With business worlds running at express fast speeds, limitations on time, resources as well as an available workforce are vividly evident. Most entrepreneurs and startups already realize the shortage of expert workforce within their region with the same unfortunately showing up as missed opportunities and reduced productivity. Most business owners realize and agree to the fact that time is money in the business world. They also realize how much time goes into the everyday mundane tasks to organizing the business stuff like email management or even scheduling a calendar. While there are always options available for physical hiring of the workforce, the same is not always cost effective for young entrepreneurs.
The past ten years or so have observed a dramatic shift from the physical world to the virtual or online world. Shopping is no more a trip to the nearby grocery store or the city mall but a finger-click on your favorite market site. Paying bills is no longer a full day activity while waiting in those endless queues but is over and done within a few minutes from the comforts of your home.
That’s exactly the way virtual assistants support the world of established business houses or even new startups. As is obvious with the name, a virtual assistant is a working employee hired over the internet to assist in multiple different aspects of business while sitting at a remote location anywhere around the globe. Contractual agreements similar to those made for regular jobs but most often with more flexible work hours and time are created and a list of responsibilities and targets are shared. Absolutely like your very own physical personal assistant, only with the benefit of having one who does not knock at your cabin door every few minutes all through the day!
So, what is a Virtual assistant?
The term “virtual assistant” got introduced somewhere in the 1990s and gained momentum as the technology world advanced. With the tremendous improvement in internet availability and speeds all over the world, various online programs for document sharing as well as the boost in skilled work-force, the limelight has slowly but surely shifted towards the virtual job market.
As the name suggests, a virtual assistant is a self-employed freelancer providing services to clients across the globe (irrespective of where they are positioned) in various professional business aspects line administrative services, email management, social media management, graphic designing, or various other technical jobs.
Being an independently working contractor, the job of a virtual assistant gives him/her the freedom to choose their working hours, their service niches and even their clients. Many virtual assistants work with multiple clients for different services as needed. The clients, on the other hand, get their target work completed within the stipulated time without giving the usual employee-office responsibilities like insurance and medical benefits. Ever thought about the amount of expenses that go into hiring a regular employee for these tasks? Well here’s the list:
- The salary
- The payroll fees and taxes
- Insurance benefits
- Health benefits
- Retirement benefits like Provident funds, gratuity etc
- Pieces of training
- Office equipment and space
- Internet facilities
The entire arrangement of hiring a virtual assistant hence saves the expenses incurred by the clients on various logistic arrangements like the provision of a workspace, internet, equipment etc.
As soon as a contractual arrangement is agreed upon between a freelance service provider as well as a client, regular work mode is started. The contracts often include the roles and responsibilities expected from the virtual assistant, the required work hours as well as payment terms. Emails, and other project management software available on the internet like Trello, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Loom etc for the common modes of communication between the client and the Virtual assistant. With the advent of the technological world, there are various other software systems available like Skype, Zapier, Dubsado etc which add efficiency to the everyday job of virtual assistants while achieving the desired organizational management skills for the clients. Most organizations, especially new startups face trouble when it comes to managing everyday business activities like scheduling online calendars, arranging meetings, researching information on the web, lead generation, content creation etc. Outsourcing these activities to a virtual assistant or a virtual assistance organization makes the job fairly simple and easy to manage for the end users.
Contracts are sometimes time bound but with the growing popularity of virtual assistants vis a vis physical assistants present in the office, more long-lasting relationships are being noticed and preferred.
While most large sector and established clients look for virtual assistants with background experience in administrative services, many new entrepreneurs, as well as young business owners, prefer going for freshers in the industry with fair skill level understanding and a modern sense of approach to the desired subject. However, most virtual assistants enter the job market with a fair working knowledge and experience that is most likely earned in the physical job market.
