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How To Find And Keep A Winning Virtual Assistant

Barnaby

Barnaby Lashbrooke

Founder and CEO of Time etc, author of The Hard Work Myth

8 minute read

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Working with an exceptional virtual assistant (VA) can be like a winning hand in a poker game. But as anyone who has ever played poker knows, success takes more than just being dealt a lucky hand – you’ll need to play your cards right every step of the way.

If you think that a successful and rewarding experience with a virtual assistant is purely down to the luck of the draw, the truth is, there are tried-and-tested methods that can tip the odds in your favor and help you create a truly winning partnership.

What Is A VA?

With recent reports finding that entrepreneurs work up to 39% more than average full-time employees, and it being one of the most stressful jobs to have, the demand for virtual assistants among business owners has grown exponentially.

A virtual assistant (VA) is a skilled professional who provides support to their clients remotely from a home office.

While the scope of services offered by virtual assistants can vary widely, they typically have experience in at least one specific area. This might include administrative and executive assistance, scheduling, customer service, data entry, marketing support, or research.

Outsourcing tasks that take serious chunks out of your time and energy each day frees you up to focus on what you do best. And unlike an in-house employee, virtual assistants can be brought on board for as many or as few hours as you need, costing up to 90% less than hiring a full-time assistant.

How to find your VA

Before you start weighing up your options, make sure you have a clear understanding of what you really need. Consider the sort of tasks you want to offload, the skills and experience needed to complete them, and any other requirements that are important to you.

Once you’ve got a solid idea of what a good assistant looks like for you and your business, there are a few different ways you can find potential candidates. Here are some of the main routes that business owners use to hire virtual assistants.

Referrals

Do you have any business acquaintances who always seem to have their act together since teaming up with a VA? If so, don't be afraid to ask them where they found their amazing assistant.

You could also try reaching out to your network via LinkedIn or any social media groups or pages for business owners in your area. Be sure to include what kind of tasks you need help with and what type of business you have so people can give better referrals.

Online marketplaces

Thanks to the power of the internet, you can hire a remote freelancer from pretty much anywhere in the world.

Popular platforms such as Fiverr, UpWork, Freelancer, and PeoplePerHour have vast global communities of remote-working professionals available for short or long-term work, giving you access to a much larger pool of potential candidates right at your fingertips.

However, it’s important to bear in mind that some platforms have tighter screening processes than others, meaning that quantity isn’t always quality. And the competitive nature of these online marketplaces means that it’s common for applicants to mass-apply for multiple jobs per day using the same generic template and without reading the job description. This can make it tough, not to mention time-consuming, to separate the wheat from the chaff and find a suitable candidate.

Overseas outsourcing

There is a large and well-established market for remote assistance services throughout much of Asia, including the Philippines, India, and Malaysia. The lower price point is what attracts many users, as you can expect to pay around $3-$10 per hour for a VA in these regions.

However, many find that these cheaper prices can come at the cost of effective communication – both in terms of language barriers and time zone differences. Another important aspect to consider is security. Different countries have different regulations on how personal and financial data can be handled, so it is crucial to do your research beforehand.

Virtual assistant services

If you're looking for a reliable and experienced VA, premium virtual assistant services are likely to be your best bet. In most cases, they offer many of the same benefits as other options–access to a larger talent pool, for example–as well as solutions to the common problems that you might encounter with other options.

These services are very selective regarding the assistants they bring on board, so you can be confident that any assistant you work with meets their high standards of skills, experience, and professionalism. Plus, most of the time-consuming elements of the hiring process will be handled for you–no need to trawl through stacks of resumes or search endless pages of listings. All you need to do is hand tasks over, and build a successful partnership with your assistant (more on this later!).

See: Where to find a Virtual Assistant?

How to keep your VA

So, you’ve done your research and you’ve found an assistant that’s a great fit for you and your business, now it’s time to start working together. But in order to reap the most benefits of their support – now and for years to come – you can’t afford to take a back seat. There’s important work that needs to be done if you want to keep them by your side for the long term.

If it sounds daunting, you’ll be pleased to hear it’s all quite simple.

Here are the best ways to build a long-lasting working relationship that’s productive and positive for both of you.

Regular communication

I know it’s cliché, but it’s not without good reason.

