One of the roles, I love is helping Business Owners find their Virtual Assistants and connecting them with VA Mastery Course graduates. But  am often asked how the onboarding process should work so that things go smoothly and without too many problems.  So in this blog, we are looking at the onboarding relationship but from the business owners perspective rather than the Virtual Assistants. However, the smart VAs will still read on!

The onboarding process you use, when hiring a VA to outsource to, can make or break the working relationship you have. It’s therefore essential that you get the outsourcing process correct. Prior to this stage, you’ve already spent time looking at the tasks you want them to, and have also gone through the interview stage and decided who you want as your new VA. It’s now time to equip them with the tools they need, to get the job done – and this is where the onboarding process really begins.

As explained in this article on best practices for onboarding a Virtual Assistant, over on the Business 2 Business website, the onboarding process is an essential part of outsourcing:

A majority of what goes wrong with outsourcing, occurs in the onboarding phase.

This is why it’s essential that you get the onboarding process right. If you don’t, it could not only jeopardize the relationship between you and your new VA, it can also lead to disappointment on both sides of the table.

Onboarding your new VA

Many business owners will inevitably ask ‘How do I choose a VA that will benefit my business?’ But that is only half the question – the next question needs to be ‘How can I effectively onboard them, to ensure they’re in the best position to help me?’

Your VA is qualified and experienced in the skills they need to fulfil the tasks you require, but the one thing they’re not initially qualified to do, is help you with your business. Why? Because in order to become an awesome VA for your business needs, you need to give them a helping hand. They need to be equipped with the tools, knowledge and information that makes your business stand out from the rest.

Essentially, the onboarding process is your opportunity to give your VA the 3 things they need – tools, time and knowledge.

The tools your VA needs

Now you’re starting the onboarding process with a new VA, it’s time to get clear on the exact tools you want them to use. This can include every tool or platform that is relevant, including:

  • Social media accounts
  • Resource sites – such as photo stock libraries and research portals
  • Calendars and productivity suites such as G Suite. Office 365 or Zoho Workplace
  • Websites and course software sites like Kajabi and LeadPages
  • Project management tools – including Asana, Trello and Basecamp 
  • Business management and CRM platforms – including Dubsado, Hubspot or Capsule
  • Email management platforms such as Convertkit
  • Specialised niche platforms and tools that you may use
  • Online storage and back-up platforms such as Dropbox or One Drive

As part of the onboarding process your VA is going to need access to all of these tools, so it pays to create profiles and login information ready for your new VA. You can then add them to a secure password management system, such as LastPass.

Your VA needs time

As much as you may want your VA to hit the ground running, this can always happen. They need a little time understanding how your business is run, how you work and the exact systems, processes and tasks you need them to complete. 

They’re also going to need a little time to get settled and understand how you work too. The working relationship between you and your VA is going to be a (hopefully!) long and beneficial one. A VA often needs to have a solid understanding of how you do things and, depending on the type of VA you hire, they may also need to work closely with you on projects and tasks that are close to your heart, as well as make suggestions to improve the systems, processes and workflows you use. 

If you want your VA to become an essential and integral part of your team, you need to give them a little time to really delve into your business and truly understand everything you do and the methods used to complete those tasks.

Information is an essential part of the onboarding process

Information is what glues it all together. You can give them the time and tools they need, to do the job you need, but if you don’t give your VA all of the relevant information, the job isn’t going to get done well.

So what information do you need to give your VA? Well, that does depend on the type of tasks you need them to do for you, but as a guideline, it can include:

  • Passwords to all relevant tools, systems and sites
  • Personal information – such as credit card information, birthdays, address and contact information
  • Your goals and future business plans and promotions etc
  • Beliefs, values and mission statements for your business 
  • Business policies and procedures
  • Data processing agreements

The more information you can give a VA, the more equipped they will be to help you. When you hire a Virtual Assistant you’re often hiring someone who can become your right hand help – the person who shares your business vision and can help you reach your business goals. And for that to happen, you have to both trust them and almost become an open book to them.

The onboarding process is essential to a successful working relationship with your new VA

Once you’ve established you’re ready to work with a VA, you need to choose the right one for you. But if you don’t then follow up that good work with an adequate onboarding process, you’re limiting the benefits that VA can potentially bring to the table.

By carrying out a thorough onboarding process, you’re giving the VA everything they need, to help you the most. When a VA is given the right tools, information and time to both settle in and do the job you want them to do, they will become an invaluable part of your business. 

If you onboard your new Virtual Assistant well, they will be able to not only understand you and your business better, they will also be able to provide you with the support you need, anticipate new ways of being of value to you, and help you take your business to the level you want it to go.

For me, a good VA should be the one to take charge of this process, guiding you through the whole process, making sure you don’t feel overwhelmed but at the same time ensuring that they have everything they need to support you fully. They should be proactively prompting you for the information and the talking you through what they need, when they need it and why.

So now it’s over to you. What are your thoughts on the onboarding process for VAs? As a business owner, has this article helped you understand what’s involved? Maybe the idea of outsourcing has been a little hazy or overwhelming for you, but this has helped clear it up?

If you’re a VA, why not show this article to new clients, to help them understand the importance of the onboarding process or use it as a cribsheet to make this process simpler? No matter what your thoughts, if you liked this article please feel free to hit one of those share icons and share it – and help other businesses understand how the onboarding process can really improve their outsourcing experiences!