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Aug 14

What is a Virtual Assistant?

With today’s technological advancements, it’s easy to find someone who can offer you assistance…even from another country.

They’re called VA’s or virtual assistants, and here’s how you can get one.

Do You Need a Virtual Assistant?

Do You Need a Virtual Assistant

As a business owner, you might find often find yourself constantly weighed down by your responsibilities.

Apart from keeping your organisation afloat, you also need to deal with administrative tasks, which are essential yet tedious.

Hiring a virtual assistant will make you more efficient by allowing you to focus on other critical areas.

What is a Virtual Assistant?

What is a Virtual Assistant

A virtual assistant (VA) provides administrative support and other specialized services from a remote location.

As implied, these remote independent contractors provide assistance to business owners and are often a cost-efficient solution to scale a business.

What Does A Virtual Assistant Do?

What Does A Virtual Assistant Do

VAs have a wide range of skill sets. Thus, what they can do for you depends on what your business needs. They can also work for you either part-time or full-time.

Here are some services that a virtual assistant may offer:

Administrative Work

A large part of a VA’s work is doing administrative tasks, such as:

Email Communications

VAs can sort through your inbox and route only the important ones to you.

Customer Scheduling

VAs can also utilize apps for scheduling appointments to arrange meetings between you and your customers.

File Management and Maintenance

VAs can also create and maintain systems that organise your files and other essential documents, ensuring a smoother workflow within your company.

Calendar Management

A virtual assistant can also manage your calendar and make your schedule more efficient by prioritizing key appointments.

Email and Contact Management

Apart from responding to emails, VAs can also note and organise information about your current and potential clients.

Bookkeeping and Accounting

Your virtual assistant can also offer to carry out certain tasks that support bookkeeping and accounting processes like handling payments, checking expenses, preparing payroll, etc.

However, make sure that your VA has the appropriate credentials and training if you hire one for this role.

Personal Assistant

The word “virtual assistant” is quite broad. There are several categories, one of which is a “personal assistant.” 

As the name suggests, a personal assistant (PA) usually only reports to one person rather than an entire department or office.

Their responsibilities include:

Personal Errands

If you need last-minute gifts for a friend or family member, set up an appointment with a doctor, or any other personal errands that you haven’t got the time for, let your PA handle it.

Phone Tasks

VAs can also answer phone calls and take messages throughout the day and only forward those that require your attention.

Travel

Entrepreneurs may often need to travel for work. They may need to go abroad to source materials, attend conferences, or simply network.

However, making travel arrangements can be time-consuming. A PA can take care of booking your plane tickets and hotel accommodations. They can even plan your itinerary if you want to combine business with leisure.

Customer Service

Providing great customer service is beneficial for any business. It can go a long way towards retaining customers and cultivating brand loyalty.

A virtual assistant can also offer various forms of customer support, such as:

Cold Calling

While “cold calling” has a negative connotation, this sales technique can boost a business’s earnings when done right.

When your VA employs the correct cold-calling techniques, they are sure to turn cold leads into hot sales.

Taking Customer Calls

As mentioned earlier, part of a VA’s job when providing customer support is taking phone calls.

With the right training, they should be able to receive any issues, concerns, or complaints and address them promptly.

Data Entry

A VA can also perform data entry tasks like transcribing, fact-checking, deleting any unnecessary files, and backing up records.

Social Media Production

There are certain kinds of VAs that specialise in social media management.

They can create appropriate content for all your social networking channels (even take on graphic design) to drive engagement, as well as cultivate a thriving community through strategic interactions with followers and commenters.

Social Media Marketing

To fully maximize your online presence, you need to market to the right audience.

Your virtual assistant can thus create campaigns, engage with your target market online, set ad spending, and generate reports.

Content Marketing

Your VA can contribute to your content marketing efforts by producing attention-grabbing and valuable content to drive traffic to your website.

Research

Your VA can also do content research, which requires in-depth knowledge of your brand so they can come up with ideas on how to strengthen it further.