Various professionals coming from multiple sectors ranging from the administrative service sector, legal services sectors, financial sectors, social media experts, Information technology experts, creative sectors like graphic design etc are now finding the option of getting into the world of virtual assistance more rewarding as well as comfortable than their regular ten-hour jobs. The last few years have seen a tremendous increase in the number of virtual assistants hired worldwide with an estimate of over 25,000 numbers across the globe. The profession is particularly popular among fresh graduates as well as working women who are looking for a better family- work balance while still being able to contribute to their professional sectors.
Additionally, Virtual assistants are not just limited to individual applicants. Various companies/organizations work remotely with clients and business owners spread across the globe providing services in the desired sectors.
It is definitely safe to say that the virtual service industry is growing by leaps and bounds. The arrangement is a mutually symbiotic one with benefits for both; the clients as well as the professionals offering the services. In the world that is totally dependent on technology, virtual assistants have a vital role to play in the development, organization as well as the growth of a business. The demand is extremely high for various new business owners as well as entrepreneurs who run a big part of their business within the online world. With such scenarios, the requirement is often to get various services within the available budget without having to bring in permanent staff to the office location. Additionally, virtual assistants are extremely beneficial for small business owners needing help on specific one time tasks like setting up of a social media page, managing an event etc.
What does a Virtual Assistant do?
The question is not really easy to answer when there is such a wide range of services that come under the umbrella of a virtual assistant/virtual assistance organization. in the most simplistic terms, however, a virtual assistant is qualified and capable of delivering all the exact services that a physical assistant can do sitting in an office. Remote virtual assistance organizations or individuals are there to extend all the services that your business is ever going to need. Be it managing emails, customer management and answering phone calls, scheduling your meetings, creating powerpoint presentations, writing content for the social media, managing legal or financial aspects, or sometimes even your personal affairs, virtual assistance services are available for every business aspect.
While the word “virtual assistant” keeps doing the rounds in the business worlds, young entrepreneurs often wonder how and where a remote assistant can serve them and the services which are best suited to be outsourced. Of course, the risks of intellectual rights being hacked, ideas being stolen or information being leaked is a lingering fear amongst business owners. However, most individual virtual assistants are contractually bound and adhere to the privacy norms laid down by the client. For additional safety aspects, most clients often prefer to go with virtual assistance organizations which satisfy their privacy concerns and have secured payment systems.
While it is true that a virtual assistant can be easily suite to various administrative, creative as well as technical services within an organization, certain extremely confidential aspects of an organization are not deemed fit to be awarded as a virtual assistance service. This is perhaps the reason that a virtual assistant cannot really be considered as a replacement for an employee but an additional supporting arm that lends help on various service sectors.
Let’s take a look at some common tasks that clients across the world love outsourcing to virtual assistants.
- Organizational and Administrative Management: Most young entrepreneurs often feel extremely overwhelmed when it comes to scheduling and managing their daily work activities. It often leads to a failure in organizational management which slowly becomes visible with the declining growth curve of a company. Mundane tasks like scheduling team or client meetings, calendar management, creating daily to-do lists are the small but relevant necessities of a successful project management. Once offloaded to a virtual assistant, it gets you the free time you’ve always needed to think and work on the more critical aspects of your business. Reaching your office and having your schedule already created by someone, filling up all your office hours as efficiently as possible is a dream for every business owner. Other aspects of efficient organization management like making travel arrangements etc. which often end up consuming hours at the go can easily be outsourced to a virtual assistance organization/individual. Some established business owners also like to keep virtual assistance services for their personal life tasks like sending greeting cards, keeping health appointments, taking phone calls etc. with a virtual assistant somewhere in the world managing your schedules, you can be sure to sit back and relax and tend to things that truly need your attention.
