Updated: Sep 12, 2020
Are you an entrepreneur swamped with work? Despite your vision, drive and zeal, do you find yourself twisting every screw and bolting every nut into place?
In the battlefield that entrepreneurship is, two things are constant, no matter the venture:
Every entrepreneur is in a tearing hurry to reach the top
Every entrepreneur faces two constraints - time and resources
The secret to success lies in leveraging your resources such that you scale up and scale fast. This, however, is easier said than done.
As a business owner, you find hundreds of items to check off of your to-do list, every day. These vary in importance; from the core, crucial and strategic to mundane, recurring and repetitive work. When your focus is spread thin over the two categories, the result is a slump in efficiency, growth, and productivity.
What is a small business owner to do? The answer lies in delegation. Once you realize this, the next step is finding a trained professional. This is where the Virtual Assistant (VA) steps in.
Who is a Virtual Assistant?
VAs are experienced professionals with specific skill sets in a range of industries. Usually a jack-of-all-trades, they can perform both basic administrative functions and jobs requiring in-depth knowledge and technical expertise with élan. VAs are adaptable and versatile; this means you can find a VA online for almost any job – bookkeeping, scheduling appointments, social media management, web designing, content creation, network management, SEO and so on. Most of them will have a verified profile on an online platform, and you can read reviews from previous employers before hiring them.
What does a Virtual Assistant do?
A VA will free up your time and allow you to focus on the essentials of business – growth, competition, and strategy - tasks that you, as Commander-in-Chief, can perform best. Such is a VA’s efficiency and professionalism that he or she can perform almost any task – from conducting market research to responding to customer queries, from sending flowers to contacting potential investors.
A majority of the tasks small business owners perform can be inexpensively outsourced to a smart, qualified VA. A VA can perform these tasks with the same degree of efficiency as a full-time resource but at a far more affordable price. Let’s look at some areas you can immediately outsource to a VA (s).
If you’re a real estate professional, hiring a specialized VA will do your business a world of good. Your real estate VA is trained in a variety of tasks crucial to your business - preparing and filing paperwork, responding to inquiries, fixing meetings, etc. Delegate all such administrative tasks to your VA and focus on selling more properties. In fact, you can even hire VAs for sales support – prospecting, lead generation, database management, etc.
Here are some tasks you can assign to your real estate virtual assistant:
Posting property ads
Data scraping from different websites
Setting up meetings
Sending introductory messages with appropriate listings to customers
Responding to email inquiries
Social media management
Conducting property research and creating reports
Following up with prospective buyers
It doesn’t make sense for an entrepreneur to manage calendars and set appointments when they can instead focus on core business areas. VA can also perform all those mundane tasks that are essential to the smooth running of your business – scheduling meetings, creating itineraries, organizing your days and booking your flight tickets. General VAs, also known as executive assistants, are akin to having a remote office secretary. The only difference is that they can’t bring you a cup of coffee.
Here are some tasks you can assign to your virtual administrative assistant:
Setting up meetings
Managing emails and calls
Managing your spreadsheets
Social media management
Can you survive in a digital age without a robust, active social media presence? Absolutely not.
While you simply cannot afford to ignore social media, you also can’t afford to spend your bandwidth managing your business’ handles. The solution? Hire a competent VA to manage and grow your social media accounts.
A VA can schedule posts and keep with daily news about you in the public domain. They can also create a roadmap of how you can grab your target customers’ attention after analyzing current trends, gathering statistics and monitoring interactions.
Here are some tasks you can assign to your social media virtual assistant:
Managing social media accounts – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
Create a monthly post schedule
Draft posts with content and images
Respond to customer queries and comments on social accounts
Run ads on social media platforms
Share business updates and news
As every entrepreneur knows, research is an area that’s fatally time-consuming. It is also a task a VA can perform comfortably. Be it conducting research to identify potential investors or get a view of competitor activities, your VA can do a fantastic job of collating the right information and presenting it in a comprehensible manner. Just communicate your expectations clearly and let loose your VA on the job.
Here are some tasks you can assign to your research virtual assistant:
Identifying opportunities for business growth
Conducting industry research
Compiling research data
Presenting research findings in a report with charts and graphs
Helping you choose a vendor/tool by performing a comparative analysis
Creating an email database
As a business owner, you have to frequently travel for meetings, conferences, events, and sometimes for personal reasons. Identifying the cheapest tickets, making bookings, and reserving hotels is a process you most certainly don't enjoy (or have the time for).
Instead of scouring airline websites every day, get a VA to plan your travel for you. Apart from making bookings, you can also task your VA with preparing an itinerary and identifying places for sightseeing.
Booking flights after price comparison
Making arrangements based on company credit card, seat preferences, frequent flyer membership, etc.
Booking hotels for your intended stay
Communicating updates such as flight delays and cancellations
Preparing detailed invoices for billing
Do you despair on seeing hundreds on unread emails on Outlook every day? An inbox filled to the brim with customer queries, supplier communications, job inquiries and spam can take hours to sort, answer, and delete. Wouldn't bringing in a VA for task be a lifesaver?
Emails are somewhere on the top of your ‘time wasters’ list. You’re working on something important, channeling all your focus and pop comes an email notification. You start typing a reply and before you know it, you’ve wasted 15 precious minutes on something your VA could have handled easily. And once you lose flow, it’s hard to get back in the game.
