smb blog-resized-600After spending some time pondering, you’ve finally made your choice. You have decided to hire a long-term small business Virtual assistant (VA). Another question lingers – as an outsourcing newbie, are you ready for the transition?

Hiring a VA has its challenges – cultural differences, language barriers, and time constraints are just some of them. But things become much easier when you and your VA establish routines for collaboration and maintain a healthy two-way communication.

Here are some things you need to consider when working with a long-term VA:
1. Keep the Orientation Clear and Informative

Orienting your VA of your business helps provide a clear vision of what you expect from him. Making him aware of the importance of the tasks can help foster a sense of ownership and challenges him to perform at his best.

Using Skype for task orientation is a good way as you can share your screen to your VA. By sharing your screen, the VA can actually see the tabs and sections of the websites and software you are using. The VA can then record your discussions using Camstudio and save the file on a shared folder. These video tutorial recordings can be used as guides until the tasks are mastered by your VA.

2. Keep Things Exclusive and Secured

Hiring a long-term small business Virtual Assistant in doesn’t mean that you are hiring a full time assistant. Perhaps you only need 4 hours a day of VA services. In this case, there’s a possibility that your VA is also working for other clients.

Creating an email account for your VA is a good way to make sure your emails will not be drowned by other emails that your VA receives from other clients. In addition, by using Gmail’s filter and label options your VA can easily classify and organize the emails that are coming in.

If you are using multiple websites, it is best to use password and data management tools such as LastPass. With LastPass, you can share login data for the sites you are using without exposing your password. With this tool, your VA doesn’t need to memorize and manually type all the passwords you have for various accounts.

3. Make the Most Out of Collaboration Tools

Gmail apps has tools that are good for collaboration purposes as it has Google Talk and Google Drive. With Google Apps, you’ll have access to your email, calendar, documents, and sites.
Google Drive on the other hand lets you share and edit various types of files – docs, spreadsheets, presentations and more – in real time. All your work is automatically saved in the cloud.

There might be some instances where you need files attached to your email but then the said files have exceeded the maximum size allowed for email attachment. In such case, you can use Dropbox. It is an excellent tool for sharing items with large file size.

Moreover, the Dropbox folders on all devices are updated automatically every time a file is saved even if you are offline. Therefore every time your VA is making some changes on the files stored in your Dropbox, it will sync automatically and you will see the changes on your end real time.

4. Establish Regular Communication

It is a good practice to ask your VA to send end of the week reports so that you would know how things are going. When responding to emails, it is advisable to reply in the same email thread to facilitate continuous and parallel exchange of ideas.

In case that your VA encounter unusual transactions or glitches, he can easily check whether you have discussed such occurrences in a particular email thread. Talking to your VA via phone once in a while is also a good practice to help establish a personal connection.

Just like any other decisions, hiring a long-term small business Virtual Assistant might lead you to a bumpy ride if you don’t have a clear game plan on how to handle things and merely rely on your impulse. However, taking into consideration the 4 basic pointers mentioned above will keep you on the right track and facilitate a smooth sailing journey.

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Christian works as a real estate assistant at Xilium. He specializes in back office support, content writing, social media marketing, and administrative assistance. Follow him on Google+.
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