7 Mistakes I Made When Working With Virtual Assistants

First, congratulations for dabbling into the world of offshoring!

Whether or not you came to VA Platinum to get your virtual assistant for financial planning, mortgage broking or an executive assistant, I commend you for taking a step towards freedom.

If you are new to offshoring, you are most likely to find yourself questioning your decision due to unfamiliarity or culture shock.

I totally relate to waking up all sweaty and uneasy when I first started. Back then, I did everything on my own, searching from volumes of profiles in Upwork (formerly known as Odesk).

I remember having to deal with at least 15 people to find someone to replace a staff member who suddenly went AWOL.

Thankfully, I overcame it after learning the hard way.

I’m no stranger to the overwhelming looks of advisers and business owners coming to me to get some kind of assurance that they’re doing well with their staff.

Because of this, I was able to recognise what goes wrong in the mix and I’m happy to have figured out the secret sauce to correct it.

So here I am, sharing the top 7 mistakes I made when I first started and I still see advisers and business owners commit.

Let’s dive in!

1. Only hiring one (1) staff.

An offshore virtual assistant costs 1/3 of what an Australia office worker earns to do the same job. If it is a matter of cutting costs, hiring 2 staff will still help you save.

Plus, there are so many benefits in getting 2 staff right off the bat.


Let me tell you an amazing discovery – the staff train each other.

What I realised with my staff in the Philippines is that when they are paired up; they learn, grow and share knowledge together as one awesome unit – even without your supervision!

They are more confident, attentive and engaged because they know that they’re responsible for checking each other’s work. They work independently but interact as a team.

Back up

Honestly, this is a fail-proof way of assuring that you always have a staff member to support you in any given day.

If there’s an emergency situation and one staff member is away, you can simply endorse the work to the other staff you have present.

Let’s say one of your staff members decides to quit – you won’t feel too pressured about training new team members because your tenured staff member can take care of the training.

More tasks are done!

Having 2 or more staff makes your workload lighter.

You can expect more tasks to be completed in a day. You also know that the quality of the job isn’t going to be compromised.

2. Starting with a Part-time worker.

If you want to keep the skilled and talented staff, stay away from hiring part-timers!

It’s a waste of your effort, time and resources.

Imagine having to train people who simply pop in and out of your business!

The bottom line is- if you want your staff to be involved in your operation for the long haul, you have to attract them with stability.

3. Being “just” a task giver.

Most business owners put up a wall between them and their staff. They take the work relationship to the bare minimum level of just handing over tasks and evaluating results.

I’ve emphasised this in almost all of my blogs, what I want you to do is to connect with them on a human level.

Leaving out that “human connection” dampens your work relationship and does not add value either you or the staff’s life.

I encourage all my clients to kick off their initial meeting with conversations that help the staff member understand you as a person and your goals as a business owner/adviser.

You have to lay a good foundation with your relationship with the staff because after all, they will be a part of your success.

4. Treating your staff like you treat Australians.

I might be generalising (a lot) – but we, “the Aussies” are the chip-on-the-shoulder bunch.

We’re not used to seeing people being so warm and friendly so we get surprised when we meet people in Cebu.

Why? Because Cebuanos are the most fun and friendly!

Social connections are important to them. It is one of the most important traits that business owners or advisers fail to acknowledge with their Filipino virtual assistant.

Be friendly and sincere. You will be amazed at how you can connect with them instantly.

5. Hiring the first person they “think” is good for the business.

Just because you find someone close to what you’re looking for doesn’t mean that you should close your door to other prospective staff.

The job of a good virtual assistant service provider is to give you the best possible staff that will help you grow your business.

In VA Platinum, we make your staff take aptitude tests and personality tests and even get their DiSC profile upon your request so we can be sure that they are culturally-adept to work with you.

Trust me, the clients who have the most “culturally fit” staff took their time in choosing!

So say NO, if you feel that they are not the best fit – you’ll eventually find the right ones, and I’m sure they will be worth it!

6. Making tasks/systems before hiring a staff member.

Do not create/document processes and systems before hiring your virtual assistants.

I recommend that for the first 2-3 months of working with your staff, you arrange training calls as often as you can. Avoid emailing them or sending them Skype messages if you want to get something done. Instead, have your staff record all your training sessions and ask them to create the processes by themselves.

This way, you’ll know how they understood it from you and in return, you can coach them to change what they might have missed out.

7. Giving all tasks at once.

Do not drop tasks to their laps all in one go.

Let’s say, there are 25 tasks you need them to take over. Arrange them in the order of priorities. Train them with the first 5 tasks, check their work and have them do it again until it’s perfect.

Once you’re confident about having them do it on their own, give another batch of 5 tasks. Do this until all the tasks are handed-over.

Giving everything in one go will overwhelm your staff so much that it might make them feel so burdened. Doing everything in a rush will also result in poor output due to the lack of guidance on your part.

So, for them to do a fantastic job, you have to agree upon a good pace where learning and coaching are possible.

If you have been guilty of committing a few mistakes I have mentioned above, bless your heart! I hope you find this article useful to turn things around.

I’m sure you’ll be interested to know more about what you can do to improve your offshoring experience. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to get more tips from me!

Did I miss something? Let me know in the comment section below!

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