularly to someone whom you have only just met. Many VAs don’t offer trial periods (I don’t), but if you explain your hesitancy, many VAs will adapt to this and agree that you can assign smaller tasks or projects initially to build trust and assess their capabilities. This can start with taking on their minimum number of hours per month and then, as you gain confidence in their performance and understand their skill set better, gradually delegate more tasks and increase the hours.
Keep in mind that the key to a fruitful collaboration with a VA lies in efficient communication, well-defined expectations, and selecting the right VA. By carefully strategising and implementing your plans, a VA has the potential to become a valuable asset for your business.