Ask any established virtual assistant, or an entrepreneur or business owner who has experience working with a virtual assistant, what a virtual assistant is and does and they’ll likely rattle off a litany of positive attributes, stellar services, and anecdotes of VAs saving the day.
While business administration is the cornerstone of any virtual assistant practice and most VAs will provide the requisite services such as data entry, contacts management, editing, documents management, and more a qualified virtual assistant brings much more to the table than secretarial skills. Rita Cartwright, a virtual assistant since 2002, does a wonderful job explaining the concept of a truly invested virtual assistant in an article called “Your Business Success is our Success”
When you contract with a Virtual Assistant, you get more than just an employee. We have a vested interest in your business success. Since we are entrepreneurs and small business owners, we know what it takes to operate a business, how to market our services, as well as develop our businesses. In addition to completing your tasks, we provide you with information, suggestions, or ideas that perhaps will help you in your business, because we want you to succeed. Your success is our success.
The assistance you receive from us is quite different than the support you would obtain from a secretary or administrative assistant. We have the mindset of a business owner rather than that of an employee. As I mentioned earlier, we will have a vested interest in your business. We understand what you are dealing with, because we are faced with the same concerns and situations. (Read the full article here.)
It’s true in many different ways that working with a virtual assistant will prove to be a worthwhile investment in your business. The cost of a professional virtual assistant’s services will ultimately be recouped via saved time as you delegate more and more tasks to your virtual assistant and decreased levels of stress as your virtual assistant is able to handle tasks that would otherwise bog down your own daily productivity.
It’s not enough to simply hire a virtual assistant – as with any business decision you make, it’s important to follow up and follow through – you have to treat the working relationship itself as an investment, at least initially, as you and your virtual assistant get to know each other and more importantly, as your virtual assistant gets to know your business. Here are just a few tips to help you make the most of working with your virtual assistant:
1. Help your virtual assistant do what they do best by providing clear expectations and goals from the start as well as for new directions or projects going forward. A virtual assistant may have great business acumen and insight but can’t read your mind. The more your virtual assistant understands about you and your business, the more he or she can make a positive impact.
2. A virtual assistant can only make a difference in your business growth if they’re allowed to do so. If you have a hard time delegating, or letting go of control in certain areas of your business, get clear with yourself about how you see a virtual assistant fitting into your business.
3. Understand that a virtual assistant is not an employee but a professional, self-employed service provider, and treat them as such. Your virtual assistant comes into the relationship with the utmost respect for you and your business, they deserve the same in return.
4. Be reasonable. A virtual assistant works from home, but they’re still running a business and you are likely one of a group of clients the VA works with. Unreasonable requests for immediate or weekend assistance will quickly burn out a client’s relationship with a virtual assistant. Take the time to understand your virtual assistant’s business policies – it’ll help everything run more smoothly.
Imagine how many more clients you could connect with, how many more billable hours you could clock, or how great it would feel to have more time for your family, friends and for yourself!
With a virtual assistant handling the day-to-day administrative tasks associated with running and growing your business, you’ll find that you have more hours in the day, and more time to do the things you really want to be doing. The following list details just some of the things a professional virtual assistant could handle for you, in just one hour:
1. Call 25-30 prospective clients.
2. Mail merge 50-100 letters including stuffing and mailing.
3. Create and schedule an email marketing campaign.
4. Data Entry of a minimum of 75 contacts in an Excel spreadsheet.
5. Manage customer service correspondence.
6. Proof and edit a five to six page white paper.
7. Create a PowerPoint presentation.
8. Create a signup process on your website for an ezine or newsletter subscription.
9. Balance your business bank statement for the month.
10. Research travel, hotel and meeting facilities for an upcoming holiday or convention.
11. Provide personal or group training via webinar for a specific software or service.
12. Update web site content to be more search engine friendly.
13. Manage article and press release submissions.
14. Transcribe thirty minutes of audio from a conference, meeting, speech or similar.
15. Gather and organize research for a specific project.
16. Type handwritten notes from a seminar or meeting.
17. Utilize client’s content to create a basic sales page with PayPal.
18. Create a header graphic for website/blog.
19. Set up a Facebook page for the client’s business.
20. Manage a client’s Facebook business page (sending invites, interacting with users/comments, adding recent images, etc.)
21. Do follow-up research on a client, prospect, applicant, or competitor.
22. Manage incoming emails: delete spam; sort, answer, or redirect important emails.
23. Create a custom spreadsheet.
24. Organize files, label them appropriately, and mail them back.
25. Make confirmation calls regarding your appointments, engagements, or reservations.
26. Open and sort mail one week’s worth of mail.
27. Stuff, seal, label, and stamp a bulk mailing.
28. Write, format and post a detailed, relevant blog entry with image.
29. Collate and label personalized packets for your seminar or presentation.
30. Build at least 30 SEO-friendly links back to your website or blog.
31. Monitor and forward info from multiple sources of client industry news headlines, blog posts, and forum discussions.
31. Create and/or analyze and update Google Adwords campaigns.
32. Setup and/or analyze Google Analytics and relative conversion reports.
33. Add a press page to the company website.
34. Select and schedule 15 individual handwritten greeting or thank you cards for delivery to clients, colleagues, etc.
35. Edit and prep for download a 30-60 minute audio file using Audacity or similar.
36. Update shopping cart with new product images and information.
37. Create a customized, detailed Google business listing with images.
38. Manage the company Twitter account (providing Tweets, responding to @s, following/unfollowing per the company policy)
39. Create a draft of a company white paper out of last year’s relevant blog posts.
40. Scheduling a week’s worth of Tweets.
41. Planning two week’s worth of blog topics.
This is just a sampling of what a virtual assistant can do for you and your small business. The list is truly endless…
A professional virtual assistant can handle any of these tasks in one hour – freeing you up to focus on more important business tasks and enjoy more personal time.
Virtual assistants can function as much more than virtual administrative professionals. On some level, they serve as virtual business partners – truly invested in the success of your business. After all, when your business grows and thrives, so, in turn, will theirs.
This article discusses the virtual assistant / client relationship as well as provides more detailed information about how to make the most of working with a virtual assistant:
A VA will have extensive experience on a variety of software and cloud-based programs and will learn new software or skills on her own time, if necessary. Instead of investing your time training a support person, you will simply need to acquaint a VA with how your process works and then let the VA take it from there.
A good VA will get to know your business and offer advice and counsel on how to use technology and software. You will learn from your assistant.
Read the rest of the article here.
With the increasing amount of virtual assistant information online, the trend to outsource to virtual assistants continues to increase as well. This article, via the INC. Well Blog, explains some of the benefits of working with a virtual assistant:
Virtual assistants mean a business owner doesn’t need to provide office equipment, overhead or benefits- and if you take a vacation or business is slow, they take a break too.
Read the entire article here.
From El Paso, Inc. via the New York Times, comes an article detailing the myriad ways in which small business owners can beef up and streamline their business processes, including relying on virtual assistants.
Many solo entrepreneurs rely on virtual assistants — temporary help hired as needed — who work remotely, usually from their homes. They can handle tasks like research, data entry and e-mail replies. Garland uses virtual assistants about 40 hours a month.
“What’s nice is you don’t have an employee,” he said. “This is someone who bills you by the hour, so it’s an expense you can deduct.”
Read the entire article here.