The Beginners Checklist To Delegating To A Virtual Assistant

Posted on /by Natalie Sisson/ in Entrepreneurs / 20 comments

This is a guest post by outsourcing expert Maren Kate, who blogs about becoming self made through entrepreneurship and is co-founder of Zirtual.com.

Often when people first begin to toy around with the idea of hiring an assistant their initial excitement is often cooled by an onset of analysis paralysis. They know they want to delegate tasks to a virtual assistant and save themselves countless hours of work and toil, but they don’t know exactly how to get the process started. This includes confusion on everything from hiring a quality virtual assistant to the types of tasks that can be assigned to their new VA afterwards.

Because of this I decided to create a cheat sheet for people interested in hiring a virtual assistant. This check list will not only help point you in the direction of where to find quality virtual assistants but will also get those creative juices flowing when it comes to what you can assign your VA and how you can get the most out of the relationship.

1. Where

Virtual assistants come from all over the world and range in hourly prices, which mostly depends on their skill sets. I normally divide VA’s into two camps: virtual (outsourced) assistants and virtual (executive) assistants.

An outsourced VA can cost you anywhere from $3-8 an hour, will work while you sleep and often are more technically savvy than traditional assistants. On the other hand, a virtual executive assistant is from your country, speaks your native tongue perfectly and is available by phone and sometimes via plane if need be.

Just like there are two types of assistants there are also two ways of finding quality candidates. You can either do it yourself or you can have it done for you.

A good DIY approach is to scan job boards in foreign countries for quality VA’s who possess the skill sets you need. This can be a time intensive process but can produce good results if you clearly know what you’re looking for, have experience interviewing candidates and have some free time on your hands. In the past I’ve recommended Craigslist Manila.

My personal favorite (granted I’m a little biased) is to delegate even the task of finding a virtual assistant to a third party. It can often be difficult to find quality virtual assistants (either outsourced or executive) because there are so many people vying for jobs in our current economy but often many aren’t up to snuff. It’s also a time intensive project that can span weeks of interviewing, searching and filtering.

That’s where my company Zirtual comes in. We take the task of finding the “perfect” virtual assistant off your plate and do everything for you so you can sit back and relax. In addition we assign concierge reps who help you through the process of figuring out exactly what skill sets you need in a VA and give you lots of guidebooks and resources during the finding process to help you along the way.

Either way, DIY or concierge, it’s vital to start with a good virtual assistant off the bat. Otherwise your most valiant efforts at assigning the right tasks and monitoring properly will fail due to an incompetent VA.

2. What

Now that you have a virtual assistant you’ve got to figure out what you need them to do. I suggest taking a few days and writing down absolutely everything you do over that period of time.

Then look back over it and see what percentage of the things on your list could only be done by you (i.e. talking to your lawyer, presenting to a big client, hugging your kids) and notice what other things could have been handled by an assistant (i.e. tweaking your website, researching a project, scheduling meetings).

Everything that can be done by someone else, should be done by your virtual assistant. That’s the beauty of delegation it allows you to focus on the 20% of your day that matters the most while resting assured that the other 80% is taken care of by your virtual staff.

3. How

Once you have your VA and an initial list of tasks for them to do it’s important that you set up a system that allows you to quickly and efficiently assign tasks and check that they were done correctly. I like to use a combination of BasecampHQ, Evernote and Google docs when dealing with my virtual assistants, but the web offers many tools that can be used to help you get the most out of your virtual relationship.

I like to assign a long list of tasks on Monday that should cover most of the week, but being careful not to fill my virtual assistants time up completely since I know little things will come up as the week wears on that I may need her to take care of. This longer list is entered into BasecampHQ and then as my assistant completes tasks she just checks them off and confirms what was done for the day in a “daily report” email.

On Friday I do a spot check of all the work she’s done to make sure everything is on target. If I notice things are wrong or a pattern is emerging, I address it immediately the following Monday and course correct. This is essential to building a long and fruitful relationship with your assistant that will benefit both parties.

Moving Forward…

Working with a virtual assistant is just like working with any other employee or freelancer. It’s vital to set up expectations early on so people won’t go off track or get confused. It’s also important to praise your VA when they do things the way you like them so in the future they’ll adjust their efforts in a way that brings you the most reward.

If you find it hard to work with a virtual assistant, it’s probably not the right person for you. A good virtual assistant/employer relationship shouldn’t take tons of hand holding and should always make your life easier, not more difficult.

If you’re note sure about whether you’re ready to hire help or not, read this post on Why You’ve Got to Get Addicted to Delegation!


