Tag Archives: virtual team

Have you ever heard the quote, “you can’t reach for anything new if your hands are still full of yesterday’s junk”, by Louise Smith? Those words resonate with me because I have witnessed many business owner’s frustration when they feel like their business is moving in slow motion or even worse, that it is in gear but not moving forward.

Being involved in all aspects of your business can definitely be important to you, but trying to do everything does not always allow productivity to happen on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis. I usually ask the frustrated business owners that I meet to tell me how much time they spend on business development opportunities. The overwhelming response is very little, because they are too busy, marketing the business, doing the daily administrative tasks, handling the accounting and responding to customers. With only 24 hours in a day and hopefully 6-8 hours of sleep and a few hours of personal or family commitments there isn’t usually much time left over for developing the business which is critical to success.

So, how do you get out of the time-crunch of “having your hands full”?

Ask yourself these questions:
1. How many hours are you spending on activities that are not generating revenue?

2. What is your time worth?

Once you have answered those 2 questions it may be easy to justify hiring a virtual assistant to help you with some of the tasks that are swallowing up the hours in your day.

Some of the earliest adopters of virtual assistants were speakers and authors, business coaches, real estate professionals, and entrepreneurs just starting their businesses. Those groups of people still work with VAs, but today industry seems to matter less. Virtual assistants are very popular with entrepreneurs and small business owners across many sectors.

At Assistant Match, we have clients ranging from bestselling authors to doctors to IT companies to consulting firms to non profits. We have provided virtual assistants to manufacturing companies as well as dog walkers.

Regardless of industry, most people who work with a VA have a few things in common.

  1. They need additional help in their business but do not need a full time employee.
  2. They are comfortable with the idea that they may never meet their assistant face to face.
  3. They are more interested in results than the traditional way of structuring a work team.

It’s wonderful when someone comes to a virtual assistant fully comfortable with the 3 points above. That isn’t always the case, so don’t hesitate to have the conversation that will help flesh those out. Some clients love a VA who can help educate them on how to work together and how s/he can best be of service.

Working with a virtual assistant or a virtual team of assistants can be a win/win for both the business owner, who can outsource specific tasks and increase their own productivity, and the professional virtual assistant who has the expertise and time to do exactly what you need help with.

It’s usually fairly simple to start working with a virtual team member. In most cases, phone and email will get the working relationship started. For some people, phone calls and emails suffice if you don’t have complex requests. Examples are when you need a VA to do research, make phone calls on your behalf, format documents, or update spreadsheets. Normally documents can be emailed back and forth and conversations can happen by phone or email.

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“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”

–Theodore Roosevelt

The most successful people have a talented team supporting them. Think of any entrepreneur who is growing their business, making a healthy profit, and has any sort of balance outside of work. That individual has at least one person assisting them.

We are all told to delegate, but most people fail in this area. It may not be a miserable, walls come crashing down sort of fail, but a fail none the less. Maybe the items you delegated are not coming back the way you want them so you end up spending time revising work you thought you got rid of. Perhaps the person who is supposed to be helping you doesn’t get things done as quickly as you would like or to the level you hoped.

All common challenges with busy professionals, and all fixable. Assuming the person is qualified to do the work, one of the top missteps people make when delegating work to someone is in the request.

Make me a sandwich…
For instance, if you were to tell someone to make a sandwich, how many end results could you have?! PB&J on white bread, turkey and swiss with lettuce and tomato on a french roll, tuna salad with pickles on rye … this list could go on and on. If you really don’t care what sort of sandwich you get, there is no problem with this, but if you hate mustard or have a vision of what you want the end result to be, you must communicate that.

I have seen clients ask a virtual assistant to create a template for their email newsletters. They say something like “use green and blue, and make it look clean”. More often than not, a person who makes this request really does have an idea in their mind of how the template should look, and when the template comes back different than that idea, they get frustrated.

So how can you fix this?
Be specific in describing your desired outcome.
The same client could have said:

  • Match the blue and green tones that are one my website.
  • Here are two examples of email templates that look “clean” to me – I like the curved edges and the two column formats. I also like that there is an image for each section and article.
  • Here is an example of what I do not like and here are the reasons why…”

Next time you delegate, take a few minutes to prepare and then follow these 5 steps.

  • Communicate your desired outcome as clearly as possible
  • Give specific instructions, details, examples or resources the person needs to succeed
  • Check for understanding from the other person and/or allow her to ask clarifying questions
  • If time is an issues, provide your requested due date or ask how much time the person thinks it will take to complete the project
  • If possible, start with small projects and give feedback so that you become more comfortable communicating clearly and your support person gets accustomed to your style and requests.

Follow those five steps and chances are the added detail in your request will save you from frustration and revisions in the future. Delegating gets easier with practice, and can become quite effortless and fun!

When working with a virtual assistant or team, giving and receiving feedback is a key to success. Create a system and expectation for doing this from the beginning of any work relationship.

If you are working with someone new to your support team, commit to feedback frequently. With an established team, schedule time for feedback after any big project or event, or at least once a quarter. This allows you to constantly assess and improve within your company.

Pluses and Deltas
The feedback process we suggest at Assistant Match is called “pluses and deltas.”
Plus (+) is the symbol for positive
Delta (Δ) is the symbol for change

When providing feedback with pluses and deltas, you identify both the positive and what can and should be changed in order to improve. This is a solution-oriented process. You do not dwell on things that were “bad” but instead, concentrate on what can be changed to make it “better” in the future.

