3 tips for hiring a great VA (virtual assistant)


John Nieuwenburg

John Nieuwenburg has been a professional business coach since 2004. Prior to becoming a coach, he held executive positions with Tip Top Tailors and BC Liquor Stores. In 2019, MacKay CEO Forums awarded him with Canada’s CEO Trusted Advisor Award in the Small Business category. Since becoming a coach, John has worked with over 350 clients, taking them through a systematic process that helps them feel organized, confident and in control of their businesses.

Before I was a business coach, I was an executive.

Back in the day, Cindy, my personal assistant walked in every morning with 3 file folders.

And every day she would say: “Here’s your agenda. Here’s your calendar. Here’s what you need for this meeting. Here’s what you need to make decisions on.”

I was the pilot – and she was the air traffic controller. Everything I needed was organized by Cindy. She looked after everything except the items that only I could handle or that required my input.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and pulled in all directions, one of the best things you can do is find a “Cindy” for your business.

You can hire a VA (virtual assistant) for as little as $10/hour on Upwork.

Here are 3 tips for hiring a great VA

1. Hire three at the same time

It can be difficult to know which VA would be the best fit for you and your business based only on an interview.

A better option is to take them out for a road test.

Instead of committing to one person right away, hire 3 people to do a small project (or the first milestone of a larger project) so that you can evaluate who is better.

At $10 per hour, it might cost you $60 (3 x 2 hours each) to learn which one is the superstar.

2. Ask them to create SOPs

I learned this from my own VA, Noeme.

Whenever I ask her to do something new, we get on a zoom call and record the conversation.

After the call, Noeme takes the recording and converts that into an SOP (standard operating procedure) with screenshots and detailed action steps.

This does 2 things:

  1. I know for sure that she has exactly the correct idea of what I want her to do.
  2. If Noeme isn’t available – I could give the task and instructions to any other VA in the world and they’d be able to do it

3. Use a brown Smarties clause

The Rolling Stones famously had a clause in their agreement that the event promoter was required to have a bowl of Smarties in the center of the table – with no brown ones.

When I first heard this, I thought: “what a bunch of divas!”

But it turned out the purpose of the clause was to ensure that the promoter read the event contract in detail. Because this detail was deep into the contract, they would have to read it carefully.

When you put out a job description, insert your own version of the “no brown Smarties clause.”

For example, you might ask them to use a specific subject line. If they don’t use it, you know they lack attention to detail and you don’t even need to read their application.

Hiring a great VA is a big step towards creating a business that runs smoothly, profitably and (mostly) without you

So is hiring a business coach. 😉

If you’d like to explore how coaching could help you, you can book 15 minutes with me here:  John’s calendar

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