In today's fast-paced world, finding ways to maximize productivity and efficiency is the key to achieving long-term success. One great way to do this is to hire a virtual assistant (VA)—a digital ally to help you conquer tasks, stay organized, and skyrocket your efficiency as a business owner.
But here's the catch: simply hiring a virtual assistant isn't enough to ensure long-term success by itself. If you're not sure how to take full advantage of all that virtual assistance can offer, you risk a great deal of frustration, disappointment, and wasted time that neither of you can get back.
So, to truly harness their potential and reap the benefits now and for years to come, there are a few simple steps that will set you on the right path.
Here, we'll explain how you can forge a productive partnership with a great VA right from day one.
What are the benefits of long-term success with a virtual assistant?
Before we dive into the five steps for a successful virtual assistant experience, let's quickly review why you want one in your corner in the first place.
Long-term success with a VA brings a multitude of benefits that can transform your professional and personal life. Leveraging virtual assistant skills and expertise enables you to unlock new levels of efficiency, productivity, and well-being.
Here are a few examples of some of the key advantages:
More time in your schedule
Nothing saves you more time than delegating tasks to a virtual assistant. From email management and data entry to social media marketing and even personal tasks, the hours you would have spent ticking off these distracting tasks can be reinvested into what truly matters and unlock greater success.
The Pareto principle, also known as the "80/20 rule", states that 80% of results come from 20% of actions. One example could be that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your clients, and vice versa. So if you were to look at your current task list, it's likely that around 20% of those tasks result in 80% of the impact you could make each day.
On average, business owners are only able to spend 32% of their time working on these "20%" tasks as the majority of their time is spent on day-to-day tasks. So by offloading these low-value tasks to a virtual assistant, you're able to invest more of your time and energy into projects that will make the greatest difference to your company's growth. You achieve far more in less time.
Hiring a virtual assistant is often more cost-effective than hiring a full-time employee. You only pay for the productive time they spend working on tasks for you, and because virtual assistants work remotely, you don't need to worry about squeezing more full-time salaries, benefits, office supplies, or equipment into your company budget.
When you combine all these savings, small businesses can save up to 90% by hiring a virtual assistant.
A healthy work-life balance
With an ever-growing list of responsibilities and only a limited number of hours in a day, sometimes it's simply impossible to get to the bottom of your to-do list, no matter how hard you try. So it's no wonder that 84% of small business owners spend over 40 hours at work each week, with 33% reporting over 60 hours each week spent at work.
Simply put, the more tasks you have to deal with on a daily basis, the more stressed you're bound to feel. Instead of sacrificing much-needed personal time at home to try and get everything done, having a virtual assistant to help manage your workload can go a long way in relieving the pressure.
Flexibility and scalability
Virtual assistants offer flexibility in terms of work hours and availability. They can adapt to your changing requirements, scaling their support up or down as needed. This adaptability enables you to handle fluctuations in workload or seasonal demands without the hassle of hiring and training new staff or sacrificing quality.
You'll also be able to assign multiple tasks to multiple virtual assistants, allowing you to get more done in a shorter time, especially during peak periods or when tackling complex projects with short deadlines.
See: How To Successfully Work With Multiple Virtual Assistants: Top Tips For Entrepreneurs
How to succeed with a virtual assistant
Working with a VA can make a huge difference to your business, but only if you use them correctly.
These steps are crucial for getting the most out of your virtual assistance:
1. Delegate the right tasks
Not knowing the right tasks to delegate is one of the most common—and hugely underestimated—stumbling blocks to success.
Of course, offloading any task from your plate is a great way to reduce your workload or focus on other areas of your business. But as with many things in business, the more strategic you can be, the better.
People often fall into the habit of using their virtual assistant sporadically, as and when they need a job done. This approach may be appealing in the short term, but it should be avoided as much as possible if you want to get the highest return on your investment.
Always aim to prioritize tasks you deal with on a regular, recurring basis, and you'll create a win-win situation for you and your assistant.
For you, offloading just a few regular tasks from your daily or weekly to-do list means you could end up reclaiming the equivalent of 22 full working days over the course of a year, compared to a few hours scattered about here and there.
For your assistant, regular tasks mean consistent work opportunities.
It's worth bearing in mind that all assistants at Time etc are independent professionals, so any VA you work with is one who wants to support you and help you achieve your goals. And just as our virtual assistants choose the clients they want to work with, they can also choose who they continue to work with. A lack of opportunities to do meaningful work and put their skill set to use is one of the most common reasons a good virtual assistant may decide to pursue other options.