Otherwise, your virtual assistant can also perform competitor research. This helps you analyze their strengths and weaknesses so you can leverage these to differentiate your own business from the others. 

Operations

VAs excel in providing business owners with valuable skills in business operations, for instance:

LinkedIn Lead Generation

Many business owners don’t realise that LinkedIn is a powerful platform for generating business-to-business (B2B) leads.

After all, the platform has a large-scale pool of fellow entrepreneurs who can easily become paying customers for your business.

Business Development

While your VA may not have a direct hand in developing your business, they can take care of any critical yet repetitive tasks, thereby giving you more time for critical decision-making and strategic planning.

Management

Your virtual assistant can be your employees’ point of contact within the workplace. They can filter employee feedback and make sure to convey the most important ones to you while resolving any minor concerns from the very beginning.

Key Takeaways

Virtual Assistant Key Takeaways

In all, having a VA can make the workload lighter for businesses.

With the right VA in place, entrepreneurs can efficiently delegate certain responsibilities and make room for high-priority tasks that can expand their bottom line.

What Are The Examples of Virtual Assistants?

What Are The Examples of Virtual Assistants

There are various types of VAs. There is the executive assistant, administrative assistant, real estate assistant, e-commerce assistant, and data entry assistant, just to name a few.

All these different classifications are distinct from one another and perform a diverse number of virtual assistant jobs.

How Does a Virtual Assistant Work?

How Does a Virtual Assistant Work

There are several ways to recruit a VA.

You can go through the whole process yourself or save time and effort by availing of the services of a reliable and trustworthy staffing company like Remote Staff.

Doing so ensures that you will be matched with a dependable virtual assistant, who can offer quality service even from afar.

Benefits of Hiring a Virtual Assistant

Benefits of Hiring a Virtual Assistant
Here are the top three benefits of hiring a virtual assistant.

  1. Minimize operating costs. VAs often operate from a remote location and have their own equipment and Internet connection. Thus, there is no need to lease office space or pay for utilities.
  2. Access to professionals with specialised skill sets. Sometimes, the local talent pool cannot fill a certain position in the company. Outsourcing lets you hire experts from all over the world at a reasonable price.
  3. Extend your business hours. You get to provide 24/7 customer support to your customers, especially if you recruit VAs from a different timezone.

Virtual Assistants Can Let You Focus on What Matters Most—Your Business

Perhaps, the most significant advantage of having a virtual assistant is they allow you to scale your business, in more ways than one.

For one, they excel in taking on menial admin tasks off your hands, thus enabling you to concentrate on growing your business.

Further, you don’t have to expend additional resources for hiring a full-time employee to do a job, which saves you the trouble of having to onboard and train them yourself.

Things a Virtual Assistant Does Not Do

Things a Virtual Assistant Does Not Do

Virtual assistant jobs are varied and often require extensive qualifications and work experience. Still, there are tasks that a virtual assistant may or cannot do.

First off, they cannot set your company’s overall strategic direction for you. While they may offer their opinion from time to time, this responsibility ultimately falls on you.

Second, they also cannot make any major financial decisions for your company. While they can prepare financial reports, any major decisions should be discussed with your senior executives.

Lastly, they can’t really oversee business planning. Identifying opportunities for growth or risks is part of business development—which is the main job of a CEO.

What Makes a Good Virtual Assistant?

What Makes a Good Virtual Assistant

Generally, a good virtual assistant must be computer literate and has excellent communication skills, both verbal and written.

They must also be flexible and display initiative. This involves being able to work with minimal supervision without sacrificing the quality of their output.

What Skills Does a Virtual Assistant Need?

Here are some of the skills you may want to look for when hiring a virtual assistant:

Social Media Management

A good VA should be able to manage your accounts in all your social networking apps to further promote your company and strengthen your branding online. 

Email Marketing

Your VA should be able to compose email sequences that can compel the desired direct response from both your current and potential clients.

