I recently wrote about how your Your Two Most Important Business Assets are time and money. When you’re starting a small business, it’s almost a given that you’re going to be short on money and often, you’ll find you’re short on time as well.
In the course of building a business – every business owner is faced with the dilemma of trading time for money and money for time.
In her post, Delegation: How Do You Scale Up and Still Do Your Best Work? Liz Strauss writes:
When we pass on the tasks that we don’t like, don’t do well, and don’t need to do, we can put the best of our time where it makes the most difference — doing what only we can do.
For many business owners, the tasks they don’t like are web related.
Unfortunately, it’s common for people who don’t know much about computers to think that “computers” is an all encompassing term. They think that someone who knows hardware also knows software. They see a computer “expert” as someone who can install a hard drive, write code AND manage an Adwords campaign – all with equal ease. After all- those tasks all have to do with “computers”.
In Business Success Formula – Recognizing Nonsense I wrote that
“Unfortunately, when you don’t know what you don’t know – finding someone who does know [what you don’t know] can be difficult.
No where is that more true than on the web.
Recently, my emails have been dealing with this very subject. A recent email from a client began with this…
Briefly, I have just escaped from a virtual assistant from hell. I swear, she was paranoid, borderline personality, and /or chemically dependent.
I wish this was the first time I had a “I just escaped the VA from hell” email – but it’s not.
My first VA from Hell story is almost 10 years old… when a client of mine had hired a virtual assistant to make updates to a site I had created for her. My client couldn’t reach her VA to find out why her website was down so she contacted me.
When I logged in via FTP – I found the web hosting account was empty! The VA had deleted every single file from the server. She was never heard from again. (Fortunately, I had the original files and we restored her site quickly.)
Another – and more recent- virtual assistant horror story was when a client contacted me for help with his Google Adwords campaign. Turns out he had asked his virtual assistant to handle this “simple” task and was horrified when his first monthly Adwords invoice came in at over $2,000. (He had a monthly budget along the lines of $200 in mind.) It was only after the fact that his virtual assistant shared that she had never managed a Google Adwords campaign before. She thought, “Hey! How hard can it be?”
Unfortunately, there are a LOT of freelancers – not just virtual assistants – out there who don’t know what they don’t know… and that makes them positively dangerous to turn lose in your small business.
However, my experience of dealing with VA’s from hell doesn’t just come from my client’s mouths – I have my own stories as well. The worst was the VA recommended to me by one of my own clients. This woman required that I sign a 3 month contract and pay her $700 per month for 20 hours of her time per month. I was swamped and desperately needed the help. Since my client had been signing her praises – I signed the contract.
Unfortunately, at the end of the three month contract, she hadn’t completed the first project I assigned her. I hadn’t expected to have to “manage” her as I would a college intern. She claimed she knew what she was doing and I assumed she was telling the truth.
As I was terminating her services, this woman confessed that she had purchased the software she claimed mastery over a mere two weeks before it was time to renew our contract. She promised to do better if I’d renew my contract with her. I pointed out that I had paid $2100 for less than 10 hours of her time. I said that I’d consider renewing her contract once she had provided me with the 50 hours of her time I had already purchased.
I never heard from her again.
It turned out, my client who had given her a glowing recommendation was also discovering that this woman wasn’t capable of managing her time and had fired her as well. The last I heard, she had abandoned her VA business and she was becoming a real estate agent.
So I’ll open this topic to discussion … If you have a great VA – how did you find him/her? Share your tips and tricks below….