A virtual assistant explained.
Since starting my business as a virtual assistant I have had many questions about it from people, things like
What is a virtual assistant?
Are you a secretary?
What do you actually do?
Why would someone hire a virtual assistant?
These are all valued questions because if I am really honest I thought them myself when I first discovered that virtual assistants existed. I now, of course, am one so I know the answers but wanted to take the time to share my insight and knowledge a little to people out there that may not fully understand.
What actually IS a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant is quite simply an assistant who works remotely from their own office or home. With all the advancement that has happened in technology, over the last 50 years we have been given opportunities to choose how we work. We now have stronger connections through the home internet. Applications like Zoom, Skype, Slack and Google meet allow us to keep in regular contact with clients and colleagues. Businesses began to realise that they no longer needed to bring employees into an office environment to get work done, and this led to the beginning of the virtual assistant.
Virtual assistants are used by small businesses, online businesses and entrepreneurs that need help but want to save money by not renting office space. They can also be in demand for their specialist skills, such as Social media management or bookkeeping.
A virtual assistant, well, assists but just from a remote distance. They do have limitations but a good virtual assistant will work round those limitations. For example, a virtual assistant can’t physically bring you lunch but they can order you a delivery of your lunch from an outside source.
Are you a Secretary?
Well, Yes and no.
Virtual assistants can do a lot of administration but don’t just do administrative tasks. Depending on the experience and qualifications of the virtual assistant they can also provide help with basic graphic design, social media management, web designing, gift sourcing, event planning and many other things.This is where it is best to contact the virtual assistant you are looking to hire and ask them if they can achieve what you want. It may not be on their list of services but it doesn’t mean they can’t do it.
What do you actually do?
Quite a lot!
Every virtual assistant is different, of course, and we all have our strengths and skills but the list can be quite extensive and not all the tasks fit into a group but here are a few main ones.
They can take over all the business duties that an office administrative assistant does.
This can include Diary management, organising your calendar and ‘to do’ list, booking
appointments and meetings, inputting data, file management, preparing and sending
Invoices and any other task you would associate with an office assistant.
Research can come in different forms depending on your needs. Have you ever needed
to find something out but just don’t have the time to sit down and look into it properly?
This is where the virtual assistant can be handy. They could keep track of your
competition, find better suppliers for you or other agencies that you could collaborate with,
discover what keywords are trending for your SEO ( Search engine optimisation) and other
programmes or apps that might be useful to your business.
2. Social Media management
Social media, is a very important tool in getting your business to grow or your
product's more visibility. It will be a place where future clients are going to see your business and
try to interact with you. Your social media presence will make your brand more
approachable and this takes time, as you have to be updated and relevant. Outsourcing
it to a virtual assistant can save you time as they can be on hand to talk to people,
create content. and cover a range of different areas that can help.
They are not just for business either, they can be helpful within your homelife. Things like
organising your to do list, booking travel arrangements, gift sourcing, buying supplies, reminders
for appointments, utility comparisons etc
4. Customer services
Virtual assistants can answer your phone calls, deal with any queries your clients may have, deal
with complaints or disputes and be your first point of contact for clients so that your time is more
productive and dealing with the business.
5. Email management
Many people don’t even think about the state of their e- mails or even the quantity! I
have come across some clients that have 8000+ in their inbox and no idea where to
start. Businesses and entrepreneurs can hire a VA to tackle this daunting task by
identifying spam mail and deleting it, organise your inbox with folders, they can reply to
emails for you while also highlighting ones of importance for you, manage client email
lists and subscribers and complete email marketing campaigns for you.
Why would somebody hire a Virtual assistant?
Well let me ask you, why wouldn’t you hire somebody if you could?
Running a business is hard work whether you are a large, medium or small business, a solo entrepreneur or somebody working on a very small scale from home. Sometimes doing it all yourself can spread you pretty thin and a virtual assistant can share the workload with you. This then
allows you more time to work on your business, your hobbies or spend time with your family.
Bizzybee, otherwise known as Erin, is a remote personal assistant based in Cheshire. She works with different kinds of businesses from small office based businesses to solo entrepreneurs working from home. As a virtual assistant she is able to work all over the united kingdom from her very own office.