Editors Note: The following article, a guest post, appeared in August 2016. We were saddened to hear of the passing of Bibi Van Heerden in January 2017 – Vale Bibi.
Brilliant – you finally decided to get a VA! You might be terrified of letting go – don’t be. When you delegate, delegate fully. Make it work seamlessly by following these steps.
1. Make a great start
- Don’t even consider getting a friend of family member as your VA – get someone who runs her own VA business. You will get a committed level of service, plus you get the benefit of her business experience. Win-win.
- Don’t base your decision on cost. Think of it as an investment in your business – spend a little more to get more.
- Get to know each other – mind-set & personality is half the relationship won. If you’re a little quirky, let it show. Concentrate of the positives of the relationship; don’t dwell on language or cultural differences.
- Share mutual expectations & goals.
- Be specific on what you require, & confirm your VA has the right skillset. You need to be confident that s/he will do what needs to be done.
- Discuss how you will delegate work, communicate, and require feedback. Include exceptions and urgent work.
- Step 1, after the initial interview, is to get a contract in place. Mandatory – don’t try to “wing it” by skipping this step. Include confidentiality clauses – this is your business, after all.
- Step 2 in working together is to draw up a communication plan – a great way to test the waters with your new VA!
2. Set up shared software
- Virtual face-to-face communication and email are the minimum you require. In addition, you may add in workload management software, collaboration software, etc. Some ideas: Slack, Skype, Google Hangouts, Evernote, DropBox, eBuddy, Trello, Yammer, Lastpass, Google Calendar, etc.
- Ensure you can both view the workflow, and agree on times for updates – especially if you are in different time-zones.
3. Keep communication lines open
- Set up a daily stand-up to discuss the day ahead – a quick convo: a) What tasks are in progress? B) What new tasks will she begin today? c) Are there any obstacles?
- Restrict each email to one topic, for clarity.
- Clearly outline your requirements, expectation, time-lines, and deadlines. Don’t forget your budget.
- Follow-up, and confirm everything in writing. Reconfirm understanding with each delegated task.
- Bear in mind that your VA likely has other clients, as well – so ensure that she is comfortable with meeting your deadlines.
- Be patient – it may take a little time for you to adjust to each other’s methods.
4. Track progress
- Be prepared to step in to clarify your expectations, especially at the start of the relationship; it takes a little time for the process to settle in & run smoothly.
- Review in-progress results where appropriate. It feels a little sad to be given a large chunk of work, and left alone until delivery – show interest in what your VA is producing for you.
- Depending on the terms of your contract, get interim figures on your usage hours – you don’t want an unpleasant surprise at the end of the billing period.
5. Provide feedback & encouragement
- Treat your VA as a part of your team – value his skill-set.
- Express appreciation & provide positive feedback – in terms of productivity, efficiency, and your positive outcomes as a result of her efforts.
- He should feel comfortable reaching out to you any time he feels stuck.
6. Have regular reviews
- Your VA needs to know your level of satisfaction.
- You need to know your VA’s level of satisfaction.
- Discuss concerns, better ways of communication or delivery, or processes.
Fabulous – you’ve freed yourself up from repetitive tasks & things you hate doing – think of all the time you now have to spend on revenue-generating activities!
Let us know in the comments how your VA has helped you in your business. Or, if you don’t have one yet, what’s stopping you?
About the Author – Bibi Van Heerden (dec) founder of Small Business Crux. A dedicated Success Coach, she relied on her experience as an IT project manager to improve her clients’ profitability through focused productivity and time management tools & techniques. As a solopreneur, she understood the demands of running a small business, and provided support through her services and blog.