Tuesday, 2 July 2013

So... what EXACTLY is a Virtual Assistant?

If I had a pound for every time I have been asked that question... I'd probably have about £20! It is a common one though, especially when I attend networking events.

This blog is going to attempt to succinctly answer that question and, hopefully, will have lots and lots of views from people who may have heard the phrase but do not know, as yet, how a VA can help their business.

To put it simply a Virtual Assistant (or VA) is a person who  provides support for your business virtually. The range of services a Virtual Assistant will offer varies from VA to VA. Some offer just secretarial or admin support. Others, like me, offer a range of services... marketing support, PR management, social media support, sales support and admin support to name just a few. The services offered depends on each individual Virtual Assistants experience. 

So why would I need a VA? Couldn't I just employ someone?

Of course you could employ a new member of staff to take on any of the areas you need support in. But employing someone costs you money, where a Virtual Assistant can actually save you money 

Essentially using a VA can save all those HR headaches and costs which come with hiring an employee. When you contract a Virtual Assistant you don't have to pay any tax or NI costs as the VA covers those, and you don't have to think about finding them a desk or a parking space - or a computer either.

You also don't have to pay recruitment costs and you only pay for what you use! How many productivity hours might be lost on an employee on tea breaks, lunch hours, chats round the coffee machine, toilet breaks, personal calls etc?

So what could they do for me?

Well, that's the beauty of a Virtual Assistant. It depends entirely on you and your business needs.

Project Support? Perhaps you have a huge project coming up and need an extra pair of hands just to support you during that short period of time. Step forward a VA. They're a safe pair of hands with all the industry experience you need in the areas they specialise in, and they can help to take the pressure off you during that stressful period.

Drowning in paperwork?  Is it preventing you from actually getting out there and growing your own business (this is actually the case for a very new client of mine) but you can't afford a member of staff?A Virtual Assistant is well placed to take the workload off you for a few hours a week, giving you back the time to focus on your business

And they do it virtually? How does that work then?

A Virtual Assistant is 99% virtual. A good VA will come and meet you to understand your needs and devise a solution to your problem. Then they will take that workload, in whatever form it may be, and work on it as an employee for you - but from their own desk.

File sharing - Most Virtual Assistants use online storage facilities to file share such as DropBox or GoogleDrive.
Keep in contact - Good VAs keep in regular contact with clients using programmes such as Skype and GoogleVoice.
Hour tracking - VAs document their hours using online software such as My Hours (my fave) or Paymo so you are always aware how much work they are doing and, importantly, how much you're paying for. This offers complete transparency for the clients' comfort and reassurance.

In a nutshell, a VA is a safe, experienced pair of hands you can turn to when your business needs support. And they can help your business grown whilst they save you money. Can't be bad, eh?!

For the huge list of all the ways you can save money by using a VA click here and, if you think a VA can help your business you can contact us HERE.