May 20, 2022

What is a Virtual Assistant? Know When You’re Ready to Hire

Most people think that in order to be successful, they need to do everything themselves. But as most people quickly learn, this is not the case.

In fact, trying to do everything yourself can actually be very counterproductive and lead to failure. This is where virtual assistants (VAs) come in.

Hiring a virtual assistant can be a great way to free up your time so that you can focus on more important tasks. But before you hire a virtual assistant, there are a few things you need to consider.

Here are a few things to think about before you hire a virtual assistant.

RELATED: Supercharge Your Digital Marketing Strategy With A Virtual Assistant

What Is A Virtual Assistant?


Put quite simply, a virtual assistant is someone who provides support services to your business from a remote location. They may be a freelance virtual assistant or an independent contractor, or they may work through a VA company (such as The Virtual Hub).

Virtual assistants come in all stripes. They can perform a range of tasks for your business. 

virtual assistant

You’ll find that some specialize in certain areas, while others have a general level of administrative expertise. In any case, a good virtual staff keeps your business ticking by ensuring that important tasks get done. Those tasks are things that lend themselves well to being done in a remote environment.

What Tasks Can I Outsource to Virtual Assistant Services?

A virtual assistant can handle various tasks. Some common tasks include:

Administrative Tasks

There are various administrative tasks that a virtual assistant can do in order to help businesses run smoothly. This can include scheduling meetings, making travel arrangements, and answering phone calls.

A virtual assistant can also help with more complex tasks such as preparing reports and creating powerpoint presentations.

Marketing Tasks

In today's business world, more and more companies are turning to virtual assistants to help with their marketing tasks.

This is because VAs are also digital marketing experts. They can help with a variety of digital marketing tasks--from content creation and video editing to email marketing and developing and executing digital marketing campaigns.

In addition, most virtual assistants can often provide valuable insights into the latest digital marketing trends and technologies. As a result, they can be a valuable asset for any company that is looking to stay ahead of the competition.

Social Media Management

In today's fast-paced world, it's more important than ever to have a strong social media presence. However, managing social media accounts can be time-consuming and overwhelming. This is where virtual assistants come in.

A virtual assistant can help with everything related to social media management--from creating and scheduling posts to responding to comments and messages and increasing your social media presence. Best of all, they can do all of this without you ever having to lift a finger.

Email Management

Anyone who has ever tried to manage their email knows that it can be a daunting task. Inboxes can quickly fill up with messages, making it difficult to find important emails among the clutter.

Fortunately, there is a solution: virtual assistant.

Virtual assistants are experts at managing email inboxes, and they can help to declutter and organize your inbox in no time. They can also help to filter messages, so that you only see the emails that are most relevant to you.

Calendar Management

Virtual assistants are virtual staff who are skilled at calendar management and can take on the task of keeping your calendar up-to-date and organized. They can help to make sure that important appointments, travel arrangements, and deadlines are not missed.

Calendar management tasks can include creating and managing calendar entries, sending reminders for upcoming events, and rescheduling appointments as needed.

In many cases, VAs also have the ability to provide real-time updates and changes to calendar entries, which can be a valuable time-saving feature.

Customer Service

There are a variety of customer service tasks that can be performed by virtual assistants. These tasks can include fielding phone calls and responding to customer complaints.

Virtual assistants can also help to resolve customer issues and provide follow-up support.

In addition, they can assist with order processing and returns, as well as help to schedule appointments and manage customer databases.

By outsourcing customer service tasks to a virtual assistant, businesses can improve their overall customer service levels.

Web Research

By conducting online research and accessing online databases, virtual assistants can quickly gather information that would otherwise be difficult to obtain.

Additionally, a virtual assistant can be used to monitor trends and collect data over time. This data can then be analyzed to identify patterns and generate insights.

Project Management

Project management tasks can be a time-consuming endeavor, but with the help of a virtual assistant, it becomes a more streamlined process.

Virtual assistants are well-versed in project management tools and techniques, and they can provide invaluable support in keeping projects on track.

In addition to handling daily tasks, virtual assistants can also help with project planning and scheduling, as well as tracking project milestones and deadlines.

Sales Tasks

A virtual assistant can help with a variety of sales tasks, from lead generation to customer follow-up.

