If you’ve been a business owner or online entrepreneur for any length of time, you’ve probably heard all kinds of opinions about how to work with a virtual assistant. But chances are, you’ve heard a few horror stories, too, from people working with VAs.
With all the information swirling around about what what a virtual assistant is and does, it’s easy to fall for some of the misconceptions out there.
But not anymore!
Today we’re going to clear up five of the most persistent misconceptions about how to work with a virtual assistant so that you can make decisions about your business that are based on reality and not rumor.
Ready to get your learn on? Here we go.
1. A VA can do everything, immediately, with zero training.
This is a big misconception about virtual assistants, and it’s something that has caused many a headache for both business owner and VAs alike. It stems from a common issue for any human relationship, whether personal or professional: off-kilter expectations.
It’s easy to see how you might expect your new virtual assistant to be able to hit the ground running on Day One.
True, a good VA will be able to catch on quickly, but there is always, always, always going to be an onboarding process as well as an orientation period. This person doesn’t know the ins and outs of your business, after all, and there are some things that they must learn (your preferences and desired outcomes, for example) before they can do the work.
Part of the length of onboarding and orientation can be shortened if you work with a virtual assistant who has some experience with the software and/or systems that you use. That experience will reduce the amount of training you’ll need to do.
That’s the trade-off between hiring someone with extensive experience and someone with limited experience. A VA with limited experience can still be extremely valuable for your business, but the “ramp up” period may take longer.
2. VAs are available 24/7.
The reality is that many virtual assistants are not available during regular business hours; they’ll do their work in the evenings and on weekends, with some VAs working part-time hours on weekdays. The flexibility is one of the things that draws many of us to virtual assisting in the first place ‒ we can fit the work around our priorities.
Not all VAs are moonlighters. If you need a virtual assistant who’s available during regular business hours, you’ll certainly be able to find one. This just needs to be established in the interview process (and preferably in the job description itself, before the real interaction even begins).
If you don’t care when the work gets done as long as it gets done, you’ll have a lot of qualified virtual assistants interested in working with you. The way to make this arrangement work for you is to have very clear deadlines and milestones established in advance.
And speaking of being clear… it’s not reasonable to expect your VA to be “on call” at all times of day or night, unless you plan to pay for that service.
Experienced virtual assistants will let you know their availability right from the beginning, including both when and how they can be reached.
If you want to be able to call, text, and/or email your assistant any time of day, the best thing you can do is stipulate this in your job description. Otherwise, the general assumption with most VAs is that the majority of your business will be conducted over email.
3. Working with a VA is too risky because I have to share confidential information.
You hire someone off the internet and hand over a bunch of passwords to key aspects of your business. And then you pay them for the privilege. Seems kinda fishy, right?
It’s likely that your VA will need access to some critical information to do their work, such as access to your email, the back end of your website, maybe even a payment processor.
There’s no way around the need for that access. BUT… there are some things you can do to mitigate the risk you’re taking on by outsourcing to a virtual assistant.
First, check all references the VA offers and (if you’re particularly nervous) ask how those people feel about the candidate’s trustworthiness and ability to keep things confidential.
Next, get yourself a solid non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement for your contract with whichever virtual assistant you end up hiring. This will make your expectations absolutely clear right from the start.
Finally, look into using a platform such as LastPass to share your passwords. LastPass lets you grant someone the ability to use your login information at any specified site, without revealing your actual credentials. It’s pretty cool, if you ask me!
4. You can’t trust time tracking.
This is an area of concern for many people who are in the beginning stages of working with a virtual assistant. It’s understandable in a way. When you’re paying someone hourly, how can you be sure they’re actually working during all those hours? It comes down to trust, but how much can you trust them?
If you expect to pay your VA on an hourly basis, this is an area where you’ll have to trust your VA’s professionalism.
You can check the candidates’ references before you make a hiring decision. You can ask the virtual assistant to use a specific time-tracking software (or ask to see the reports from the time tracker the VA prefers to use). You can even ask for daily time reports or set up a spreadsheet for your VA to use.
To be honest, these kinds of things would border on micromanaging, which is the opposite of what we’re after with virtual assisting, both for you and for the VA.
If it’s really a big concern for you, then the best thing you can do is switch your thinking away from trading time for money (i.e. paying for actual hours worked) and think more about trading value for money.
When you think about the role you want your virtual assistant to play, how much is that role worth to you per week or per month?
If you can look at your situation and say that it’s worth $500 per month to have your inbox taken care of for you, then you can simply work out a monthly rate with your VA.
As long as the work gets done and it’s worth that price to you, then you and the virtual assistant are both free from fussing with time sheets and trackers.
5. Virtual assistants aren’t real professionals.
It’s true that many VAs are moonlighters, whether they’re running their business around a day job, childcare, or other obligations.
And while it’s easy to be dismissive of anyone who doesn’t spend a full-time work week devoted to their work, you can’t think about your potential virtual assistant that way. All it does is undermine your working relationship and set you on a course for flaming out.
Operating a virtual assistant business is serious work.
There are bills to pay, clients to juggle, contracts to sign, proposals to write, and more. It isn’t necessarily conducted in a dedicated office outside of the home during normal business hours, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less of a professional operation.
Have you thought about hiring a VA but felt hesitant because of any of these misconceptions? Which reservation has been the biggest for you?
If you’ve decided that you’re ready to hire a virtual assistant, you’re in the right place! Our VA Finder is a premium tool that will save you time and money by sending a group of highly qualified applicants straight to your inbox.