Beyond your Task List

In my last post, I shared:

The risk I see most potential clients take isn’t hiring a VA, but going into the process blind on how to find the right fit….Maybe it’s just me, but I believe that if you’re gonna take the risk of letting somebody into your business, then you should do the hard work to discover what it is you actually need and then finding the person.”

Over the years, many potential clients have come to me in trepidation because they’d worked with a virtual assistant before and it didn’t work out. Or they’d heard so many horror stories that they were afraid to make the wrong choice.

I get it!

When coaches, books, and time management experts simply say “hire a VA” but don’t expand on what to look for, it’s no wonder people are lost and confused. Hiring a VA is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. There are at least (5) different types of support that I tell people about. Depending on your task list, you may not need a VA at all.  

Let me explain.

By definition, a virtual assistant (VA) handles administrative items that can be done virtually using phone, email, and web-based technology. A VA is a business owner, not an employee. As a 1099 contractor, they are responsible for paying their own bills and overhead. As the client, you only pay for their hours worked.

VAs offer a wide range of services and are highly skilled. They provide administrative, operations, and sometimes, personal support in a broad way- like researching vacations, scheduling travel or appointments. Some have specialized skills but they aren’t professional in those areas. 

Once you’ve sorted your task list into your priorities and needs, then take a closer look at the items and ask…Who would best complete them?

  1. Specialist: If your task list requires specialized expertise, like bookkeeping, web updates or design or social media growth strategy, then you want to look for a bookkeeper to do your books, a web designer to create your website, or a marketing specialist to figure out your marketing plan.
  2. Personal assistant (housekeeper, nanny): If the majority of your hand-off tasks need to be done in real life, like grocery shopping, going to the dry cleaner, picking up your kids, and handling your mail, you’ll want to explore hiring someone to work with you in person.
  3. Employee: If you need a full-time, in-house person, or you don’t like having your support person be out of sight, an employee might be best.
  4. Virtual Assistant: If your list can be done virtually and falls into a broad administrative scope of work, then a virtual assistant is probably the right way to go. 

In my experience, there are two kinds of VAs…Employee-minded and Business Partner-minded. Both are equally wonderful and offer high levels of expertise and support. Where they differ is the way they support clients.  

  • Employee-minded VAs are detail and task-oriented. They keep their focus on the task at hand without offering much collaboration. Many do better with tasks that are easily duplicated and have clear processes and instructions. They usually charge less, but require more upfront work from the client.
  • Business Partner-minded VAs look at the whole picture. They look at each task with an eye for its role in the long-term. They’re more collaborative and willing to offer suggestions for improvement. Often they are the ones to set up the process to hand off to an Employee-minded VA. Sometimes they’re called an OBM (Online Business Manager) and can help run a team of VAs or specialists.

It comes down to the intention and preference of the entrepreneur – are you simply handing over a to-do list with instructions or are you looking for someone to help streamline your business to run its best?

You Get What You Pay For

It’s important to know that virtual assistants were never meant to be a cheap alternative to hiring an employee. While there are $5-15 overseas VAs who are great, most US-based virtual assistants will charge between $40-100 per hour depending on their skills and experience. 

The lower the cost, the more upfront work a business owner needs to manage. Knowing the difference between the types of support available is important. A specialist and Business Partner-minded VA is going to be more knowledgeable and require less management by the client, while employees and Employee-minded VAs need clear instructions and the client has to do all the directing.

Many potential clients don’t know what they need help with or know what kind of manager they are. Most of them hope that by hiring a VA, the VA will step into their business and know what to do and do it.  

Taking some time to get clear on what you actually need from your support person and how much upfront work you need to do, along with what qualities you would like to have on your team, will save you time, energy, and financial resources.

I am creating a new consulting program to help potential clients do just that. During the process, you’ll:

  • Create a clear and prioritized hand-off list
  • Define what kind of support you actually need and how much that might cost you
  • Clarify what qualities an ideal candidate should have and what questions to ask during the interview process to weed them out
  • And finally, create your onboarding process for when you find the right fit

Email me if you are interested in learning more!

Whatever way you go about finding your team members, the important thing is to go beyond your task list to find the right fit. This reduces the risk of your own horror story.

Reach out with any questions!


3 Replies to “Beyond your Task List”

  1. Great concise breakdown to help a person determine their needs and how to get the right person to fit that need.

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