What is a Virtual Assistant and How Can One Help Me?

Our Virtual Assistant services help small business owners with the mundane administrative tasks they would rather not do.  This leaves them to concentrate on the ‘big’ jobs and what they do best. 

Employing someone full-time to do the everyday legwork for your business can be challenging financially.

That’s where our Virtual Assistant services come in handy. Here we take a look at what a VA is, why they could benefit your business and what sort of help they provide.

What is a Virtual Assistant?

Virtual Assistants are freelancers or established businesses that provide support services, particularly for small enterprises that can’t afford to take on someone full-time.

They offer a range of hiring solutions which make them a highly flexible option. You may choose to pay for individual jobs such as audio transcription. Another option would be to hire your VA for 20 or 30 hours a month for a set fee.

Virtual Assistants operate remotely so your business doesn’t have the cost of finding desk space. You can stay in touch through phone, messaging or even video conferencing.

What are the Benefits of Hiring a Virtual Assistant?

·       It costs less: The big benefit of using Virtual Assistant services rather than employing an administrative assistant full-time is that you can pick and choose when you use them. You may just need a VA for a couple of hours a week or to complete a specific task such as updating an Excel spreadsheet. You simply pay the set rate for that work.

·       It’s convenient: Using a VA gives your business a lot of flexibility. For a start, you are not tied to workplace issues such as paying tax and national insurance or constrained by employment law. How much work your VA undertakes can vary depending on circumstances.

·       You have more time: Rather than spending your time doing tedious tasks such as typing notes, transcribing an interview or filling in a spreadsheet, you can pass this over to your VA and get on with more important things.

·       You’re not limited: You don’t have to find someone locally. Because Virtual Assistant services operate online, they can provide their services from anywhere in the world. That gives you a much bigger talent pool to choose from.

What Services do Virtual Assistants Offer?

Virtual Assistant services vary depending on their qualifications and experience. You can find assistants that specialise in audio transcription for hearings, presentations and interviews.

Others offer Excel expertise and can create amazing documents for your business that you wouldn’t otherwise have time to do yourself. Some offer marketing and social media expertise in addition to basic administration work.

  • Business documentation: This can include typing up handwritten minutes for a meeting, formatting and editing a business plan, creating accurate transcripts and creating sales letters or handling emails for you.
  • Excel spreadsheets: Let’s face it, spreadsheets are a mystery to most people. To someone who knows what they are doing, however, they are a powerful business tool.  Our Virtual Assistant services can help create, for example, templates for tracking your expenses or giving an overview of your operating budget. They can also input data so you don’t have to find the time in your busy schedule.
  • Formatting eBooks: It’s not just budding authors that are interested in eBooks. Businesses can make extra money or provide guides for their customers that have marketing value. A Virtual Assistant can help you edit the book, format it for publication on sites like Amazon.
  • Social media: Marketing is one area that can take up a lot of time when you are a small business. Virtual Assistants also sometimes offer social media management, creating posts and ensuring they are automatically published according to schedule.
  • Audio transcription: Whether it’s an academic speech or lecture that you need to transcribe or you’ve been working with a focus group, getting it all down in a word document takes time. VAs have excellent typing skills and the use of transcribing software to deliver accurate documents.
  • Blog management: Blogs are a great way to increase the visibility of your business. But do you have time to write regularly? Again, this is something that a good Virtual Assistant can certainly help you with, especially if they have marketing experience.

Other Virtual Assistants provide calendar management, booking appointments, email monitoring and contact management services. Some even provide receptionist duties through virtual phone networks – unfortunately we do not offer these services.

Where can I find Virtual Assistants?

Virtual Assistants are everywhere. Some operate on freelancing sites such as People Per Hour, usually as sole traders, others group together and form their own business online with a company website and name. You can find VAs locally and practically anywhere around the globe. 

The first thing you need to do before searching for a Virtual Assistant is to list the sort of tasks you want them to complete. If you have a range of requirements, you may want to hire more than one VA – perhaps one that specialises in transcribing and another that has marketing experience, for example. 

How to Pick a Virtual Assistant That Works for Your Business

Virtual Assistants are ten a penny online. Your first job is going to be to sift through the websites and platforms to find the person or organisation that exactly meets your needs.

One of the first things you need to look at is the charges.  While a fee of £25 per hour doesn’t always mean you’re getting excellence, a low fee should get alarm bells ringing. It either means the VA is inexperienced or they have some dubious software that turns a two-hour job into a 15 minute one, usually with disastrous results.  

  • If they have a website or profile, look at how well it is written and formatted. It can tell you a lot about their capabilities. 
  • Check also if they provide an address, phone number and email contact. It’s usually a sign that they are reputable.  
  • Finally, take a look at the reviews to see what customers are saying about them. 

Should You Ask a VA for a Free Sample?

Businesses often contact freelancers and Virtual Assistants asking for a free article or transcript to test if they fit their requirements. Most good VAs will have more than enough work to be getting on with and won’t offer a freebie even if you ask nicely.

If you want to test a service, order something small that isn’t going to cost you too much. That could be something as quick as a one-page transcript or a little bit of data input. It will give you a clear idea whether this is someone you can do business with, whether they deliver on time and if they are worth the money. 

Building a Relationship with a Virtual Assistant

Once you find the right Virtual Assistant, make it a priority to keep them. The good ones are worth their weight in gold and can make a huge difference to your business.

Be responsive, for example, if they have a query about the work you have given them. Be aware also that you are not the only client they are servicing. And always give good feedback where it is deserved. 

How Help on Tap Can Help

Help on Tap has been providing Virtual Assistant services to a wide range of businesses since 2008. We specialise in areas such as academic and business transcription, eBook formatting for authors and all aspects of Excel spreadsheets.

If you are looking for a Virtual Assistant with a proven track record and competitive pricing, contact the team at Help on Tap today.

We have provided Virtual Assistant services for numerous businesses both in this country and abroad.