- Content Creation: As is often said, content is the king for any growing business world that decides to go online. You do not really need to find a full-time employee to fit into the role of a content or copywriter. A virtual assistant sitting at a remote location somewhere in the world can easily do the same for you. You can offload the work of writing content, creating blogs, adding meaningful stuff to your website, writing interesting sales copies etc. Getting a constant flow of content can be the best thing to rank your website high on various search engines. Most clients like to look for content creators with a certain experience in the particular niches that the organization deals with. The work can be large enough to offer a daily workload of seven to eight working hours or small enough to need a blog or two monthly. A client can create a job requirement based on their needs and upload the same to various online employment market spaces and look for the best fitting response. Often, clients settle with content creation organizations which work as a virtual assistant and cater to the needs of providing content in multiple niches as and when needed.
- Social Media Management: With most new businesses making their starts with social media and every bit of business advertising and sales happening through the pages and posts of various social media forums, management of the same is extremely critical. While managing a social media account is not a task that cannot be self-handled, it does take up a good number of hours in a day to create and schedule appropriate posts on your social media site that attract your end users. And the task gets even more tiresome when one has to deal with multiple social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. Effectively administrating the company’s pages/sites on social media is perhaps the biggest link in the modern world to zoom up the sales and attract customers. A virtual assistant comes extremely handy in such scenarios. Multiple aspects of the work like managing the social media accounts, scheduling the posts, creating interesting and catchy content, following up with customers who are on your page, gathering and creating statistics and preparing reports etc are all a part of social media management that a virtual assistant can handle for you. Various virtual assistants also provide everyday services on remote website creation as well as management.
- Financial Management Aspects: While some aspects of finance are often left with regular office employees, there is a big variety of tasks that can be taken care of by a virtual assistant. Maintaining budgets for expenses, purchases, new orders, discounts offered, regular bookkeeping etc. are some tasks that can be easily sourced out to a virtual assistant. With all these small but time consuming daily activities being taken care of, the job of your physical accountant gets reduced or comfortable significantly. Financial management services are some of the top clients who love to explore the virtual assistant job markets owing to the quantum of work available which can be outsourced. A short but relevant physical experience in financial management job sector is almost always a requirement for such vacancies. However, some young and new business owners feel perfectly happy employing fresh graduates as their financial virtual assistants.
- Research sector: No business and no organization can thrive without putting in a fair amount of time in sector research. Researching for business, potential clients, market opinions, gathering essential market data, looking out for important events and happenings within a specified sector, identifying leads etc are some essential tasks that are required to keep a business flowing. That said, most of these tasks end up taking endless screen hours which is often too overwhelming for startup organizations. It is almost impossible for office managers to focus on changing market environment while still being able to manage their everyday targets. Hiring a virtual assistant or a virtual assistance organization for the same lets you have the best of both worlds. They cannot just provide you with the researched data but can also generate statistical reports on market trends, market share, competition etc. Not just can you get the latest market reports researched out of your office and served in a ready to use format but it also allows you to focus on other aspects like turning the research into prospective clients.
- Brand Management: Since virtual assistants are fast becoming the key point of contact between end users and business owners, they are sometimes provided pieces of training on the overall processes running within an organization, the concept, the goals, the strategies etc. With technology becoming an integral part of our lives, the availability of channels like smartphones, laptops etc has become common to every household. With the increase in the number of available channels, the end users get the option of choosing the ones that are most convenient for their usage. Considering the same, it is critical to maintaining some level of consistency in serving the end users across all channels. This role is easily filled in by virtual assistants who have complete knowledge of the customers across all channels and also provide a voice to the brand that the consumers identify with. It is hence important for the virtual assistants, whether they are working as individuals or as a service providing company to serve as an extension of the brand and create better consumer experiences.
- Email Management: Most business owners would agree to the fact that managing their inboxes efficiently is a big stress reliever and helps tremendously inefficient organizational management. With top managers getting countless emails every day, checking them out and sorting them efficiently is extremely time-consuming. There are irrelevant emails which need to be trashed, there are ones which seek immediate replies and there are ones which need to be stored separately for future information needs. Virtual assistants can prove to be extremely helpful with the task of email With a basic understanding of the organization and a brief online introduction to the client, a virtual assistant can immediately get started with the job. Their roles may vary from simply email sorting to answering queries and other general questions. While this kind of job cannot be considered or equated to a regular customer service job, having someone manage the emails makes it easier to organize the stuff and promotes efficient customer service.
