Should You Hire a Virtual Assistant?

Top 10 Things to Outsource to Your Virtual Assistant handshakeWhat exactly does a Virtual Assistant do? While we find a Virtual Assistant that has the experience and background to fit your needs, below are the top 10 tasks we see most frequently from our clients. Once you start talking about Virtual Assistants, you will be surprised to find out how many people you know that work with one!

1. Creating Processes and Procedures One of the first things a virtual assistant can and should do for you is create processes and procedures for all of their tasks. These are valuable tools that many organizations and business owners don’t take the time to create for themselves. If your VA is ever sick, injured or on vacation you then have detailed processes to follow as many people forget how to complete tasks once they are off their plate. IMPACT clients have the benefit of having another VA cover the work temporarily, so again the procedures definitely come in handy so nothing skips a beat!

2. Email Management Being prompt with email responses is just a part of good business. People expect quick communication and want to know that they are heard. That’s often why so many people spend their entire day answering emails! Work with your VA to develop a system for managing your email account. When most inquiries can be taken care of before you even see them, you gain that time back to invest back into your business.

3. Database Organization Virtual Assistants are all about increasing efficiency. If you have piles of business cards and a database full of contacts with partial information, you may be missing out on business! Your VA can help organize your database and create a system for reaching out to potential clients/members and staying in communication with those you need to.

4. Event Planning Whether you have an annual conference to plan or a board meeting, your VA can help pull logistics together and plan your event. Finding someone with this background is a huge plus as every detail must be secured for a successful event. You will see better results and will be able to continue your own work rather than putting everything on hold to secure venues, speakers, create handouts, deal with catering contracts, IT support, the list goes on!

5. Marketing, E-newsletters and Social Media Your VA will learn the voice of you and your business or organization. They will create a stronger online presence through social media, blogs, articles or press releases than what you have time to do. It takes time to get the conversation started online and your VA can make the quality investment.

6. Research If there were two of you, what would you spend more time doing? It’s easy to log in hours doing research on anything from business trends to your competition. Let your VA do the research and bring you the results.

7. Bookkeeping This is a great task to handover to a trusted VA. It’s easy to put this off or do it in a rush but having detailed accounts of your invoicing and spending is incredibly important. Especially if this is not where your interests are, outsourcing is a great option. If you work with a virtual firm like IMPACT, we have a bookkeeper on staff to support clients with such tasks.

8. Website Maintenance Keeping an updated website is a sign of success. Don’t send your potential clients the wrong message with an outdated site lacking current information. Having your VA post images from a recent event and keep dates and notices up to date should be on the top of the list. Your website is often the first impression to someone, make sure it is active and reflects the work you are doing.

9. Travel arrangements Are you noticing a theme here? Your VA specializes in support you and your business or organization. By taking the time to research travel arrangements, they can find the best deals and handle all of the details for you. You’ll be less stressed, more prepared and on your way there before you know it!

10. Special Projects Things come up! Offers to present or speak in the community, interviews with a local newspaper, contracts that need updating, thank you notes to be written, applications to fill out, and the need to brainstorm with someone! Having a virtual assistant is often a successful executive’s best kept secret or an organizations lifeline!

Struggling to Make Deadlines? Don’t Hire, Outsource.

Most small businesses operate under the tried and true adage of “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” What happens when the amount of work to be done is starting to eat into your profitability? Outsourcing is a solution that can revitalize your business. Here are a few reasons a business owner should consider outsourcing:

  • You’re free to focus on the core day-to-day operations of your business. For many businesses, small and large alike, the primary motivation to outsource is that it shifts work from the owners, managers, and employees so they may spend their time on activities that directly generate income.
  • Potential to improve growth opportunities. Resource availability is a key component to the expansion of operations and increased profitability.
  • Increasing efficiency and effectiveness of your business. In most cases, outsourcing allows access to expert talent. Outsource service firms can offer innovative approaches, the latest technology, and creative, cutting-edge solutions previously unavailable to your business.
  • Pad your bottom line by cutting your expenses. A skilled contractor can generally perform work less expensively and more efficiently than a full-time employee can. Best of all the costs associated with hiring, training, and maintaining employees are eliminated, along with taxes and benefits.

Here is what you can outsource to increase profitability and improve efficiency all while maintaining the integrity and structure of your business.

