These days it seems like every successful person seems to have a virtual assistant. Someone to manage your schedule, respond to emails and take the tedious work off your plate… it sounds like a dream come true!
Hiring a virtual assistant could be the best decision you’ll ever make—or the worst. So before you pull the trigger and think hiring a VA is going to magically change your life overnight, take these six things into consideration.
There will be a big up-front time investment
While a virtual assistant is meant to help offload administrative, systematic tasks, they’re not a machine. They’re a human, and they’re not going to come out of the gate knowing how to do everything you want them to do.
In order for it to be a successful relationship, there will be some serious training required on your part. In fact, your life might get a little more difficult before it gets easier as a result of hiring a VA.
Many entrepreneurs come in with unrealistic expectations about how fast their new assistant will be able to get up to speed and wind up disappointed. Instead, go in knowing that you’ll put in a lot of time up front in order to be happy with the results for months or years to come.
You need systems to make it work
If the tasks you need help with require your personal touch, it’s simply not going to work out. Unless your new VA is a mind reader, he or she is going to need predetermined systems in which to work.
Think of it like giving someone an instruction manual on how to build a bookshelf. If the designer’s input was required every time someone was building the bookshelf, they would never sleep. Your projects for your virtual assistant should be like an instruction manual—something that can be replicated again and again without you having to get involved in the process each time.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you wanted to use your VA to help alleviate your overstuffed inbox. Your system might look like this:
- Check email at 8 a.m., noon and 4 p.m. each day.
- If message is in regards to a meeting, schedule it an open slot in my calendar.
- If message is in regards to financials, forward it to accounting.
- If message is from a client, mark it as urgent and send me a text alert.
It’s best to start small
That being said about systems, it’s easy to see how there will be a lot to do up front if you don’t already have these systems in place.
Try easing into it by assigning your VA just one task—for example, the email system mentioned above—rather than trying to have them jump right into managing your inbox, your calendar and your voicemail on the first day.
Once you’ve successfully onboarded them to the first task and they have it down, you can add more to their plate.
The time difference may be more of a pain than you expect
Overseas labor is cost-effective, and there are many highly qualified virtual assistants in all corners of the globe.
However, the time difference of working with someone on the other side of the world becomes an issue more than you might anticipate. Even if your VA agrees to keep your country’s business hours, things beyond their control (like family obligations when it’s 8 p.m. for them but noon for you) may come into play.
Sometimes, it’s worth it to pay more for a virtual assistant that’s physically in your time zone or close to it.
They’re more important to your company than you think
You might have a preconceived notion that hiring a VA will be a quick and easy process. After all, they’ll be handling mostly admin duties, right?
But the reality is, this person has a far more significant responsibility on their shoulders: your time. It’s your most precious resource as the leader of your company, and if this person doesn’t do their job well you’ll be losing a lot of it.
Taking the time to find and hire the right virtual assistant could be just as important as recruiting a stellar member of senior management. Remember—if they’re doing a good job, you’re going to rely on them quite a bit.
They have one primary task
At the end of the day, your VA’s job isn’t to respond to emails or reorganize your calendar (though those are both viable things he or she may do). Their primary task should be to free up your time and energy so you have more of both for more important tasks.
Focus on this when deciding what to delegate and how best to implement systems that will make it even easier.
Have you hired a virtual assistant? Leave a comment and let us know how you made the decision!
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