How Virtual Assistants Can Help Your Business Grow

how virtual assistants can help your business grow

Most, if not all, business owners want to maximize their day for better productivity.

Over the last couple of years, virtual assistance has gained popularity, especially with the world’s technological advancements.

VAs have existed long before, but the global pandemic forced everyone to work from home and thus made the industry more prominent. 

In this article, we’ll dive into what a virtual assistant is and how the right one can benefit your business.

Introduction to Virtual Assistants

introduction to virtual assistants

Here’s a brief introduction to what virtual assistants are and the specific tasks they can do.

Definition and roles of virtual assistants (VAs)

In a nutshell, virtual assistants offer administrative support to a business from a remote location.

They handle everything from scheduling appointments, answering phone calls, arranging travel, and organizing emails.

Most VAs are independent contractors, although some companies hire them as full-time remote employees.

Overview of the increasing trend of hiring VAs in business

Many businesses hire VAs for several reasons, the primary one being cost-effectiveness.

It’s relatively cheaper to hire a virtual assistant than an in-house employee, especially in Western countries.

The shortage of talent within the local area has also compelled companies to fill their roles from elsewhere.

Modern technology has also made it possible for companies to hire talents from overseas.

Cost Efficiency through Virtual Assistance

cost efficiency through virtual assistance

Let’s delve deeper into just how cost-efficient virtual assistants can be.

Comparison of hiring costs: Virtual Assistants vs. Full-time Employees

comparison of hiring costs virtual assistants vs full time employees

Business owners tend to get more value for money when hiring VAs. 

One advantage is that their pricing structure can depend on a company’s needs. They can be employed either on an hourly or per-project basis.

Furthermore, VAs don’t incur the same overhead costs that office-based workers do, such as company equipment and rent for office space.

Thus, hiring a VA can prove to be more economical in the long run.

Analysis of savings on office space, equipment, and benefits

VAs often have their equipment, working space, and utilities. Most of the time, they’re also equipped with the skills needed to perform the job. Unless there’s a specific tool critical to the role, most VAs are good for deployment within days.

In comparison, business owners would need to furnish a full-time employee with company equipment and utilities (on top of their salaries). These expenses can cut into a company’s bottom line.

Further, traditional employees need office space, which incurs rent as an additional expense.

Regular employees may also need a longer onboarding period for them to become familiar with a company’s internal processes, which affects productivity.

Lastly, as VAs are independent contractors, they don’t expect additional work perks like government benefits and paid time off.

Clients may still provide their VAs with these benefits to retain them, but they are not mandatory -unlike when you hire a full-time employee.

Enhancing Productivity with VAs

enhancing productivity with vas

Apart from cost efficiency, hiring a virtual assistant also boosts a company’s productivity.

Delegating routine and administrative tasks to VAs

Time is another important resource for any business. The more tasks you can complete within a workday, the better.

However, most entrepreneurs don’t simply have this luxury, which is why hiring a VA is beneficial.

With a VA, business owners can now delegate the more tedious (yet still critical) administrative tasks. Doing so allows them to focus on what they do best, which is drawing up strategies and making decisions to grow their company.

Case studies showing increased productivity due to VAs

Most large corporations have employed virtual assistants to help support their operations.

To name a few:

  • HubSpot – Some remote workers specialise as HubSpot VAs. They handle data entry, marketing campaigns, and even sales. These VAs aid HubSpot in scaling their business to spare the company the need to hire extra full-time employees.
  • Upwork — As a popular hub for remote work jobs, Upwork has a large number of users who may need support at any given time. 

 

They address this by hiring VAs from all over the world. Both clients and Upwork freelancers have access to the website’s chat support 24/7.

Flexibility and Work Coverage

flexibility and work coverage

So, how else can a VA help a business?

The 24/7 work potential with global VA teams

Hiring a VA from another timezone—like in the Philippines, for example—can extend business hours beyond those of your competitor.

A company’s loyal customer base will definitely appreciate the round-the-clock support.

Furthermore, VAs from overseas can help you take your business beyond local borders. It’s now possible to offer products and services to customers in a different timezone.

VAs handling your tasks off-hours can also increase efficiency. This allows entrepreneurs to focus on their core functions, such as making critical decisions during regular working hours.

Adapting to business needs and seasonal fluctuations

Small businesses are susceptible to seasonal fluctuations. Some months might bring in record numbers – others, not so much.

However, there are many ways to mitigate the effects of slower months.

Start by diversifying your product or service offerings. Think of something that is in demand throughout the year. Having a wide range of products and services also opens up the business to a new customer base.

Making adjustments to the company’s marketing strategy can also prove helpful. Lean months are often the best time to boost a company’s online presence. One way to do so is to strengthen your content marketing, which can further help establish your business online.

