Like all valuable resources, virtual assistants and outsourcing providers make the most difference to your life when you use them wisely. Right from the start of the relationship, work together with your outsourced help to make sure the right tasks are allocated out, and you can concentrate on the things you’re best at.
Time to offload!
Virtual assistants create time where none existed before. And they do that best when you are clear about the tasks you want them to cover for you. You’ve selected a virtual assistant’s services because you know there are jobs that you either don’t like doing or don’t have the time to do properly. So now is not the time to get all possessive about what you give away. In fact, now is the time to take the plunge and offload all the things that you find disagreeable, boring or time-consuming – but that are essential to your business.
So before you start, make a virtual assistant task list of the key jobs you want to pass on.
Make a plan
Someone working as a virtual assistant tends to be extremely organised and reliable. That’s great for you, because it means you’re paying for efficiency and focused work, so your costs stay low. It’s also great for achieving the goals you’ve set – because a weekly or monthly plan allows you to budget, to manage your business strategy and to know exactly what to expect in terms of work delivery.
Planning with your virtual assistant also means that you are creating a two-way working relationship, and that’s incredibly important. Your virtual assistant becomes an extension of your business, particularly if he or she is making calls and communicating with customers or suppliers on your behalf. The more closely you work with your virtual assistant, the better understanding they will have of your business and, potentially, the more work they can handle for you.
Have a process
Talk to your virtual assistant about the process by which you’ll allocate work, handle delivery and organise tasks. By their nature, virtual assistants work remotely. They may be in the same town as you, or the same county, but they may equally be hundreds of miles away. For the tasks you need completing, this is fine. But it does mean that you’ll need a clear way of communicating. Will you email or call? Will there be a documented record of what you need, and when it’s needed by? Will you set up a shared resource in the cloud so that you can both access documents, or use collaboration tools to work with your VA? Will your VA have password access to your company’s systems? Can he or she talk direct to your accountants, suppliers and customers?
Setting this all out at the very beginning will avoid confusion and potential problems further down the line. And keeping your communications clear is a two-way thing; it means your virtual assisant will feel empowered to check things and ask questions so that they get things right first time.
Be clear about timesheets and invoicing
You may be working with a part time virtual assistant on an agreement contract, or you may be paying by the hour. Some VA businesses offer monthly packages, so that you know exactly how many hours you have paid for. Depending on which option you’ve picked, you need to be sure that the amount of work done corresponds with your expectations. Your VA is likely to have good processes in place for keeping and sending you timesheets, but you should check how this is going to work for your business and make sure you’re happy with how you’ll keep on top of timekeeping and invoicing.
Review and revise
Use your relationship with your virtual assistant business as an opportunity. Many virtual assistants have access to a wide range of skilled support staff, so you can begin by just getting help with your bookkeeping for example, but end up outsourcing diary appointments, CRM entry, social media, blog writing and more. That’s why it makes sense to put a review meeting in the diary at a time that suits you both – a chance to meet face-to-face or over Skype to make sure everything’s heading in the right direction and to see if there are any other areas where outsourcing might help you concentrate on building your business.
To find out more about working with virtual assistants and outsourcing some of your key tasks, have a look at our virtual assistant services or feel free to call us on 0800 994 9016 or use our contact form in the menu above.