19 February, 2019
A virtual assistant provides on demand administrative services. Here’s what a virtual office assistant can do for your business.
Why don’t more entrepreneurs and solo-practitioners succeed?
Why do so many extremely talented individuals close up shop and go back to selling their professional talents to other companies?
The answer for many lies in their support system. In an effort to save money when they first start out, too many try to “do it all themselves.” In the end, this penny-wise approach can wind up being “pound-foolish” when it causes their businesses to collapse.
According to Inc. magazine, one of the smartest things you can do for your small business is to hire a virtual office assistant as soon as possible. With the right training, your assistant can free you to work solely on the things that will help you grow your business.
What Is a Virtual Office Assistant?
A virtual office assistant, or VA for short, is someone who works for themselves in a location of their choosing. They use a full range of technologies to provide services to clients around the world. VAs use their own equipment to deliver administrative, marketing, financial or other services on either a part-time or full-time basis.
You hire a VA as an independent contractor, so they are not an employee of yours. Pay is usually agreed upon on an hourly basis, not a project by project basis as it is with freelancers.
Each virtual assistant determines what services they will offer to clients. Very few people have the skills or training to provide both professional marketing and expert financial services for example.
Recently though, a split has begun to emerge that could help you zero in on the right mix of skills you need in your assistant. This trend is to separate the duties of a VA from a virtual receptionist or VR.
Where a VA serves you, the VR serves your customers. (S)he is your prospect and customer’s main point of contact with your business. Your VR may actually answer the phone for your business, books appointments for clients, and handles calls and emails for support, etc.
The Cost of a VA or VR
Pay ranges vary quite a bit depending on what the VA or VR is doing for you. For general administrative tasks, Upwork, a website where you can hire freelancers and VAs says you can expect to pay $20-35 on average. Virtual assistants providing more specialized marketing or financial services will often charge around $60 per hour.
As a client, you would most likely buy a set number of service hours from your VA each month. This makes budgeting easier, but also means you both have an understanding of what tasks will be completed in that timeframe.
Tasks to Outsource
There is a wide variety of tasks a virtual assistant can take off your shoulders each month. Most of them are repeatable tasks that are fairly easy to teach someone else how to do. Here are just some of the ways you can use a VA to help run your business.
1. Newsletter Management
Here’s an easy first task to turn over to a VA. If you maintain a weekly or monthly newsletter to communicate with prospects and clients, chances are you’re spending one to two hours per week or month uploading content to that newsletter and emailing it out.
2. Email Management
Is your inbox out of control? Do you easily find that 15 minutes you planned to spend on email turning into an hour, or two? A VA can sort through your email quickly and forward only those items that meet the criteria you set up, saving you from temptation as well as saving time.
3. Blog, Vlog and Podcast Publishing
Like your email newsletter, the rote work of publishing your content should be outsourced. Because content can and should be published on multiple platforms, you’re wasting a lot of time logging in and out of different systems to publish each piece.
4. General Bookkeeping
How much time do you spend sending out new invoices and paying bills each month? How much do you spend keeping tabs on outstanding invoices and bills or balancing your books? You’ll save yourself a lot of stress as well as time when you outsource these tasks.
5. Administrative Tasks
Maintaining your calendar, setting up meetings and booking appointments are ideal tasks for a VA. When you track actual time spent, you may find out that the five minutes you thought you spent setting up Tuesday’s meeting actually took five phone calls and emails that totaled over an hour.
You can also use your VA on remote calls or meetings to take notes or handle chat questions. That way you can concentrate on what’s being said and have a handy transcription to refer to later.
6. Customer Service
Directly communicating with clients on the phone or through email is usually a core responsibility of a Virtual Receptionist. It is also a service offered by some VAs. Regardless of who takes it on, this is one area that a lot of entrepreneurs spend way too much time on.
7. Social Media
A virtual assistant can publish status updates to Facebook and pictures to Instagram for you. She can tweet, Snapchat, pin and reply to comments on all the social networks too. But perhaps the most important thing he can do for you is monitor these platforms and the online review sites and keep you up to date on what people are saying about your business and what questions they have.
Working with A Virtual Office Assistant
The key to having someone else handle any one or all of these tasks for you lies in communication. You can’t just hire someone today and expect them to manage your email box tomorrow.
In order to be their most productive for you, you need to train your VA in how you want things done up front. One easy way to do this is to record yourself going through a task step-by-step.
You also need to communicate well with your virtual assistant on an ongoing basis. For help on how to do that, click here to learn the seven ways you can help your virtual office assistant help you more.