This way, the business gets introduced to a wider audience, which, in turn, augments the sales during lean seasons.

Having a strong social media presence can further establish the brand’s image, differentiating it from your competitors.

Expertise Across Domains

expertise across domains

What types of virtual assistants are available in the market?

Variety of tasks VAs can perform: from administrative to specialised skills

There’s likely to be VA for any niche under the sun. Here are some of the most common ones:

As their name suggests, administrative virtual assistants are responsible for administrative work, like handling emails and scheduling appointments.

There are also personal and executive virtual assistants. Personal VAs usually work for an individual (like lower-level managers) and perform personal errands. Meanwhile, executive VAs are typically employed by corporate executives.

Bookkeeping virtual assistants are responsible for keeping a business’s books straight. They often work closely with the in-house accounting or finance team, or they can also work independently.

Due to the boom of online shopping, e-commerce virtual assistants now exist. They are in charge of organising product listings and managing the online shops of their clients.

Of course, there are customer service virtual assistants. They address customer concerns via email, chat, or phone calls.

Integrating VAs in niche areas like social media management, web development, etc.

Nowadays, social media has become important, sometimes even central to conducting business.

However, not all business owners are tech-savvy in this area and may require someone else’s expertise.

This is where social media virtual assistants come in. They can help their clients establish a good online presence and connect with their audience better.

There are also web development virtual assistants, who are experts at creating, designing, and maintaining a website. Having an efficient website can streamline transactions and processes, as well as attract new leads, which will hopefully turn into customers later on.

Overcoming Common Challenges

overcoming common challenges

While hiring a virtual assistant comes with many advantages, it’s not without its challenges. Here are some and how you can work around them:

Addressing common hurdles: communication, time zone differences, trust issues

  • Communication – As with anything, good communication is key to a smooth working relationship. Thus, business owners must have clear instructions for their VAs. 

 

Teams can also have daily meetings for alignment and to check if they need to address any concerns immediately.

A language barrier can also be a primary issue when hiring an independent VA. However, this won’t be an issue if you hire VAs from the Philippines since most Filipinos are fluent in English.

 

  • Time Zone Differences – To overcome time zone differences, business owners should settle their preferred working schedule with their VA from the get-go.

 

Would they prefer their VAs to work at the same time as they do? Or would they have a more flexible schedule?

Again, clear communication should resolve any confusion on this matter.

 

  • Trust – It can be hard to trust someone who lives on an entirely different continent. Still, there are ways to make sure that the VA is performing tasks they should be doing.

 

Business owners can employ the use of a time-tracking tool that regulates the number of hours worked by the VA, for instance. Using such technology also makes time-keeping easy if you’re paying them by the hour.

Best practices for effective VA management

Here are a few best practices to employ for effective VA management:

  • Clear guidelines for communication – Apart from encouraging clear communication, business owners can also determine which communication channels to use.

 

For example, you can hold urgent conversations via instant messaging on Skype or Slack while Zoom can work for daily meetings, with Gmail or Outlook for emails.

Having guidelines can help streamline the team’s communication patterns for optimal efficiency. 

 

  • Project management – All work tasks are critical, but not all of them are urgent all at once. As such, entrepreneurs should let their VAs know which tasks to prioritize.

 

Further, project management sheets can help track a project’s current progress.

 

  • Data Security – Of course, since VAs and their bosses don’t operate under the same roof (or sometimes even on the same continent), their work computers must have robust security systems. 

 

A good antivirus should ward off most malware found on the Internet. Using public wifi, especially when accessing sensitive company data, should be prohibited too.

Future of Virtual Assistants

future of virtual assistants

What does the future hold for virtual assistants?

Predictions and trends for VA roles in business

Virtual assistants are helpful for businesses because they can handle repetitive tasks. Administrative work is still critical to a company, but a CEO’s time is a finite resource and is better used elsewhere, like growing their business.

Still, artificial intelligence (AI) looms large over many online jobs, including VAs.

Yet, this is not entirely a cause for concern. AI can help automate certain processes, which further increases the efficiency of many businesses.

However, there is still a need for humans to operate AI tools as these programs cannot function well on their own. Yet.

How VAs can become integral to business growth strategies

Virtual assistants are vital to a company’s growth because they provide tailor-fit support.

Once business owners are clear about their goals and objectives, it’d be easier for the VA to understand how they can help accomplish these.

Businesses can also scale up or down depending on their current needs with VAs.

Conclusion

Hiring a virtual assistant is beneficial for several reasons:

  • They allow entrepreneurs to focus on their core functions like making business strategies and critical decisions.
  • Virtual assistants increase a company’s productivity, especially when they are from another time zone.
  • Business owners can maximize company resources when they hire VAs.
  • VAs can extend operating hours, allowing a business to offer 24/7 customer service.
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