Building a team of business support professionals is hard work. You can’t be the master of everything in terms of remote business support – it’s important to delegate tasks that fall outside of your zone of genius to other professionals who specialise in those areas.  But how can you find a trusted team? How do you find colleagues who share your work ethic and produce the same high quality work that you do?

Here are my top tips:

– Find someone who is organised and has good communication skills, and talk to them first! Setting a simple task like: “Please fill in this online form with some details, and then book in for a call with me” is a great way to see who actually reads the instructions and turns up to your pre-arranged meeting! Of course, there are always unforeseen technical issues or circumstances that can make things challenging for people to attend meetings, but it’s usually quite clear whether that’s a genuine reason or that they just can’t be bothered! If a potential associate can’t fill in a form appropriately or turn up to a meeting, then they might not be the best fit for you.

– Ask for testimonials from clients they have worked with or other VAs they have associated with – if they haven’t been referred or recommended to you, ask if you could see some of their testimonials or examples of work that they have carried out previously.  It can really help to hear from someone else, first hand, about the positive experiences they have had working with your potential associate.

– Don’t rely on websites/social media to provide an impression of your potential associate.  Although they are useful ‘shop windows’, if your associate is a busy professional, they may not have time for up to date social posts for their own business!  As long as it doesn’t look terrible, with spelling errors and graphic design issues all over the place (and you are considering them for a proofreading, copywriting or graphic design role!), then I would rely more heavily on the references of others.

– Ask them for their hourly rate or project rate! This is key, as if you are taking on new clients for £35-30ph and want to pass work to associates to charge more than that, you will need to revisit your fees.

– Ask to see their insurance and ICO/AML registrations, if appropriate. An important part of working with an associate is knowing that they have the same professional standards and values as you, and take steps to protect themselves – and their customers – in the event of unforeseen circumstances. 

Working with an associate is a great way to share the load and grow your business, but for peace of mind and the continued high standard of your service, you need to find the right associate for your business – it takes a little time but it wholly worthwhile!