Working intimately with so many entrepreneurs, I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about virtual assistants.
Tales of mis-hiring, terrible work quality, overbilling, identity theft…
I even heard one story about a new VA taking off to Central America never to be heard from again.
(Okay, that one actually happened to ME!)
I’ve been through it all — good & bad — but I’ve actually worked with the same incredible VA, Christiana, for almost 18 months now. And honestly, having her has changed my life.
VERY few entrepreneurs can grow their businesses & thrive as lone rangers.
There’s a point where you simply HAVE to start exercising only your strengths & outsourcing all your weaknesses if you want to grow.
Anything short of that & you’ll be bleeding productivity every day.
Two advantages of going virtual are:
- Cost-effectiveness. As applicants compete for positions on a global platform, small businesses win.
- You can choose the best talent on the planet without being limited to your local pool. If you think about it, very few tasks actually require face-to-face anymore.
Instead of trying to figure out exactly what we’ve done right and wrong in order to find Christiana & provide her with an optimum employment situation, I asked her to write the following piece.
“How to Find & KEEP the Perfect Virtual Assistant”
By: A Perfect Virtual Assistant
One of the most important things is running a business with integrity. I know you may not put that in your blog because it seems like a given, but many people/companies do not.
I would like to thank you for being a person with integrity and running your business the way you do.
Here are 8 specific keys that are critical to finding & keeping the perfect VA:
- When you hire, decide the type of work you would like them to do and be very clear about your expectations.This will guard against a VA who is going to “balk” at new assignments. If you need a VA who loves variety, challenge, and new assignments, make that clear up front.
- Decide how much time is needed up front. This goes along with the above, just to let the VA know what is expected of them. Clarity of expectations is crucial to a happy VA.
- Work closely with VA during the first few weeks to iron out kinks and predict potential problems. This is also important for you to get an overall idea of how the VA works and the VA gets a good idea of what is expected from him/her.When I first started working for you, I have to say I had never had another employer pay so much attention to my work. In the beginning, I thought you were going to be over involved ;-)But as it turns out, the close involvement made me feel more confident in the work that I was doing for you and, when the time was right, you pulled back and left me on my own. I think this time was crucial to the work relationship that has developed.
- Don’t throw a lot of last minute work at your VA.I think some emergency work should be expected, but throwing 8 hours of work at a VA and saying “I need this tomorrow!” is a bit much. If this is something that should be expected, make it clear upfront.
- Set up regular tasks and systems they can count on.
- Keep a manual on how to run your business. A good VA can manage this once she has a grasp of your systems.
- Pay your VA on time. “As requested” sounds like I could ask you to pay me at anytime and you would have to comply! Setting up a payment schedule and sticking to it definitely breeds trust and loyalty.
- Show appreciation to your VA. This one is necessary to keeping a VA happy. It doesn’t have to be monetary, though the bonuses and thoughtful gifts I’ve received are a nice reminder of your appreciation; a simple “thank you for all you do” once in a while really makes a difference. You have been great about that and I’d like to say “Thank you, Andy!”
So there you have it.
At this point, we’ve reached a level of trust where I’m completely comfortable with Christiana managing PR, running customer support, and paying herself bi-weekly through our Paypal account.
It takes time to reach that point, but it rocks to be there.
The bottom line, I would say, is that perfect VAs emerge when you’re the perfect boss. Work on yourself & your company culture first, and good assistants will not only come, but they’ll thrive under your leadership.
And in return, you and your business will thrive.