Do you need a virtual assistant in your business?
What is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant (VA) is a self-employed person who provides support services to other businesses from a remote location, usually their home but it could be anywhere in the world.
When many people hear the term virtual assistant, they often assume it’s just a secretary who works from home, but a virtual assistant is so much more than that.
With the technology we have today, such as cloud computing, high speed internet and specialist technology, most virtual assistants offer specialist freelance services.
Why hire a virtual assistant?
You need more time in your day – Delegating routine tasks to a virtual assistant can add hours to your week, and you can spend that time more productively doing whatever it is you do, developing your business or simply having a life and spending time with your family and friends.
You can’t afford to employ the people you need in your business yet – Employing staff can be expensive. It’s not just their wages you need to consider. There’s also staff benefits, holidays, sick pay and office equipment to think about, not to mention the time you pay them for standing chatting by the water cooler. By hiring a virtual assistant, you only pay for the work they do for you, so whilst their hourly rate will probably be higher than a regular employee, you’ll get the work done at a lower total cost.
Your business is seasonal or the workload fluctuates – You can’t just fire a permanent employee if there are peaks and troughs in your business workload. However, by using a virtual assistant on an ad hoc basis you will have the extra support there when you need it, but you won’t have to find wages if or when there’s less work to do. With a virtual assistant, no work means no pay.
You want to improve efficiency in your business – It’s not a good use of your time as a business owner to be spending hours on tasks that you’re not good at or you don’t want to do. A virtual assistant will be able to do these tasks quicker and more easily, leaving you to get on with whatever it is you really want to do.
You’re not good at everything – Virtual assistants are skilled professionals, so they are the obvious choice to bridge the skills gap in your business.
What do virtual assistants do?
A virtual assistant can do virtually anything except bring you your morning coffee.
To give some idea and dispel the myth that a virtual assistant is just a secretary who works from home, here are some (but not all) of the tasks that virtual assistants commonly perform:
- Manage your customer support help desk and respond to enquiries
- Process orders, refunds and handle billing enquiries
- Operate live chat on your website
- Look after your calendar
- Arrange meetings and appointments
- Keep on top of your email inbox
- Co-ordinate your travel arrangements
- Draft and send emails
- Co-ordinate and manage projects, often using project management software
- Set up and manage your business support systems (customer service, project management, finance)
- Conduct research projects, such as content research, competitor research, keyword research or audience research
- Provide bookkeeping, invoicing and credit control services
- Generate new leads for your business
- Create and manage your blog or website
- Set up and manage e-commerce shopping carts
- Brainstorm, research, write, edit, manage, format and publish content for your podcasts, videos, articles,
- Blog posts, newsletters, emails, PDF guides, e-books and reports, courses and presentations
- Transcribe audio and video into text-based documents
- Create graphics for your e-books, blogs, articles, social media channels and website
- Manage your social media channels and track metrics
- Manage affiliate marketing campaigns
- Research keywords and optimise content for search engines
- Track website analytics
- Plan and schedule online events
- Co-ordinate and manage webinars, online conferences and virtual summits
- Set up and manage email marketing systems using such tools as ConvertKit, AWeber, 1ShoppingCart or MailChimp
- Create and update sales pages using tools such as Leadpages, OptimizePress, ClickFunnels or Unbounce
- Manage your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) databases
- And many more…
Sarah Liddle is The Lady in the Shed. She is a virtual assistant specialising in marketing, admin and techie solutions for small businesses, a smallholder, a sheep farmer and a farm bygones dealer. She loves supporting small business owners to do whatever they do by enabling them to use their time more effectively.