This is a guest blog from the very lovely Sarah Cornforth at Crystal VA all about how to hire a VA (virtual assistant).

How to Hire a Virtual Assistant

As business owners, we are a very versatile bunch. With a bit of effort, we can pretty much turn our hand to anything. However, there comes a point in every business owner’s journey where we realise that we can no longer do it alone. Sometimes we require specialist help such as a Graphic Designer or an Accountant, and at other times, we just need support to keep things ticking over and reduce the stress levels a bit. As a Virtual Assistant myself, I want to give you a bit of guidance on hiring a VA to support you and your business, picking the right person for the job as well as how you maintain a successful relationship VA/Client relationship; straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Within my business, my area of expertise is productivity improvement and time management. I support my clients by taking on the tasks they don’t have time for along with more specialist project work. I also have a VA who supports me and my business, as even Virtual Assistants need virtual assistance!

Virtual Assistants come in all shapes and sizes

VA’s come in all shapes and sizes and most can assist with the majority of admin-based tasks without any guidance or training, but you will also find they have their own areas of expertise. Some are specialists in particular software packages, other’s are genius number crunchers, while some are excellent at design and graphics. The VA I work with is a Proofreader, this is a skill set I don’t possess to the same level she does, and the overlap in abilities is great for my business as this offsets one of my weaknesses. Let’s face it, we can’t be awesome at everything no matter how hard we try!.

So who do you choose, and how do you go about it?

Determine what you would like to outsource

First of all, you need to know what you want from your VA. What is it you would you like them to do for you? Most of my clients started off knowing they needed some help but had no idea what they want to pass over or how to go about it. I will give you the same advice I gave them:

  • Make a list of everything that is draining your time
  • Go through the list and number the items in order of importance, with number 1 being the most important thing you need to outsource
  • Look at passing your most important task to your VA first to test the process and see how well you work together
  • Determine your budget. This is the maximum amount you can afford to spend on outsourcing
  • Once you are happy, start to pass over more and more work until you reach the balance between your budget and the help that you need.

The second thing to do is to find some potential candidates. You can do this in a number of ways.

  • Recommendations – speak to people who you know who use VA support and ask if they would recommend them. Knowing that someone else is happy with the support they get goes a long way to giving you confidence in your choice. The majority of my clients come from recommendations from others.
  • Research – If you can’t get any recommendations, do some research. Most VA’s will have a website. Get googling for VA’s in your area and put together a list of your top 5, and then give them a call and scope them out.
  • Local networking events – If you network, then you have already probably met a VA, there is always one at an event. Getting the chance to have a chat with a VA will give you a good sense of what they do and whether or not they can support you. In the early days, before I had clients to pass on recommendations, networking was my main source of business.

Once you have a couple of potential VA’s in mind, arrange a chat either over the phone or even face to face via Skype. I firmly believe that you can get a better measure of how well you would work together by talking. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, before the call, make a list of what you would like to ask to make sure you don’t forget anything and also have your list of potential tasks with you as they are definitely going to want to know more about the work you would like doing. Trust your instincts when you’re on the call. You need to have a good feeling about working with the person you are talking to. I choose my clients as much as my clients choose me. If I get the feeling that I don’t think the relationship is right for me, then I won’t take on the work. As a business owner, the client VA relationship is just as important as the money obtained from the job, if not more important.

How do you maintain a successful relationship?

Communication

Communication is vital, I would say this is my number one tip for a successful relationship.  VA’s tend to be very intuitive, and a good one will have a spooky ability to know what you want before you do. With that being said, we are not mind readers. It is very important to communicate clearly exactly what you would like doing, how you want it to be done and when by. Maintaining regular communication is essential if you want the relationship to last. It’s also important to be open and approachable and make sure the feeling is mutual. It should be a bit like a marriage, except for the fact you actually get along!

Respect

Virtual Assistants are also business owners too and not the ‘hired help’. They’re there to support you and your business, and the right VA will do an amazing job. Plus, we love working with nice, happy, friendly people, and your business is just as important to us as it is to you.

Look to the future

You may need support daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly. It doesn’t matter how often or infrequent; that’s the beauty of this type of support. Even if you only have a single small job in mind at first, don’t worry, that’s fine as there is still a very good chance you will need help in the future. So, think long term when hiring a VA. Look for someone you get along with, who is capable of supporting your needs, and who you can imagine going back to time and again. I hope this information has been helpful in guiding you towards finding the perfect Virtual Assistant for your business, and I wish you a long and successful VA/Client relationship. Sarah Cornforth – Crystal VA 

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