In terms of lead generation, virtual assistants can help to identify potential customers and then reach out to them with personalized messages. They can also help to keep track of customer responses and schedule follow-up phone calls or emails.

In terms of customer follow-up, virtual assistants can reach out to customers who haven't responded to initial contact attempts and try to re-engage them. They can also send thank-you notes or other communications after a sale has been made.

Data Entry Tasks

Data entry is one of the most commonly requested tasks for virtual assistants. And it's no wonder, as today's businesses are increasingly reliant on data to make informed decisions.

Data entry can be a tedious task, but it's essential for keeping accurate records.

A virtual assistant can help to ease the burden by taking care of data entry tasks quickly and accurately.

In addition to entering data into databases, a virtual assistant can also format and organize information for easy retrieval.

What Virtual Assistant Skills Should I Look For?

With so many virtual assistants out there, how do you know which one is right for your business? Here are some top virtual assistant skills to look for:

Excellent Communication

An ideal virtual assistant will be an excellent communicator, both in writing and verbally. They should be able to clearly and concisely convey information through a communication tool, and they should have superb interpersonal skills.

Organizational Skills

An experienced virtual assistant will be highly organized and detail-oriented. They should be able to keep track of all the tasks and deadlines, and they should have a system in place for managing their work.

Technical Skills

Depending on the needs of your business, you may want to hire a virtual assistant with specific technical skills. For example, if you need help with website maintenance or online marketing, look for someone with experience in those areas.

RELATED: 5 Ways Your VA Can Help You To Upscale Your Social Media Strategy

Are You Ready to Hire Virtual Assistants?

Is hiring a virtual assistant the answer for your business?

First, we recommend that you take some time to assess and determine whether you’re actually ready to hire one. Why do we suggest this?

virtual assistant

Well, sometimes, people dive right in, assuming that hiring a virtual assistant will be the magic solution to their business issues. If they don’t get the results they were expecting, they end up disappointed.

But this is often less about the VA and more about the preparedness of your business to actually hire one. You can’t go in with a vague notion of “the virtual assistant will help me and things will get better.” You need an actual plan.

Here are some things to consider:

What Sort Of Help Do You Need?

The first thing you need to consider is what specific tasks you need help with. This will help you determine what type of virtual assistant you need to hire.

Do you need help with social media marketing? Customer service? Data entry?

You need a plan, almost like a business roadmap, which spells out where you need help. Once you know all the tasks you need help with, it will be easier to find a virtual assistant who specializes in those areas.

For example, there is often confusion over the differences between a virtual assistant and a personal assistant--people often think they’re the same.

Another common confusion is thinking that a virtual assistant is the answer, when perhaps the set of skills you’re looking for is more suited to a project manager.

Here’s a quick rundown of what each role does:

Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistants are remote workers who take specific tasks suited to a virtual environment off your plate. This can be things like customer service, content creation, social media management, and data entry.

Administrative Assistant

An administrative assistant helps in the administrative services of your office. They might help with recurring tasks, such as bookkeeping, preparing expense reports, or handling travel arrangements.

Personal Assistant

A personal assistant is there to take care of your personal errands or the day-to-day tasks in your personal life, as well as some business tasks. This could be things like scheduling appointments, doing your grocery shopping, or walking the dog.

Executive Assistant

Executive assistants are a step up from personal assistants and take on specific tasks that require more discretion, judgement, and confidentiality. They might be responsible for handling your finances, scheduling important meetings, or acting as a go-between with clients.

Project Manager

A project manager is someone who excels at taking a project from start to finish. If you have a big project coming up - like launching a new product - you might want to hire a project manager to help keep everything on track.

Now that we’ve clarified the difference between these roles, it should be easier for you to determine which one you need.

virtual assistant

Do You Have Clear Goals?

The next thing you need to do is sit down and consider your business goals. Once you have a good understanding of where you want your business to go, it will be easier to figure out if hiring a virtual assistant is the right move.

For example, let’s say your goal is to grow your social media following. In this case, you would need to hire a VA who specializes in social media marketing.

In short, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve before you can determine whether hiring a virtual assistant is the right move.

How Much Time Do You Have For Virtual Assistant Training?

When you hire a virtual assistant, you need to be prepared to spend some time training them.

This is especially true if you’re hiring your first virtual assistant or if the tasks you need help with are complex.

