Well, this question comes up a lot, especially when I attend business networking meetings. VA stands for Virtual Assistant. A VA is a specialist working remotely, with a variety of technical and admin skills that can manage many of the tasks that stop you from concentrating on your business. This gives you the flexibility to hire someone for a specific project or task without having to employ them. The beauty is you can use them as much or as little as you need. You will pay a higher hourly rate for a virtual assistant than you would a PA or an admin assistant but you won’t be responsible for their holiday pay, sick pay, office equipment costs, and insurances.
What tasks can a VA do for you?
Because a VA has trained in many different skills, they can carry out many of the tasks that take up your valuable time.
Here are just some of the areas you could outsource to a VA:
- Email management
- Booking appointments with customers
- Acting as your receptionist
- Managing your social media accounts
- Preparing spreadsheets and reports
- Preparing Powerpoint presentations
- Research about your industry, customers, competitors, etc
- Setting up Autoresponders life Mailchimp
- Managing your CRM system for you
- Organising travel arrangements
- Invoicing your customers
- Arranging events whether online or physical
The list is huge but this gives you some food for thought. Spend some time identifying what takes up your time today and what you could outsource to a VA.
For a small business, using a VA provides a range of benefits. Let me tell you more:
Get your time back
How much time do you spend on emails, data entry, raising invoices, answering calls or responding to customers on Facebook or LinkedIn? Just think how much time you’d get back if you delegated some of those to a VA. Ask yourself what jobs take up too much of your time. How many hours a week do you spend doing them? What could you do if you had those hours back? So if you need more time to work on your business and less in it, a VA is a great option.
Eye for detail
Many business people are very talented at what they do. A VA probably couldn’t fix a boiler or train you in leadership skills. But we can take on key tasks in your business that need a real eye for detail. Have you found mistakes in your customer records, in reports you’ve compiled or forgotten to confirm an appointment? Many business people have so much to think about, it’s really easy to make mistakes even if you are detail conscious. That’s where a VA has your back, makes sure you’re where you’re meant to be and that every piece of data, every report, every invoice is accurate.
Boost your marketing – win more customers
One of the key areas VAs have taken on in recent years is marketing support. Now more than ever, it is vital that your business talks to your customers and finds new ones through social medial, blogging, email marketing and so on. Many VAs are highly skilled in these areas and can spend as much time as you need to increase your marketing activity. That means you raise your profile and over time, if you’re consistent and deliver a good customer experience, you will win more business.
Delegate personal tasks
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the number of things you have to think about? Aside from running your business, you’ve got to get the car serviced, get someone out to fix a problem at home, arrange gifts for your partner’s birthday, book a table for a family meal, organise your train ticket for an important journey and so it goes on. The beauty is, that without having to employ a full-time PA, you can use a VA to do any of these personal tasks. So you don’t need to spend time ringing around, searching the internet or asking friends for recommendations. The VA will do it all for you.
Your own researcher
Many projects, whether business or personal need research. From the best systems to use in your business to the best credit card rate, your VA can take a brief and give you clear recommendations based on sound research skills.
No more do you have to spend hours asking Google – your VA can take that strain away completely.
A VA is a freelancer so will charge you by the hour for the work they do. Some clients book a set number of hours a week, others like to outsource specific tasks, some even use a VA as their full-time assistant without incurring the additional employment costs. The benefit to you as a customer is that a VA provides complete flexibility. You’ll pay an hourly rate so you can decide how much or how little you want to delegate.
A good VA will spend some time getting to know you and your business before they do anything at all. They can sit down with you (probably virtually at the moment!), to identify what your priorities should be. They’ll agree deadlines, communication preferences and anything else that will make working together easy. VA exists to make your life better. We want you to have more time to run your business but also to be with your family and do the things you love doing. We have many clients who used to work all day and then come home and start doing many of the things I talked about above.
VAs work in different ways and have different areas of expertise. Think about what you could benefit from outsourcing and find a VA that really knows their stuff in those areas.
What is certain is that a VA can make a real difference to any small business. Take the opportunity to slow down, get some valuable time back and become more productive. There is a cost but the returns can be amazing!
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