Productivity / Outsourcing

Before looking for a VA, manage your expectations

Looking for a virtual assistant? Outsourcing can be a valuable strategy for solopreneurs… when done right. Here’s how to ditch those unreasonable expectations and find virtual staff the right way.


Imagine … you are the CEO, CFO, and also CMO of your business and in desperate need of a helping hand and looking for a virtual assistant. In just a moment or two, you can have a virtual assistant, even a virtual team, fully ready to perform on your behalf and instantly solve all your problems.

Does this by any chance, sound slightly fanciful? Did throwing a few magic beans into the ground really allow a fully-fledged beanstalk to grow overnight? This fairy tale reference highlights the kind of unrealistic expectations some business owners have about the idea of outsourcing key skills and activities.

Outsourcing – yes or no?

There are valid, and often powerful and persuasive reasons for outsourcing key activities to a virtual assistant. Outsourcing allows your local team to concentrate more on the core processes within the business, areas where their expertise provides the highest value. It also benefits the bottom line by reducing overhead costs.

Equally, there are some likely areas of concern. Some business owners don’t like the idea of an outsource service, and those involved in operating it because they feel the service doesn’t have their business interests at heart like they do; or they fear that someone working remotely cannot buy into their business mission or values.

Approaching an outsourcing scenario

Outsourcing can definitely be an effective, valid, and smart business move. But it does need to be approached in the right way.

Using a virtual assistant, for example, does give you the chance to delegate time – consuming and interruptive tasks, or allow you to provide round-the-clock responses to customer queries. You can also avoid the sudden problem of finding temporary, and therefore expensive, cover when emergency situations occur (and even for pre-planned vacations and the like). Also, with a virtual assistant on board you would already have key business skills in place that your people would otherwise have to spend time developing.

"Hiring a ‘jack of all trades’ to manage multiple areas in your business is both a fatal flaw and a common mistake that happens all the time."

Keys to success when looking for a virtual assistant

Now that we’ve established the above it’s time to talk about the two main ingredients of successful outsourcing:

The first is that you need to be willing to invest the time and energy needed to get your new staff up and running. Before you hire anyone you will need to create processes to manage, train and monitor your new staff member. You will need to give some thought to integrating them so they genuinely feel like part of the team rather than an outside resource looking in.

The second is to level your expectations. Hiring a ‘jack of all trades’ to manage multiple areas in your business is a fatal flaw and common mistake that happens all the time. With so many ways to find qualified staff online, there is zero point in trying to hire one person to do everything.

For proper value to be gained, and the use of virtual staff to work, business owners need to accept that this is not simply a ‘plug and play’ instant solution to all their woes.

Treat looking for a virtual assistant the same as you would when hiring locally and you will greatly increase your chances of success. Like any other business activity, the correct amount of effort is needed to gain the much sought-after rewards!

Kevin Mallen

is the Sales & Marketing Director for Virtual Coworker. He connects qualified Virtual Assistants and Web Developers from the Philippines with Australian Businesses.


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