It goes without saying that I think working with a V.A. is one of the most productive things you can decide to do. It will give you the time to work on the aspects of your business that really matter to you, and the peace of mind to know that the dull, repetitive tasks which take up so much of your day-to-day are being looked after by a professional.
Choosing your V.A. is an important task, and one that shouldn’t be done lightly. Think about it as if you were asking someone to marry you. You wouldn’t do it after one glance at their Facebook profile, would you? There are certain things you would want to know, and it is no different when choosing someone who you will be working closely with.
In this spirit, I give you: seven questions you should be asking your V.A. Some of them will keep you safe, some will help you to decide if your working philosophies align. All of them will give you a much better idea of whether the person you’re talking to is someone you can have a long-term working relationship with!
#1. What’s your story?
It might sound a little inane, but this question is a big one. I mean….you don’t need their entire life story, but an idea of how they got to where they are will tell you a lot about their experiences, their specialities and why they are doing what they’re doing – and that’s really important when deciding on a V.A.
For example, anyone can say that they’re a social media expert, but does their story reflect this? If your ideal V.A. needs to be experienced in the medical sector, their story will help you to see where this experience lies and if it is relevant to what you need.
It’s also just necessary (if you ask me) to have a bit of background to the person you’re going to be working with – and knowing someone’s story is much better than just asking for a C.V.
#2. How long have you been a V.A.?
This is a bit of an odd one. Just because someone has only just set out on their V.A. journey is no reason to decide not to work with them, but there is still a difference between an established V.A. and a fresh one.
It’s mainly to do with their policies and procedures; an experienced V.A. will have established workflows and ways of doing things (which can, in itself, be a blessing or a curse!) A newly started V.A. will be learning as she goes along.
Neither of these are bad things, but there will be one or other that works better for you. I wouldn’t say that the answer to this question should be a deal-breaker, but it should certainly inform your decision.
#3. What are your security procedures?
This one is really important. Any V.A. worth their salt should have a few things in place to keep their own data (and yours) safe.
Make sure your V.A. has:
Decent anti-virus software
Secure back up off-site
A knowledge of where the off-site back up is held
An ICO registration number
Most V.A.s will also have a GDPR policy regarding the handling of your own (and your clients’) data which they will ask you to sign.
#4. Do you have insurance?
Any V.A. worth their salt will have professional indemnity insurance, and will be able to show you their certificate. This protects both them and you, so make sure you know it is in place.
Details like this will show you that the V.A. has invested time and start-up capital in their business, and that they care about its reputation.
#5. What do you cost?
We’ve covered this in a previous blog, but as a rule of thumb most V.A.s in the U.K. cost between £20-£30 per hour.
It’s important to know what the V.A. will charge not only so you know if you can afford their services, but also how much of their services you will be able to pay for.
When thinking about hiring a V.A. it’s a good idea to have both a fiscal and a temporal budget. Once you know how much the V.A. will charge you will be able to weigh the fiscal and temporal budget against each other and see what the best fit will be!
As a side note, when asking this question, it’s also a good idea to get an idea of what is included in this price and what would be charged as an extra. Some V.A.s, for example, charge extra for phone calls that last longer than 5 minutes, and most will expect you to pick up the cost of any software that you specify they should use.
#6. What is your turn-around time?
This is an important one, because all V.A.s will work very differently.
Some will be happy enough to be extremely flexible and do a 24-hr turnaround dependent on when the request is received and what the particular project is, others will block out their week and only have a set time when they can deal with your requests.
Lots of V.A.s will also have an ‘emergency’ work policy where they can turn something round quickly in an emergency for a premium.
#7. How do you prefer to communicate?
I think this might be the most important question to ask. Remote working has many advantages, but communication remotely is something which has to be worked at, and it really helps if your preferred methods of communication align.
Some people prefer a phone call, others like the face-to-face nature of a video call. Many like to keep communications to e-mail.
All of these methods can be equally effective – as long as both parties communicate best that way!
There are, of course, plenty of other questions you could – and should- ask, to ake sure that you choose someone to work with who best fits with your style, but if you ask these seven, you will be well on your way.
My answers? You can find them below.
My story. I worked as a teacher for many years until the long hours and stress of trying to balance work with a growing family got to be too much. Since then I have worked as a P.A. and V.A, using my organisational skills to help small business owners.
How long have I been a V.A. for? Since I stopped teaching, for just over two years now.
Security Protocols. I have Avast on my laptop, an external hard drive and a business account with Google (meaning everything is backed up to Google Drive too). Each client I work with signs a GDPR policy. ICO Registration: ZA755749.
Insurance. YES! I can show you my policy if you want 😊
Cost. £25 per hour. I do a discount for retainer bookings.
Turn-around time. I can usually manage a 24-48hr turnaround time within business hours. I charge a 50% premium for tasks completed out of this time.
Communication style. I like emails. It’s good to have a written record. I also like video calls. I’m not fond of phone conversations (I don’t hear very well so I generally need to be able to see people’s lips as well as hearing their voice).
If you'd like to find out more about the services I offer (and now you don't need to bother asking me those pesky questions!) get in touch here and we'll arrange a call!