If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve probably come across a point in time when you’ve thought of hiring some additional help or virtual assistant (VA) for your business. But you are not sure.
You are anxious to take the plunge because of thoughts like: “I cannot afford to hire someone just yet”, “How can I trust that an outsider that too working remotely will understand my business goals?”, or “How will I manage a VA”?
Well, you are not alone.
Hiring a virtual assistant rather than a physical one is certainly more cost-effective and time-saving.
But it is not enough to hire a VA just because you have too much on your plate and could do with a little help. It has to be a well-thought-out decision and backed up with a proper work plan on delegating tasks to the new hire.
Previously I have written blogs on how to hire a virtual assistant, types of VA, tasks to delegate to a VA and the takeaway has been the same. If taken after careful planning and thought, this can be one of the best decisions you’d ever take for your business.
Here we are going to talk about some of the common mistakes to avoid while hiring a virtual assistant in order to save yourself from hassles later.
11 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a Virtual Assistant (VA)
1. Identify whether you actually need a virtual assistant
This one is important. It is not enough to hire a VA because you will be able to delegate some of the tasks to them.
You need to know the exact tasks you would want your VA to do and the ones you would retain in your control. You need to have a clear plan of work for them.
Remember hiring a VA is similar to hiring a physical employee; you need to create a role for them.
If you do not have a list of tasks that they can do daily and just want their assistance with certain things that you do yourself, then you’d probably be better off working with a freelancer on a task basis.
2. Over expectation from a VA
Of course, when you’re looking to hire a virtual assistant, it’s usually for mundane administrative tasks like managing your appointments, scheduling client meetings, managing bookings, social media profiles, etc.
While all these tasks may be routine and administrative in nature, different tasks require different expertise and skill set.
Remember a VA is no Superman who can just solve all your problems. You need to have a list of specific tasks that you would like your VA to do with a proper job description in place.
This will then identify the skills you need to look for when hiring a virtual assistant.
3. Failure to consider language barriers
There has been a recent trend of hiring a virtual assistant from outsourcing companies overseas because of cost-effectiveness.
While it does offer great benefits like attractive prices, access to global talent, it is a path to be tread carefully.
Be mindful of language barriers and cultural differences. Even if they do speak English, their accent may be different and may find it difficult to understand you at the beginning.
Speak slowly and in a manner which easily can be comprehended. Communicate in written form wherever possible so as to avoid any mistakes.
Communicate regularly and easily so they can get used to their employer quickly.
4. Lack of proper communication and review system
Once you hire a VA, it is your responsibility to get the maximum possible output from your VA. Communicate with them clearly regarding their daily responsibilities and give suggestions, take concerns, and discuss issues with them.
Ask them to send you a daily update on the tasks completed during the day. This will give you an idea whether your VA is utilizing their hour effectively.
Also, give suggestions and feedback for further improvements.
5. Initial briefing and introduction
True, virtual assistants are skilled and experienced in their area of work and need no supervision and training.
But the fact remains that you still need to brief them about their role in the organization, your company goals, and objectives and more importantly their job responsibilities.
This is to ensure there are no confusions and doubts later on. This will also help to set the expectation right from both sides.
6. Absence of a formal interview process
It is very important to have a proper selection process in place.
It’s not like you just chat with some random person for a few minutes, talk about the tasks and that’s it you’re good to go. It’s certainly not that.
You need to have a proper selection process. You need to filter the candidates based on their educational qualification and past experience and then interview the shortlisted ones.
Ask them questions pertaining to the job at hand, their past projects, etc. Ask similar questions to all candidates so that it will be easier for you to judge.
7. Not asking for previous work samples
Your VA’s credentials may show excellent on their CV. They may even have very strong work experience but you will never know the quality of their work or how good they are at work until you go through their work samples.
Therefore it is recommended that you always ask for samples. In case the VA does not have any related samples, it is suggested you ask them to do a short task for you as a sample so you can better judge their skills.
8. Not spending time training and briefing your VA
Okay, you might think that you hired a skilled VA, so they will already be familiar with the tasks and they will manage it well on their own.
Well, that is the biggest mistake you can make while working with your VA.
No matter how skilled a VA you are hiring, remember that they are still new to your business and your way of working.
Every organization has its own style of working and doing things. Therefore, it is important you spend time with your VA and explain to them about your workings.
Brief them about your company goals and objectives etc. This will ensure that your VA’s thoughts are aligned with your goals and objectives.
9. Lack of clear instructions and timely feedback
When working with a virtual assistant or a virtual employee, communication is of utmost importance. You have to be in regular touch with your VA, giving them proper instructions, timely feedback, etc.
You have to monitor their task on a daily basis to ensure that things go smoothly and there is no confusion. If you don’t give proper instruction from your end, you cannot expect output as per your expectations.
10. Not using the right tools
Your VA works virtually and is reliant on digital means to communicate, clarify and deliver the final task.
There are a number of tools available in the market that help you not just communicate with your VA but also streamline tasks and other activities so as to enable efficiency and timely delivery.
Tools like Hubstaff, Trello, Slack, DropBox, and others make it easy for you to organize and assign tasks to your VA thus saving you a lot of time writing emails back and forth.
Here you can get a complete list of tools that can help double your VA’s productivity.
11. Not calculating ROI
When to decide to hire a VA, you are making an investment and like any other financial investment, you hope for positive returns for your investment to be profitable.
You need to be clear about the benefit that you expect by hiring a VA. Would it allow you to save time and money or would it allow you to expand your business?
You have to clear with your expectation.
While working with a VA, evaluate time and again, whether the decision is helping your business or not. Of course, you may not see a difference right away but you should be mindful of the continuous progress you are making.
Therefore, it is quite evident that hiring a VA has its own pros and cons but if the decision is taken with proper consideration and care, the benefits far outweigh the risks.
All you need to do is do thorough homework at your end and avoid these above-mentioned pitfalls. Hiring a VA could just be one of the best decisions you ever made for your business.
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Chakshoo Chhabra is a startup consultant, idea generator, angel investor, and Co-Founder/COO at Ninja VA (Virtual Assistant Services ). He keeps on writing on various topics related to growth hacking.