Are you hiring a virtual assistant? These are the things you need to avoid.

'For Hire' sign in color red.

As a small business owner, you may be familiar with the feeling of trying to do everything at once. You may often find yourself drowning in things to do. Hiring a virtual assistant seems to be the perfect solution. Yet you also may be worried about how to go about this the right way.

That is very understandable. As your business continues to grow, you inevitably arrive at new and uncharted territory. It can be nerve-wracking when you start to outsource or delegate. You may find it difficult to give up some control over certain things you used to do on your own. Yet at some point you must do it to keep up with the pace of your business’s growth.

If you want to complete this process with the lowest risk possible, this is your guide. You can avoid the same mistakes many business owners tend to make when they hire virtual assistants. Here are a few of the most common ones:

They hire a virtual assistant for the wrong reasons.

Hiring a virtual assistant is a process that should not be rushed. For anyone who has never outsourced or delegated before, it can be quite a big jump to make. Thomas Smallwood writes on Bizee: “Don’t hire a virtual assistant just because it’s what Tim Ferriss did or because you heard that’s what entrepreneurs do.”

You must carefully assess your situation. Ask yourself: Do you have a clear vision about the specific role you want to give to your VA?

If something isn’t clear to you, it most likely wouldn’t be clear to your would-be assistant. If that’s the case, you may need to hire a specialist or a consultant instead.

Being clear about your VA’s role will also streamline the process when you’re hiring. It would attract the candidates that are most qualified for your position and also prevent you from wasting time, money, and effort hiring the wrong person.

It helps to categorize your different tasks into high-value (revenue-generating) tasks you enjoy and are really good at, low-value tasks that take time away from your high-value tasks, tasks you don’t want to do, and tasks that you don’t have the skills or special training for. The kind of tasks you need the most help with determines the kind of VA you’d need.

If you’re certain that outsourcing will free up time for you to focus on your high-value tasks, and if the things you want to outsource are very clearly defined, then by all means, hire a VA.

They are very disorganized about the process.

For a business owner, the lack of clear reasons or a clear vision often parallels messy systems and internal procedures. The difficulties are more obvious when they hire a virtual assistant.

A disorganized business owner may try to spontaneously delegate any task s/he can think of. This results in the business owner having to constantly monitor or explain things for several tasks the VA may not be properly trained for. This in turn could also lead to micromanagement, which defeats the purpose of hiring a virtual assistant in the first place.

Ideally, a business owner should let their VA settle into and fully embody a clearly defined role. This does not necessarily mean that the VA is limited to doing one task. Instead, it mostly means that there will be no confusion about how the VA ultimately contributes to the business’s success. This also allows the VA to eventually feel more confident in meeting this role to the best of their abilities.

Another best practice is to develop standard operating procedures (SOPs). Matthew Turner writes on Entrepreneur: “Virtual assistants come and go, and your direction as a business may change. But, the one constant is you, so the processes, back-up plans and alternatives you create today make all the difference tomorrow.” Having well-documented procedures ensures that operations will continue to run smoothly no matter who is doing it. You can also have your VA help you document these processes using a screen-recording software such as Loom.

They communicate inefficiently.

This one is straightforward. Good communication is the foundation of a smoothly operating workforce. Too little communication creates inefficiency. Vagueness leaves everyone with more questions than they started with.

If you’ve just recently hired your virtual assistant, you’d definitely need to be very clear about what you want to achieve. VAs are more likely to exceed expectations when there are clear guidelines and when goals are specific and measurable.

The more completely you communicate something the first time, the less likely you’d need to go endlessly back and forth about the same topic, and the less likely you would also hold up someone’s progress or keep them stuck with certain tasks.

A weekly 30-minute call gets the message across very quickly without taking up too much of your time. It allows countless things to be clarified on the spot. It also allows for building rapport and a strong and healthy working relationship.

A good alternative is recording short videos of you demonstrating something on the screen. This will prevent anything from getting lost in translation, as well as allow anyone to perfectly replicate what you want them to do. It would also save you countless hours in the future when you may need to relay that task to someone else. It saves you time precisely because you’ve just created an easy-access resource library for the whole team! Of course, have your VA do the same thing whenever possible.

In this case, quality over quantity. This can all take some getting used to, but will pay back in the long run. Over time, communication can start to become easier and more general as your VAs become well-acquainted with your vision, systems, and preferences.

They have the wrong attitude/mentality about hiring a virtual assistant.

Some business owners see their virtual assistants as merely costs rather than as investments. This kind of mentality can harm your business in the long run. Seeing your VA this way will prevent you from maximizing their human potential.

Showing gratitude and granting VAs some autonomy in their roles will allow them to learn and grow in the best possible way. This will also let you develop a strong bond with your VA which can make any results gained more sustainable. In turn, they become fully on board with your vision and strongly motivated to go the extra mile.

Virtual assistants are also rising talents. If at times you give them something different or creative to work on, they just might surprise you. Let them brainstorm or provide you a fresh perspective about your business. Remind them about the bigger picture, as the more they understand your business, the more it will benefit.

Ultimately, VAs free up your time and energy to make more room for your bottom line. What else could they be if not an investment for your business?

In summary, avoiding these common hiring mistakes will save you resources and maximize your success.

To tackling your next level with ease,

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