How to onboard a 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.

When clients first start working with me, they are often overworked and short on time.

One of the first things I suggest they do is free up several hours each week so that they have time available to work ON their business instead of just IN it.

Often, the easiest way to do this is to hire a VA. (I share some advice on how to do that here: how to hire a great VA)

In this post, we’re going to discuss what to do immediately AFTER you’ve hired someone.

The first few days and weeks you spend together are critical to developing trust and rapport – here’s how to get this new relationship off to a great start.

Make them feel welcome

If you have a team, introduce them to everyone.

Let your VA know that you are available for questions and encourage them to communicate with you..

As you begin working together, provide feedback, encouragement, and positivity.

Set expectations and put them in writing

Consider things like:

  • What are their responsibilities?
  • What are your expectations regarding the hours they work?
  • What are your attendance and leave policies?
  • How and when will you pay them?
  • Do you need them to sign a confidentiality agreement?

Provide training and guidance to help them feel comfortable and confident

Use SOPs (standard operating procedures) – if you don’t have these, you and your VA can create them together.

Provide them with the access and tools they need for the job. Provide limited access in the beginning and allow more access as they earn your trust.

I suggest using a password management system like Dashlane. This gives them the access they need, while leaving you in control of all your accounts and passwords.

Embrace your leadership role

The first shift you need to make is one of mindset: your job is to lead your team (even if that team is a single VA) – instead of doing everything yourself.

This might mean that you need to work on your delegation and management skills.

One of the big mistakes business owners make when they hire a VA is to abdicate instead of delegate.

This is when you expect your new hire to be immediately productive without any guidance or training.

During the first few weeks of working together, you may feel like it would be “faster to just do this myself” – and in that moment, you would be right.

Training someone to do something, supervising their work, providing feedback – will take more time than just doing things yourself – but only in the beginning.

After they are trained, they WILL be able to take those things off your plate – and you will know that they have the skills and ability to do them correctly.

Use the time you get back to work on your business

As you build trust and rapport with your VA over time, they can take on more tasks and responsibilities, freeing up your time so you can work ON your business.

This may include things like developing a strategic plan, improving profitability, building sales and marketing skills – or creating the systems that will make your business run better.

If you’d like some help with any of those – consider working with a business coach!

I invite you to book a 15-minute call with me here: book time with John

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