On its surface, hiring a virtual assistant sounds like a win-win situation. You get to offload some of your less enjoyable tasks — freeing up your time for higher-dollar activities — all while giving a talented administrative professional the chance to earn a decent wage.
But ask anybody who’s ever been through the VA hiring and onboarding process and you’ll hear plenty of stories of things gone awry. Stories of projects bungled, disappearing VAs and more. The reality is, hiring a VA isn’t easy — and it isn’t a quick fix for your business’s problems.
If you want to get it right, you’ve got to avoid the following pitfalls:
1. Hiring a VA for the wrong reasons
The best reason to hire a VA is that doing so will save you time that will result in stronger returns elsewhere. If, for example, you typically bill your time to clients at $100 and your VA can take on 10 hours of admin work at $10 an hour, that’s 10 hours where you can now make a $90 profit.
So what’s a bad reason? Thinking you have to hire a VA because somebody else told you so. Maybe your competitor brought one on, or you just finished reading the 4-Hour Workweek. Whatever the case may be, bringing on a VA when you don’t have a business case for doing so is simply a waste of money.
2. Not writing a clear VA job description
The financial illustration above makes the benefits of hiring a VA seem obvious, but it leaves out one important consideration: You have to know where and how it makes financial sense to allocate your VA’s time.
Suppose your new hire takes on 10 hours of work a week, but it’s 10 hours of work you wouldn’t have done anyways — it’s just tasks you made up because you had your VA’s hours to fill. In that case, you aren’t saving yourself any money — and you certainly aren’t profiting. You’re simply wasting money that could be better spent elsewhere.
That’s why beginning with a clear job description is so important. Until you know exactly what your VA will do and how these actions will benefit your company, you really have no business bringing on a virtual worker.
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