Monthly Archives: March 2016

What the ‘monkey’ is a virtual assistant?

Published / by admin

Maybe you have read the 4 hour workweek by Tim Ferris or a friend has one. However, it has come to your attention be glad it has.


Virtual assistants are assistants that work away from you. Many times in another country or in a contractor role.


Having been using them for the last 8 years I can not imagine my world without them!


But with every new thing, you gain new challenges.


I thought I would pop down 3 lessons I have learned working with Virtual Assistants to help you avoid the pitfalls.



  • I want, I want, I want



Many people who talk to us about helping them hire a VA have this dream that they will solve every problem that they have for a 10th of the price they may pay someone locally (we hire team members from the Philippines).


We get requests like – I want them to have the communication skills of Oprah, the financial and detail level of Warren Buffett and if you could throw in the creativity of Michelangelo that would be grand.


I don’t want to shock you but these people don’t exist in your country let alone overseas.


Virtual assistants are not superhuman. They can’t do everything. So get defined on the role. Think of them as a team member working further away. The more defined you get with the role the better you will do.


  1. They Solve Problems & Create Problems


Virtual Assistants will solve a lot of problems. Mine sit in my inbox and respond to people, set my calendar appointments and pretty much-run parts of my business without me. It is great. It has cleared a bunch of problems!


But when this tip hit me was reading the book – ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F$&%’ by Mark Madsen. He talks about how life is only about problems. At no point do you get somewhere in life and go ‘WOW I did it – I have no problems!’


Life is about getting better problems. The problems you actually want.


Think of a VA as a way of helping you improve your problems not get rid of them. Expectations being wrongly set would be my 1 biggest tip. You end up throwing work at an assistant who does not know you from a banana. Then blame them for not being able to do it.


That is just plain stupid. You wouldn’t do that to someone locally unless they were a $150k earner so why would you do it to a $9,000 a year team member.


  1. Think Slow, Start Slow


This feels like my mantra. When I first started out with my very first assistant working virtually. I used to be a wild animal. Sending poor worded briefs, that got misunderstood, then I would just do the work as no one could do it better than me.


I believe we live in a world with 3 key styles – Control / Delegation / Abdication


Many small business owners live in this world of control, where they have to be the centre of attention and things must flow through them. Maybe it is a fear of brand damage or maybe just ego.


When they get a virtual assistant they quickly move straight to Abdication. Not even knowingly.


They want the VA to just take the pain away so they hand it off hoping the assistant will ask questions if they are unsure. But VA’s especially from the Philippines don’t always ask. They want to try and get it right.  


They are usually under trained as the entrepreneur is not skilled at this so when something does not work they revert to control and blame… shortly followed by justification.


The trick here is Delegation. As a leader, it is your job to make people feel safe. It is the most important. By abdicating you are not making them feel safe, by whipping tasks back from them again not safe. Delegation is about giving them support, guidelines and clarity so they feel safe.


They also feel safe if they make a mistake. This lesson is not only true with Virtual Assistants but also local team members.




Virtual assistants are amazing. But make sure you go in with the right expectations for them and yourself. Think slower, take time with them and you will see the working relationship flourish. Mix in a bit of time and you won’t know how you lived without them.