What is a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant is someone who typically carries out the tasks of a personal or administrative assistant - such as scheduling appointments, taking notes, or slightly more specialized tasks like managing social media accounts or bookkeeping. Handing off hours of these tedious tasks frees up time for entrepreneurs, small business owners, or any other uniquely busy individuals.
What Separates VAs from Personal Assistants?
The primary difference between a VA and other types of PAs is that a virtual assistant conducts their work and communications remotely, whether they are US-based or abroad. They’re especially appealing for instances when you need help, but don’t want to bring on a new team member or invest in the extra office space.
How Do I Hire a Virtual Assistant?
Whether you’re a small business owner or startup founder, hiring a virtual assistant can free up your time on repetitive tasks and enable you to invest more time in high-value tasks that make money and/or grow your business. In addition to taking care of your repetitive work, VAs may in fact be more skilled than you in certain administrative tasks, making it more efficient and cost-effective to hire out for those certain jobs.
How Do I Understand My Virtual Assistant Needs?
Before you hire a virtual assistant, you should prepare a list of tasks you want to outsource, as well as have a solid expectation of what you want from the deliverables. Start this list with tasks that you find overly time-consuming or repetitive, and then evaluate which of these tasks you’d be willing to delegate.There may be even more opportunities to outsource within your business, but you’ll learn more about your wants and needs from outsourcing after your first encounter and project with the virtual assistant.
For now, draw on your own experience to make your list of jobs to outsource. Do you find it tedious to book meetings when networking? Do you dread the time-sink of managing your email inbox? Do you spend far too many working hours and too much manpower on tasks like lead generation? Write all of that down.
How Do I Choose My VA Type?
After you establish your needs from a virtual assistant, the next step is to determine who you’ll be hiring. While most VAs are contract workers paid hourly or on a fixed daily/weekly/monthly fee, you can make use of either virtual assistant services or independent contractors.
A VA service will typically take care of the vetting, hiring, and training process. Their assistants will be prepared to tackle most typical outsourcing jobs and can hit the ground running to fulfill your business needs. You’ll be pulling from a team of verified, experienced, and quality-assured talent when deciding to go with an established VA service.
You can also source independent contractors through online freelance or gig services such as Upwork or Fiverr. Through this method, you’ll be taking a gamble on the VA’s individual skill set and their ability to output effective and quality work. However, if you’re capable of developing a meaningful relationship with the assistant, and are knowledgeable enough about the tasks to quality assure the deliverables, this can be an ideal option.
What Do I Outsource to Virtual Assistants?
Now that you’re on track to finding your first virtual assistant, you should start drawing up that list of tasks to outsource to them. If you need more inspiration on what kinds of things VAs can handle for you, spend some time looking at these 41 examples of tasks you can delegate to your new VA.
Gathering contact information for network contacts, customers, suppliers or retailers, and sales targets can make all the difference in the success of your business, but in order to get the best results, you must invest a lot of time. To eliminate the time-cost on your end, you can bring on a VA to do lead generation tasks like:
- Finding potential customers for you to talk to.
- Scheduling meetings for over email or LinkedIn.
- Sourcing contact details for lead targets.
- Sourcing contact information for potential customers or followers.
- Building a lead list of 1000+ industry professionals worldwide.
- Creating a list of retailers that will carry your products.
Research tasks cover everything having to do with collecting information in order to make better decisions. Like lead generation, effective research needs a substantial time investment. VAs are not only well-prepared to take over this time-expensive task, but are equipped with the resources and training to find what you’re looking for more quickly than you might be able to on your own. VAs can tackle research projects like:
- Booking a reservation at a hot location.
- Compiling a detailed spreadsheet of your competitors.
- Finding funding sources for your company.
- Sending inquiries to service providers.
- Comparing the pricing and functionality of software.
- Conducting market research on investment opportunities.
- Finding events, programs, and conferences.
- Generating a list of past employees at a certain company.
- Conducting a product supplier search.
