What Is a Virtual Assistant? And Do You Need One?

virtual assistant

Your business is doing well. It’s doing so well, in fact, that you have decided you need help. Maybe what you need, in fact, is a virtual assistant.

Maybe you are just starting out and you don’t feel comfortable with some tasks. Or perhaps you don’t want to take time from your work to handle administrative matters. All the same, you don’t feel you’re ready to hire a full-time employee. Perhaps you’re working from your home or a small office space, and you don’t have the space for an on-site employee. If this is your situation, you could consider hiring one or more virtual assistants.

A virtual assistant is usually a freelancer. Most work from their homes. Most are skilled in a wide variety of tasks. A virtual assistant can do anything that an administrative assistant can do. You’ll have to make your own coffee, though.

Some business owners hire full-time remote assistants. However, most people employ virtual assistants as independent contractors for either one-time or recurring projects.

Hiring a virtual assistant could free you to spend more time on your business. You might find that you enjoy the flexibility of having help available when you need it, without having to support a full-time salary when business is slow.

 

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A New Business Model

Virtual offices are becoming more common as technology advances. As a matter of fact, some large businesses have elected to go completely virtual, with no physical office at all. Therefore, they conduct meetings via Skype, conference call, or some other communication platform.

Workers easily share project details through email, Google docs, and other file-sharing applications. Additionally, they manage their work schedules online.

While virtual assisting is nothing new, it has grown as an industry in recent years. How a business will benefit form the services of a virtual assistant is limited only by the imagination of the business owner.

 

 

Common Tasks for Virtual Assistants

Bookkeeping

A virtual assistant can send out invoices and keep track of payments. Further, they can send periodic reminders to delinquent customers. Your virtual assistant can even keep your company’s balance sheets and prepare tax returns.

Research

Whether it is learning about a new potential client or keeping up to date on the latest news affecting your business, a virtual assistant can help. He or she will wade through hundreds of articles, papers, news stories, and websites. Then your assistant will present you with the information you need in a concise, easy-to-read format.

Travel

A virtual assistant can check for the best airfares or hotel prices and make travel arrangements. This will save you a lot of precious time. Plus, your assistant can arrange transportation to and from the airport. He or she can even make arrangements for meetings and business lunches or dinners with prospective customers during your trip.

Data Entry

After returning from a conference you might have dozens of business cards from potential customers. Your virtual assistant can prepare a database of potential customers. Further, your assistant can send follow-up letters, holiday cards, thank-you letters, and other correspondence.

Scheduling

Your virtual assistant can call potential customers and set up meetings. She or he can schedule conference calls and even remotely manage your personal appointments.

Social Media

Social media presence is important for every modern business. A virtual assistant can make regular posts for you on social media, as well as update your website.

Marketing

A virtual assistant can help design flyers and other promotional material. What’s more, your assistant can compile lists of potential customers for marketing campaigns.

Call Center

Your business might involve calling potential customers. A virtual assistant can take care of this time-consuming task for you.

Media Presentations

A virtual assistant can prepare PowerPoint slideshows and write speeches for lectures, helping you prepare for webinars and conferences.

 

How to Hire a Virtual Assistant

Getting help to manage your business is easy. There are many online employment agencies where freelancers post their resumes. Some charge a fee for potential employers. However, some take their fees in the form of commissions. You can browse by industry, specific skills, location, experience level. As a matter of fact, you can choose as many variables as you want to locate the right individual.

Things to Consider

Before divulging any sensitive information such as passwords or user IDs to a virtual assistant, make sure you have done some preliminary research. Fortunately, many job posting sites feature ratings and feedback on freelancers. Learn to benefit from the experience of other businesses who have hired that individual.

A full-time or regular part-time virtual assistant can sometimes be considered an employee for the purposes of workers’ compensation insurance and tax-withholding regulations. Check with an attorney or tax professional if you employ a virtual assistant on a regular basis.

Will your virtual assistant will be representing your company by posting on your behalf on social media, or by talking to potential customers on the phone? If so, it can be helpful to discuss the possible legal ramifications with an attorney.

 

Conclusion

So if your business has reached the point where the tedium of day-to-day tasks is keeping you from staying on top of your business, consider hiring a virtual assistant. You might find it’s the best move you’ve ever made.


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