Entrepreneurs can use virtual assistants for everything from making vendor or customer service calls to sending out thank you cards to prospective clients. It's important to build trust, just as you would with a permanent employee. Not sure where to start? Here are 10 ways you can use a virtual assistant to improve your business.
Bookkeeping:Keeping tabs on bills and other bookkeeping matters can be one of the easiest things to assign to a virtual assistant. Many small businesses choose to share their bookkeeping systems with their virtual assistants who can then follow up on tasks such as outstanding invoices or unpaid bills.
Online Research:You can easily farm out Internet research to virtual assistants. Common requests include finding information on corporate websites, exploring new products and vetting potential employees or business contacts. Be sure to send clear instructions, along with user names and passwords so assistants can get access to specialty search tools or paid websites.
Database entries:Whether it's a slew of new business cards picked up at a conference or updated information for existing contacts, keeping databases current is a suitable task for virtual assistants. Be specific about your needs and expectations, and make sure the virtual assistant has done this type of work before so there's less room for errors.
Data presentations:Turning raw data into a clear PowerPoint presentation or summarizing research findings in a Word document can be a huge time-saver when prepping for meetings.
Managing email: To keep you from wasting time in your email inbox, some virtual assistants will filter your most important emails and respond to the rest on your behalf. Such email management is easy to do remotely, but you need to provide guidance on how to pick out key emails and ask the assistant to copy you before sending out any responses to reduce the risk of errors.
Social tasks:Virtual assistants can be a good bet to handle tasks such as writing holiday cards or sending thank you notes.
Travel Research:Virtual assistants are a great resource for finding hotels, booking airfares and mapping out trip itineraries both for business and pleasure. The assistants can take advantage of the growing number of travel research tools and review sites on the Web. They can also deal with the hassle of navigating time zones when booking or researching international travel options by phone.
Scheduling: Because many scheduling tools are available online, virtual assistants are managing the calendars of many clients. Tasks include dealing with meeting invitations from others, scheduling appointments with clients and helping to plan events.
Chasing business: Prioritizing potential business opportunities can be challenging, but virtual assistants can help with the process.
There may come a time as your business develops that you are faced with a decision: look for an administrative assistant nearby your office, or delve into the world of "virtual assistants." A virtual assistant does not come to your office. Instead he or she works from their own office and assists you via phone, internet, fax, and email.
When looking through the list of all the tasks you want an assistant to perform, you will likely find that there is no reason why that person couldn't be located anywhere in the world.
The Benefits of Using a Virtual Assistant
There are many benefits of using a "virtual" assistant versus bringing an assistant into your office.
When Is It Time To Hire A VA?
It's a rare entrepreneur who doesn't feel overwhelmed wearing all the hats and doing all the tasks alone. But when is the right time to hire a VA?
First, look at your task list and determine which tasks should be delegated. Don't fall into the trap of thinking, "I can do this so much faster and better, I won't delegate this task." The question isn't whether you can do a task; the question is whether you should be the one to do the task. Think how you will use all the time you free up from administrative tasks to create more income for your business.
Second, look at your budget. How much can you afford to spend? Remember to add into your budget calculations the fact that you'll be able to generate more income, and design more products and services, with the time that is freed up by hiring a VA.
What Should You Consider When Hiring A VA?
As your business grows, you may soon realize that doing all your work yourself is not feasible. Being able to delegate some of the repetitive tasks so that you can focus on adding value. Once upon a time, this problem would have meant hiring local help to aid in keeping up with the growing workload.
However, the world has changed, you don’t need to hire a regular full-time or part-time employee. You can employee a virtual assistant (VA) for a fraction of the cost.
Also, they don’t have to be local. In fact, your VA can live on the other side of the country (or the planet). In many cases, it works well to have a VA that isn’t in your time zone.
You may be a perfect candidate for a virtual assistant if:
What Is A Virtual Assistant and What Can They Do For Me?
A virtual assistant is someone who works remotely on your tasks. With tools and technology, they can be just as productive (if not more so) than someone in your office.
You and your VA can share files, coordinate projects, and even meet virtually.
The biggest challenge you will have when first engaging a virtual assistant is delegating work.
It can feel weird at first having a VA doing tasks on your behalf. However, it is important to find the value in the support and commit to becoming an efficient team.
But, before most people reach the point of engaging a virtual assistant, they first find themselves overwhelmed with work, email, and unfinished tasks.
What a Virtual Assistant can Do for Your
Many people wonder what they will have their VA do once they've established that relationship. So, here are just 9 activities that a Virtual Assistant can do for you:
9 Tasks Your VA can take off your plate:
Benefits of a Virtual Assistant
There are many benefits to having a virtual assistant (VA).
If you are looking to grow you business and work capacity, you should investigate the benefits that a VA brings.
