Managing Virtual Assistants and Freelancers – Best Practices

Office TeamWhether you are a one-person solopreneur business, or part of a small business office or retail store, you do not need to do everything yourself. That’s why most of us work with virtual assistants and freelancers. Your, “extra hands” pick up both what you don’t want to do, and what you aren’t able to do well. Either way, this frees you up to do the things that you do well that bring in the most value to your business or organization. Managing these people can take up a lot of your time if you have not trained them well on exactly what you need them to do. Let’s look at a few steps that can keep everything running smoothly and productively.

Before You Ask Your VA to Do Something, You Must Be Able to Do It Yourself

First, if you can do the task yourself, you know how long it will take. Next, you will know if they are doing it right… or if they have actually found a better way that will save time and money. Of course, there are specialized tasks like web site design and construction best left to experts; you don’t want your business to look amateur and inexperienced. But the typical, routine task you want your Virtual Assistants to take off your hands should be ones that you know well so you can teach others to do it correctly.

Create Written and Visual Instructions and Tutorials

For each task you would like, “taken off your hands,” take the time write down all the individual steps with their expected outcomes. Then, if possible, back up the written instructions with a video using Camtasia or similar screen capture tool. You should go over each step of even the simplest processes to make sure your VA or freelancer understands the process and exactly what you expect the end result to be.

Start Slow and Keep Expectations Realistic

It’s your business, so don’t expect your Virtual Assistant or Freelancer to do all the work. Even if you find an outstanding individual who actually could replace you, if you did that, it would be their business, not yours. Manage their workload, and yours, to create a balance that gets your routine work done, and leaves you to do what you are best suited to doing. This works best if you start small. Give them small projects that you can watch and correct, “in process,” if necessary. Then, as you and your VA get used to working together (even though they may be across the country), give them larger and more important projects. Ultimately, you must manage their workload for maximum productivity. If you give them too much work, they may actually become LESS productive – detrimental to your business and your long-term relationship with the VA.

In addition to video instruction, you can also create lists and charts to illustrate the steps and results for every task. Your freelancer or Virtual Assistant can follow these to make sure they stay on track.

Don’t Ask for Too Much

You most likely will not find one person who can do everything you need done, so you will probably have multiple VAs or Freelancers, each better at one particular thing than another, and each doing their part for your business. In managing your outside help, by understanding their strengths and weaknesses, you will get the best and most efficient process running smoothly. And, since they are not full time employees, you can work with the people best suited to the tasks needed to make YOUR business run productively.

Communicate – Communicate – Communicate!

The most important thing in working with Virtual Assistants and Freelancers is Communication. Always make sure you can reach them, and they can reach you. As you work together, you will get to know each other on a more personal level (“How did the little league game go last night?”). As in a full time work relationship, a good one keeps the wheels moving freely with no lost time from bad information exchange.

And, of course, part of good communication is always give your Virtual Assistants and Freelancers immediate feedback and encouragement. When aren’t going right, let them know in a friendly and professional manner so that they can do it correctly. And when things are moving along exactly as you want them, let your team know how much you appreciate what they’re doing and how well they’re doing it. And, of course, an occasional bonus or incentive for a job well done is always appreciated.

So remember, always spread your workload to Virtual Assistants and Freelancers to keep yourself at your most productive, and keep your business, whether you are a solopreneur or part of a small company or retail establishment, running productively and profitably.

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