What is a Virtual Assistant? Should You be Using One?


The very first virtual assistants started out as “Telecommuters”, employees working from home only commuting into the office or their place of work as and when they needed to.  Although the term virtual assistant (often referred to as VA) may have been around for a long time, it is only now becoming more popular.  People are beginning to see the benefits of outsourcing as a cost-effective and flexible solution that enables you to get more done in a day.  It is especially powerful for small business owners, entrepreneurs, coaches, speakers, authors and even busy professionals looking to supercharge their productivity.

What is a virtual assistant?

The International Virtual Assistant Association (www.ivaa.org), define virtual assistants as “… independent contractors who (from a remote location, usually their home or office) support multiple clients in a variety of industries by providing administrative, creative and technical services.”

Most VAs are administrative professionals with a great deal of knowledge and experience gained over many years working as career personal assistants, executive assistants or office managers.  Although the term virtual assistant still refers to a VA in the traditional sense, it has evolved further and is now used to refer to people who work remotely and independently, providing virtual assistance and services such as marketing, social media or web design.

What tasks can a virtual assistant do?

Anything! A virtual assistant can handle pretty much any task, so long as it can be done remotely.

Not sure where to start?  There are numerous articles out there giving you ideas of the tasks you can outsource, which are great if you are new to the world of virtual assistants. Take 20 Tasks You Can Outsource Right Now from the HubStaff blog.  Tasks you could easily outsource today could include managing your inbox, getting someone to collect your dry cleaning, making appointments whether they are business related or personal, booking flights and online shopping, to name but a few.

Chris Ducker, owner and CEO of Virtual Staff Finder,  wrote an article on his blog which looks at 101 tasks you can outsource to virtual staff to grow your business. To really maximise both your time and productivity you need to look at building a virtual team made up of different specialists or experts in areas that are key to running your business.  These could include a General Virtual Assistant, an SEO expert, a Web Developer or a Social Media Marketing specialist.

Who can benefit from using a virtual assistant?

The long and short of it is everyone and anyone can benefit from using a VA, whoever you are, wherever you are.  It makes no difference if you are the CEO of a huge multinational corporation or a Solopreneur, spending your time setting up meetings, managing your inbox, putting together PowerPoint presentations or typing up meeting notes is not an effective use of your valuable time.  You should be focusing on growing and building your business, not working in it like an employee.

Should you hire a virtual assistant?

New York Times bestseller, Michael Hyatt, uses a virtual assistant himself and is a huge fan of using VAs, saying that he “couldn’t survive” without his and encouraging other entrepreneurs to look at hiring one for themselves.  Let’s look at his 7 reasons you should hire a virtual assistant.

  1. You feel overwhelmed with your workload
  2. You need help digging out from the administrative pile
  3. You know you could really “move the needle” if you could focus more on what you and only you can do
  4. You want to be more productive and less stressed
  5. You know you need help but can’t afford someone full-time
  6. You don’t want the hassle of recruiting, hiring and training a physical assistant
  7. You want – and need – more margin in your life

Small business owners and entrepreneurs often say that they can’t afford to hire help, but the great thing about a VA is that you pay for what you need, whether that is 5 hours a month or 10 hours per week.  There are no employment contracts, you pay no taxes or insurances and you don’t have to pay for office space, a computer or a phone either.

Can you really afford NOT to hire help?

If you are looking to grow your business, your time should be focused on the tasks only you can do. The rest can be outsourced to an experienced virtual assistant to handle.  The fundamental question to ask yourself right now is, what is an hour of your time worth to your business?  For example, if you charge an hourly rate of €200 and you spend 5 hours a week on administrative tasks that you really don’t need to do, that’s €1000 you are costing your business a week.  That equates to a whopping €4000 per month or €48,000 per year!  That is a lot of money, money you could better spend on your very own VA.

Do you currently use a virtual assistant in your business?  Or are you considering hiring one?  Why not share your experience in the comment box below!

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I’m Emma

Emma O'Connell is an Online Business Manager and Business Strategist. She helps solopreneurs become soul-led CEOs, by implementing the right strategy, systems and support, so they can get back to making an impact. She firmly believes in working smarter not harder, setting yourself up for success and spending more time with the people that matter most.

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