- Chantell Riches
How to Choose The Right VA For You
Updated: Jan 1
A VA (Virtual Assistant) is your extra set of super helpful, multi-tasking hands minus the overhead of hiring a full-time employee.
If you find yourself trying to run and grow your business, whilst still trying to continue to run your personal day-to-day life, as well as aim for that perfect work-life balance, but you’re stressed and overwhelmed ALL the time. You have no time to do what you need to, you vaguely remember what your family look like because you’re never home or you’re locked in a home office and only come out to pee or eat (and even then, you might be gobbling that quick sandwich whilst peeing! Yes, it's efficient, but still URGH!).
Basically, if you’re any of these, plus more!...
Time poor, disorganised
Overwhelmed with to do lists and calls
Don’t know how to prioritise
Poor at time management
Spending too much time in your business, rather than on it
Not a natural multi-tasker
Don’t have the necessary skillset/efficiency to deal with all things admin
Not spending enough time networking or expanding your business
Living to work and missing out on living!
No time to spend with family/friends
Spending more of your waking hours working, than not working
Sucked in by that needy inbox
Drowning in all things admin
Can't afford a full-time staff member
Desperate need to de-stress!
… then it might very well be time to hire a virtual assistant to reclaim a few desperately needed hours in the day.
It's always more reliable and safer to consider a VA that's been recommended to you, or that you’ve heard positive feedback about at an event, or through a network contact, or one that has good Google reviews, or testimonials.
However, this isn’t always the case. Some of us VAs are bloody brilliant, but our current clients don’t always want to share us (understandably), so they often keep us as their little secret. Sweet and highly complementary to us VAs, but it doesn’t always help us grow our businesses very easily. However, we respect our clients enough to give them what they want and need to feel safe, secure, and looked after! After all, we get those testimonials eventually.
So, this is my brief guide on how to choose the right VA for you and your business.
When researching a VA, really think about your business challenges, the tasks you’re struggling with, be it down to no time to do them or even down to not having the necessary savvy or skills to get them done. Consider what type of VA you want – is it someone you want to allocate tasks to and simply have them complete those to your specifications (reactive)?
Or do you want someone to be more a part of your business – a VA who can take an active role, coming up with suggestions, systems, processes, and even creative ideas (proactive). Think about potential language barriers, or time zone differences, how many hours do you need them supporting you a day, do you have specific times you’d prefer them to be available online with you, or can it be a VA that you hand over tasks to and leaves to get on with in the background no matter what time of the day it is for you? There are many factors you need to contemplate when leading up to hiring a VA, whether it’s your first or one of many times.
Certainly, before that all important discovery call, prepare for it! Again, think about what you need, why you need it, when and how you need it. Then carefully analyse and list all the tasks you’re struggling with and ultimately need to outsource. Next to that list, jot down a rough idea of the approximate time that each task takes you now, along with clearly listing all the necessary instructions and deadlines for each. This helps you not only to be prepared and save time babbling but helps to ensure that all expectations are clearly set out in advance of any work taking place. Therefore, the VA can then carefully consider her current capacity, the number of hours she can comfortably dedicate to you, along with a clear idea of cost. All of which, helps to avoid any miscommunication and issues later.
Apart from their experience and skillset, one of the most important aspects to finding the right VA for YOU, is personality! Not just experience. Not just skillset. Not just rates! And certainly not location, especially nowadays! You want to find someone that you, your ethics, and values align with. If you don’t click with them, it more than likely won’t work, or at least last.
It’s not always, and hardly ever is about how low their rates are. In fact, your budget should never be the dominant factor in choosing a VA. After all, most experienced VAs know their self-worth and generally base their rates on exactly that. Not only is your time precious, but so is ours. Especially when we’re dedicating more of our time to you. Remember, you get what you pay for. So, pay the money and hire yourself a highly skilled and experienced VA. Either way, you’re still saving in the long run. Think about agency costs, sick leave, holidays, overheads such as office/desk space, IT equipment, etc. All those things, you now don’t have to provide or pay towards.
