5 common pitfalls that come with hiring a VA (and how to avoid them)

Have you ever worked with a VA before?

How did you find it?

We spoke to somebody the other day and they were telling us about an awful time they had with their VA, we were SHOCKED! We’ve built incredible relationships with our clients so to hear how disappointed this person was confused us.

It made us think, all relationships take work (we all know that) and the relationships we have with our clients are no different. We dedicate time and energy into building strong working relationships with every single one of our clients and that is what makes them so great.

In this blog we’ve compiled 5 common problems that can arise when there is a lack of preparation and unity.

  1. You and your VA are a poor match

A fundamental first step: you should look for a skill and personality match in a potential VA, just as you should in a new employee. Find a poor match and you’ll find it inefficient and uncomfortable.

Start by considering which tools and systems you find essential. Slack, Streak, Buffer, Asana… each company has their preferred methods. Ideally, your chosen VA is familiar with these or if you are open to improving your current processes, they can bring in their knowledge of different tools.

Next you have to consider their personality, to create a good working relationship it has to be a match. Do you prefer a formal or a more relaxed working relationship? What personality types have you worked with in the past? Of these which worked well?

Then finally you need to look at their soft skills. Teamwork, communication, flexibility- what is important to you? Consider the skills the VA will most require for your business and the tasks you have in mind.

  1. Not building the relationship

As we said above, all relationships take work and your relationship with a VA is no different.

You will need to invest time providing, training, induction, guidance and feedback. No matter how experienced your VA is they will still need direction to ensure they are working to your unique requirements.

As time progresses and your relationship strengthens your VA will be able to work more independently, but getting into a routine of regular feedback allows for continual improvement.

  1. Expecting too much from a VA

What did you hire your VA for? When hiring you likely had a handful of tasks in mind and you chose a VA that had the skills and experience for those tasks.

Relationships between businesses and Vas can become strained when too much is asked of the VA. If you’re asking everything from social media to bookkeeping from your VA then the chances are that you are asking too much (unless they are a general all-rounder and happy with the situation!).

Your VA is only human and can only complete a certain amount of work in their hours, keep this in mind!

Before setting new tasks that are outside of the initial agreement ask your VA if they have extra capacity. If they don’t, they may know somebody who would be great for the job. Or if you are working with a VA agency, they will likely have another VA who specialises in that role!

  1. A lack of direction

Unfortunately, your VA is not a mind reader (no matter how much we wish we were!) so it is essential that you clearly communicate what you want from your VA.

This all start with a clear job description where you clearly set out your expectations and requirements.

We find project boards on Asana to be incredibly useful. They allow you to set tasks with clear deadlines and from there you can add descriptions and supporting documents. Previous examples or a task guide are super helpful and can be uploaded directly to the project board. Your VA can ask for further guidance if required and you can provide feedback.

  1. Micromanaging

Micromanaging is just as detrimental as a lack of direction.

You have hired your VA to save you time, so if you are micromanaging you are undoing any gain of hiring a VA.

The easiest way to avoid this is to be confident that the VA you have hired has the required skills and experience. If they have, given correct guidance they will be able to competently complete your tasks, the nature of a VA is that they are strong independent workers. In fact, micromanaging would just be slowing them down.


… as with everything in life, if we fail to prepare and take adequate care, there are certain pitfalls we are likely to stumble across. If we are aware of these and take care to avoid them the benefits that arise from hiring a VA to help with your business needs are phenomenal. VAs are specialists in their fields, they can provide you with expert solutions to your business requirements.

Working with our team at Zest can reduce the risk of hitting these problems. We’ve carefully created a smooth and efficient onboarding process to enable your unique requirements to be matched up with our most suitable VA.

We continually review your changing business needs adapt our approach as required. With Zest you can rest easy knowing that you have an experienced and proficient VA taking the weight from your shoulders.