You’ve heard of a virtual assistant, but now you want to know what they can do for you and your business. Every business owner will need different types of assistance to help them grow and stay on track. Virtual assistants offer a wide variety of services, so you’ll be sure to find the perfect match for your business.
Definition: What is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant (VA) is a freelancer who is self-employed and works from a remote location for business owners. They can be hired to complete a specific project or take over tasks on a long-term basis. Every virtual assistant will have their own set of skills and experience. For a more in-depth view of what a virtual assistant is, read on here.
What types of tasks can a virtual assistant do?
A virtual assistant can offer an extensive list of services that an in-house employee or administrative assistant might traditionally work on. No matter what your business is or what stage you are at in growing it, you can be sure to find a virtual assistant to help you with a task that’s either bogging you down or a skill you don’t have experience in. Here are a few of the most common virtual assistant services:
Administrative tasks might include spreadsheet data entry, calendar management which involves scheduling, answering phone calls, making travel arrangements, digital file management, taking meeting minutes, research, and customer support.
Copywriting including email template creation, blog articles, social media posts, newsletters, podcast show notes, grant proposals, resumes, and transcription.
Digital marketing could include email marketing campaigns, advertising, lead generation, search engine optimization (SEO), funnel generation, competitor research, amazon marketing assistance, and networking.
Email management includes email and folder organization, template creation for common emails, responding, marketing campaigns, and setting up rules or filters on incoming emails.
Finance assistance such as bookkeeping, paperwork, quarterly reports, tax preparation, payroll, and invoicing.
Graphic design for websites, social media, business cards, logos, and company branding.
Personal tasks could involve making purchases, event planning, calendar management, appointment scheduling, researching, and making phones calls.
Podcast management including strategy, intro and outro creation, editing, scheduling, publishing, and pitching to get guests on your podcast or to be a guest on someone else's podcast.
Social media management including photo research for on brand imagery, graphic creation, caption writing, strategic hashtag research, scheduling, posting, engagement with audience, managing ad campaigns, and analytic reporting.
Tech assistance might involve email newsletters, website maintenance (wordpress, squarespace), course creation, analytic reporting, and setting up your customer relationship (CRM) tool.
Writing services such as crafting blog posts, social media posts, newsletters, podcast show notes, formatting blogs, proofreading, grant proposals, resume writing, website copywriting, and transcription services.
A closer look at some virtual assistant tasks
Let’s take a deeper look into a few of the tasks from the list above to see how a virtual assistant could help your business.
Email is the most popular form of business communication. Most of us spend too much time in our inbox rather than completing higher level tasks. You might have a messy inbox that makes you feel overwhelmed and you know it would take you hours to tackle getting it organized. Imagine having extra hours back in your week to spend on growing your business rather than sifting through emails! Here are a few things a virtual assistant can do to support you with email management:
- Organize and sort new emails
- Cleanout old emails by deleting or archiving
- Set up rules, alerts, and filters
- Create labels and folders
- Unsubscribe you to unwanted emails
- Send out meeting invites
- Respond to email invites
- Update your contact list
- Set up templates for regular emails you send or to respond to usual emails. This will help you save time and be more responsive.
- Create tasks out of your emails so you don’t have to keep re-reading them.
Tips for working with a VA on email management
- Allow the virtual assistant to take a look at your inbox, get familiar with it, and provide their suggestions for improvement
- Ask your virtual assistant to keep track of the rules and guidelines you are setting
- Let your virtual assistant know if there are any types of emails they can automatically delete and unsubscribe from
- Mention any emails that you don’t want them to open/read but can be put directly into a folder. Such as an email from your spouse or doctor.