- Researching grant opportunities.
- Sourcing start-up incubators & application deadlines.
- Finding company retreat houses.
- Reaching out to social media influencers.
- Finding properties to rent or sublet.
Social media is a key component of modern-day brand recognition. SproutSocial’s 2020 Index found that 89% of consumers report that they would buy from a brand they follow on social media. Despite that, social media far too often goes underutilized by companies, especially SMBs.
This could be in part because social media requires posts to be scheduled and uploaded at peak times - which a founder or small business owner might not have the free time to oversee or execute. Many businesses may not have the budget to bring on a social media manager, either. Instead of hiring on a new team member, a VA can handle social media tasks like these with no problem:
- Sending LinkedIn connection requests.
- Posting content in popular and business-relevant groups on LinkedIn.
- Scheduling your posts on social media platforms.
- Connecting with everyone in a Zoom meeting afterward via LinkedIn.
Personal and administrative assistants play an important role in lightening the load of executives, tying up the odds and ends around a physical or virtual workspace. Although many small businesses or early-stage startups may not feel they have the budget to spare on full-time administrative positions, these administrative tasks still need to be done. Consider hiring a VA for administrative tasks like:
- Taking notes for a board meeting.
- Creating a slide deck from a template for presentation.
- Purchasing and sending gifts.
- Sending emails to potential investors.
- Cleaning up messaging groups.
- Verifying the accuracy of recorded bookkeeping expenses.
If you have data, you need someone to manage its collection and entry, full-stop. Whether you want that to be on your time or delegated to another member of your core team, it poses the danger of distracting you from more pressing and important business matters. If you lack the budget to hire on a full-time data entry specialist, nearly all VAs are well-prepared to execute data entry tasks and can easily accomplish work like:
- Adding order data to a spreadsheet.
- Tagging and organizing digital assets.
- Collecting historic company data.
- Removing dead contacts on CRM.
- Scraping job listing searches.
- Searching company phone numbers.
- Tagging and categorizing user/customer feedback.
Hiring is a crucial process for any company, but a bulk of the early steps take up valuable time that could be spent on otherwise higher priority tasks. While final vetting and hiring decisions should be left up to those in charge, weeding out unqualified or bad-fit candidates is a task that doesn’t require executive supervision. Consider outsourcing the beginnings of the hiring process to VAs by giving them tasks like:
- Filtering resumés by experience & reaching out to qualified candidates.
- Managing recruitment pipelines.
- Scheduling interviews with candidates.
What Will a Virtual Assistant Cost Me?
Now that you know when to hire, who to hire, and what to hire them for - how much will bringing on a virtual assistant cost you?
It depends on the route you take in hiring. As mentioned above, a VA can be sourced from a service or as an independent contractor.
If You Hire Independently
Independent contractors on websites like Upwork or Fiverr will likely charge per task or hourly rather than longer-term, and their rates can start as low as $5/hr and end up as high as $40+/hr. Remember, with an independent contractor, you’re not only paying for what you get, but expecting a service or deliverable from someone who is self-regulated.
Cheaper doesn’t always mean better if there’s a possibility for a decline in quality. It’s best to outsource projects or tasks that you have a firm understanding of yourself, such that you can adequately evaluate the quality of the work you paid for.
If You Hire through a VA Service
When going through a VA service such as Pareto or GetMagic, rates often start at $10/hr to $30/hr, or even as high as $75/hr for higher-level specialty tasks. A perk of using a VA service is their discount offerings - if you plan to utilize the VA regularly, making use of monthly subscriptions or other packages can decrease overall costs.
With a VA service, the cost includes not only the price of VA work, but additional vetting, hiring, training, project management, and quality assurance that is all taken care of for you.
Why miss out on more time to dedicate to your business’s core growth tasks when you could affordably outsource the bulk of repetitive work? Take advantage of remote assistance and start working more efficiently and cost-effectively. The best way to better understand what a VA can accomplish for you is to experiment for yourself.