I hear the same quote all the time and I really don’t understand why people don’t understand the HUGE importance a VA has to you and the growth of both you and your business!
Using a virtual assistant can slice hours from your week, but knowing which tasks to delegate can be tricky, whether you’re starting or growing a business. Most virtual assistants are contract or freelance workers who focus on administrative tasks that are similar to those of an executive assistant or secretary. Websites that specialise in contract workers, such as odesk.com and elance.com, have thousands of listings for virtual assistants.
With the number of virtual assistants are growing by the day, it’s never been easier to find someone who fits your organisation. In 2016, oDesk had over 25,000 postings for virtual assistant jobs, compared to about 2,500 in 2011.
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.
“They become a team member who just happens to work remotely”
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. “You will need to hand over some control [including] passwords and access to accounts,” so ensure you have sourced someone you trust and has proven experience in this area first.
- 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. “Follow up is a huge thing for business owners. Sometimes clients will fax or scan business cards for the VA to then data input them into the database.”
- Data presentations: Turning raw data into a clear PowerPoint presentation or summarising research findings in a Word document can be a huge timesaver when prepping for meetings. I’ve done this numerous times and the data always comes back in a format of my preference and ready to use.
- 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. Social chores have become a very common assignment. Such tasks can become “all consuming” for business executives, but a good virtual assistant can take care of all of it.
- 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.
“It’s about being comfortable and letting go of that calendar” to a non-staff person working remotely.
- Chasing business: Prioritising potential business opportunities can be challenging, but virtual assistants can help with the process. “I give my VA an ongoing mission to surf social media sites seeking opportunities to engage with people potentially looking for solutions we can provide, and introduce them to us. Third party endorsements are invaluable, and this methods works particularly well when building trust.
- Industry knowledge prep: With limited time to keep up with industry news, some small businesses have turned to virtual assistants to keep tabs on the most important happenings. Many executives then use the industry information to update their Twitter feed or bring up interesting developments in conversation with customers and prospects. This helps “executives appear to have timely news” whilst keeping the Exec informed as to what REALLY matters whilst not having to scroll through endless documents to determine fact from fiction, interest from waffle.
Now that I’ve SAVED you at least 90mins a day! Perhaps that might help you find the time to work ON your business not IN it?