How Finding The Right Virtual Assistant Can Help Your Business

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It’s a bit Wild West out there in the unregulated virtual assistant industry. So how do you find a VA who will help, rather than hinder, your business?

When Nikki Tomasoni, director of customer success at NSW business coaching firm Business By Design, first began hunting for a virtual assistant (VA) to take on some of the tasks she was too busy to do, she hit a few dead ends. She advertised her requirements on freelancer websites and approached individuals she sourced online but most came up short. Offshore VAs, in locations such as the Philippines, looked good on paper – especially their competitive rates – but Tomasoni found that language and interpretation barriers meant they didn’t end up being money well spent. A local VA she hired worked out well for a while but ended up quitting and going to work for one of Tomasoni’s clients. “I was blindsided by that. It really let me down.” There had to be a better way.

One solution was to approach Find a VA (, a service that connects vetted VAs with companies in Australia and New Zealand. The virtual assistant industry, which first emerged in the early 2000s and has grown exponentially since the start of COVID, has little or no quality control. “In the beginning we saw a lot of people who weren’t necessarily business savvy but thought they could just set up a little side hustle in their spare time,” says Ingrid Bayer, who set up Find a VA in 2020 as an extension of her VA qualification programs at the VA Institute. “No-one gets into our network unless they’re insured and have their business set up properly. And we vet their references.”

She’s placed more than 700 VAs, including many who began as qualified executive assistants and business managers, a reassuring point of difference from the many unqualified novices who simply whip together a website and call themselves a VA with little or no relevant experience.

However you choose a VA – word of mouth is also a valuable tool – Tomasoni says it’s still imperative to test them in the same way you would any other employee. She mandates trial periods and sets each recruit a series of tasks to measure their performance. “I don’t need to know how fast someone types,” she says. “I need someone who’s got business acumen and who can think on their own.”

Tomasoni now has six full-time and project-based VAs as part of her team, taking care of everything from her clients’ HR and recruitment needs to general admin, so she can focus on client interface, problem-solving and other tasks that no-one else can do. “For me, it’s all about saving time and working as efficiently and as effectively as possible. I have this great tribe that gets the job done.”

SEE ALSO: The Importance of Recruitment and Retention in Small Businesses

Image credit: Everett Collection Inc.

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