Virtual Assistant: What Is It And What Does It Do?

A virtual assistant is someone who works remotely for a company, performing administrative tasks and other support services. Traditionally, people have always had to commute to their places of employment to work. However, with changing business environments, company executives have woken up to the reality that people don’t have to be physically present in the office to work. 

The cost of office space and full time employees has become too costly for most companies to bear, particularly startups and mid-sized businesses. As well, as businesses continue to go online, remote working is becoming a more acceptable model of doing business. To top it all up, internet is now more affordable than ever, meaning that more and more homes are getting connected to the internet. This makes remote work not only preferable, but also doable. What all this means is that as a virtual assistant, you can now assist companies from the comfort of your home office. 

That said, there are limits to what a virtual assistant can do. But, technology is quickly closing these gaps, making virtual assistants as all-rounded and useful as on-premise assistants. For example, your virtual assistant can organize meetings with people they don’t share a physical space with. All they need to do is use Aira to get everyone aligned on a meeting date. 

What’s involved in being a virtual assistant?  

A virtual assistant can work as a full time employee for a company. This is usually the case where a company has sensitive information that they do not want disclosed to an outsider. However, companies that are focused on cutting costs prefer to hire freelance virtual assistants. As a freelancer or owner of a virtual assistant business, you can sign a contract to provide your services to as many companies as you want. 

The day to day responsibilities of a virtual assistant may vary depending on the company or function they work for. For example, a virtual assistant for a marketing agency/department may perform tasks such as social media management. A virtual assistant for a company CEO may handle tasks such as emails and managing their boss’s itinerary. 

What you need to know about starting a virtual assistant business

Starting a virtual assistant business is a pretty simple process that involves the following: 

  • Choosing a target market 
  • Deciding on the service/s to offer them 
  • Company registration
  • Equipping your business with the necessary software and hardware 
  • Pricing your services
  • Find your first customer 

These activities aren’t in any specific order, although logically, you should find customers as your last step. You can identify customers to target, but you cannot sign them up if you don’t have a pricing structure, or, if your company isn’t registered. 

Registering and licensing your business depends on your city’s or county’s regulations. Be prepared to pay a fee to get your license. There could also be some fees associated with putting up your start up. However, as yours is a virtual business, you don’t have to worry about costs associated with premises, commuting or retaining permanent employees.   

The services you offer as a virtual assistant will depend on your skills and on what your target customer wants. If you are a bookkeeper for instance, your business can specialize in offering bookkeeping services. If your target market prefers to work with a business that provides a full suite of administrative tasks, consider upskilling or building a team with diverse skills. Charging can be hourly, or you can opt to sell your skills as a package. 

To find clients, network on your social platforms, check in local directories, ask for referrals, or search in online job boards. 

Why work with a virtual assistant

If you own a home business, you don’t need to handle administrative or clerical tasks by yourself. As your business grows, you will find yourself unable to handle all tasks efficiently. Hiring a virtual assistant will help you take such tasks off your plate so that you can concentrate on business development tasks. 

What’s more, you may find yourself ill-equipped for most tasks in your business. Training yourself may take a long time, which you may not have. In the end, you will find it more cost effective to hire a person who is already skilled at doing those tasks. A skilled person can also suggest ways to optimize your processes or may even be adept at spotting opportunities that your business can take advantage of. 

To hire a virtual assistant: 

  1. Write down the tasks you do daily. 
  2. Separate the list into two parts: One showing tasks you must do yourself and cannot delegate and the other showing the items you can delegate. 
  3. Delegate tasks that are time consuming, repetitive or jobs for which you aren’t skilled for. For instance, jobs that require IT skills.
  4. Find a hiring service to contract or hire an individual through a freelance work platform, or ask for referrals from your professional networks. 

Conclusion 

Clerical work or work for which you aren’t well equipped can bog you down and keep you from achieving more important business goals. You can ease the burden of such work by hiring a virtual assistant who works either independently or as a contractor. As for other tasks such as managing meetings, taking meeting minutes and action items, an AI virtual assistant like Aira will do the job for you. 

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