Project Management

Oftentimes, if you have too much on your plate, you can ask your VA to oversee a project. This way, they can schedule meetings with team members, ask for and provide feedback and updates, and create progress reports.

Organisation

Of course, you should hire a virtual assistant with great organisational skills. They should know how to manage their time efficiently and how to prioritise their tasks.

Adaptability

Your virtual assistant must be adaptable and able to adjust to any new tasks with relative ease.

Qualifications of a Virtual Assistant

When starting the hiring process, be sure to consider the following for the job description:

Education

A virtual assistant does not require a college degree for the most part. However, certain virtual assistant jobs like accounting and human resources may need certain specifications.  

Training

Hire someone who already has previous work experience for a couple of years, at least. Additional training may also be provided to your virtual assistant if they need to learn a new skill for the job or to work with an unfamiliar program. 

Certifications

While certifications aren’t always necessary, they can add value to your virtual assistant as well as establish their credibility.

Cons of Hiring a Virtual Assistant With No Experience

Cons of Hiring a Virtual Assistant With No Experience

A virtual assistant can make a huge difference, but only if you hire the right one.

While first-time VAs are cheaper, there are significant disadvantages to hiring them.

1. Training Requirements

If you hire an inexperienced virtual assistant, you will have to train them from scratch, which can set your productivity back in the long run.

2. Lack of Expertise

A first-time VA’s skill set is likely to be limited, so they probably won’t be able to help out with more specialised tasks.

3. Balancing Budget Constraints

Again, new VAs will need more resources (in terms of training and time) in order to carry out their tasks. This could offset whatever cost savings you accumulated upon hiring them.

4. Lack of Benchmarking

You might not be able to properly assess your VA’s performance if you’ve never worked with a more experienced one before.

5. Limited Track Record

A newly-minted virtual assistant won’t have much work experience to back their credentials (if they have any). They might only have the outcomes of their assessment tests and a few character references or referrals to recommend them, so you’d be taking a chance when you hire them.

6. Lack of Familiarity with Remote Work

First-time VAs are likely to have a steep learning curve, especially if they’ve never worked remotely before. 

Take their adjustment period into account as it could slow down productivity.

What to Know When Getting a VA

What to Know When Getting a VA

Before moving forward with hiring a virtual assistant, here are a couple of things you should bear in mind:

Industry 101

As mentioned before, there are many different kinds of VAs.

While the tasks they do may overlap on some level, VAs will still differ in what they bring to the table because of their varying skill sets and experiences.

Thus, make sure to hire the right people for your industry.

For instance, an executive assistant won’t necessarily have the same skills as an accounting assistant -unless they also happen to have an accounting background. 

This way, you will have a much better understanding of what qualities and skills to look for in your virtual assistant.

How Much Do VAs Cost and How Are They Paid

The true cost of hiring a VA depends on a few factors, such as their expertise, the scope of their job, and where they are based.

Thus, an experienced VA’s hourly rate shouldn’t be compared to that of someone who is just starting out.

In general, outsourcing to countries like the Philippines can make your dollars go further.

You get to save on labour costs while still paying a competitive salary for your virtual assistant – and while maintaining a certain level of productivity regardless.

However, you might run into some issues when you hire a VA directly from job marketplaces like Upwork, Indeed, or even Facebook. 

Unless you already have a reliable in-house payroll system, you might have to wire over their salary by yourself. Unfortunately, this method isn’t always secure, especially when compared to routing the payroll through a reputable staffing agency like Remote Staff.

At Remote Staff, we handle these processes so you can focus on more productive activities as soon as you successfully hire a virtual assistant.

Perks of Having a VA

Perks of Having a VA

Apart from reduced business costs, increased adaptability, improved efficiency, and round-the-clock customer service, recruiting a virtual assistant can expand your business’ reach, especially if your VA knows how to strengthen your branding online.

Further, a VA can help you achieve a healthier work-life balance since they can take a lot of tedious tasks off your plate.

