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5 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Get More Out Of A Virtual Assistant


Barnaby Lashbrooke

Founder and CEO of Time etc, author of The Hard Work Myth

9 minute read

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As a business owner, you know that every minute counts when it comes to growing your business.

As businesses increasingly look for ways to do more with less, many entrepreneurs are realizing that investing in a good quality virtual assistant can be extremely beneficial for any venture.

So if you've already taken the plunge and hired a virtual assistant (or you're seriously considering it), congratulations! You’ve already put yourself and your business on the path to greater productivity, efficiency, and success.

But what happens after that crucial first step?

The truth is, not everyone knows how to take full advantage of all that virtual assistance can offer, which can lead to frustration, disappointment, and wasted time that neither party can get back.

So just how do you make the most of a virtual assistant?

Here are some tips on how to make sure you're getting everything you can out of this valuable resource.

Let's get started!

1. Choose the right tasks

Think about why you wanted to start working with a virtual assistant in the first place.

Perhaps you're feeling overwhelmed by all the things you need to do in a day, and it's wearing you down. Or maybe you have so many responsibilities that you feel stretched too thin to do your best work.

While we at Time etc are firm believers in freeing up as much of your time as possible, it's worth noting that not all tasks are suitable to be handed over to someone else.

When it comes to maximizing your return on investment, it's easy to assume "the bigger, the better." But in fact, "a little goes a long way" is more applicable in this case. Many items on your to-do list may only take a small amount of time to complete each day, week, or month, but even just a few minutes here and there can seriously add up over time.

For example, a recent survey by Adobe found that people spend an average of 3.1 hours per day on their emails, which totals 15.5 hours per week. Around half of this time is thought to be spent checking for updates and fielding spam or junk mail, which means that around one full working day per week is lost with almost nothing to show for it. Think about what you could do with

So when it comes to assigning tasks, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Could anyone complete the task successfully with the right instructions? (I.e. it doesn't require your expertise as the head of your business)
  • Does it take up time without an adequate return on investment?
  • Does it need to be done but you often put it off because you don’t enjoy doing it?
  • Do you often neglect it because it’s a lower priority compared to your other tasks?

If you answered "Yes" to any of them, you should hand the task over.

To save you even more time, enter your regular task list into our free to-do list optimizer to see just how much of your workload actually needs to be done by you, and all the areas where you can save time.

2. Clear guidance and expectations

Once you've established which tasks you would like to offload, it's time to start thinking about the finer details.

An absolutely crucial element for a successful working relationship with your virtual assistant is to always make sure they have everything they need when it comes to completing your tasks, from instructions to log-in details and file access.

As we all know, your time is precious, and many business owners feel that creating instructions and guides is just another time-consuming process, but trust us when we say that you won't get far without it. They help your assistant perform your tasks to the highest standard, and save you time in the long run when you’re not having to keep repeating the same instructions again and again.

With this in mind, it’s essential to set clear expectations from the start. This may include:

  • Preferred contact methods
  • Desired outcome (e.g. specific deliverables)
  • Company tone-of-voice (if applicable)
  • Deadlines for completion
  • Criteria you measure success against

While setting standards and expectations is always recommended, it's important to focus on outcomes instead of processes. Having built their business from the ground up, most entrepreneurs are used to being heavily involved in all of its tasks and doing things "their" way. So when someone else takes over, the urge to micromanage is strong.

But let's be honest, the only person who can do things in exactly the same way that you would is you. To truly make the most of your virtual assistant, a degree of flexibility, trust, and open-mindedness will go a long way.

See: Five Essential Tech Tips For Getting Started With A Virtual Assistant

3. Be open and available

Regular communication is key to any successful work environment, and your virtual team is no exception.

One of the most common mistakes made at the beginning of a virtual assistant relationship is assuming that they can simply be left to their own devices. But if you hired a new employee to work in your company, you wouldn’t just sit them at their desk on their first day and tell them to get on with their work, no matter how skilled or talented they are. You would expect to give them a little guidance and direction for them to be able to work to the best of their abilities, and virtual assistants are no different. As with anyone in a new role, it might take a little time for them to get used to your work, but a little patience will go a long way.