  1. Administrative tasks. Everything from scheduling and travel arrangements to data entry and email management can be expertly managed by a virtual assistant. While these tasks are vital to the operation of the business, they are not core business activities.
  2. Lead generation and customer service. Making sales calls is a numbers game, the more contacts made the more potential for leads and sales. Once the initial outreach has been made, closing the sale can easily be handled by an internal sales team. A skilled salesperson is better utilized for closing sales and the management of clients, rather than cold calling. It can also be beneficial to outsource customer support rather than maintain a qualified support staff.
  3. Accounting and financial responsibilities. Accounting firms or individuals can help with many financial related tasks from bookkeeping to accounts payable and receivable. Outsourcing the processing of payroll can significantly reduce cost, not to mention the accompanying headaches.
  4. Marketing. Effective marketing of a business determines how the consumer perceives both the brand and company reputation. A marketing firm or contractor can offer valuable outside perspective that an internal staff cannot.
  5. IT operations. It is often extremely expensive to handle IT operations in-house. The average business has limited ability to manage all of the IT needs that are necessary to operate. IT is a maintenance and repair function, not a core business activity.
  6. Human Resources. Talent recruitment and human resource tasks can easily be managed by an outside agency. External agencies are often more skilled at advertising, screening applicants, and checking references. Using an HR or employment agency to manage employee benefits is also wise, these professionals stay up to date on all the latest employment laws and standards.

Typically the best way to locate high-quality prospects is through recommendations from your professional network. A referral from someone you know and trust is a much more reliable gauge of quality and is usually based on the level of skill and not simply the cheapest cost.

5 Tasks a VA Can Do To Help Your Business

Think of a Virtual Assistant (VA) like any assistant, but with lower costs, no overhead, and more capabilities.  Anything you could wish for an assistant to handle for you, a VA can handle too.  Here are some great items that you can easily hand off to a VA.

Think of a Virtual Assistant (VA) like any assistant, but with lower costs, no overhead, and more capabilities. Anything you could wish for an assistant to handle for you, a VA can handle too. Here are some great items that you can easily hand off to a VA.

  • Repetitive/Daily Tasks - We all have them. Each business and individual is different, but there are certain tasks each of you do every day for yourself and your business. Think about your day and write down tasks you find yourself doing day in and day out. These tasks are IDEAL for a VA to do for you. With a little direction, you could be saving a few hours each day and maximizing the time you have to work on other tasks.
  • Correspondence – All of us correspond with our clients/customers and potential clients/customers daily. Much of this correspondence is basic, template, and very repetitive. We also have many questions to ask our clients/customers each day. This correspondence takes time and can be a process. Both of these types of correspondence can be easily outsourced to a VA. Let the VA know what information you need, who you need to contact, and send them on their way. Some good examples of correspondence are:
    • Follow up on billing related issues
    • New project start questionnaires
    • New client information
    • Project or task related questions with clients
    • Calendar coordination and planning
    • Drafting and formatting letters and emails
    • And much more!
  • Website Maintenance & Monitoring – Do you have changes to your website pages? Want to post new content and/or images? Need to promote an upcoming event? If you can update your website, so can your VA. Giving your VA insight into your business and interests can help them craft content for you, investigate content areas your audience wants to hear, and ensure content is kept up to date, so you don’t have to! Do you have a contact form on your website? Your VA can monitor that too.
  • Social Media – It is hard to find time every day to send out tweets, update your Facebook page, respond to messages and discussion threads, accept or reject LinkedIn invitations, create and post blog articles, and generally interact with your clients/customers online. Keeping all the social media outlets up to date takes time. If this is something you don’t have, or you find yourself falling behind, having a VA control your social media can be key for you. Don’t lose the opportunity to connect, but instead trust someone to manage those connections and keep you informed with what is going on.
  • Finances/Billing – Often I hear people complaining that their receipts are in a pile waiting to be sorted, they need to file an expense report, or need to follow up on outstanding payments from customers/clients. These are simple tasks that a VA can do for you.

All of this doesn’t mean you may not be involved in these activities, but often it takes a few simple questions from your VA, some training on what you and your business are all about, and the desire to want assistance. In the end, you’ll save time and make more money by focusing on what you do best, and not focusing on the nominal day to day activities that bog you down.

Read more about the benefits of a Virtual Assistants.

...and how VAs can save you money!