You should expect to spend at least a few hours, if not a week or two, getting your new VA up-to-speed on everything they need to know. This includes things like:

  • how your business works
  • your company culture
  • the systems you use
  • any relevant industry knowledge they need

The more time you can dedicate to training up front, the smoother the transition will be. You’ll also be less likely to run into problems down the road.

Do You Have The Budget?

Virtual assistants can range in price depending on their experience and skills.

You can find virtual assistants who charge by the hour or by the project. Be sure to set a budget before you start looking for a virtual assistant so that you don’t overspend.

Additionally, you should also factor in the cost of your time. Remember that while a VA can take some tasks off your plate, you’ll still need to spend some time managing virtual staff and checking in on their progress.

When assessing your budget, be realistic about how much help you need and what you can afford. It’s better to gradually increase your hours as your small business grows than to hire a full time employee only to find out you can’t afford it.

But in all honesty, a virtual assistant can actually help you save money by not having to pay for office space, equipment, or other overhead costs!

Are You Prepared To Make Yourself Available?


While you can rely on a good virtual assistant to follow your processes and get on with the job, getting successful results from the relationship takes more than that. Context plays a huge role in guiding the virtual assistant so that they can serve you as best as they can. This is where you come in.

Being ready to offer feedback is another key part of ensuring that you successfully manage a virtual assistant.

Check in with them and be constructive so that the virtual assistant is better able to understand your needs.

When you think about it, have you ever been hired for a job where someone just said: “here you go, now you can get started?” If you have, the chances are it probably didn’t go so well! 

Think of yourself and your virtual assistant as a team--the team will operate much more efficiently when working together.

Are You Ready To Let Go of Control?

When you’re used to doing everything yourself, it can be tough to hand over the reins--even if you know it would free up your time. This is why one of the biggest challenges of hiring a virtual assistant is letting go of control.

Many small business owners see their business as their “baby,” which is great for business development, but often not so great when it comes to relinquishing control over tasks.

You oversee a virtual assistant, but the point is that you must let them get on with the job. If you have a tendency to micromanage, you’re not going to get the efficiency benefits of hiring a virtual assistant.

Additionally, no one enjoys being micromanaged, so it doesn’t create the best work environment!

virtual assistant

Here are some tips if you struggle with relinquishing control:


  • Hire the right virtual assistant who is competent with the tasks you need to be done. You might go through a hiring process, looking at their past experience and qualifications yourself, or go through a virtual assistant company that has already vetted candidates.
  • Have robust systems and processes in place. So, you like something done in a certain way? That’s fine--document the process! Having clear processes not only helps your virtual assistant to understand your requirements, but it gives you confidence that you can let things go. Additionally, documented processes help you to scale--you can avoid repeating yourself because there is a resource available to team members.
  • Think about all the important things you can now get done if you’ve delegated those tasks! Keep your eye on the overall goals of hiring a virtual assistant--what tasks will you now be spending more time on that generate value for your business?

If you’re not ready to let go of control, then hiring a VA might not be the right move for you.

You need to be prepared to trust your VA to get the job done and be okay with the fact that they might do things differently than you would.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should completely hands-off. You should still provide guidance and feedback as needed. But try to resist the urge to micromanage every little thing.

Conclusion

Before you decide “I need a virtual assistant,” give careful consideration to what you need help with and how that will be facilitated in a virtual environment.

Do you need a virtual assistant? Or, do you really need someone with some highly specialized skills to target a certain area of your business?

A virtual assistant is great at managing the repetitive tasks that must be done to keep your business running in good order. You’ll set yourself up for a successful relationship with your virtual assistant if you have made sure that you’re ready to hire one first.

Do know exactly what you want them to do? Do you have robust systems and processes in place? Are you mentally prepared to let tasks go? Equally, are you prepared to be available and give feedback?

Ask yourself the questions above and be honest about your needs and capabilities. If you’re not ready, that’s okay. There’s no right or wrong answer--it all comes down to what’s best for you and your business.

Our Ultimate Guide to Virtual Assistants will teach you how YOU can make the most out of your virtual assistant and all the tips and tricks that you need to know about having one. 

But if you are ready, then it’s time to start looking for virtual assistant services! Talk with us here at The Virtual Hub so we can help you take your business to the next level.


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