- Hire a virtual assistant that has strong communication skills
- Meet regularly and keep communication open
Finance, accounting, and invoicing management
All businesses need to pay close attention to and manage their finances accurately. Financial work usually isn’t a business owner’s favorite part of owning a business and it can get pushed down to the bottom of your priority list. When you hire a virtual assistant to manage your finances, accounting, and invoicing you can expect the following:
- Financial data entry
- Make sure your bills are paid on time
- Create P&L reports
- Reconcile bank and credit card statements
- Manage your bookkeeping software
- Send images of your documents for your virtual assistant to upload and track
- Fill out paperwork and forms
- Create monthly, quarterly, and/or year-end reports
- Budgeting assistance
- Run your payroll
- Create, send, follow-up, and organize your invoices for your clients and customers
Tips for working with a VA on finances, accounting, and invoicing
- Give them access to your financial information and software
- Allow your virtual assistant to provide feedback and suggestions
Management of meeting/appointment scheduling and travel arrangements
Scheduling your meetings and appointments can take up valuable time. Hiring a virtual assistant to manage your calendar will keep it organized and take a simple task off your plate. A VA can go a step further to also help you with travel arrangements. Planning a trip can be overwhelming. There are so many websites to sift through with flight, hotel, and car rental options. Here’s how virtual assistant can help with all of your scheduling and planning:
- Schedule meetings and calls
- Manage new and reoccurring appointments
- Send out agendas before meetings
- Send out action items after meetings
- Remind you of tasks to complete before a schedule meeting or call
- Update you on change of plans
- Travel transportation arrangements
- Itinerary of activities
- Car rental
- Booking hotel
- Finding and making reservations at restaurants
- Add your travel plans to your calendar
- Set up out of office automatic emails for when you are away or busy
- Check-in to your flights
- Send host gifts
Tips for working with a VA on calendar management and travel arrangements
- Give your travel preferences (only one layover, hotel stars, aisle seat, etc.)
- You're VA will act as a personal assistant so you will need to feel comfortable enough to provide your personal information to them so reservations can be made (birthdate, passport information, credit card number, etc.)
Who benefits from working with a virtual assistant?
You might be wondering if you’re ready to hire a virtual assistant. If you’re a business owner who can relate to any of the next three points, then you should consider adding a VA to your team:
- You’re working on repetitive administrative tasks (answering emails, phone calls, scheduling meetings, prepping paperwork, etc.).
- You’re overwhelmed and doesn’t have enough time in the day to complete everything.
- You’re frozen because they don’t have the expertise to finish a task (website design, advertising, finances, etc.).
A small business owner usually benefits the most from hiring a virtual assistant. If you’re a small business owner, you are most likely extremely busy trying to handle all the aspects of the business. You’re working on the tedious and repetitive tasks which will take up your valuable time. This time suck doesn’t allow you to work on higher level priorities to help grow your business. You’re also struggling to complete tasks that aren’t in your skillset, so you keep putting them off.
A small business owner usually isn’t ready to hire on full-time or even part-time help yet. Instead they can hire a virtual assistant for a set number of hours per week or month. A major benefit is that the business owner doesn’t need to worry about providing office space, hardware, health insurance, vacation or sick days, or taxes.
In the United States, you can expect to pay between $20-$50 per hour for a general virtual assistant. Their rates will vary to reflect experience, skill set, and the type of task being completed. As you request assistance for more specialized tasks their rates will increase. When you are looking to hire a virtual assistant, it’s best to have a budget in your mind of how much you can afford. Your potential virtual assistant will be able to let you know what can be completed within the budget you outlined.
How to hire a virtual assistant
When you are ready to begin your search for a good virtual assistant to add to your team, take these steps:
- Create a list of tasks you want to outsource
- Come up with your ideal and reasonable budget
- Create a job description which includes information about your business, expected expertise, responsibilities, tools/software to be used, and how to apply
- You might request a resume, portfolio, or references
- Post it online (see next section where to post)
- Review applications
- Schedule phone or video interviews
- Consider having your top candidates complete a test project
Where to find a qualified virtual assistant
There are many different ways to find a qualified virtual assistant for your business. Here are a few options of where virtual assistants look to find their potential clients:
- Online VA agencies (such as Delegated.com)
- Facebook groups
- Local networking groups
Now you know what a virtual assistant is, what a they can do, how much they cost, and how to hire them. It’s time to decide if hiring a virtual assistant for your business is the best step to take your growing business to the next level.