A VA will organize your contacts list, answer routine emails on a pre-agreed format, and forward the important ones to you. Extricate yourself from the maddening trap of emails and get a trained VA to handle it for you.
Here are some tasks you can assign to your virtual email assistant:
Responding to customer queries
Responding to and closing tickets
Sending e-greetings and invitations
Planning digital marketing strategies is one of the top items on your priority list. Once you’ve done the strategic work, hire a digital marketing VA to execute your plans. Your VA can take over and track your marketing efforts – social, email, content – with ease while saving you time and money.
Here are some tasks you can assign to your digital marketing virtual assistant:
Conducting keyword research
Social media marketing
Running AdWord campaigns
Promoting branded content
Creating email newsletters
Creating email marketing lists
Identifying and storing new leads
Scheduling broadcast emails
Managing weekly/monthly email marketing functions
Building a successful business means keeping your customers happy. But fielding customer grievances and queries is a job best handled by your virtual assistant. VAs trained in customer service can deal with customers on phone, chat, email, and social media. Your VA can solve issues, handle dissatisfied customers, deal with deliveries, communicate updates et al. You can even train your virtual assistant to identify opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling while interacting with customers.
Here are some tasks you can assign to your virtual customer support assistant:
Dealing with customer queries
Handling returns and refunds
Communicating order/ticket updates
Designing surveys and feedback forms
Collecting customer feedback
Designing is a specialized (and creative) skill set not everyone can ace. A graphic design VA can tackle everything from your social media to blog post graphics. Delegate recurring design work for your marketing collateral, advertising banners, and social media copy to your a VA.
Here are some tasks you can assign to your graphic design virtual assistant:
Sourcing images from the right platforms
Designing logos, banners, and marketing collateral
Beautifying blog and social media posts
Designing emailers and landing pages
Designing business cards
A bookkeeping virtual assistant can help you manage your business’ cash flow. They can take over accounts, payroll processing, invoices et al. Imagine how much time you’ll save by offloading this time-consuming but crucial business function onto a trusted expert. While you cannot hand over the entire financial responsibility of your business to your VA, you can outsource the parts which are tedious. For example, while you can create the operational budget, the virtual assistant can check whether the budget is being adhered to by comparing with actual expenses incurred. They can also collate and present data in an easy-to-organize way for your accountant.
Here are some tasks you can assign to your bookkeeping virtual assistant:
Record keeping procedures
Excel bookkeeping data entry
Projecting cash flows
Revenue expenditure management
This is another vital yet time-consuming affair which you can easily delegate to VA. Attractive, detail-rich and engaging content is crucial to growing your business presence online. Such content has to be SEO-friendly and valuable to your audience. An experience copywriting VA can help you create SEO-optimized and well-formatted blog posts, website content, and social media content after conducting thorough research.
Here are some tasks you can assign to your copywriting virtual assistant:
Creating blog posts
Uploading content on your blog
Writing social media posts
Creating ebooks and whitepapers
Ask an entrepreneur about the one task that bothers them the most and they’ll likely respond with data entry. If you feel frustrated and irritated every time you have to spend time on manually entering data, you’re not alone. And why shouldn’t you, when you can spend this time actually growing your business?
A data entry virtual assistant is a boon for your business, saving it both time and money. Be it entering data in Excel or adding content to a presentation, your VA can help you deal with a mountain of data. So don’t break into a sweat every time the prospect of data entry stares you in the face. Just sign up on a VA platform and get yourself a qualified professional.
Here are some tasks you can assign to your data entry virtual assistant:
Preparing and sorting data for entry
Fact-checking data for accuracy
Entering data on spreadsheets and other tools
Keeping a track of records
A VA can also add that personal touch which is so vital to maintaining good relationships with investors, suppliers, and customers. Your VA can send out thank you cards and birthday gifts. They can also manage your personal life – scheduling doctor’s appointments, answering your calls and arranging pickup and drop-offs. With a qualified VA, you can truly save a huge chunk of time every day.
Figure your needs out
VAs can perform an even greater variety of tasks apart from the ones we’ve just seen. They can hold more specialized skill sets within these categories or have a niche skill you can use for your business.
The next step is, of course, figuring out exactly what you need for your business. Take some time to answer a few questions:
Which area of your business takes up most of your time?
What activities do you enjoy?
What activities do you dislike?
List out frequent daily, weekly, and monthly tasks you perform
Identify those tasks you especially dislike. Of these, how many have a clear process in place?
How long do you take to complete each of these tasks?
Do you use any software/tools for these tasks?
Categorize all tasks under two heads - Must Delegate and Can Delegate
On your Must Delegate list, see which tasks match with the categories listed in the article. Now you have a fair idea of what you need. If you’ve identified more than one category, you will likely need multiple VAs.
Where is your perfect Virtual Assistant?
Let us warn you. When you post your requirement for a Virtual Assistant, you will be swamped with thousands of eager replies. How will you wade through this mass and zero in on the best person for the job?
You can do this by signing up on a trusted VAs like Cindy Agbisit. This means all the prerequisites of hiring - verification of qualifications, work experience, training, etc. – are taken care of, saving you a whole lot of time and a whole lot of hassle.
Your VA is an invaluable investment in your business. They handle daily business chores while you remain focused on the grand scheme of things. Hiring one can literally mean the difference between sinking and swimming in the cutthroat world of business. So do yourself a favor and hire a VA today!