Of course, be warned: knowing self-worth and setting the right rates, isn’t always the case. Sometimes it’s very much about newly established VA businesses, in their absolute infancy jumping on the VA-work-from-home bandwagon. Yes, they may have lower rates, in the hope and expectation of winning business quickly and easily. But they are often very new to this industry, quite inexperienced and naïve to customer service. Some are trying this for the first time, so be sure to do your initial research homework.
Yes, you want to save on spend. Yes, those low rates are looking very appealing, and you’re being pulled in towards them – because let’s face it, everyone’s looking for a bargain these days. But seriously think about how much you would be paying a permanent, full time PA – not only their salary, but all the overheads that come with it too. Make the right decision, pay a fair and decent rate, as if you don’t you will only open yourself up to risk, disappointment and further costs in the long run.
On the more positive side of things, some VAs just set lower (not too low) rates for reasons such as taking their clients’ budgets into consideration, along with wanting to remain competitive in what is quickly, as of the last 2 years or so, becoming yet another saturated market.
Again, choosing your VA is very much dependent on their personality, how you gel (which you will see/feel very soon into your first meeting) and how well you click!
Now I’m not saying don’t consider their overall competency, reliability and certainly their experience and skills, as of course, you want a VA who can meet your needs and you want to get them efficiently established into the business so they can crack on. I’m saying, this tip needs to play a big part in considering a VA. You need to be sure they fit in with your business, your team (if you have one yet), your values and goals.
So, start by reading through their website. Is it consistently neat, clear, and minus inaccuracies? Have they taken pride and shown attention to detail in the window to their business passion? If their website has errors or lacks care and attention to detail, then in many cases, this will reflect in the work they produce for you. Although don’t be ooooverly harsh if you see one or two teeny typos. We’ve all done it. I’ve even found typos in some very famous published authors’ books a few times!
Be sure to meet them either in person if possible or certainly over a video call. Speak with them, ask them questions about their passions, their experience, their personal life – gauge what they’re like as a person. And of course, listen to how well they communicate. Are their good at the language you need them to be? Are they clear, confident, personable? Run through a few business challenges you have and ask them how they might be able to support with those. Allocate at least 45mins to an hour for a good, thorough chat to really get a feel for them.
Are they professional, as well as friendly, helpful, and respectful? Are they easy to speak to? Do they listen or just talk at you? Use their contact facility and send them an email to decipher whether they respond efficiently and know how to communicate effectively in writing. If they proficiently meet all these vital requirements of a VA, then you can trust that they will generally deliver good quality work and treat your clients respectfully and professionally.
Once you’ve picked the right VA for you, then the next steps are to ensure discussions on work requirements, time allocation, deadlines, and rates. These elements need to be communicated very clearly from the outset.
Do they have T&Cs, perhaps a Confidentiality Agreement, contract, etc? Do they have compatible software to allow for sharing of documents/diaries, etc? If the VA needs training on your business systems, then be sure to clarify whose cost that will be (usually the clients’).
Next up, once the VA is set up on all required systems and software, and you’ve delegated the agreed tasks/projects, now you need to start determining how efficient your VA is. How well do they stay in touch and keep you updated? How well do they multi-task? How calm do they remain or at least appear to be (the last thing you need is the added strain of a stressed VA as it can just defeat the purpose of hiring them)? Do they stick to their promises? Do they prioritise well and meet the required deadlines? Have they taken pride in the work they have produced for you and is it consistently accurate and of good quality?
One of the best ways to test their reliability and work results is to take them up on their offer of a free trial.
Visit my blog How I Got into VAing to learn more about me as a list-loving individual.
To assess if I’m the Chaos-Coordinating VA for you please do drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to see if I’m the right fit for you.
As a sneak peak, I invite you to gain a little insight into who I am personally here - https://www.yourprivatepa.com/about-me