As small business owners, we’re always busy juggling all the things. Maybe you’ve decided you need some extra help, but hiring a full-time employee isn’t an option for you right now. That’s where a Virtual Assistant [VA] can help – A VA can provide a flexible, cost-effective solution to help you offload tasks and create some head space for you to focus on other things.
What is a VA?
A VA is self-employed and provides professional administrative, technical, or creative assistance to clients remotely, usually from a home office. Because VAs are independent contractors rather than employees, you’re not responsible for any employee-related taxes, insurance, or benefits. You’ll also avoid the logistical problem of providing extra office space, equipment, or supplies #winwin
But how do you work effectively with a VA? Here are my top 7 tips:
1. Know what you want to outsource
Before you start working with a VA, it’s important to work out what tasks you want them to handle. This could include social media management, email marketing, bookkeeping, or general administrative tasks. I always suggest you write down everything that you do in your business, then split the list into the things:
you NEED or LIKE to do [list 1]
that don’t require your expertise, or you just DON’T like doing [list 2]
2. Choose the right VA
There are lots of types of VA out there, so it’s important to choose the right one for your needs. Look for someone who has the skills and experience for the tasks you need to outsource, and who is a good fit for your company culture. Stalk their website and socials, read reviews, and get a general feel for them before you get in touch.
3. How to communicate
Communication is everything when you’re working with a VA, or any virtual team member for that matter. Make sure you establish a communication system that works for both of you, whether it’s through a project management system like Asana, by email or via a communication app like Slack. Once you’ve agreed on the main method of communication, you should also agree on a timeline for responses.
4. Give clear instructions
When delegating tasks to your VA, it’s important to provide clear instructions. Be specific about what you want them to do, when you need it done, and any other details that are important. This will help ensure that the work is done the way you want it and with less back and forward for clarifications.
Feedback is an important part of any working relationship, especially when working with someone virtually. If your VA is doing a great job, let them know! If there are some areas where you think they could improve, give them some constructive feedback. This will help them meet your expectations next time. Remember, feedback is a two-way street, so always ask if there’s something you could do differently to help.
Trust is important when working with a VA. Remember they are professionals who are there to help and support you. Once you’ve both got into the rhythm of working together, try not to micromanage them. If you think it might be hard for you to hand things over, maybe start small with a few tasks and then add more as you get to know them, how they work and that they are capable of completing the tasks.
7. Be flexible
VAs offer a high level of flexibility, but you also need to be flexible when working with them. Keep in mind that most VAs have multiple clients and are working hard to juggle all the things just like you.
So, there you have it, working with a VA can be a great way to manage your workload and grow your business. By knowing what you want to outsource, choosing the right VA, and having some key processes in place, you can build a strong working relationship [and maybe even a friendship] with your VA.
After decades working in mining, aviation and oil & gas, Marie founded Empress of Order, a virtual assistant service, in 2018 and quickly became fully booked. With a background in operations and safety, focussing on processes, systems and procedures, Marie now supports busy business owners and helps them bring order to their lives!
She’s certified by the VA Institute and was named in the Inside Small Business Top 50 Business Leaders in 2020. Marie facilitates a coworking day each month in her hometown of Perth, where business owners get together to work and build connections. This year Marie expanded her empire with the purchase of The Digital Mums Directory, an online membership and directory for female digital experts in Australia, with a biz friend. She lives in the beautiful Perth Hills with her husband Simon and fur-baby Jasper. She can’t function without her morning coffee and loves a glass of bubbles or a cocktail in the evening.