It doesn’t require a large monetary or time investment. And it might just bring you more of both.
Benefits of having a virtual assistant:
Your business is growing, and you are busier now more than ever. You could use an extra set of hands, so someone suggested that you should use a virtual assistant. However, you have no idea what a virtual assistant is or for that matter, how they can help you. If that is the case, small business owner, it is time for you step into 2014 and become virtual. You will add your business to the growing trend of those utilizing virtual assistants.
A virtual assistant is a highly skilled professional who offers business support services virtually. This can consist of an individual or a team of virtual assistants with virtually meaning they are located off site and work remotely. They are independent contractors and entrepreneurs who specialize in providing an array of services such as administrative, creative, technical, and legal support.
So if you’re still on the edge and not sure if a virtual assistant is right for you, let’s go through some of its benefits.
Benefits of a Virtual Assistant
Valuable Skill Set – Virtual assistants are highly skilled independent contractors, including administrative assistants, website administrators, and senior level executives, all of whom have had a broad range of experience. Most virtual assistants work in a specific niche, meaning they’ll understand your industry better than someone who doesn’t focus on a particular niche.
Saving on Hiring a Full-Time Employee – A key benefit to using a virtual assistant for your business is the saving aspect. By working with a virtual assistant, you will save on the expense of hiring a full-time employee. This includes the amount of time and money spent on interviewing and training a new employee. This also includes the cost of employee benefits such as health insurance, employee-related benefits, and tax savings. As independent contractors, virtual assistants are responsible for their own bookkeeping and taxes. You will not have to worry about incurring such costs.
Save on Office Space – Since the contractor is virtual, they work off site. This allows you to save on expenses such as ordering a new desk and purchasing a computer. As a matter of fact, they use their own resources. So you save on the space that a new employee would incur. This is a win particularly if you happen to work remotely or independently yourself. You can work remotely and at the same time have the additional assistance you need.
Only Pay for Time Spent on Projects – This is a great benefit for your business budget. When you utilize a virtual assistant, you only pay for time spent on projects. So you can budget for the projects that have a high priority for your business. For example, Creative Business Assistants offers discounted monthly packages, which provides savings to their clients. Their clients know consistently what they will be billed for on a monthly basis or what they can allot for based on a project.
Virtual Assistant Tasks And Jobs
Now that you have a clear understanding of a virtual assistant, let’s talk specifically about some tasks that a virtual assistant can provide to your business.
Administrative Services – Most businesses need a good administrative assistant. A virtual assistant can handle all types of administrative services, which include managing company email, scheduling and confirming appointments, managing business correspondence, entering data, and assisting with bookkeeping. They can also take on additional administrative projects that you don’t wish to handle. Thankfully, you will find that many virtual assistants are Microsoft Excel experts.
Social Media Assistant – Handling social media for businesses can become time consuming for business owners and other staff. This is time that can be spent on other revenue-generating tasks. However, because of its importance in a business’s marketing plan, it can be delegated to a virtual assistant. According to Chris Ducker, every business should have a social media plan . And this is an area where a virtual assistant can help out. A virtual assistant can plan and schedule your social media marketing on your Facebook business page, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google pages as well as on any other social media site that you use. They can research content, monitor and engage the users, and assist in building your network. This is a great task to outsource to a virtual assistant, as most business spend anywhere from five to 20 plus hours per week on social media.
Web Site Designer/Administrator – You will find a pool of virtual assistants who specialize in website design and management. You will find a lot of virtual assistants in this arena who are experts in web creation using software such as WordPress and others like it. Specifically, you can easily find virtual assistants who promote WordPress as their niche. If your company needs assistance with its website, which includes a blog, using this type of virtual assistant would be great for your business.
Marketing Assistant – Similar to the function of a social media assistant, a virtual assistant is a great tool for marketing. This would include assisting with launching any marketing campaigns and tracking their success. A virtual assistant can be used to assist implementing your marketing plan by helping with email campaigns. They can assist you with this by first scraping your email list to ensure that all the addresses are updated and do not include any errors. This can include helping you segment your lists as well source them. Secondly, they can help you implement and track the analytics of the email campaign itself. Another great way to use a virtual assistant in marketing is to have them promote any blogs that you may have. This is a much needed aspect for any business that has a blog. It must be promoted, updated, and managed. So all these tasks are great to delegate to your virtual assistant.
Customer Service Representative – For a busy entrepreneur, customer service is a great task to outsource to a virtual assistant. You can forward calls to your virtual assistant, and they can become a virtual call center designated specifically for your business. With the enhancement of technology, there are companies such as Ring Central that make this an easy option for small businesses. Additionally, the virtual assistant can handle any follow-up calls as needed.
How to Hire a Virtual Assistant
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