Next Steps to Get a Virtual Assistant

Next Steps to Get a Virtual Assistant

After figuring out that you need a VA, what’s next?

Schedule a callback with Remote Staff to discuss your business needs today.

The Step-by-Step Plan to Hiring a Virtual Assistant

The Step-by-Step Plan to Hiring a Virtual Assistant

To further guide you through the recruitment process, we have come up with a step-by-step plan of action.

Do Your Research

Look into the staffing or recruitment company you plan to tap into. This way, you’ll be going in with both eyes open and won’t encounter any hidden charges or caveats.

Check if there are any reviews from other people who already have tried the services.

With Remote Staff, for instance, testimonials from our previous clients can be found on the homepage for easy reference.

Assess the Skill Set And Match It to the Type of Work You Need Done

At Remote Staff, we do the matching for you.

How?

After the initial contact, you’ll fill in a job order form that contains all of your specifications, including the list of responsibilities for your virtual assistant.

Review Portfolios and Work Samples

Be sure to examine your VA’s existing portfolio or any other work samples to determine their capability.

This also helps you identify which areas your VA is proficient in and which ones they may require further training in.

Select the Virtual Assistant

Once we have received your job order form, we will then send you a shortlist of two to three candidates to choose from.

We then proceed with scheduling interviews until you have successfully picked out a candidate.

Ask About the VA’s Home Office Set-Up

At Remote Staff, we ensure that our independent contractors already have the proper equipment and a stable Internet connection. They also go through a stringent recruitment process beforehand.

Of course, should you have further questions, feel free to ask them during the interview.

Prepare Your Business Finances & ABN

Before proceeding with the VA recruitment process, be sure your business is already registered with the government. It is crucial that you have your Australian Business Number and that all your finances are in place beforehand.

Create a Price Structure & Contracts

Remote Staff aims to make the recruitment process as simple as possible.

At your initial meeting with us, we will discuss and consider your budget before drafting a contract and then settling on a deposit to get started.

Hire Someone Who is Committed to Lifelong Learning

While your VAs may be technically skilled service providers, having a growth mindset is important.

Industries are constantly changing and it’s crucial to keep up with the latest methods or technologies to stay competitive.

Maintain Relationships with Your Virtual Assistant

Building a professional relationship with your VA helps build trust, which fosters better productivity.

A healthy working relationship also makes it easier for both parties to voice out any issues and concerns, which leads to faster resolution.

Ready to Hire a VA with Remote Staff?

Ready to Hire a VA with Remote Staff

Here are a few other tips to maximize your results when you hire a VA through us.

Document Your Processes

These will guide your virtual assistant regarding your business procedures so they can execute them properly. They might also be able to check to see where processes can be improved further to increase efficiency.

Establish Expectations

Set reasonable expectations early on. This lets the applicant understand what you need from them exactly and how they can best deliver.

Decide on a Manager

Determine whether or not your virtual assistant will report to a supervisor or directly to you.

If they are, make the necessary introductions between them to jumpstart their working relationship.

Create a Budget

Lastly, allocate a budget when hiring a virtual assistant. Think about how much are you willing to pay to get the results you want from your VA.

Remote Staff has been in the industry for over 15 years now and has helped numerous Australian clients scale their businesses faster. 

What sets the company apart is its after-hire support, which ensures a continuous and smooth working relationship between you and your virtual assistant

Schedule a callback today to get started.

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Herschel Lili has a collective four years of professional writing experience. She enjoys reading anything under the sun, but in recent years, she has turned her attention to books that leave her feeling profound. At present, she looks forward to learning everything she can about remote working and sharing the knowledge through succinct write-ups.

About The Author

Herschel Lili has a collective four years of professional writing experience. She enjoys reading anything under the sun, but in recent years, she has turned her attention to books that leave her feeling profound. At present, she looks forward to learning everything she can about remote working and sharing the knowledge through succinct write-ups.

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