We know that as a busy entrepreneur, time is of the essence – and likely why you hired a virtual assistant in the first place. It may feel like this is adding more responsibilities to your plate when you’re actively trying to reduce them, but keeping in regular contact with your assistant is an absolute must if you want to get the most out of your experience.

  • Reply to your assistant promptly. If you’re really busy and struggling to get back to your VA, drop them a quick message to let them know your situation and you’ll get back to them as soon as you can. Please remember never to abandon or “ghost” your assistant.
  • Be prepared to answer questions and give guidance, especially in the early days.
  • Schedule regular check-ins to discuss tasks and how things are going in general, to help keep you both on the same page. Aim to hold these check-ins via video call where possible, to help build a more human connection and not just be a name on a screen to each other.

Share your appreciation

Gratitude expert Dr. Robert Emmons calls it “the ultimate performance-enhancing substance”.

Acknowledging and thanking your virtual assistant for a job well done not only benefits them – it's good for business too. According to a survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), those who felt valued by their employers were considerably more likely to report better physical and mental health, as well as higher levels of engagement, satisfaction, and motivation, compared to those who did not feel valued.

You may not be a traditional employer for your virtual assistant, but the same rules apply. The more your VA feels appreciated, the harder they’re going to work and the more loyalty they’re going to feel towards you and your business.

While constructive feedback should never be avoided if mistakes are made, positive feedback is vital. It’s a boost of all-important motivation and confidence to do their best work. Be specific in your praise to get the most impact.

See: How To Form A Successful Relationship With Your Virtual Assistant

Focus on recurring tasks

Sometimes when people start working with a virtual assistant, they fall into the trap of only using their service sporadically as and when they think they need a job done. There are two reasons why you should avoid this.

First of all, there may be a million different reasons why people choose to work with a VA, but ultimately what it all boils down to is wanting to reclaim time. The more time you can reclaim, the better. But the truth is, you’ll struggle to maximize the return on your investment when you only use your assistant every now and then.

Instead, aim to prioritize the sort of tasks you deal with on a frequent basis. By offloading just a few regular tasks on a daily or weekly basis, you could end up saving the equivalent of 22 working days each year! Whether it’s focusing on growing your business or making memories with your loved ones, just think about what you could achieve with that reclaimed time.

Secondly, although it’s unlikely you’ll ever meet in person, it’s crucial to always remember there is a real human on the other end working to support you.

Here at Time etc, all our assistants are independent professionals, so any VA you work with is one who wants to support you and be a valuable asset to your operations. Simply put, your virtual assistant isn’t paid to sit around waiting for you to assign work. And because they are independent, just as they choose the clients they want to work with, they can also choose who they continue to work with. A lack of opportunities to do meaningful work to help their clients and put their skills to use is one of the most common reasons an assistant may decide to pursue other clients.

This is why delegating regular, recurring tasks is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to ensure a beneficial experience for both you and your assistant. If you need any inspiration, enter your regular tasks on your to-do list into our free online tool to find out exactly how much should be done by you and how much can be delegated to your assistant.

See: Delegate These 25 Recurring Tasks To Save Time Every Day

What’s The Bottom Line?

A good virtual assistant is worth their weight in gold, and can be a game-changer in both your personal and professional life.

At Time etc, our mission is to help hardworking entrepreneurs achieve more by providing them with the best virtual assistants for their needs. We know your time is precious, which is why you won’t need to do any of the heavy lifting. Each step of the way, our team will carefully assess your requirements to make sure you get the right support, and to match you with the best assistant based on the skills and experience you need. To ensure that you have a great experience as well as great results, we have a rigorous 10-stage application process for virtual assistants looking to join us, with only the top 2% of VAs making it through, on average. Not only that, we offer all our users a lifetime happiness guarantee.

So if you’re ready to take back control of your time and start doing more of the work that matters, try a skilled virtual assistant for free or speak to our expert team to find out how we can help you today.

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About the author

Barnaby
Barnaby Lashbrooke is the founder and CEO of Virtual Assistant service Time etc as well as the author of The Hard Work Myth, recently recommended by Sir Richard Branson. Barnaby is a Forbes Columnist on productivity and is also an accomplished entrepreneur, selling more than $35 million worth of services.

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