Finding a virtual assistant to help you with your everyday business tasks is one thing. Developing a good working relationship is another. The very nature of remote support means that both you and your virtual assistant need to make sure the relationship gets off to a positive start, and that good channels of communication are opened and maintained.

It’s in everyone’s interest for this relationship to be productive, so what are the most important things you need to do to make sure this happens?

The entrepreneur – virtual assistant relationship

Manage this relationship well, and you will have a valuable resource that you can rely on to help you build your business. Manage it poorly, and you could end up working your way through several VAs without a satisfactory experience. There’s definitely responsibility on both sides here, and it’s worth remembering that your VA will have plenty of experience in working with new clients, so listen to their advice and take the time to understand how the process works.
Here are our top tips for getting the most from professional virtual assistant services:

1. Don’t make assumptions
Just like taking on a permanent staff member, you’ll find that your virtual assistant will be most effective when they understand you, your business, your goals and your processes. The best virtual assistant companies will have an onboarding process that gives you all the information you need about your VA, and manages initial connections so that you are comfortable with the person you are working with.

Don’t make any assumptions about how much they know about your business. Make some time to get to know your VA – use video calls to establish a good relationship, explain how you work, and show them where and how you need support. Every business person works differently, so make sure you both have realistic expectations.

2. Go through systems and processes
This is important, as it saves a considerable amount of time and confusion. For example, if you are using your virtual assistant to help with bookkeeping, make sure they have access to whatever system you use. You may have to share your login details, or set them up as a new user.
This applies also to CRM systems, Mailchimp or other email marketing accounts, social media and other software you might use in the business. The sooner your VA can have access to your systems, the sooner they can get up to speed with your processes and get on with supporting your business.

3. Get to know your VA
Your VA is like a staff member – they are often a great sounding board, and have a wealth of experience that you can draw on. And, while they may be working remotely, it’s important to get to know them as a person. This strengthens the relationship, enables better two-way communication and helps you both feel like you are working together as a team.

At Oneresource, we always suggest that you put in regular check-in meetings to make sure that everything is working well, and that both you and your VA are happy. Do this on the phone or with a video call, rather than email, so you are building that persona connection.

4. Emphasise open communication
As with any relationship, you need to have open communication, where both parties feel they can discuss, query, challenge or feed back on tasks and approaches. A virtual assistant for small business owners knows that their clients are often working long hours, under a lot of pressure. So they won’t bother you unnecessarily. They do need to know, however, that they can raise issues and be listened to.

Similarly, you need to know that your VA is accessible, understands the tasks and is able to get on while you concentrate on other things. Putting good communication and feedback processes in place right from the start will help you to do this, making work life more productive all round.

5. Agree a process for feedback
Your VA isn’t an employee, so there’s no obligation to conduct performance reviews or set development goals and targets. But we all like to feel appreciated, and you’ll find that a motivated, intelligent virtual assistant will go the extra mile to support you and your business.

So it’s important to remember to make positive feedback, as well as correcting any errors. And this might be best done through an informal process. For example, agree how you might feed back on documents – through tracking changes, or by email comments or by phone. That way, your VA knows what to expect and how to manage things.

Similarly, be open to feedback from your VA in terms of systems and processes – you are hiring them to help you be more efficient, after all.

6. Treat your VA like a partner
If your VA is the only other person working on your business, then they are more than a useful resource – they will feel they are invested in your success. And that’s true – whether they are answering your phones, helping with customer service or managing your social media, your VA is likely to be influential in terms of the way your business is perceived.

You want your VA to be an advocate for your business, so run ideas past them, ask for their thoughts and involve them in planning – you never know where their experience will come in useful.

7. Be clear about tasks and boundaries
You have probably hired your VA to support you with one or two specific tasks – diary management, perhaps, or email marketing. As you build a relationship, you might find other areas where their support would be useful.

But you must be clear about what tasks you are asking them to do, and what responsibilities you want them to take. You might need to review your hours if you want your VA to do more, and you will need to make sure they have the expertise to take on other areas of your business.

Similarly, you need set clear boundaries so that your VA is just concentrating on the tasks you need help with. A good VA will bring your attention to other things they could help with – but they shouldn’t unilaterally undertake new tasks without checking in with you first.

Working with your virtual assistant can transform the way your business operates. Follow these simple steps to developing a good relationship, and you’ll find there’s a lot of added value in having a VA on board.

If you would like to know more about our full range of virtual business assistant services feel free to call us on 0800 994 9016 or click here to request a free consultation.


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