Being an entrepreneur in 2021 is a feat that many people are still trying to wrap their heads around. Our physical workspaces have merged with cyberspace, and running a business requires an understanding of the perks of functioning online. In the past, business owners’ concerns related more to storefronts, while today an entrepreneur questions, “What are the best alternatives to Grasshopper for my business?”
When starting a business, ensuring its smooth running might be comparatively easy. You might not need an office full of employees, then, but as your company expands, the need for more hands-on-deck becomes greater.
Hiring a virtual assistant allows you to balance the needs of your growing business, yet comply with the constraints COVID-19 has placed on physical work. This article will explain what a virtual assistant is and how hiring one can contribute to your business.
What Is a Virtual Assistant?
Virtual assistants are people who complete tasks and services for, or on behalf of, entrepreneurs or companies. They assist remotely, performing their duties virtually. Despite this, virtual assistants behave like other employees in your business and can become inextricably linked to the effective productivity of your company.
This is because, while some virtual assistants only do basic tasks — like answering your office telephone system –many are experts in their field who can offer the best talent and service available.
What Can Virtual Assistants Do?
There is an extensive range of tasks that you can request from virtual assistants, including:
- Social media coordination and digital marketing
- Arranging your calendar (i.e.: bookings, events, emails)
- Preparing presentations, reports, and other documents
- Organizing events
- Financial services like accounting, bookkeeping, etc
- Office administration
- Arranging travel
- Customer and sales support
- Data organization (i.e, using these cloud computing companies)
The services your virtual assistant can offer depend on their skill set and capabilities, thus, this list is simply a summary of the tasks most entrepreneurs hire virtual assistants for.
But, of course, you could simply hire ‘normal’ workers to complete these tasks. Why hire a virtual assistant?
10 Reasons to Hire a Virtual Assistant to Boost Business Productivity
Consider the saying “time is money.” Business efficiency involves balancing a range of factors and at the center of them all are time management and cost. Let’s consider time first.
If you’re a small or growing business without specialized departments, it can be hard to stay on top of all the things that need to get done. For example, your company may need to research an IVR phone system as a viable option to consider when setting up a virtual customer support process.
Hiring a virtual assistant with expertise in communication technology to conduct this research saves time, and allows your permanent workers to focus on other tasks. It also ensures the work is completed faster, by somebody who understands what they are doing.
2. Resource delegation
Linked to the characteristic of VAs as time-saving is the ability that hiring one provides you for resource delegation. For example, the process of hiring a VA is simpler than traditional HR systems, allowing you to reallocate the human and other kinds of resources to more urgent tasks. This essentially reduces employees’ workloads, permitting them to focus on tasks and avoid project delays.
3. Increased productivity
The consequence of this efficient use of time and resource delegation is a boost in your business’ productivity. With your hired VAs and permanent staff all able to give their best to fewer tasks, they can ensure quality output.
Further, with work spread, your business can get more done, more quickly!
Having the option to prioritize projects and delegate smartly permits entrepreneurs to consider growing bigger. But…getting bigger requires a larger workforce to match. By hiring virtual assistants, you can meet this requirement of increasing your scale, with much less risk.
Virtual assistants can help entrepreneurs and businesses cut costs in a number of ways.
- Cost of Production — Resource delegation is also an important element of the cost-saving benefits of hiring a virtual assistant. Increasing productivity with minimal input (i.e., hiring an individual vs. an entire department) impacts your operating expenses. You can reach your business goals without breaking the bank.
- Payment Costs — A virtual assistant is essentially an independent contractor, which means you pay them as you would a freelancer. Thus, you can pay them an hourly rate or a rate per project, versus paying a full-time employee every month. You also do not need to consider additional work package costs that may apply to a full-time employee like insurance or medical aid offerings.
- Hiring and Training Costs — Conducting interviews and training for new employees costs money. Most virtual assistants have a specialty in their field which means you don’t have to provide training. And if they do not have the training, the tasks they complete usually allow for brief explanations that can be conducted digitally, for instance via a VoIP phone. So no spending necessary!
One of the difficulties that have faced businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic is the move from physical to remote work environments. This has required entrepreneurs to revise their approach to hiring, prioritizing digital skills and the ability to work remotely.
This is precisely the role of virtual assistants, and the fantastic thing is that even if there is a mass movement back into offices in post-COVID, VAs aren’t permanent fixtures in your company. Their positions can adjust with your company’s needs.
7. Expert and specialized services
The virtual nature of VAs means there is no limit to who you can hire. You can bring in individuals who are fantastic and extremely talented at what they do, and from anywhere in the world. This gives you access to the best service at low costs. It also guarantees exceptional quality.
8. Constant availability and flexibility
The global access of VAs means you can hire assistants in different time zones, if that’s a characteristic of your business’ work. They can switch shifts and communicate digitally to update one another on progress during shift changes.
9. Improved customer service
Using the above possibility, your business can offer 24-hour customer service. Keeping customers satisfied is a vital part of running a successful business, and accessible customer service assures this satisfaction.
Use a virtual number service that connects to multiple devices for customer calls to reach your assistants across the world.
While you can use chatbots controlled by artificial intelligence for support, virtual assistants can also provide live responses to customer questions online.
10. Go digital!
Cyberspace and digital technology can be difficult territory for businesses. Employees may be uncomfortable navigating new gadgets and devices, and providing adequate and consistent training with every new software update or gadget upgrade is unrealistic! Virtual assistants give companies space to transition comfortably into the digital age.
With technologies like AI changing the modern workplace, understanding and adapting to these changes become vital for enterprise survival. Virtual assistants can bridge the technological gap and cement your brand’s name in the online sphere.
Tips to Consider When You Hire a Virtual Assistant
- Budget — Find out the different payment options your contractor offers. Check back with your own budget and negotiate if necessary. Of course, you want to go for the best quality but you also do not want to hire somebody your company cannot afford!
- Schedule — Negotiate a deadline for tasks and project milestones, as well as a corresponding payment plan.
- Skills — Consider the range of skills you’re looking for and be specific about them when posting the job. You want to attract the right people. It’s also great foresight to include skills you might need in the future that match your current vacancy. For example, maybe you’re hiring a copywriter but may need a social media writer soon. Perhaps you could hire the same person and save time and resources searching for a whole new VA.
- Hiring process — As you will not be training the candidate, it may be a good idea to set up an interactive interviewing process. Test the skills they will need for the job to see if they will be able to complete necessary tasks.
- Communication — Dealing with a virtual assistant is worlds away from engaging with full-time employees. You need to have communication channels and procedures in place for delivery of work, payment issues, briefing, check-ins, and more.
Use video calls, messaging, etc. to stay in touch with your assistant. This assures them of your support and allows you to monitor task progress.
Virtual assistants can completely shift the functioning of your business…for the better! And with technologies like unattended remote control, integrating VAs into your company cannot be any easier. So, hire your first virtual assistant today, and certainly, your business will never look back.
This article is contributed to actitime.com by Victorio Duran III, the Associate SEO Director at RingCentral, a global leader in cloud-based communications and collaboration solutions.