When I decided to hire a Virtual Assistant to help me manage my business, I was ready with a list of questions regarding their experience working for business owners, software knowledge, skillset, and other things you would “normally” ask. However, when I interviewed the next Virtual Assistant, not only did they ask me about my background that was beyond what was on my website or social media, but also asked me for professional references! Initially, I was surprised by what she asked me to provide, but then I paused, smiled and said to myself, “I would have done the same thing.”

So, when you decide to work with a Virtual Assistant, are you fully prepared?

I am proud to say that I now have a team of virtual service professionals who provide services for our clients. They also did their research to understand how my company works and how we help businesses.

When hiring your first Virtual Assistant, please keep in mind that they are hiring you too. Below are some quick tips on what you can do to as a business owner to ensure that your experience in hiring Virtual Assistants can be a good one:

Do your homework. Find articles/blogs that explain what a Virtual Assistant is, the types of VA’s there are (generalist vs. specialist/technical, creative, consultant, administrative), and their specialization relative to what type of skills are needed to manage and run your business. Also, please remember that there are distinct differences between a VA, temp and employee, including their rate of pay. Many Virtual Assistants are freelancers, but all are business owners. Some VA’s like to work with teams and many are independent, so their approach to helping to manage your business may also be different. The online services business has changed exponentially in just a few years, so finding out basic facts about the Virtual Assistant you hope to hire is important.

Have a budget. When we get busy, we need help. And sometimes we want to “get the ball rolling” more sooner than later before monetarily being ready to hire a professional. It’s a good idea to determine where you are with your expenses and overall budget. Make a list of your monthly expenses, review your current revenue, then figure out what you need done now versus later.

Create a list of what you need your VA to do. Do you need your social media managed, your bookkeeping completed, and your meetings scheduled? No problem; Virtual Assistants can complete those projects and tasks. But creating a list of your projects will help the VA get the work done much more efficiently, saving you time and money.

Figure out your priorities. While Virtual Assistants are there to help you manage and run your business, keep in mind that they have never worked with you before. So, it’s imperative for you to have an idea of what priority projects and assignments need to be done, as well as knowing the inner workings of how your business is structured. Office Managers and Online Business Manager VA’s can help you prioritize and give you suggestions of how to set up the operations of your business.

Have good references. From my experience, most Virtual Assistants will not ask you for business references, relying on your social media and website to tell your story. However, there are online professionals who are developing their businesses as businesses for long-term clients. More Virtual Assistants are looking for sustainability in their own business model, so looking for the “right” clients is what sustainability is all about. Have a list of references with their contact information. This may seem unusual at first, but you want to work with professionals who strive for quality and excellence. Like a doctor and patient relationship, both parties are responsible for the success of the relationship.

Once thought to be only “task masters,” the Virtual Assistant industry has turned into a multi-billion-dollar enterprise made up of consultants, managers, creators and technician masters that help businesses succeed.

Eunice Joshua ClarkeEunice Joshua Clarke is Principal and CEO of The Executive Advantage Virtual, an operations consulting and office management firm that supports companies in business development, infrastructure, systems, processes and back-office support. With over 25 years of professional experience as a consultant, administrator, office manager and writer, Eunice decided to create the company, which was born from an idea she had many years ago.  After speaking with employers who complained about contractors and employees being unreliable and not professional, Eunice wanted to do something to help repair the industry’s reputation by creating a high-quality remote business consulting and administrative services firm.  Eunice and her team have the expertise and business solutions necessary to be a supportive, professional partner to companies. More information about The Executive Advantage Virtual can be found on her website: www.execadvantagevirtual.com.