Virtual assistants are appealing for many reasons. Someone who can take things off your plate and do their expert work remotely without taking up precious office space? Sounds too good to be true! However, it’s not always a good idea to hire one — and it might actually be detrimental to your business if you go about it the wrong way. Here are the mistakes to avoid when hiring a virtual assistant.
Mistake #1: You hire a VA to clean up your mess.
VAs are experts in their niche, which might include project management, email processing, or graphic design. However, they’re not your fairy godmother. They can’t simply flick a magic wand and solve all your administrative problems.
If you’re struggling to get your inbox to zero, you need to provide structure and guidance to the VA you charge with cleaning it up. If you need help managing your social media, it’s your responsibility to provide brand guidelines to the VA. As a rule, you should evaluate your own processes and clearly identify problems that you need the VA’s expertise to solve, rather than throwing the VA into the deep end.
Mistake #2: You don’t take the VA’s specialty into account.
While some Renaissance men and women become the VA who can do it all, most VAs specialize in different tasks or work domains. When you’re hiring, be clear about what you need help with and avoid the temptation to increase the scope of work after you hire someone. This will breed resentment in the VA and harm your business’ productivity.
For example, don’t assume that your email VA can also handle your social media needs just because it’s all computer-based. They are different skill sets. It is much more efficient in terms of both cost and productivity to hire separate VAs for the different areas where you need help, rather than shoehorning new tasks onto your VA’s current plate.
Mistake #3: You misunderstand the nature of a VA position.
A VA is almost always hired as a freelancer. You will pay them at a premium for their expertise, but you’ll save significant money because you’re not covering their overhead or benefits. However, this arrangement means that they are not your employee, and you have to take a different approach to them than you do with your regular team.
You must be specific and limited in what you expect of them and set clear boundaries for the work that is to be done. For example, while you may expect your team to pick up slack or regularly participate in impromptu meetings, you’ll have limited access to the VA. They will be logging on for predetermined tasks at predetermined hours because your company is not the only one they work for.
Hiring a VA should be a process taken with the same care and diligence as hiring a regular employee, but with specific goals in mind. Ensure that you are prepared to communicate your needs to the VA and have your ducks in a row before giving them tasks. A VA can be a powerful boost to your business — but only if you set them up for success.