A virtual assistant is today’s go-to source for online and offline business assistance all over the globe. But have you ever asked yourself what a virtual assistant actually does?
In this article, we will discuss the different kinds of virtual assistants and what they typically do.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant is, simply put, an assistant who works remotely. That doesn’t really define what they do, though, so let’s dive deeper into the meaning of this type of role in business.
An assistant generally provides professional support services in various areas of a business (and virtual just means that they don’t work in your physical office). These areas can be administrative, technical, creative, financial, marketing – you name it, there’s a virtual assistant out there who does it.
Take note that the term “virtual assistant” has the unfortunate connotation of basic-level skills. This is a misnomer that has caused a lot of issues within the freelance community. While some virtual assistants indeed perform either basic tasks or various tasks at basic levels, others specialize in certain areas and have mid- to expert-level skills in those areas. Virtual assistants are usually broken down into two categories, each with their own types of tasks.
Common Tasks for a General Virtual Assistant
A general virtual assistant can wear many hats within your business and is valuable for their flexibility and adaptability. This is the type of virtual assistant you need to hire if you have several smaller tasks that you need help with. For instance, perhaps you need someone to do the following:
Data Entry and Research
Data entry is basically copy-paste and encoding work. Research is locating and recording information online and offline.
This can include tasks like
- Transferring information from one source to another, for example, text from an image into a text document
- Looking up different people and capturing their emails
- Checking to see what a business’s target audience is talking about on social media
It’s important to keep your inbox manageable, but you don’t want to do this yourself because it is a waste of time. A virtual assistant helps you out at a much lower cost by sorting emails before you even open your inbox. (This works really well if you hire someone to come in before you start your day so everything is set up for you when you start work.) A virtual assistant can, for example:
- Sort emails by priority using stars or separate inboxes
- Respond to emails that don’t require your attention using canned emails or after a bit of training on what you want your responses to certain emails to be like
- Organize answered emails into folders for reference later on
- Take notes based on emails for record-keeping like tracking leads to take them further down the sales funnel or filing customer inquiries so a FAQ sheet can be created down the line
Scheduling and Reminders
A virtual assistant can help you by keeping your calendar organized. They can also set appointments and make sure you keep them. For example:
- using an app like Calendly to set up meeting reminders, send automatic meeting links, and automatically block out days and times.
- maintain a Google Calendar to organize other tasks and activities
- send daily emails about your to-do list for the day and a follow-up email for rescheduling anything that didn’t get done
Taking meeting notes is not something that should ever be ignored because it keeps everyone on the same page. A virtual assistant can attend meetings or use recordings to create records of all your meetings so you have your agendas and discussions and responses all nicely written out for future reference. They can also take note of or remind you to create action steps and encourage accountability within your team for all of the items discussed during the meeting.
In every business, there are little things that need attention from time to time. A virtual assistant can easily handle these quick fixes. They can be various different tasks like:
- Update your Gravatar image
- Send in an application to write for a popular publication
- Correct an image error on a blog post
Even as a business owner, you still have some personal errands that you need taken care of. You shouldn’t spend your time on these things, so a virtual assistant can help you get them checked off your list. These personal errands can include:
- Send out virtual invites to a party
- Pick out gifts or giveaways for loyal customers who have become your friends
- Check your messages (phone, Viber, Skype, Facebook, etc.)and alerting you of the ones that need your immediate attention.
Common Tasks for a Specialized Virtual Assistant
A specialized virtual assistant has developed one or more skills to a higher level. Some examples of specialized virtual assistant skill sets are:
Systems and Processes
Creating and organizing business systems and processes doesn’t have to be your job. Sure, you should be the originator of these systems and processes. But the actual write-ups can be done by a virtual assistant. If they’re really experienced, they can even make suggestions about what systems and processes your business needs. Then, of course, they can create those as well and properly file them so you always know where to find them whenever they are needed. For example:
- a process for ticket sales, content maintenance, website maintenance, information flows
- a system for delivering content, your products, additional services
Copy and Content
Not everyone can write good emails, ad copy, listing text, social media posts, blog posts, etc. You need a virtual assistant with writing expertise to do that – and you will likely need a different one for each area, depending on how specialized you need the content to be. For example:
- email newsletter content, pre- and post-purchase email sequences
- sales funnel content
- Facebook ads, Google Ads, Sponsored Products
- Facebook posts, LinkedIn posts, Instagram Stories, Tweets, Pins
Social Media Management
A virtual assistant with experience on the specific social media platform that you use can help you properly manage the channel to make the most out of your audience, grow it, and get the best results. For example, they can take care of:
- curating posts
- replying to comments
- building relationships through messaging
- searching for additional groups to find prospects
- posting promotions and value-sharing posts
Bookkeeping should definitely be taken on by an experienced virtual assistant. They will make sure that your finances are kept straight so your accountant can do their job easily. For example:
- properly filing sales and expenses depending on what business department they belong to
- keeping a record of all receipts relating to different expenses and making sure they are accessible to your accountant
Setting up Software and Automations
A specialist is definitely the right choice when dealing with specific software and setting up automations. You do not want to tackle this yourself if you don’t have the expertise, and you don’t want to pass this task off to just anyone. A specialist can save you a lot of time and money in the long run by properly setting up and operating:
- Aweber and Mailchimp autoresponders
- Klaviyo email marketing sequences
- Groove customer service management
These are just a few examples – you can find a virtual assistant for almost any type of task that you can think of to outsource.
Customer / Client Support and Management
Any kind of customer support requires a special touch – one that even you as the business owner may not have. An experienced virtual assistant will know how to give proper and respectful support to all your customers, and you can hire different ones for different areas, like:
- answering calls and emails
- tech support for using your website, apps, or physical products
- sales support for customers who have questions or complaints
- cold calling for prospect outreach
- following up with customers
- sending thank yous and reminder emails
Why Should You Hire a Virtual Assistant?
Business owners can easily get bogged down with all the different tasks that need to get done. Whether you’re starting a new business or have been running one for some time, there’s always something that you’d be better off outsourcing. Just getting a task off your plate already makes a significant contribution to the success of your business simply because it frees up your time to focus on business growth.
The most successful entrepreneurs and businesses owners know that having a team is a vital component of their success. Having people that you can delegate tasks to not only lightens your workload but also keeps you free to do other tasks that move the needle forward for your business – and your life.
Hiring a virtual assistant gives your business an infusion of experience and expertise that you do not have. Let’s face it – no one can do everything well, and you really should be focusing on just those things that you do particularly well.
Many business owners think that they can do better if they do everything on their own. This is most often a big mistake, because you will most likely end up getting burnt out. That means that everything comes to a grinding halt since your productivity takes a dive and there’s no one else to keep things running. Having a virtual assistant take over various tasks gives you the power to use your time and talents effectively to push your business to new heights.
A virtual assistant can also increase productivity while decreasing operational costs because you are hiring remote. This means you are saving on office space rental and maintenance costs, office equipment and supplies, and you can choose to hire from areas where a virtual assistant will charge less than your local area’s going rates.
Pro Tip: Note well that you should never lowball a virtual assistant if you want quality work output. There’s a lot of misconception out there about what you can expect for a few dollars an hour! Plus, implying that such a low rate is decent pay is quite insulting to an experienced virtual assistant.
A virtual assistant can help you and your business in so many ways. Delegating different tasks to a virtual assistant can ease the stress of your day to day and simultaneously increase your productivity and the potential of your business.