How to Work with A Virtual Assistant Successfully –Top Secret Tip #1


Last week I posted about the dismal reports I’d gotten on bad virtual assistant experiences and short lived VA/Client relationships.  Today’s post is the first in a short series of posts that are going to reveal some secrets to by-passing the bad experiences and going straight to enjoying the benefits of a having a great business relationship with your virtual assistant.  These are secrets that I’ve learned both by personal experience and through the tales of others.

Top Secret Tip #1:  Understand Your Unique Needs- It’s Business

You’re overwhelmed and stressed. You know it’s time to get some help and you’ve heard that the best way to get it is by working with a virtual assistant.  But before you start your search there are some things that you need to do first or you just may be setting yourself up for one of those VA Horror Stories.

Start by setting aside some time to find out just what is causing all that stress.  Is this something that might be possible to outsource to a virtual assistant?  If so great, if not, examine other areas of your business and find those areas that might be perfect to hand off to someone else.  Just because your business stressors may require your personal attention, you’ll be amazed at how much less stressful they may be if you’re not trying to do all of those other things as well.

In fact, it’s a great idea to outline all of the tasks and areas of your business that are and are not outsourceable, even those items that you aren’t considering handing off to a virtual assistant at this time.  It’s helpful as a business owner to have a clear picture of what tasks truly require your attention and which ones could be handled by someone else if and when the time comes that your business is booming and you need help.

What happens if you try to skip this step and just go hire a virtual assistant?  Well, it’s hard to help someone who doesn’t know what they need help with. Or worse, the item they say they want help with really isn’t doable for the VA.  It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of people who contact virtual assistants saying they need help but when asked what tasks they need done, they reply, “I’m not sure, I thought you could tell me”.

We’re good, we really are, but we don’t know anything about your business to begin with.  And if you don’t have a clear picture of what you want us to do, it’s going to be darned near impossible for us to help you.

But there is more to working with a virtual assistant than just the business side of things.  In my next post we’ll discuss understanding your personal needs when it comes to working with a VA.


Tina Marie Hilton provides online technology services to forward thinking businesses. She writes on her Tips from T.Marie business blog to share insight and information with other small businesses and entrepreneurs. It also makes her feel like that certificate in creative writing isn't going to waste completely.


  1. Renee Shupe on May 7, 2010 at 4:57 pm


    I'm so glad you're writing about some of this. It's true, trying to help someone who doesn't know what kind of help they need is really difficult. Successful working relationships bring an understanding that initially there will be some struggles as we try to figure out the best way to help and it's necessary for the business owner to be clear in their expectations and focused on what their ultimate goal.

    I find for myself when I'm working with a new client I like to get an overall understanding of what their goals and focus is for the next 30, 60 & 90 days and then their long term goals. It's a big red flag for me for the type of working relationship I will likely have with the new client if they aren't clear on those.

    Keep up the great series! Found you on VAF..

  2. T.Marie Hilton on May 7, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Thanks for your comment. I think many virtual assistants have experienced the situation where a new or potential client has the mistaken idea that figuring out what their needs are is something that's part of our services. I've literally heard of virtual assistants asking what the clients needs in terms of services and the client turning around and actually saying “I thought you'd be able to tell me that”.
    These same people would never imagine answering a lawyer or other service professional the same way.
    Virtual assistants tend to be thought of in one of two way in general, either they are seen as glorified secretaries or as having the psychic ability to automatically know what clients need. The more we can educate the public about what we do and how we do it, the better.

    So glad you found me and thanks again for stopping by.