What is a Virtual Assistant?

What is a Virtual Assistant?

A Virtual Assistant or VA is a skilled administrator or Personal Assistant who offers their professional services to businesses on a freelance basis, working mainly from their own home office. Some VAs will also be willing to work onsite in their local area.

Benefits of using a VA

By hiring a VA, you avoid a lengthy recruitment process and costly employment overheads such as holiday pay, sick pay, maternity pay as they are self-employed. They will have their own workspace at home so you don’t need to find anywhere for them to sit or provide expensive IT equipment. You only pay for the hours you need and you can delegate those necessary but time consuming tasks you maybe don’t enjoy and focus on your core business and making money.

Who uses a VA?

Many freelancers, SMEs and other professionals already use at least one VA, some have a couple they use as they may hold completely different skills sets which they need at different times. It may feel like a luxury or something bigger businesses use but here’s an article about businesses who made the decision to take on a VA:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/young-entrepreneur-council/8-reasons-we-hired-a-virt_b_5634021.html

Do I need a VA?

As a business owner, I know it’s really tempting to try and do it all yourself, especially in those early days when you feel like you need to control everything. However, if you step back and analyse how you are spending your time and if it is well structured and effective for your business you may realise that getting an extra pair of hands to help out with some of the more admin-y tasks will ensure you are able concentrate on your core business.

Are you missing out on business because you’re not responding to emails in a timely manner? Do you just never get to the bottom of that to-do list? Are you struggling to focus on your core business because admin and paperwork keep getting in the way? If you answer yes to any of these questions then you could probably use a VA in your life!

What can you outsource to a Virtual Assistant?

You can outsource a wide range of work to a VA. Here is a flavour of possible tasks you could ask them to do but this list is by no means exhaustive:

  • Set up and maintain a spreadsheet or CRM of all your contacts (do you have a bag of business cards which you keep meaning to do action?).
  • Basic book-keeping; send out invoices, manage your expenses (again, have you got a pile of receipts that need logging on that expenses spreadsheet?).
  • Take minutes at meetings (allows you to focus on the meeting and professional minutes are provided quickly to all attendees).
  • Type up reports (is there a pile in your in-tray you haven’t got round to yet?).
  • Proof reading (from your blog to your weekly newsletter to your business plan).
  • Online research (for potential clients, new suppliers, current trends etc.).
  • Researching and booking travel and accommodation for your business trips (how much time do you waste on this?).
  • Manage your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter etc.).
  • Producing, editing and formatting forms, reports, spreadsheets and presentations (there’s always a form you’ve been meaning to design but have never got round to it).
  • Diary/calendar/email management (avoid clashes and ensure emails are responded to in a timely manner).
  • Event co-ordination incl. venue finding, organising attendees and administration (take the stress away from an event you have agreed to organise).

Just a few hours a week or a month could be seriously good for your health, work-life balance and actually increase your productivity for your core business!

Ad-hoc or on-going support?

You can just hire a VA for a one-off task you need completing and pay by the hour. Most VAs will be flexible in the packages they offer, adapting their work to the client’s individual needs. You can also choose to have a retainer package where you pay for a set number of hours for a period of time which means you reserve their time in advance.  This gives business owners peace of mind that they know they have continued support available. However, I would advise you agree a small task to start with to ensure you are happy with the way they work before committing to a more regular arrangement. You need to be able to trust the VA and if this is the first time you have delegated anything related to your business, you want to know you work well together.

Just a few hours a week or a month could be seriously good for your health, work-life balance and actually increase your productivity for your core business!

About Rachel

Want to work with Rachel?

If you are interested in learning more about how Essential Business Support could help you and your business, please contact me and we can arrange a free one-hour consultation to discuss.

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