Again, this might feel like more responsibilities piled on your plate when you’re actively trying to reduce them, but keeping open channels of communication with your assistant is vital if you want to get the most out of your experience.

It's helpful to have regular check-ins to discuss tasks, ideas, and how things are going in general. These sessions help you stay on the same page and can be beneficial in building a more human connection.

If your virtual assistant reaches out to you with a question or a problem, aim to respond promptly. It can be tough to keep up with everything when you've got so much to do, so it's understandable that you might not always be able to get back to your assistant right away. In this instance, send them a quick message letting them know what's going on and that you'll get back to them as soon as you can.

4. Regular feedback—both ways

Feedback is the only way your virtual assistant will know whether or not they are meeting your expectations. According to Gallup, employees who receive regular feedback are nearly four times more likely to be engaged at work than other employees.

If you find something wrong, let them know! Clear and constructive feedback stops mistakes from being repeated, which would naturally be frustrating for you both. However, it’s also important to share your positive feedback. Share when you’re happy with their work, such as how quickly they completed the task for you, or their attention to detail.

Asking your virtual assistant for their feedback is an excellent way to make them feel respected and valued, and that their opinion matters. There's a good chance they will have ideas and perspectives you haven't considered before, due to their experienced professional backgrounds.

The more your virtual assistant feels appreciated, the more they'll work harder to support you and the more loyalty they’re going to feel towards you and your business. According to a survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), those who felt valued by their employers were considerably more likely to report better physical and mental health, as well as higher levels of engagement, satisfaction, and motivation, compared to those who did not feel valued.

While a simple "thank you" should never be underestimated, it's also worth considering offering your virtual assistant additional perks and rewards from time to time. It could be anything from an online gift card to a delivery of flowers or cake for their birthday. Whatever you choose, it'll give them a boost of all-important motivation and confidence to do their best work.

5. Increase their responsibilities

As you continue to work closely with your virtual assistant, you may find that you can trust them with more responsibilities to help ease your workload even further.

If you haven't already, ask them about their previous career experience and how they've helped people in the past. Many virtual assistants have a wealth of skills and expertise that can be extremely valuable to any company, and you may be surprised at the hidden talents your virtual assistant has that could be put to good use in yours.

As a business owner, it is important to focus your time and energy where it will have the most impact. On average, business owners spend 68% of their time working in their business on day-to-day tasks and only 32% of their time working on their business (strategic and revenue-generating activities that lead to increased profitability and growth).

In order to truly maximize your success, this figure should be closer to 90%. So with this in mind, it’s likely that there are plenty more opportunities for you to reclaim even more time to focus on growing your business.

What's the bottom line?

Hiring a virtual assistant is one of the best investments you can make to help your business grow. The right VA can help you increase your company’s productivity and efficiency, allowing you to focus on more impactful projects that require your unique expertise.

To get the most out of your experience, make sure you always keep communication open, starting right from the onboarding process during the first few weeks. Make yourself available for any questions your assistant may have, and don't forget to provide feedback.

You'll find it easier to maximize your success with a virtual assistant when you find the right person who meets all of your needs. Don't cut corners when it comes to selecting your virtual team—it's a crucial element in helping you take your business to the next level.

For the past 15 years, we have been dedicated to matching ambitious and hardworking entrepreneurs with the best virtual assistants. On average, only the top 2% of assistants pass our rigorous 10-stage application process to join us, so you can be safe in the knowledge that you’ll only ever work with an experienced professional that’s dedicated to providing quality support.

So if you’re ready to join over 22,000 business owners that have already used a virtual assistant from Time etc to reclaim valuable time, boost their productivity, and achieve more, speak to our expert team to get started with a virtual assistant. We’ll set you up with a dedicated professional based on the skills and experience you need.

Or try us out for free today!

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About the author

Barnaby Lashbrooke is the founder and CEO of Virtual Assistant service Time etc as well as the author of The Hard Work Myth, recently recommended by Sir Richard Branson. Barnaby is a Forbes Columnist on productivity and is also an accomplished entrepreneur, selling more than $35 million worth of services.

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