As an entrepreneur, time is your most valuable resource. Anything that wastes your time is holding you back from your business.
Lucky for you, it's never been easier to unload some of your more time-consuming tasks and projects. Today, you can hire a virtual assistant who specializes in any kind of task, anywhere in the world. That means you spend less time on administrative things and more time on building your company.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant is just what it sounds like – someone you connect with online who handles all kinds of administrative tasks, just like a regular assistant or secretary.
Some virtual assistants are generalists while others specialize in certain types of work, like creative or technical. And some virtual assistants are real people, while others are computers.
There are tons of places where you can find virtual assistants online:
Virtual assistants can take care of almost anything you can throw at them, but here are the top 10 tasks they can handle for you:
Answering the phone can be surprisingly time intensive. When some calls are wrong numbers, telemarketers, or just don't need your touch, those minutes can really add up. That means time that could've been spent on more important things gets wasted.
Luckily, this is the perfect job for a virtual assistant. You can hire someone to field all of your calls, decide who needs to talk to you, and take care of those who don't. If you're super busy, a virtual assistant can enforce an emergency-only phone call policy.
Think of all the time you spend sending emails back and forth, trying to agree on a time and date to meet with someone. Wouldn't it be nice to not have to worry about scheduling meetings, appointments, and calls? Good news – a virtual assistant can do it for you.
Scheduling and calendar management can be handled by a human or by some software options. One software choice – Julie Desk – has bridged the gap between human and computer. 'Julie' uses artificial intelligence to manage your schedule, but is always overseen by real humans. To your partners, clients, or anyone else, Julie seems just like a real person.
Just like answering phone calls, email can be a huge vacuum for your time. Whether you get a hundred emails every day, primarily unimportant messages, or just hate being interrupted every time a new email comes in, a virtual assistant can be a big help.
Having someone to sort, filter, and manage your inbox is a huge time saver. A virtual assistant can patch super important emails on to you and respond to those that don't need your touch. She can also plod through the endless spam folder, saving you hours a week.
4. Database Maintenance
No matter what industry you're in, spreadsheets and databases are likely a big part of how you analyze and keep track of information. Anything from centralizing contact information from business cards to tracking customers and their value can be done by a virtual assistant.
Let's face it, data entry and database maintenance are about as time consuming as it gets, but it's important that information is organized and available to you. Having someone else to handle them will free up a ton of time for you to actually use that data.
For most entrepreneurs, accounting and keeping the books are probably not your favorite part of owning your own business, and they're not the most glamorous. But, having accurate and up to date financial information is a vital part of running a functioning business.
That's where a virtual assistant comes in. If you use a simple software like QuickBooks or Wave, any general virtual assistant can handle data entry, invoicing, and reporting. Without small business software like that, you can look for a virtual assistant who specializes in accounting and bookkeeping.
6. Answer Support Tickets
As an entrepreneur, you're the sales guy, the operations guy, and the customer service guy, just to name a few. To lighten the load a little, you can have a virtual assistant handle some aspects customer service and support. Anything that doesn't absolutely need you can be taken care of by a virtual assistant.
Whether you have a help desk software system or not, having someone else to answer queries and handle support tickets can open up a huge amount of time for you. Customer support is nothing you want to skimp on so having someone a little less busy than you is important.
7. Client Follow Up
Whether it's thanking a customer for their patronage, garnering client feedback, or keeping in touch with your network, a virtual assistant can handle it. It's important to nurture client and customer relationships, but it can be time intensive to do so.
A virtual assistant can create email templates, send or schedule the actual messages, and keep track of responses while you work on other things. Right after the purchase decision is when a one-time customer becomes a lifetime client, so investing in this experience is key.
8. General Research
If you're thinking of expanding to another country or region, you have to do research. If you're competing against other firms, you have to do research. Bottom line? Research is a huge part of just about any business decision you make. It's a process that requires some time.
For the more general research, a virtual assistant is perfect. You provide the topic or objective and she reports back with tons of useful information. After doing general research, a virtual assistant can recommend what areas you should delve into more deeply, saving you lots of time.
9. HR & Recruiting
Just because you're ready to start hiring employees doesn't mean you have to start with a human resources wiz. Whether it's posting and managing job listings, doing background research on candidates, or finding a killer freelancer, recruiting is a time intensive process.
Thankfully, a virtual assistant is the perfect person to handle most aspects of the candidate search and hiring process. All you have to do is decide what you're looking for and which candidate embodies it.
10. Website Maintenance
Most small business owners are not master of website building. The technical know-how it takes to build a website from the ground up is extensive. That's why you can hire a virtual assistant who specializes in web building. She'll have the skills needed to build you a super website.
You can also use website building platforms like WordPress or Squarespace. They make building a website much easier, but it still takes some time. A general virtual assistant can manage that process from the beginning to making updates and changes.
Get Back Your Time
Imagine everything you could get done if you didn't have to worry about all those tasks. Whether your needs are small or large, a virtual assistant is a great go-to when you need to get some administrative stuff off your plate. That way you can focus on the big things – building and growing your business.
What tasks could you delegate to an assistant? Which ones will you keep for yourself?