One of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs involves staffing and delegation. It can be hard to know when to hire full-time or put extra help in place and how to do it the right way. Small businesses and new entrepreneurs might want to consider the virtual assistant, or VA. A VA is basically an independent contractor or freelancer who performs support-staff tasks and functions, often while working from home or co-working spaces or even the neighborhood coffee shop. Working with a VA can feel awkward and confusing at first, so let’s look at seven categories of tasks that are especially suitable for delegating to this new team member.
Most new businesses have an insatiable appetite for information. Entrepreneurs need to collect data about potential clients before a sales presentation or research new developments or products in related industries. VAs are well-positioned to take care of these research-related tasks and can also help with travel arrangements by comparing hotels, preparing itineraries and suggesting restaurants along the way.
Working With Data
Maybe you went to that last networking event and picked up a huge stack of business cards, or perhaps you need to comb through tons of raw data to discern what the numbers are really telling you about your business. Metrics are ultimately only useful to the extent that they suggest next steps and ways to optimize your operations, and whether via customer support, marketing or product-related research, VAs can help translate your company’s data into plain English. And that means you can improve on the company’s current performance and hopefully contribute to a healthier financial bottom line.
There are few tasks more frustrating to a busy executive than email. Lighten your load by assigning a trusted VA to your inbox. Email management is especially apt as remote work, since there’s no need to be right there in your office. It can take some time to establish procedures and guidelines, but once you do, a VA can save you loads of time each week by forwarding requests to the appropriate department, responding to simple inquiries directly and saving really crucial messages for your personal review.
You can also take a slightly different approach with your VA by delegating remote social and personal tasks instead of business-related ones. For example, handwritten thank-you notes and holiday cards are still socially expected, but they take up a lot of time that could be spent managing your company. A VA can help you here. They can also choose and arrange for delivery of gifts and flowers.
Calendar Management and Scheduling
If you’ve ever tried to coordinate the schedules of busy professionals, you recognize the value a skilled VA can bring to the table simply by taking over calendar management. From scheduling client appointments and coordinating sales meetings with prospects to broader event planning, VAs are great at helping you keep your team organized and on time.
A VA can be a terrific resource in managing your social media presence. Look for a VA with social-media management and content-creation experience, then give them specific guidelines on your brand’s voice and tone and what kinds of content to share (and what’s forbidden). If you’re not comfortable outsourcing all of your social media to a VA, consider using them for social-media research. They can save you time by finding interesting industry news and other content you can share from your corporate accounts, as well as research new accounts and influencers to follow or engage with and keep tabs on relavent metrics.
Some VAs marry remote-assistant skills with content-creation experience. Perhaps they know the ins and outs of WordPress and can contribute to your blog. Maybe they can help design infographics or videos. Whatever content you can imagine sharing through your company’s website, a virtual assistant can help you create it. You can even outsource specific aspects of the content-creation process, such as SEO optimization or finding images. A VA can also help promote content through social media, email marketing or influencer outreach.
Whether you need help with data entry, graphic design or some other administrative task, virtual assistance may be the answer. Explore the wide variety of VA job applicants on sites like Fiverr, Upwork or LinkedIn. You can start them on a part-time basis, before determining whether they have the skillset to be your next permanent personal assistant.