Getting started with a Virtual Assistant

For many people the idea of a Virtual Assistant is quite new and they can’t easily imagine how it can work optimally. I have worked as a Virtual Assistant and as a digital nomad for an organisation with colleagues in over 17 countries. With the tools we have today, it’s cost effective, flexible and makes having an assistant a real possibility.

Your work is important. You are making a positive impact. You deserve support.

How might it work? Below are just a few tips to get started that have proved to work best for my clients.

First, think about what you really want from your VA. Idealism here is great. Skies the limit. What would your life and business look like if you had a VA? What qualities and characteristics would this person have? Type it up, look for a person who seems capable of fitting in to this and share it.

Next, have a conversation about where you want to be in 3 months, 6 months and 12 months. This will allow your VA to align with you on your near-term and long-term goals and begin to drill down what needs to happen to achieve those.

Discuss the tasks you find are an adverse distraction from the work you love to do and what needs to get done. This will give your VA a sense of what to take charge of and identify where you each can add the most value to get you where you want to be.

The first thing I do is create a productivity sheet. This includes your goals for the year and what needs to get done to achieve them. The extent to which this is used varies from person to person, but I find at the very least it acts as a guide and helps me keep my eye on the overall vision and priorities.

Each week I create a check-in document, highlighting my priorities for the week and any barriers to carrying out the tasks. We then align on that document. It can also include tasks I need to keep my client focused on. Weekly Skype check-ins work well. With my London-based clients, we might meet face to face every other month. Depending on your schedule and style you may prefer to communicate by email, voice, video or live. At the end of the week I will send an update communicating what was achieved or not. VAs may set specific days and hours that they work for you, however, I find it quite natural to be flexible and available across the week and will chat as much as my clients feel is helpful. It’s basically like having access to an assistant 40 hours a week, but only paying for the hours you need.

My typical week will be a combination of client services, priority projects, cloud-based bookkeeping, diary and email management, a web page tweak, building goody bags for events, and generating new ideas for growth and opportunities. If there are any skills required that I don’t have I use this as a growth opportunity. However, if it can be done more cost-effectively and efficiently and to a higher standard, I’ll outsource the work within an agreed budget.

Don’t restrict your VA to just business. If you have personal items that are weighing you down, give them to your VA if that is an option.

Trust. Trust is key. You should check references and sometimes even build up to tasks that you aren’t initially comfortable handing over at first. Your VA can add so much more value if you are able to trust him/her with your correspondence, calendar, pass-codes and accounts. That information is incredibly sensitive and if the references or your gut make you feel uneasy, pass on that particular person.

It really is amazing how much can be done remotely: email, accounting, documents, presentations, events, scheduling, marketing, social media, web development, travel. The list is left to your imagination and needs. It must be said Google Apps for Work really is a brilliant tool and the costs are nominal. Though not necessary if you will be using your VA for more project related work, it does allow you to hand over so much more. And the more proactive your VA can be on your behalf, the more time you have to do what you love and take care of your own well-being.

I find that a lot can be achieved in just 3-5 hours a week depending on the type of work required.

Remember, a plan is a basis for change. You can always pivot to a better option or opportunity. Your VA should be able to change with you. I find my clients’ ambition and vision changes across the year and we just re-align as it goes.

I frequently highlight my favourite VA tools on my blog. For now I’ll provide you a quick list of what I use most from my toolbox:

  • Google Apps for Work (email, calendar, documents)
  • Canva
  • WordPress
  • Instapage
  • Pootlepress Pagebuilder
  • Notational Velocity
  • Skype
  • Sketch
  • Genius Scan
  • 1Password
  • Google Gooru videos (now accessed at
  • Convince and Convert Blog

If you have any questions at all, please get in touch. I do this work because I love it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *