No Need To Babysit A Virtual Assistant

As a virtual business manager (also known as virtual assistant or VA), one comment I hear often from busy entrepreneurs, “I don’t have time to train someone”. This is probably the most pervasive and most misinformed perception about hiring an independent support expert.  

The resistance stems from the thought that just like a new employee, a new assistant will require a substantial amount of your time to bring them up to speed. While there is of course a learning curve when a VA subcontractor starts working with a new client – you – this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Virtual assistants are (typically) experienced in what they do. You won’t be hiring a complete novice, who has never worked with computers or email! They come from a variety of roles in full-time employment and may have worked as administrative or executive assistant, marketing or social media specialist, copy writer or project manager. It means your VA already is trained and experienced in using the Microsoft Office suite (i.e. Word, Excel and often PowerPoint), is familiar with various types of email platforms, knows their way around the most used social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and is very organized by nature. What may be new to a start-up VA is shifting from being an employee to being self-employed. It depends on the level of support and expertise you need, whether a junior VA is sufficient or you need someone with greater experience.  

Either way, when you hire a VA you don’t need to train them how to do all of this, you just need to advise them of the platforms and programs you use, provide them with admin passwords, and communicate what kind of support you need and when. In-house employees rely on you to pay for additional training and courses, whereas an independent contractor takes care of their own professional development (unless you require a true niche skill, e.g. a new or less used online program and are willing to pay for them to learn it). The finer details of your working relationship with a VA are what you and she or he will fine-tune over time, for example what your work style and habits are and what outcomes you want.

My suggestion is, if you are too busy to focus on your key skills in your business and never get close to completing your task lists, don’t let misperception prevent you from hiring help. Of course, good communication is key, but once you give your new VA work to do, you needn’t babysit or micro-manage them!