5 Tips to Work Successfully with a Virtual Assistant
Like most creative entrepreneurs your business is your baby and you know there is no one better to take care of that baby than you. You soon realize that your to-do list is never-ending, balls are being dropped in your business and you are on the road to burnout. After much thought and consideration you decide you need some help and take the leap by adding a virtual assistant (VA) to your team!
Congratulations on taking the first step to regaining balance in your life and freeing up time to focus on those things that matter most to you! I have had the pleasure of working side by side with Kate Quin for the last couple months. Kate works with creative entrepreneurs in the areas of their business that are overwhelming and are not the main focus, she takes things off of your plate and puts them onto hers (sounds amazing, doesn't it?!).
It has been such a relief to have someone you can lean on, to take on tasks I wouldn't have the time to do otherwise or to just bounce ideas off of. It can be lonely and certainly time consuming to be a one-(wo)man-band!
But we know that having someone else come on board to help you with your business can be scary and sometimes overwhelming so we have complied for the following tips for you below!
5 Tips to making your relationship with your virtual assistant a successful one!
1. Understand Your Unique Needs
Knowing exactly what you need help with is one of the most important things you can figure out for your business. Make a list and outline tasks and areas that you feel only you can do in your business and those that can be handed off. Having this clear picture will allow you to find the best VA to suit your needs.
2. Know Your Own Work Style
It is important to figure out your ideal work style as you will want to look for a VA that fits with both your work style and personality. Are you able to pass off a task and leave it in their capable hands? Are you someone that requires step by step updates, can you communicate solely via email for the duration of a project? Do you work well in advance of deadlines? Most VA's have more than one client and so being prepared and working ahead can help ensure your projects get done when you need them. Knowing the answers to these questions will help you find the right fit from the start.
3. Don't Underestimate the initial Consultation
Once you have narrowed down your choices for you VA you want to make sure you use the initial consultation to get a feel for their personality, style and if you feel they would be a good fit for you. Make sure you have questions prepared, have your list you created from tip #1 on hand so you know exactly what you are in need of, approximately how many hours of work would be required and any concerns you may have. Most VA's will do a video call and this is a nice way to "meet" them when working remotely.
4. Plan Ahead
Once you have hired your VA, you want to make sure you schedule in some training time. Just as if you were hiring a local employee you will need to spend some time training them on your workflows, processes and procedures. Don't expect that they will be able to figure everything out on their own, especially when you are in the midst of busy season. Try and factor in that time especially in the first month or two of working together. You also want to make sure you have complied login and password information or add them as admins to the programs you use most often. Having these done in advance will allow your VA to get straight to work and will avoid them having to ask for these items to get their work done.
5. Communicate Effectively
This is nothing more important than communication especially when working with someone remotely. We are going to divide this tip up into four parts:
a) Clear Expectations: make sure you communicate what your expectations are right from the start, if you are only working on a first draft for a blog post and don't tell them that, you don't want them spending that extra time perfecting that post as if you were publishing it tomorrow when that didn't need to be done.
b) Specific Instructions: you want to give as much detail as possible on a project or task, include examples or samples of your work wherever possible. The goal is to replicate the work you do so having samples of your work for them to see will only help achieve this. The longer you work with your VA the easier this will become
c) Timely Responses: Try and stay on top of responses as best as possible to ensure that your projects get done in a timely manner and correctly the first time around.
d) Project Management System: this is especially important when working with someone remotely as it allows everyone involved to communicate, stay organized, assign different tasks to each other and know when things are due.
Whether you are just starting your search for a VA or are currently working with one, we hope you have found these tips helpful to maintaining an amazing relationship with your team members!
... and share your thoughts/experiences on working with a VA on the comments below. We are just starting our team here at The Romanticist and (good) advice is never enough :)