In a world where more and more people expect to have the flexibility to work from home, it’s no surprise that the virtual assistant industry is booming.
And yet there is still a lot of confusion for many as to what exactly a virtual assistant is and how they can help businesses.
A Virtual PA?
Many people will describe a virtual assistant (VA) as a virtual personal assistant, but I think this is only marginally less obscure for those who are unfamiliar with VAs. And, for a small business, a personal assistant can sound like something that is exclusive and too expensive.
Instead, think of a virtual assistant as someone who is there to support you and your business. When you find that you’re getting bogged down with all the little things, or when you need someone to offer expertise in a particular area of your business such as marketing, then this is where a virtual assistant can help.
Virtual here means remotely. Though some VAs will work in a specific area, the majority will work for you wherever you are because the nature of the role is that it doesn’t have to be done from a set location.
The advantage of this is that you can find a virtual assistant who suits you and your business perfectly – you don’t have to compromise on work quality or skills just because there aren’t enough qualified people in your area.
Despite more and more businesses incorporating remote working, there is still a mindset for many that their business simply cannot function with remote workers. But, chances are, it’s not true. There are plenty of options out there nowadays that make remote working very easy. You may have to change your procedures a little bit, but the freedom you will gain for your business will be well worth it.
If you’re still not sure whether having a remote worker will suit your business, please feel free to get in touch for a chat about your concerns and what changes you could potentially make to accommodate virtual working.
At their very basic, a virtual assistant can help you with day-to-day admin tasks such as data entry, email management, and phone answering (yes, this can be done remotely, too!). However, many virtual assistants will specialise in certain areas and have particular skills that will be of great use to your business.
At The Singing VA, for example, I specialise in marketing. So, as well as office admin tasks, I can write your blogs, develop a marketing strategy, create newsletters, work with a number of Adobe programmes, and much more.
Other VAs are highly skilled in social media. Many offer accountancy and bookkeeping services. If you need specialised help, there will be a virtual assistant out there who can support you.
Match your niche
Industry knowledge is an important factor when it comes to recruitment. Whilst employees can be taught and will gradually learn about an industry, how much quicker would training be if you worked with someone who was already familiar with your industry? Most virtual assistants will specialise in a specific industry or industries (tourism and the creative industries in my case) and so you can find a VA who will easily understand your business and will be able to quickly adapt to your work with a knowledge that you won’t find in those who are completely new to your niche.
Outsource the jobs you hate
Remember when you started your business and you were thrilled at all the time you were going to spend doing exactly what you loved? And then you found you spent a LOT of your time doing admin and the jobs that you just hate. Hiring a virtual assistant is a fantastic way to pass on those must-do jobs that you dislike to someone else who loves it.
One of the reasons I became a virtual assistant is because I love, love, LOVE admin work. I really like the fact that it’s such an important foundation for any business and, without effective admin management, the bigger jobs can’t be done. But I know most people don’t see it like this. So if you’re one of those who dreads another day of administration, get in touch with a VA, pass on that work, and concentrate on the parts of the job that you really love.
Hiring employees can be costly because, not only are you paying a salary, you also need to cover pensions, National Insurance contributions, sick pay, holiday pay… With a self-employed virtual assistant, none of this comes into play.
If you don’t need a full-time member of staff, but do need someone to support your work, then I definitely recommend looking into a virtual assistant as an option.
A virtual assistant is an ideal solution if your businesses requires some help but doesn’t need a full-time (or even a part-time) employee or if you have busy periods when you could use ad hoc support.
Because virtual assistants are freelancers, you have much more flexibility with how you work with them.
If an emergency arises that you can’t cope with using your current resources, a virtual assistant can be brought on at the last minute (obviously depending on their availability) to either help with the problem/deadline or else to look after the other stuff while you sort out any drama.
On the flip side, if you have a quiet period (because they do happen sometimes!), you don’t have to worry about paying someone and trying to find work that doesn’t really need done, just to keep them occupied. A VA can stop and start with you as you require.
Another advantage with a virtual assistant is that it can be fairly easy to test the waters. If you’re nervous about handing over work, or if you’re not sure whether virtual assistance is the right option for your business, then you can start by handing over smaller tasks and gradually building confidence. Or, if it’s not working for you, you finish the agreed terms and simply move on!
Take the pressure off your personal life
If you are one of those people who spends so much time on your work that you have no time for your personal life, then, guess what; a virtual assistant can help you out there, too!
Lifestyle support varies drastically. Some VAs will pop into your house whilst you’re away and make sure your plants are watered and your fish are fed. Others will plan a full holiday for you so that you simply turn up at the airport and head to new worlds! Gift buying, party organising, laundry collection – the services on offer are unlimited!
So, if you love your work life and don’t want the support there, could a virtual assistant help you keep on top of your personal life instead?
If you think a virtual assistant can help your business, but aren’t sure where to start, the following blogs might help: