While running a startup or dealing with the hustle of a growing business, when was the last time you took stock of your productivity? And even after exhausting yourself do you find that when you call it a day and get to your place, you still feel dissatisfied. You have a pending list of items and you couldn’t spare time finding new prospects for your business or that next big idea of yours.
In a survey, it was found that most of the productive hours of entrepreneurs and executives are wasted on replying to emails and other administrative tasks. We do not often realize, but they clutter up our days and keeps us underperforming. No wonder everyone who realized it must be looking for a solution.
Fortunately, we all have options that can help us focus on what is more important for us. Hiring staff is always an option but what if you are not yet prepared for hiring someone full-time. It is for sure that you already know about virtual assistants.
But, want to know more about them?
We all have hesitation about hiring an outsider or someone we do not know. The trust issues of handing over the business activities are genuine. I understand that trusting a stranger or an unknown individual is tough. However, did you know that there are professional organizations that have a structure around virtual assistant services and they back it up with a dependable management team, processes and systems around your tasks and processes?
I know you might have a lot of questions around virtual assistant services. Let me help you with some basic answers regarding Virtual Assistants.
Who is a Virtual Assistant?
Well, a virtual assistant can be an AI-based app, which can do the very specific tasks set for you, for example booking your calendar or providing you pre-saved information as and when you need it. However, today I am discussing the virtual assistants who are like us, I mean the homo sapiens.
Virtual Assistants can be freelancers or can be from a managed service provider. These virtual assistants can do a myriad of activities for your business depending upon their skillsets and your business needs. Skill oriented tasks can be like bookkeeping or web designing. But, mostly they are hired and preferred for taking on the repetitive activities of your business process.
What are virtual assistant companies or managed virtual assistant service providers?
As mentioned above that there are two major categories of virtual assistants, either they are freelancers or they are a part of a managed service provider. The later is mostly a business house offering virtual assistants as their core service. They have a proven strategy supporting the plethora of activities or services which can be done by the virtual assistants.
The biggest benefit of partnering with a business for virtual assistant service is that you don’t have to rely on one individual for your business activities. Individuals or freelance virtual assistants are good for one-off jobs or small projects. However, when you have an ongoing need for someone who can run your back office, a managed service provider is your best bet. Another advantage is that such companies do not only provide a virtual employee but also give you access to a complete management structure including an accounts manager, operation manager, and quality control team. And, most essentially a backup staff so that you do not have to retrain someone when if ever your primary staff goes AWOL.
What types of tasks can a virtual assistant handle?
You will be amazed to see the multitude of services that a virtual assistant company can offer to you. A virtual assistant can act as your executive assistant or can also help with your recruitment process. They can help you find business leads and can also run marketing campaigns on your behalf. I will include the most popular services, however, to sum it up I can say if there is any task in your business, which is repetitive, process-centric, doesn’t need a highly skilled attention, or on which you can train someone in a week time or a month, would be the most ideal activity for a virtual assistant to take on for you.
Is there any difference between a Virtual Assistant and an in-house Employee who is made to do the same job?
The answer is yes and no, both.
Yes, the difference is there. An in-house employee can be very skilled on a certain task, however, a virtual assistant can walk the process your layout. Another difference is the cost when you have an in-house employee you have many compensatory obligations, but with a virtual assistant, there is a fixed monthly cost. And, as the name suggests virtual assistants are virtual, meaning they would work remotely and you do not need an infrastructure for them.
No, because a virtual assistant too should be considered as your own team member, it’s just that they work virtually. Regular communication, well-maintained processes, consistent feedback can help you build a strong partnership with the virtual assistant service provider.
Mostly, we suggest businesses to see virtual assistants as an aid to their in-house staff. Virtual Assistant can do the grill and drill activity and your in-house staff can concentrate on high-level business objectives. For example, if your recruiter is spending 90% of your time sourcing candidates and managing the database, you are getting just 10% of productive time to close a job. However, if you have a virtual assistant to help your recruiter with sourcing, the recruiter’s entire time can be spent on closing a job.
What industries or businesses a virtual assistant can work in?
Again, anything that can be done and worked upon under a roof on a computer system. It also excludes tasks that need specialized skills like designing a floor plan or budgeting for your business. However, E-commerce, Recruitment, Healthcare, Insurance, Hospitality, Event Management, Real Estate, Legal Services are only a few to mention.
Your industry compatibility isn’t the right way to see if a virtual assistant can be of help to you or not. You need to identify the most recurring and day-to-day process-centric activities.
“We as businessmen need to understand that we can be jack of all trades but that leaves us as master of none.”
Our time is precious and we should spend it putting more efforts to reach our goals. If we are working alone or are too focused on certain pedestrian activities, we are merely working within our business and not on our business.
This not being the only list of questions, I will come up with more of these in the virtual assistant series. You can also write to me personally for any questions you may have.