When it comes to running a business, many struggle with finding the time to keep their operations running smoothly. There are so many things that go into a business, and this is amplified when you’re running it by yourself. These challenges include coming up with new ideas for products, creating content for your services, producing goods, and more.
Different firms often have a lot on their plate, from marketing to customer support and everything in between. And, at some point, they need help.
This is one of the reasons why many businesses have invested in hiring quality virtual assistants. As the cost of hiring employees consistently increases over time, many employ this strategy to save money.
Yet, people ask, “How can I effectively use a virtual assistant for my business?” Well, the answer depends on what you want to achieve in your business. In this article, you’ll get to know some of the most common situations where you can use them and why.
But before delving into that, it’s essential to have a clear definition of what a virtual assistant is.
Defining Virtual Assistants
Virtual assistants are professionals who perform a specific, finite set of tasks for your business. They can be hired to work on a contract basis or full-time. Hiring a virtual assistant can help you get more done, allowing you to spend your time on higher-value tasks and freeing up yourself or your staff for other tasks.
The assistant can be hired for just about any task that takes up your valuable time throughout the day, such as data entry or answering emails. They can also take on the burden of administrative tasks that eat up valuable time, such as managing your schedule. A skilled virtual assistant can also help with projects that need technical expertise—such as design work or tax help—or have a sharper focus than day-to-day business tasks.
A virtual assistant offers all-in-one services for a fraction of the price. And in our economy today, that is invaluable.
Necessary Roles Virtual Assistants Play in Your Business
A virtual assistant can help you with a wide range of tasks, depending on your needs and preferences. They might field calls, answer emails, sort documents, schedule appointments, and even pay bills.
In this section, you’ll get to know more about the pivotal roles virtual assistants can fill in your business.
1. Administrative Support
A virtual assistant (VA) can be hired to help make your work more efficient. VAs can schedule appointments and answer your phones so that you don’t miss any important messages or meetings with clients. They can also book a flight or train for you, helping you get the best deal and reach your destination on time.
A VA team can track multiple tasks, maintain a daily attendance record, perform data processing, and even assist with social media.
2. Skilled Communicator
Virtual assistants typically communicate with their employers through e-mail and chat services. They need to clearly communicate whether they understand a task, how their work is progressing, and whether they can meet deadlines. Virtual assistants should also be able to communicate verbally during meetings with co-workers or clients.
That means being able to create presentations, schedule meetings, and send emails. Effective communication is crucial to both the successful completion of tasks and the administrative support a VA can provide to team members.
3. Appointment Setter
Virtual assistants can manage your calendar and organize your schedule, relieving you of much of the stress in your home or office life. Though they cannot completely eliminate work pressure, they can keep your schedule clear and organized, saving you time.
As your business grows and you incur more responsibility, they will remind you of your meetings and deadlines. They can write down important information such as your goals for a specific day or data related to upcoming meetings or holidays.
Virtual executives are also available to help with other matters as you request them.
4. Computer Expert
All VA tasks rely on computer skills, making it vital that VAs have more than a basic understanding of computers. Just being able to turn on a computer and open a few programs is not enough. A VA should have an advanced understanding of software like Microsoft 365, Access, Excel, and Powerpoint.
In addition to this, knowledge of the internet and online research skills is also crucial for success in this field. Tasks may often expand to provide project support by searching for people, businesses, contact information, or any other information relevant to a client’s business.
Advanced internet skills may also be needed if the client requires maintenance and support for his website or database system. These would generally be listed as separate skill requirements and having such knowledge can boost the value of VAs quite significantly.
5. Knowledgeable Marketer
If you need help being visible on the internet, a virtual assistant can provide social media marketing services. Social media marketing through sites like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Tumbler can be used to get your business noticed.
A good VA should understand different kinds of marketing and be able to advise you about which one will work best for your situation. The VA should also know how to use analytics software to determine what techniques are working well and what techniques aren’t.
6. Experienced Writer
Virtual assistants can create compelling and useful content for your websites, ads, and products. They can perform blog-posting and manage the blogs at the same time. Moreover, they also have the expertise in skillfully inserting keywords into the content so that it improves search engine optimization.
Talented virtual assistants can write good product reviews, and you can instruct them to do this for you. They often also help with proofreading, copywriting, and persuasive content creation. Content is king, and they can make the right content for your needs.