  • NatalieSisson

    Anyone else got tips for managing and building a great relationship with a virtual assistant?

  • JanineOgg

    @NatalieSisson absolutely! there is a great tool out there that you can use to manage relationships with VAs and the rest of your team – it’s called a State of Grace Document and its fabulous for establishing healthy working relationships – and for preventing and resolving conflicts when they arise (ps don’t be scared of conflict, it brings about change which is a great thing – its how we think about and respond to conflict in our lives that is usually the problem, not the conflict itself!).

    We use SOG documents in our business and I have been using it as a tool in my leadership and youth development work for years now. It is for people who want to have full and genuine relationships with the folks around them. Maureen and Zelle, the creators of this tool (@Maureen Keegan McCarthy, @zelle nelson,) are wonderful and appeared recently as guests at our Profit with Purpose telesummit. There are loads of free resources on their site to get you started you can find out more at https://www.stateofgracedocument.com

    Thanks for the post, will definitely be coming back to it when we bring a VA on later in the year!

  • kaycam

    Hi, Natalie! I didn’t know where to post this, but I just came across this New York Times’ post. I thought you would find it interesting. https://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/24/why-women-have-an-advantage-in-technology/

  • kaycam

    Hi, Natalie! I didn’t know where to post this, but I just came across this New York Times’ post. I thought you would find it interesting. https://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/24/why-women-have-an-advantage-in-technology/

  • kaycam

    Hi, Natalie! I didn’t know where to post this, but I just came across this New York Times’ post. I thought you would find it interesting. https://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/24/why-women-have-an-advantage-in-technology/

  • Pete

    Great post Natalie, your insight on virtual assistant is very useful and informative. Hiring virtual assistant is a great way to save time and improve work flow. Virtual assistant are capable of working on personal task, maintaining blogs/forums, online marketing, research and etc. Virtual assistant cost depends on the country where you want to outsource with. You can hire competent virtual assistant that does not cost you too much. In the Philippines the cost of living is low unlike US and UK. Philippine based virtual assistant cost around $4 per hour. Here is an article that can give you more information about hiring virtual assistant in the Philippines.
    https://www.staff.com/blog/hiring-a-virtual-assistant/

  • Hi Natalie.. As a virtual assistant myself.. here’s some tips to build good relationship with a VA:

    1. Ask them what they like to do most. In order for you to get most out of them ask them what the love doing.. and look on your list which you can delegate to them.

    2. Be honest with them. Let them know where they are good and not good at.. They’ll be happy to know.

    3. If you’re planning to hire someone from our country (Philippines) at least know a bit of our culture.. we really appreciate when our clients do that.

    And much more.. Hope that helps.. 🙂

  • I agree with Valerie Joy Deveza, if you can see that your virtual assistant worked is a little bit slow, let him/her know so to that he can do some adjustment, and from that she/he will make his work back on track. anyway amazing post, I really love it. great job.

  • wow this post is amazing, great job, I liked it so much.

  • I agree with you Racho Alberto Jr L, we should let our VA know his weakness and his strength to encourage him/her to his task, and from that we’re assured that we receive amazing output coming from him.

  • Joe Hansen

    This post was spot-on, with some good tips for outsourcing. I have used VAnow.net for its certified assistants who have been quick and effective. They are quite skilled and helpful, enabling me to focus on my high-value work like being in front of clients and attending industry events. I highly recommend VAnow.net as a valuable resource. I use a Google Doc too, as you suggest, and its fast, simple, and gets the job done.

  • Joe Hansen

    This post was spot-on, with some good tips for outsourcing. I have used VAnow.net for its certified assistants who have been quick and effective. They are quite skilled and helpful, enabling me to focus on my high-value work like being in front of clients and attending industry events. I highly recommend VAnow.net as a valuable resource. I use a Google Doc too, as you suggest, and its fast, simple, and gets the job done.

  • This is a very informative article about dealing with virtual assistants. Those who are new with the practice will surely find this post helpful. Thanks for sharing.

  • This is a very informative article about dealing with virtual assistants. Those who are new with the practice will surely find this post helpful. Thanks for sharing.

  • This post is very helpful to those who manage virtual assistants. Thank you for posting such a relevant article.

  • ” where what.how” very nice .

  • ” where what.how” very nice .

  • Loved post—succinct steps and will incorporate strategically.

  • Loved post—succinct steps and will incorporate strategically.

  • We are a virtual assistants company that helps small businesses. We are located in the Baltics and we are ready to support your business working remotely. If you want to know more about us, please visit our website @ http://www.balticassist.com

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