All the "stuff" | Productivity | Small biz resources
08 November 2020
What is a virtual assistant and do you need one?
Have you ever got to the end of a busy workday only to realize that there’s a whole pile of paperwork needing your attention? 🙋
Invoicing. Scheduling. Tracking expenses. Running or managing a business is full of administrative tasks that are crucial to operations but aren’t the core of what you love to do.
You may have heard people in your peer network singing the praises of their virtual administrative assistant. But you’re not sure—is this the right move for you and your business? Is now the right time? Will a virtual assistant be worth the money?
And…what does a virtual assistant do exactly?
What is a Virtual Administrative Assistant?
Let’s start by defining what a virtual assistant is.
A virtual assistant is usually an independent contractor who provides remote administrative services to your business. In short: they get stuff done, leaving you more time to focus on what matters. 🎉
There are a number of categories of virtual assistants, each catering to different business needs:
The most common type of virtual assistant is an administrative professional who can handle a broad range of tasks. This could include organizing your appointments, handling your inbox, formatting documents, digital filing and expenses and invoicing, for example. A generalist may also offer additional services (such as some of the more specialized work below) depending on their expertise.
The Social Media Specialist
You know that social media is important for your business, but who has time to spend finding the right image or quotes and scheduling posts? Let alone responding to comments and questions that come in through your social media pages… 😱 A virtual assistant who specializes in social media will work with you to implement your social media strategy, respond to comments, and monitor your stats.
While a generalist virtual assistant should be able to handle your invoicing and expenses, a virtual bookkeeper can manage more complicated tasks such as helping with budgets, managing inventory, performing reconciliation, handling payroll, etc.
The E-Commerce Assistant
If your business involves selling products online, you may want to hire an e-commerce assistant. They can manage your store, taking on tasks such as entering product data, inventory management, order processing, responding to questions, and handling returns or exchanges.
The AI Assistant
AI Assistants are an alternative to hiring a freelancer to help lighten the load. You may already use a form of AI assistants at homes, such as Siri or Alexa, but now there are more sophisticated assistants to help organize your business.
For instance, Charli is a tool that keeps track of all your content. When you need something organized, like email attachments, documents or receipts, you send stuff to Charli—just like an IRL assistant—and it uses AI to understand what the document is, set up Google Drive folders (or find the right one that already exists) and organize all of your content. It’s part workflow automation, organization wizard and search engine. For many people, choosing an AI assistant does exactly what they need, without the hassle of finding and hiring a freelance virtual assistant.
What Does a Virtual Administrative Assistant Do?
We’ve already seen that virtual administrative assistants can perform a wide variety of tasks, based on their expertise and your needs.
If you’re trying to decide whether a virtual assistant is the right choice for your business, you’ll want to clarify what tasks you want to get off your plate.
Here are some common virtual administrative assistant duties that you may be ready to delegate:
- Keeping your filing system organized
- Tracking expenses
- Responding to customers via email or phone
- Creating and maintaining your CRM
- Keeping your contacts up to date and well organized
- Taking notes or minutes at meetings
- Doing data entry
- Scheduling meetings, webinars, podcast guests, or events
- Formatting documents
- Handling travel arrangements
- Managing your inbox
- Taking care of your social media
- Scheduling your newsletter
- Performing basic website maintenance
What could you get done in your business if you handed over some of these tasks? How much room could you make for other tasks or more downtime if you weren’t constantly battling your administrative overload? 👀
Why Do You Need a Virtual Administrative Assistant?
If you’re already considering hiring a virtual assistant you likely already know that there’s a lot of tasks eating up your valuable time that you’d like to be able to get off your plate. But there are many reasons why a virtual assistant may be the right choice for you:
Improve your customer experience.
If you’re managing all customer inquiries side-of-desk it’s likely you’re struggling to provide the service you aspire to. Even with the best of intentions, you’re only one person, and at some point bringing on someone dedicated to improving the customer experience will pay dividends in greater customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Focus on your core business.
That new product line you’ve been meaning to launch? The content strategy your marketing person wanted you to sign off on weeks ago? Prospecting for new clients? When you’re not handling everyday administrative tasks, there’s more time for you to take on the strategic work that will grow your business.
Streamline your operations.
A good administrative assistant is worth their weight in gold. Why? Because they can design and implement systems that will make your business run more efficiently and reduce the number of redundancies in your processes. No, it doesn’t sound sexy, but when you’re trying to scale up a business you’ll be grateful to have someone around who can make things flow. 👌
This may seem counterintuitive—won’t you need to spend money paying a virtual assistant’s fees? While this is true (although AI assistants are certainly cheaper) a virtual assistant is certainly more cost-efficient than hiring an in-house employee (where you need to factor in payroll taxes and benefits). What’s more, you need to remember the value of your own time—think about the dollar value of the hours you will reclaim by delegating your administrative tasks.
Stay in it for the long-term.
Running a business is hard work and burnout is REAL. But if you want to build a business that lasts, you need to treat yourself as your most valuable resource. It’s important that you don’t end up totally depleted because you’re taking on too much yourself. Hiring a virtual assistant can give you peace of mind when you log off for your well-earned vacay (or even just when you take a quiet night at home for yourself!)
So…do I need one?
A virtual assistant can allow you to do more value-add work—the kind of work that brings you joy, grows your business, and ultimately makes you more money.
Remember, there are many types of virtual assistants out there. It’s important to think about what you need and how a virtual assistant can best support your business. And if you’re concerned about making the leap, remember that you don’t necessarily need to make a big investment or hire somebody for your team. Options that use AI to help you get stuff done, such as Charli, might give you exactly what you need.