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3 Common Mistakes When Hiring a Virtual Assistant

So you've heard about companies like Google, Amazon, and Facebook utilizing virtual assistants in their workforce, and you're enticed by the idea of having remote employees - meaning no more office rent, supply allocation, or transportation allowance to worry about.

Costs like these easily stack up, and it's especially true for new and small businesses where every dollar of revenue counts. As for the bigger and even the most prominent companies, they didn't get to where they are now by neglecting even the smallest percentage of income. Instead, strategically reallocate that budget for another purpose that would be more beneficial for your company's growth.

That said, unless you're willing to waste hundreds of dollars and weeks' time, it's important to have a purpose, plan, and criteria before hiring a virtual assistant to make sure you're getting your money's worth. Although seemingly basic, the absence of any of the three is the reason why a lot of entrepreneurs fail to employ effective virtual assistants for their business.

Hiring a VA with no real purpose or goal

The most expensive mistake is going to be hiring a virtual assistant with no real plan on how to utilize them. For a virtual assistant to become effective, they need to actually assist you in something - they need something to do, something significant for you and your business.

Hiring a virtual assistant is never a mistake, even if you did it just to get on the trend of utilizing remote employees for your business. Just make sure that you have a plan for them, and make sure you stick to it, or adjust as you see fit.

With that said, having a specific task for your virtual assistant will make hiring easier as well. While it's true that all-in-one virtual assistants exist, their rates are naturally higher given their set of skills and that price cap isn't something everyone can afford, especially for the newer businesses.

No clear strategy for workflow systems and processes.

It is important to be as prepared as possible before hiring a virtual assistant. Do your own research on what the best platform is for communicating with a remote employee. Mainstream platforms may be enough, but you may find yourself hoping for a better one to avoid distractions and keep a goal-oriented environment for your remote team. On top of that, you must also have an established SOP that your virtual assistant can follow. It is recommended to create SOPs in word and video format so your VA can use whatever works best for him or her.

You need a virtual assistant to smoothen things out for you and help you manage the overload of information and grunt work necessary to keep things running. Having a system definitely helps, but it's crucial to first understand how your business really operates before creating one. Only then can we help a virtual assistant, and potentially bring out the best of their capabilities.

Wrong criteria for hiring (skill>communication)

This one is regrettably the most frustrating error business owners make - hiring an applicant simply for their set of skills and portfolio. After seeing an impressive and stacked portfolio, setting a high expectation is understandable but in reality, that only means that the applicant is incredibly skillful. How you bring out that skill from your employee will depend on a variety of other factors, such as character and communication.

In terms of priority, your hiring criteria is advised to be 1.) communication, 2.) character, and 3.) skill. Skill, while very important, can be learned or polished over time which is why it's placed last. In fact, it is not uncommon for companies to have their employees undergo further training and seminars so they could improve their skills because an employee's growth essentially reflects the company's.

That said, communication is the top-most priority because things just don't go smoothly without it, and frankly, character and skill won't matter very much without it. Before hiring an employee, it is important to have an established medium for communication, both for personal messages and team channels. Slack is a software solution that addresses communication concerns because, like Messenger, it is readily available and instantly notifies received messages. But unlike it, Slack lets you create multiple channels for different teams or term projects - allowing each channel to be focused on a singular aspect of the business.

Making sure that your virtual assistant fulfills his or her duties, and being respectful and kind all fall under character. For some companies, this may not matter much but a virtual assistant needs to satisfy most, if not all, of the checklists to become an effective employee. The reason for this is the fact that he or she is a remote employee - which means that challenges involving character are much harder to address compared to having an in-house employee. On top of that, your virtual assistant is essentially an extension of your company so it's best if your remote employee's character is aligned with your company's vision and objectives, especially in positions that revolve around marketing.

Virtual assistants have an incredible potential for scalability, but it's also extremely easy to commit mistakes that make working with them challenging. When working with a virtual assistant, make sure to have a purpose, plan, and the correct criteria so you can save yourself from making expensive mistakes. After all, offshore virtual assistants are meant to save businesses a lot of money.

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