You can try our free to-do list optimizer to help you discover how much (or how little!) of your regular workload actually needs to be done by you. Simply enter your regular task list and the optimizer will show you which responsibilities should stay in your remit and which can be handled by a virtual assistant.
2. Take time to get your virtual assistant up and running
For many senior leaders, the onboarding process for new hires is a necessary evil. The time and energy it requires can be difficult to carve out when you're already stretched thin. Because of this, business owners often skip this process and expect their VA will hit the ground running.
However, just like with a regular employee, taking the time to onboard a new virtual assistant is essential because it sets the tone for a positive and productive partnership between both parties.
So once you have been set up with your new VA, aim to schedule an introductory phone call or video chat if you can. There’s no need to spend hours creating fancy slideshows, just introduce yourself and your business and provide a brief overview of the tasks you'll need them to help with, as well as any other important information they would benefit from knowing. This will help your assistant feel more prepared and confident in their new role supporting your business.
3. Always provide clear instructions and expectations for your tasks
Providing clear instructions from the onset is vital in making sure your VA knows exactly what you want them to do, how you expect it to be done, and when you need it to be done.
So once you’ve decided on a task to offload, it’s time to break it down.
What would your assistant need to know to complete this task? Which programs or software should they use? Will they need any access or login details?
Next, make sure you write quick bullet-point instructions to take them through the process. Alternatively, you might prefer to screen-record yourself completing the task yourself as a visual guide.
Although you'll be matched with an assistant who'll have the right skills and experience to get the job done, it'll benefit you both significantly if your VA has guidelines to refer to on how you would like things to be done.
See: Five Essential Tech Tips For Getting Started With A Virtual Assistant
4. Keep communication flowing
Communication is key to any successful relationship, and this is especially true when it comes to working with a virtual assistant.
They may work "virtually", but behind the computer screen, there is a real human being. Keep channels of communication open and be available—especially in the early stages—to answer any questions and offer guidance when needed.
Keeping in regular contact also helps to build a more "human" relationship with your virtual assistant. You may not ever get the chance to meet in person, but still, it's worth getting to know them as much as possible.
- Reply to your assistant promptly: We know this can sometimes be much easier said than done, so if you’re really busy and struggling to get back to your VA in a timely manner, drop them a quick message to keep them informed and let them know that you’ll get back to them as soon as you can. Please remember never to abandon or “ghost” your assistant.
- Schedule regular check-ins: This could be a short weekly call or video chat to discuss tasks, new ideas, or just how things are going in general. These sessions make it much easier for you to stay on the same page and continue working well together.
- Provide feedback: Timely and constructive feedback is the only way your VA will know whether or not they are meeting your expectations. Not only that, but employees who receive regular feedback are nearly four times more likely to be engaged at work than other employees.
- Show your appreciation: Feeling valued by an employer increases job satisfaction, engagement, and motivation, and even improves mental health. You may not be a traditional employer, but this still applies to the VA world!
5. Focus on the bigger picture
Keeping the big picture in mind means you'll always have a clear vision of your goals, and what you need to do to make them happen.
Ask yourself, "Why do I want to reclaim time?"
Perhaps you want to dedicate more time and energy to growing your business instead of squandering it on routine admin tasks. Or maybe it's because you want to regain control over your work-life balance and be more present at home for your loved ones.
Next, ask yourself, "Why have I opted for a virtual assistant and not a regular employee?"
The fact is that whatever your reasons for wanting to reclaim time, chances are you will struggle to make it happen without offloading low-value recurring tasks from your plate. And similarly, you'll struggle to take advantage of cost savings, greater flexibility, and access to a wider talent pool when you hire in-person team members instead of VA services.
As with all good things in life, a little time, effort, and dedication are needed to get there. It's crucial to always remember your "whys" because they are what drive you to overcome obstacles and persevere until you reach the finish line. If you lose sight of the bigger picture and what you ultimately want to achieve, it becomes much more challenging to stay on track.
See: Why Motivation Matters: The Key To Success For Entrepreneurs
What's the bottom line?
In today’s business world, everyone is striving to be as productive and efficient as possible, while also keeping costs low. This is why working with virtual assistants can be immensely beneficial for business owners, but it takes more than a few clicks to get the maximum value of their support.
With the right know-how and a careful, considered approach, you can build a positive working relationship that both you and your assistant will benefit from.
If you're ready to take back control of your days and unlock the full potential of your own business, speak to our expert team to get started with a virtual assistant. We’ll set you up with a dedicated professional based on the skills and experience you need.
Or try us out for free today!