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How important is choosing the ‘right’ virtual assistant?

Let’s talk about the single, biggest mistake small business owners make when it comes to going virtual: choosing the “wrong” virtual assistant.

How can the so-called “wrong” VA be such a mistake? The answer begins by reframing the context of the question: if you look at virtual assistants as impersonal, low-level help, then sure, anyone will do.

But today’s business-grade virtual assistants do so much more than basic admin; they perform powerful, mission-critical tasks; they can become an integral part of your company; they work toward your long-term success; they can take significant weight off your shoulders. And when you look at it like that, it’s pretty easy to see how the wrong VA – the wrong choice of right-hand (wo)man – can undermine the success of working virtually.

Take David, who runs a successful wholesale business in New York. After months of searching for a qualified office manager locally, Dave finally decided to try a freelance virtual assistant.  She started on Monday, and disappeared on Wednesday. When Dave called us a few days later he’d be the first to admit that he was ready to pull his hair out.  “I can’t say I had very high hopes of working virtually but at that point I so badly needed someone that I was willing to put Boldly’s reputation and their 100% guarantee to the test.” After matching Dave to his assistant Cheryl, based on her skills and both their personalities, Cheryl quickly got things under control. David explained, “I was surprised. Not only was Cheryl able to fill the role effectively, she was able to improve processes and do things more efficiently than ever.”  Cheryl is now an integral member of Dave’s team and he has since taken on two additional VA’s to help with marketing, social media, and customer service.

When Good Enough Isn’t Good Enough

Unfortunately, many small businesses taking their first step into virtual assistance don’t know what to expect.  They end up working with a VA company that assigns them the next available assistant. With low expectations of how it’s going to work out – after all, how helpful can a faceless assistant really be? – it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

Maybe this impersonal approach to virtual assistance is all you hope for. But it shouldn’t be. In every other way, you know that your business deserves more than “good enough,” so why would you settle for anything less that ideal when it comes to qualified help?

The Confidence Equation

At the end of the day, the real reason to choose the ‘right’ assistant, is this: You won’t delegate well unless you trust your assistant. Your delegation is going to be stuck in first or second gear.

Don’t be one of those business owners who began with the best intentions, only to have their “virtual hopes” whither on the vine. They couldn’t build a healthy, trusting working relationship that allowed them to delegate. If you lack confidence in your VA – and it’s nearly impossible to trust “the next available assistant” – you won’t delegate anything more than hotel research or a to-do list addition.

Why Choosing the Right VA is So Important

The right VA has business experience. The right VA can fill highly specialized needs at your company. The right VA is a good fit for you and your company culture. The right VA will be dedicated to your company, and will become virtually invested in your long-term success.

In other words, the right, business-grade VA is just like a carefully selected employee. Only without the office space or the overhead or the insurance requirements or the full-time salary (plus benefits).

Now think how ridiculous (and disastrous) it would be to entrust your bookkeeping, website security, sales, or social media to a random, faceless stream of strangers off the street. If you wouldn’t hire an employee without an interview, you shouldn’t accept a virtual assistant you’ve never spoken to, either. And you definitely shouldn’t settle for the next-available assistant.

About the author Sandra Lewis is the Founder and CEO of Boldly. She's passionate about helping Businesses, Organizations and Executives increase productivity and move their work forward with the right skills and resources. Setting an example of the efficiencies gained working remotely, she’s been leading her entire team on a virtual basis for the past decade.

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