What is a Virtual Assistant?
A Virtual Assistant (VA) provides administrative services to clients from a remote setting, such as a home office. As not everyone is skilled in every unit in a business, a VA may be the solution you require for your business, short-term or in the long run. They allow you to focus on your business and not use prime employees for short-term or time-consuming tasks in your business.
Benefits of Using a Virtual Assistant
A Virtual Assistant can help you with your small business without the stress of hiring full-time employees. A VA helps you as and when you need help and, as a result, you are free to focus on the running of your business.
The below is not an exhaustive list of benefits:
A Virtual Assistant may cost more per hour than a full-time employee. However, they are paid only for the hours they work. Therefore, you are not paying someone during quiet times or for periods between projects. Similarly, you save on overhead costs as you do not need to provide office space, equipment, or supplies for the VA.
As a part-time contractor, a Virtual Assistant does not need a salary package. Likewise, you are not liable for employee-related matters such as tax or benefits. There are no labour practices to abide by as you are working within the specific clauses of a contract. Similarly, during hard times, there is no need to discuss retrenchment packages. There is no need for a disciplinary hearing if things aren’t working out. You can use a VA for one-time projects or monthly without the expectation of full-time employment.
A VA can take over those time-consuming and seemingly unimportant (but vitally important) administrative roles in your company. This allows you to get on with the important things such as growing your business and making money.
A VA brings experience from many fields and companies, offering your company a fresh outlook while fulfilling the set tasks.
Required Skills for a Virtual Assistant
The required skills of a Virtual Assistant must be based on their field of expertise. For example, if they specialise in bookkeeping, they must have the apt qualifications and experience to handle your finances.
However, all VAs should possess the following basic skills:
A VA is a skilled office administrator with years of experience. They must be able to run the administrative side of your business with little training from you or your employees. Additionally, they must have enough knowledge and experience to understand the basics of what you require from them.
A VA must be able to jump into any role with only a quick crash course in your business. They must be able to switch tasks on short notice, allowing you to use them in the best possible way at the best possible time.
You should not need to micromanage a VA. They must be able to work on their own without hand-holding.
A VA will be privy to your business operations, procedures, and policies. As they work for various companies, you must be able to trust them not to share confidential information with others. Furthermore, a VA charges a per-hour rate. For this reason, you must be able to trust them to complete tasks within a reasonable time and not extend projects unnecessarily. They should be able to provide you with precise time records.
Services of a Virtual Assistant
These services include but are not limited to:
A VA offers a wide range of administrative services. They can assist you with your travel arrangements, events, scheduling, e-mails, minutes of meetings, reports, policies and procedures, and project management.
Every business needs good-quality, standardised documentation. However, people often delay this task, putting it off until later, and then forget about it until it becomes a huge task. A VA can create all your documents, with branding, in an array of formats, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. If your VA has a good grasp of these programs, they can work wonders.
Some Virtual Assistants come from an accounting background and can assist you with your financials. However, those without bookkeeping qualifications can assist with basic services such as expense tracking and logging, chasing late payments, and reporting on expenses.
A Virtual Assistant can assist you with your data management requirements. They can create surveys and monitor and report on the results. The VA can build a database, enter data in a database, and present the data for management review.
You can use a Virtual Assistant to help with your client service needs. They can respond to client queries and complaints and assist with live chat support as well as create and respond to support tickets. A VA can write, edit, and send follow-up or outbound e-mails to clients.
Social media and website management
In this day and age, social media is vital in any business. An online presence builds a brand and creates awareness. However, many businesses spend very little time on social media, due to either a lack of time or lack of experience or knowledge. A VA can help you with your social media presence by writing post content and planning posts across various platforms. Furthermore, they can research and write blogs for your website. Some may be able to assist with analytics and SEO optimisation of your website.
A Virtual Assistant can assist with product descriptions, images, and product classification, amongst other things. They can process orders and refunds. The VA can also set up your refund policy and terms and conditions.
Sick leave cover
When a staff member is sick and work needs to be done, don’t hand it over to an overworked staff member. A VA can step in and assist, especially if the sick leave is long-term or the work is urgent.
To VA or not to VA, that is the question!
Whether you’re a small, medium, or large business, a Virtual Assistant can be a huge asset to your operation. A VA can take a lot of stress off you and your staff. It’s well worth weighing up the benefits and experience a qualified VA can bring to your business.