Making the decision to outsource parts of your business is a big one, it might be the first time that you have any involvement from anyone else in your business. You might be torn between wanting to keep control and wanting to grow your business to a point where it is no longer the time for you to do everything.

The benefit if hiring a VA is that they are also a business owner, they understand the pressures experienced to manage and grow a business. Hiring the right VA is essential, you need to find someone who has the same values and ethics as you, looking at their marketing, social media and website should give you an early indication of this.

Most VAs offer an initial consultation free of charge, this is an ideal opportunity to see if this person is ‘right’ for you to work with. I’ve put together a list of essential questions to ask during the consultation to make the most of this time.

How do you track time and manage your workload across different clients?

Most VAs use some type of time tracking software to record the time spent working on

What are your working hours?

It’s important to understand what hours a VA is available to work, if they only work evenings and weekends and you need them to manage your in box during the day this obviously won’t work for you but if your work isn’t time sensitive this might work for you.

What is your turn around time?

VAs will provide a list of T&Cs, one of these will be related to how quickly a VA will turn round projects. This will help you to plan your workload and know how far ahead you will need to plan to ensure that you receive the work back to your deadline.

What is the difference between ad hoc and retainer payments?

The main difference is usually retainer clients work is prioritised over ad hoc clients, so the turnaround time is reduced. I usually recommend starting out on an ad hoc basis and swapping to a retainer contract once you know the average number of hours per week. A retainer will give you the peace of mind to know that your required number of hours are blocked out for you and you find yourself in a position where your VA is too busy to complete your project.

How do you prefer to communicate?

This will be personal preference, but you will want to know if the VA prefers email, text, whatsApp. This will avoid confusion in the future.

What are your favourite types of tasks?

This will give you an insight into the strengths of the VA and will let you judge if the VA will be interested in the projects you would like them to complete.

What tasks do you least enjoy?

This is a bit of a trick question, a VA shouldn’t be promoting any services that they do not enjoy or aren’t very good at.

What would you do if you accepted a project and then realised that you weren’t able to complete it? Whether this be due to lack or time or not having the required skill set?

This question checks the VAs honesty and integrity and will give you confidence to know that the VA will hold their hands up and admit they are unable to complete a project rather than do a bad job.

How quickly will you respond to my emails?

A VA is working for a number of clients so you should not expect an immediate response, I always aim to get back to my clients within 24 hours. This is the very maximum but means that I am not constantly distracted by emails when focusing on a client project.

How do you store all of my information securely?

Even though a VA works from home they need to apply to the same legalities as a large company. You will need to trust them with passwords, credit card details and confidential business information so you will want to make sure that they have secure systems in place.

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