Virtual assistants are remote workers who can help you with a variety of tasks, from looking after your inbox and diary, to scheduling your social media posts. But when it comes to actually hiring a virtual assistant, it can be tricky to know where to start. In this article, Sam Wilson, CoFounder of Virtalent, shares his guide to hiring your first virtual assistant.
Carefully consider what you need
Your virtual assistant is there to ensure your business runs smoothly, you have fewer tasks to manage, and your life is made less hectic as a result, so it’s important to define exactly what you need them to do and then communicate this clearly.
A virtual assistant can help you with a wide range of tasks, including:
- General admin tasks
- PA support (inbox, diary, travel, etc.)
- Marketing (social media, email marketing, content writing, etc.)
- Event planning
- Project management
- Customer service and sales tasks
- Research tasks
- Financial admin (invoicing, expenses, managing suppliers, etc.)
As a virtual assistant can cover such a broad remit, it’s crucial to think about the individual needs of your business and which areas you could most benefit from getting help with. Once you’ve identified the general areas (e.g. PA support), you should break this down to the specific tasks that you need your virtual assistant to undertake (e.g. manage your diary every working day).
Define the role
Once you have an idea about the areas and tasks you want a virtual assistant to help you with, you can start to define a clear role for them. Before you go about hiring your VA, you need to know:
- What they’ll be required to do
- Any training they'll need to undertake
- Any specific processes they need to adhere to
- When you require them to be available to you
- Your budget (and therefore how many hours per week/month you require their support)
Having all this information to hand before you begin the hiring process means that you'll attract candidates who meet these requirements.
Provide the right tools
An important aspect to consider is that your VA will need access to a range of programs, literature and systems to be able to efficiently and effectively do their job. Before you begin working with your first VA, it’s vital that you ensure they have everything they need to get the job done.
This includes giving them access to databases, email accounts, software tools, documented processes, cloud-based storage accounts and anything else that will be required to do the specific tasks you set out. It saves time and effort for you to ensure this is all in place ahead of when they start work, so asking them exactly what they’ll need may be beneficial. This saves any delays once you begin working together.
Just as with any team member you delegate work to, a clear outline of what you expect them to do, how you’d like them to do it and anything important to note about the task, even if this is done in an informal way, is crucial. Ensuring that you communicate your expectations and needs as clearly as possible and checking they also understand them is vital.
Trust in their abilities
You’ll need to put a certain amount of trust in your new VA. Micromanaging them or making it difficult for them to make autonomous decisions only hinders you. Your VA simply needs some degree of freedom to be able to consider the task in front of them and perform it to the best of their abilities.
Of course, there is a balance to be struck here and your approach may change as you get to know each other. But, ultimately, giving your VA the trust they need is the only way to work towards fostering a healthy, ongoing working relationship that sees them making your life that much easier.
Nurture a healthy partnership
Your VA will work best in an environment where they feel appreciated, trusted and given clear instructions. Virtual assistants can be a long-term asset, staying with you as the company evolves and grows into the business you had originally envisioned. You can adapt their duties over time, giving them new tasks and responsibilities. Take a moment to review their responsibilities every couple of months to ensure that both you and your virtual assistant are getting the most out of your partnership.
About the Author
Sam Wilson is Co-Founder and Marketing Director at. The company offers a premium Virtual Assistant service in the UK which has been designed specifically for busy entrepreneurs and growing small businesses. All of their VAs have several years of experience working with blue-chip companies and thriving start-ups.