If you're thinking about hiring a Virtual Assistant, then luckily for you, I’ve done all the legwork! And like many business owners out there, I’ve used VAs who’ve really helped me to free up my time to work on the more strategic stuff I should be doing.
Whether you go to an agency, or hire a freelancer – there’s loads of talent out there to choose from. And equally – like every industry – plenty of dross too. So, where do you start? What do you look for? How do you make it work?
⚠ IMPORTANT ⚠ A Virtual Assistant is going to know a hell of a lot about your business and probably your personal life too – so it’s mega important you choose the right person for the job, and at the same time, take the right steps to protect yourself with a proper contract that’s on YOUR terms.
FIRST UP, HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU NEED A VA?
Don’t be tempted to hire a VA just because everybody seems to have one. The tell-tale signs that you probably DO need one though, are below:
- You’re struggling to achieve a work-life balance because you’re swamped in admin
- You’re missing appointments and birthdays even!
- You’re not focussing on the stuff you need to do, to expand and grow your business
- You’re not loving your work like you used to
DITCH, DELEGATE, OR DO YOURSELF
Most business owners I know, want a VA to take away some of the jobs that stop them from doing their core business, or reaching their strategic goals.
What will you be getting your VA to do?
A great way to figure this out, is to come up with a ‘Ditch, Delegate, or Do Yourself’ list. It’s where you divide your business tasks into three categories.
🗑 DITCH: the monthly newsletter that isn’t bringing in any referrals.
👉 DELEGATE to your VA: invoices and expenses.
👍 DO YOURSELF: social media posting.
THE YESSSSSS! AND THE NOOOOO WAY!
It’s great practice – for every hire you make, not just a VA – to do these two things before you recruit:
✅ 1. Figure out your ‘absolute yes’ list. In other words, the handful of things you want your VA to have, or be able to do. For example, you might want your VA to be able to write well. Or perhaps, to be able respond to your clients within two working hours.
✅ 2. Identify your ‘deal-breakers’. You know, those things you simply won’t compromise on.
For example, you might not want somebody who’s based in a different country to you because of time differences. Or, you might not want access to a pool of VAs – but instead want to deal with just one person.
CHOOSING YOUR VA
What makes a fabulous VA? It’s SOOO tricky to know. Why? Because they don’t actually need any qualifications to do their job brilliantly.
Aside from the obvious ability to multi-task, organise, be discreet, communicate well, and be tech savvy – how else do you weigh up their ability to do an awesome job for you?
The answer is: recommendations and reviews. Oh, and to set some exercises to suss out if they’re right for you.
- Ask your network of business contacts for recommendations.
- Upload a post on social media asking if anybody knows of any great VAs.
- Ask applicants if you can contact their previous or existing clients to get their perspective on how good they really are.
- Set candidates an ‘exercise’ to see how they respond. For example, you could ask them to draft an email to a client or supplier who needs to settle an invoice.
- Make sure it’s THEM doing the work for you. Some VAs or VA agencies use a pool of people to share the work around. This might not be what you want.
- Use keyword searches on LinkedIn or Instagram, which is great if they will be doing your social media as you can see their posts and writing style.
IT’S REMOTE, BUT IT’S PERSONAL TOO
Your VA will be dealing with some of your most sensitive and personal matters. You’ll be trusting them with your passwords, financial information, and client details. It’s a totally privileged position to be in. And what’s more, you might never meet them in the flesh!
Therefore, you’ve gotta trust your VA 100%. That’s why you need a water tight contract to protect yourself with, in case that trust is ever broken.
PROTECT, PROTECT, PROTECT
Like any relationship, it can go wrong. And let’s face it, your brand – that you’ve worked so damn hard to build up – is at stake when this happens.
It could go pear-shaped 🍐 if:
📉 You’re not pleased with their performance
🚫 There’s a breach of confidentiality
⚔ There’s a conflict of interest with another client
💷 There’s a pay dispute
🔭 They’ve gone AWOL
The only way to safeguard you and your business, is to make sure you have a robust contract in place. The contract needs to be well-written, super clear, and have your interests at heart. And remember, it’s massively important that it’s YOU providing the contract – not the VA – so it’s YOU that defines the terms.
For example, it needs to contain things like…
✔ A fair notice period, so you won’t be left in the lurch OR stuck in a relationship that no longer works.
✔ A non-compete agreement to stop your VA from working with one of your direct competitors.
✔ An intellectual property clause to make sure any assets your VA creates, stay with you if they leave.
You might think this is unnecessary – but no matter how well you think you get on with somebody – human relationships and circumstances can change. A contract gives both of you something to refer back to, if bumps in the road start to appear.
👉 For a comprehensive, skilfully drafted contract you can make your own, checkout my Virtual Assistant Contract.
TO SUM THINGS UP THEN
👍 A VA can be a super addition to your business.
📑 But, they’ll have such privileged access to your world, you need to make sure you choose the right one for you, and protect yourself with a contract.
👀 How do you know it’s VA you actually need? Don’t be tempted to hire one just because everybody else has one.
✏ Doing a ‘Ditch, Delegate, or Do it Yourself’ exercise, will help you decide what you want your VA to do.
🤔 Decide what your ‘absolute yes’ and your ‘deal breaker’ list looks like, to help hone in on what you’re looking for.
💬 Tap into your own networks for personal recommendations. There are steps you should follow to make sure you get the perfect match for you.
👫 Remember, it’s a very personal relationship you’ll have with your VA, so trust is massively important.
🔏 The only way to protect your business relationship with a VA, is to have a robust contract that comes from YOU.
🙂 And, that’s something I’d be super happy to provide you with.
Still unsure? Then book a free consultation with me and let's talk it through.
Virtual HR Director & Leadership Mentor. I create game-changing HR & Hiring Strategies for ambitious small businesses in the UK and support you to lead your team with confidence. Check out my shop to download HR Templates & Contracts designed to make life easier.