• Kathryn Johnson, MA

Choosing the Right Employee


Note from Author: While this article is geared to those hiring a virtual assistant, the content can be expanded to any hiring process.

One word – Versatility.

The field of Virtual Assistance (VA) is evolving. We’re seeing a shift from the specialist to the versatilist. While the benefits of specialized focuses are often necessary, they ultimately lack the well rounded complimentary skills of a versatilist. And isn’t it easier as a small business owner to manage one or two assistants verses multiple assistants?

But when is the right time to hire a VA?

When you list all the tasks you need an assistant for, the question isn't whether you can do a task; the question is whether you should be the one doing the task. Freeing yourself from administrative tasks allows you to create more ways to generate income for your business. Logically, there is often no reason why this person couldn’t be located anywhere in the world. Although you may never meet in person, you can form a strong foundation which maintains your business to operate just as smoothly if you had someone physically helping you every day.

Just as going virtual with your business may be a big change for many business owners, so is the concept of virtual employees. When I say I work in the field of Virtual Assistance, most people say, “What is that?” After a brief explanation, people often respond with something along the lines of “that’s so practical.” While the work from home employee isn’t a new concept but the field of Virtual Assistance still has many hesitant.

Why? Because as a small business owner, hiring the wrong VA could be devastating to their business. So how do you avoid choosing the wrong virtual assistant?

Referrals, referrals, referrals! Ask your fellow small business owners. Hiring a VA is a very personal decision. If you think of a VA as low-skilled and impersonal help, then yes, anyone could fit that criteria. But today’s VA does more than basic administrative tasks, they often become an integral part of your business. Never undermine the success done working virtually.

While you wouldn’t settle for “good enough” in your business, then your help should reflect that ideal. Trust is the major determining factor when choosing a VA. Because you cannot delegate effectively if you don’t trust who you work with. If you lack confidence in your VA, it will be near impossible to delegate anything more than research or a to-do list. Think of your VA as your go-to person.

The right VA is dedicated to your business, and wants to invest in it for the long-term. They want your business to succeed. One of the main differences between a full-time employee and VA is physical presence. Look for someone who maintains complete transparency when communicating with you. Solid communication will be your sanity saver (and your VAs). Miscommunication will happen, but a professional VA takes ownership and is accountable for their mistakes.

So how do you determine if your potential VA has those qualities (especially if you interview via phone instead of video chat)?

Flat out, ask them. Ask how they keep open communication with their current clients. Ask them about their current responsibilities. When you ask valid questions, you are ruling out who won’t work well for you. You’re ultimately asking yourself - can this person do the tasks I need to delegate? And do I mesh well with this person? A compatible VA will value your time. They should know how to prioritize your tasks and their other clients’ tasks without missing important deadlines. While they should have the set skills you need to help run your business, don’t shy away from a VA who is eager to learn new skills. Remember your business is ever-changing in the virtual world, and your VA is often taking classes on their own time to meet those needs.

Still not convinced a VA is right for you?

Enter the trial run. Choose a small project or easier tasks to determine if your VA is the right fit. Most VAs are open to this because they want to be happy with you too. We don’t like breaking up with clients either. We value your feedback and will often ask for it before you have a chance to give it.

And don’t forget how cost-effective VAs are. VAs come with their own equipment (computers, phones). Being self-employed, VAs work as consultants not employees relieving you of employee taxes and benefits (always refer to IRS guidelines). VAs have a wide range of fee structures. Some charge by the hour, some work on a monthly retainer basis, or some charge per skill, like database management or website maintenance.

Be as bold as you were when you started your own business and hire a VA!

About the Author

Kathryn founded KJ Virtual Assistance in 2016 on the sole principle that you should love the work you do. When reflecting on past positions, there was a prominent trend in administrative roles ranking amongst her favorite. From her time in the Operations Department at the University of Miami to assisting her College Chaplain, the various aspects of a support role have always fulfilled her. A career in Virtual Assistance highlights her self-motivated work ethic, strong interpersonal skills and rigorous attention to detail. Learn More About Kathryn.

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