Ways to Effectively Use Virtual Assistants
Although there are a lot of benefits that come with hiring virtual assistants, the problem usually comes in their capacity to fulfill their responsibilities correctly.
The most frustrating scenario is to hire a virtual assistant, pay them for a week’s worth of work, and then realize they didn’t do things the way you wanted. That’s why it’s important to make sure you communicate with your VA in a way that ensures the work is always effectively done.
To help you with that, below are some ways your business can successfully maximize the potential of its virtual assistants.
1. Set your expectations.
Defining expectations for a virtual assistant can be a tricky thing. If you want your virtual assistant to do several tasks for you, make sure you’re clear on what she will do and how long that will take. You don’t want to be expecting something from your virtual assistant and then not have it done because she didn’t understand the request.
Make sure to specify what tasks you want them to complete. First, explain the task you want to be completed. Next, give specific details about what you expect from the completion of that task. This can be done either by showing your assistant how to perform a similar task or by setting a time for the trial period to observe their work.
If for instance, you want your virtual assistant to help you schedule meetings and compile leads. However, the person actually seems incapable of doing those upon your observation. This just implies that he or she might not be the perfect candidate you’re looking for.
2. Provide them with useful business tools to use.
When you are hiring virtual assistants, let them use tools that can make their jobs easier. For instance, Google Suite, Microsoft Office, Cloud Storage, and more could help your VAs with handling management tasks efficiently.
If you’re often collaborating on a writing project, a platform like Google Docs can offer a wide variety of tools for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. It includes templates for all three areas. Moreover, it allows you to work on your files in real-time without having to worry about whether or not you have an internet connection.
You can share documents with other people so they can edit the documents and add comments, or access your documents so that they can view them. You can also decide how much information others will see (whether it be full access or just view only).
Microsoft Teams or Slack
Tools like Microsoft Teams and Slack help businesses conduct effective team communications. You can use these platforms to stay up-to-date on a project, rather than relying on emails that can clutter a person’s inbox.
Within Slack or Microsoft Teams, team members can tag people and add links to give others quick access to files. Once you install the app on your phone or have it on your desktop, you’ll get alerts when someone has posted to a channel that you’re part of, so you won’t have to keep checking for messages.
Notion or Trello
When you’re looking for a way to stay on top of your work, team management apps like Trello and Notion could be some of the best options. When you create a board in Trello, you can input tasks however you like.
You can break down your goals by subject matter or project, or just list them the way you think they’d be easiest to manage. These tools send notifications, keep track of what’s due and what milestones have been met, and it’s simple and free to use.
3. Establish healthy connections.
Even if you’re located in a different time zone, it’s important to get to know your VA. To get started, ask them about themselves. If they’ve got siblings or kids, ask about them. If they’ve traveled abroad, ask where they went.
Take some time to share something fun that you like with them — it could be your love of surfing or an interest in science fiction. Doing this can help you form a strong bond with your VA, which will make working together more enjoyable.
When you build positive relationships with them, you make their day more meaningful, productive, and fun — decreasing their odds of being burned out at work. These relationships help to make employees feel valued, involved and secure in their job — in addition to helping them to be happier at work.
3. Invest in training your VAs.
To start on the right foot, spend time training your virtual assistant. Be sure to check in often—not just to make sure they’re learning what you need them to learn, but also to check in on their overall performance. If you’re successful with it, they might only require little in the way of ongoing supervision.
Virtual assistants can be more efficient than you if they get to know your style and the things you delegate well. Improving the skills of your team yields one of the fastest returns on investment any organization can make.
Aside from providing employees the opportunity to improve their skills, extensive and ongoing professional development enables you to attract better people to come and work for you — and motivates them to stay.
In the end, VAs can be a great asset to any business. The key, of course, is to make sure that they’re as productive, trustworthy, and efficient as possible. You’ll want to set them up for success with every project, and by doing so you’ll end up with a VA who will likely stick around for a long time. However, virtual assistants aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution to growing your business.
They shouldn’t be used as a fourth member of your team, nor should you use them to solve every problem that comes up. VAs are serious business, and you need to treat them as such. By that, it means you should clearly explain their tasks, let them know how they will be rewarded for their efforts, and make sure they have everything they need to succeed.
Working with one or several virtual assistants is a bit like hiring your own small business: if you treat them fairly and pay them fairly, then both will likely be rewarded for the work that is put out.