The Grind

3 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Virtual Assistant

When you’re just starting your company, you never have enough time on your hands. If used correctly, virtual assistants may be the answer you’ve been looking for.

When I started trying to move my company from the founding stages to the growth stage, I noticed my schedule became slammed. New challenges popped up, and I had even less time to do the old tasks I was responsible to handle. Also, the other members of my team had become overloaded with new work as well, so I couldn’t delegate to them. After much research and deliberation, I turned to virtual assistants.

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned working with a virtual assistant and some advice on the best way to use them to help your business:

Related: 3 Mistakes to Avoid When Working With a Virtual Assistant

1. Interview before hiring.

You should treat hiring a virtual assistant the same as bringing on another member of your team. There are plenty of virtual assistants out there, but the quality differs greatly. For starters, make sure the company you are working with only gives you assistants who know your language. Too many headaches will arise and too much time will be wasted working with someone who does not speak your native tongue.

Second, make sure you ask for a resume before the interview. Look for experience that shows they are motivated and pay attention to details.  

Third, when you interview the potential hire, make sure you ask them to let you know why they want to work for your company. To get the best work from them, they need to understand and believe in your company’s mission. A great exercise you can do is ask them to send you at least 20 reasons why they want to work for your company in 24 hours after you interview them. This assignment is great, because it will tell you so much about the candidate. Did they stick to 20 or did they go above and beyond? Did they just make the deadline or was it turned in before time? Were the answers formatted properly? Once you find a virtual assistant who goes above and beyond on the assignment, you’re ready to bring them on board.

Related: 10 Things to Outsource to a Virtual Assistant

2. Organization and instruction are key.

One of the common mistakes with working virtual assistants is that they misinterpret the task. To mitigate the chances of that happening, layout exactly what needs to be done.

For instance, we use virtual assistants to generate leads for our company. If we’re asking them to go on social media, we’ll go through step-by-step how we want them to reach out to clients. This starts with what time they should login, complete the task and log out. One thing to check is how much time it’s taking for your virtual assistant to complete assignments. When you make sure you over communicate, you greatly improve their productivity.

3. Allow them to learn new skills.

As with any member of your team, you want your virtual assistant to grow with your company. You’ll find that virtual assistants love working on tasks that teach them new skills and allows them to grow. To promote this, try assigning more creative tasks to your virtual assistants once you get to know them.

An interesting move I’ve made with our virtual assistants is asking them their opinion on decisions. What I’ve noticed is that when I do this, they feel special because I am asking their advice on something. This causes them to go above and beyond, doing research and analysis before getting back to me with an answer. With some of our virtual assistants, I’ll even ask them what they are most interested in learning. Once I know that, I will try assigning tasks that correlate with what they want to learn. Over time, the closer you get to your virtual assistant, the more you’ll see them as a member and asset to your team.

Related: How to Hire a Virtual Assistant for Startup Success