This feedback process allows for everyone to be heard in a safe, constructive environment.

Let’s take an example and walk through the steps. A virtual assistant completed a research project related to customer leads. This is the first time the research was conducted by anyone other than the company president or sales representative. The president (P), virtual assistant (VA), and sales rep (SR) take part in the feedback process.

Set a time limit. You may want to allow 5 minutes to brainstorm pluses and another 5 minutes to brainstorm deltas. When doing this with a group, select one person to record (type) every comment, but do not take time to ask questions or discuss yet. If someone has a question on something that is said, ask for it to be “starred” so you revisit it later. Over time this will become a natural process that can happen less formally.

Always provide feedback on the PROCESS, RELAIONSHIPS, and RESULTS

+ Pluses

  • SR is able to concentrate on converting sales and is able to get more done in a day since didn’t have to spend time doing research (SR)
  • VA liked the amount of detailed search criteria SR provided (VA)
  • 24-hour requested deadline was appropriate for the project (VA)

Δ Deltas

  • A 3-hour turn around time would be ideal (SR)
  • Data entered into the database rather than in a Word document makes for faster action and better sharing of information (P)
  • Faster feedback helps VA be more effective during project (VA) * (starred)

Read each item out loud if the list is longer than 10 items. Be sure no items were mistakenly omitted and there are no additional ones to add.

  • P wants to add that she liked that VA used a different website than the ones suggested in order to find the necessary info on a more difficult lead (P)

Most of the plusses and deltas will be self-explanatory. Take time to clarify any “starred” items. If conflicting items appear on the pluses and deltas lists, hear the view of both sides so everyone is on the same page. You may want to flesh out an idea that was brainstormed during Deltas to make it more thorough and to discuss if it is actionable.

  • VA explains that if SR can give feedback on the quality of her research findings when she is in the beginning stage of the project, she will be sure the data will be helpful to SR so she doesn’t waste her time researching items that will not be useful
  • SR clarifies that a fast turn-around time will allow for more sales conversions. VA clarifies that with her other responsibilities, she cannot make the research top priority, but she can attempt to complete it in less
    than 24 hours when her workload allows

Step 4: COMMIT
Identify items from both lists that need action. Define that action. The appropriate person commits to it and a timeline is set if applicable.

  • SR will continue to provide the same amount of information and search criteria to VA for future research projects, and VA will provide the same amount of detailed search results
  • VA will enter information in the company database rather than a Word document
  • SR will do his best to not make urgent requests, VA will immediately estimate how quickly she can get the research project complete, and SR will make himself available to provide quick answers and feedback whenever possible

With this process, you and your support team will be on the same page and will be able to move forward faster and in the direction you desire. Be sure to capture this process in a Word document or someplace else, and commit to acting on the deltas.

Do you perform any of these when you could be doing revenue producing activities instead?
These are some of the things most commonly delegated to a virtual assistant.

Organization and Maintenance

  • Schedule appointments and manage calendars
  • Enter/scan business card information into contacts database
  • Data entry
  • Create and manage online storage/collaboration space
  • Scan documents for electronic filing
  • Create and manage spreadsheets
  • Set up and manage databases
  • Create forms
  • Format documents
  • Organize email folders
  • Track expenses
  • Track inventory
  • Update rosters
  • Organize receipts
  • Set up and sync online calendars
  • Maintain process and procedure manuals
  • Conduct online research projects
  • Bookkeeping


  • Project coordination and management
  • Meeting/event planning and logistics
  • Trade show coordination
  • Coordination of printing and ordering materials
  • Coordination of speaking engagement details
  • Schedule appointments
  • Handle complaints or billing disputes

Marketing and Growth

  • Create email marketing template
  • Create autoresponders
  • Website updates
  • Create and distribute e-newsletters or print newsletters
  • Create and distribute press releases
  • Create and revise PowerPoint presentations
  • Compile charts and graphs for reports
  • Online article publishing
  • Create or revise marketing materials
  • Create and manage social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.)
  • Update blog
  • Identify other blogs on which to comment
  • Proofread, edit and write articles
  • Implement online marketing plans
  • Identify potential partners, events, speaking engagements, etc.

Customer Service and Relationship Building

  • Draft/send email or print correspondence
  • Address, hand-write, and send cards (holiday, birthday, thank you)
  • Place phone calls on your behalf
  • Send gifts
  • Create and send email newsletters
  • Address all incoming requests and questions for the company
  • Request and provide information to customers and partners
  • Conduct client satisfaction surveys
  • Connect with people via social media accounts

Sales Assistance

  • Send materials to sales prospects
  • Schedule appointments and follow up calls
  • Enter contacts and record meeting notes in CRM
  • Format, send, and track proposals
  • Format, send, and track contracts
  • Research leads and competitors
  • Call companies to identify the appropriate contact
  • Create, send, and track invoices
  • Process payments
  • Coordinate shipping logistics for products

Personal Assistance

  • Travel research and reservations
  • Online research
  • Shop/reserve products online
  • Research products and services
  • Make dinner reservations
  • Purchase gifts and cards
  • Online grocery shopping
  • Coordinate carpool duties

To be as productive as possible, identify items you are currently doing that are not the best use of your time, and delegate them to the appropriate people.

To find the right virtual assistant to help you with some of the items above, contact Assistant Match at info@assistantmatch.com or 800-403-5506, or start the process online at assistantmatch.com.