- Legal Services Management: Most solo practicing lawyers or even small law firms often try to self manage all their work tasks and end up getting caught in a vicious cycle of activities, scheduling, filing etc when most of their energy and time should really be going for their actual job. However, delegating some of the stuff to a virtual assistant is a huge time and money saver for such growing firms. While Virtual assistants can manage various administrative as well as general tasks for you, hiring one who specializes in the legal sector can also provide value addition on other aspects. these include but are not limited to scheduling client callbacks, interviewing witnesses and collecting the needful case-based information from them, researching material for the case, managing inspection reports, keep a lookout for interesting events and scheduling the calendar etc. A good number of virtual assistants use or can be asked to use tracking software which helps organizations keep a track on the number of hours spent on a particular case and pay them accordingly.
- Startup Support: Every single expense counts for a startup. Hiring a virtual assistant has more advantages than one, especially when compared to a full-time physical One of the biggest help that comes to new startups is from streamlining the costs to the company. All you do is get your work done and pay a virtual assistant for the exact hours of input provided. Startups do not need to incur the unwanted expenses of providing regular salaries, office space, and other job benefits to an employee. When compared to the expenses incurred by a regular full-time employee, hiring a virtual assistant gives a cost-cutting of anywhere between 50 to 80 percent. Hiring a virtual assistant also takes away the stress of managing less technical but yet essential tasks like email management, client meetings, market research, accounting, customer management etc. This in turns increases efficiency and productivity which is a big leap for startups. Another aspect that adds to the productivity increase is the fact that most virtual assistants are hired and paid based on their performance. It is critical for them to achieve milestones within a stipulated time frame. Further, with virtual assistants available from different regions of the world, it makes it easy for a startup organization to cover a 24/7 time zone of customer management.
For those looking to start their virtual assistance profession, it is a good idea to check out some wonderful online sources on how to go about the same.
Important Qualities for a Virtual assistant
When organizations and clients finally decide to offload their work to a virtual assistant or a virtual assistance organization, they often want to look out for the best available ones in the job market. While experience in handling similar work in a physical environment is of immense value to most customers, there are various other factors that clients seek from a virtual assistant. Here’s a list of some of the most important skills that every virtual assistant must possess:
- Reliability: Remember, most clients will tolerate having a less experienced virtual assistant but none would want to work with an unreliable one. Sadly though, this is one quality that is often found missing. While it is true that professionals are there in the sector to earn money, the fact that offering a reliable service support to an organization will give you growth in multiple dimensions. It will not just create a successful image and brand name for you that your clients will identify with but will make you a sought out resource in the market. Professionalism is extremely important and staying committed to what you promised, keeping client information confidential, valuing the clients time are all important aspects of being a reliable virtual assistant.
- Excellent Communication skills: A virtual assistant not just needs to be in touch with the client but also sometimes needs to be available to the customers for various feedback and queries that they might come up with. They often work as an interface between the organization and the end user. It is hence important for the virtual assistant to have excellent communication skills. Being able to grasp and understand the client’s needs through emails, phone calls or even video conferencing and then being able to communicate effectively to the consumers is a vital quality for a virtual assistant. It might also come in handy for a virtual assistant to be aware of all the modern communication channels like emails, Skype, social media, voice messages etc.
- Ability to work around a problem: When you’re hired as a virtual assistant, your first goal is to find solutions to the problems that your clients are facing. Adding some of your own or constantly turning up with a question (especially those that you can resolve using other means like Google) is often a nuisance to the clients. After all, if this is what they wanted to spend their time on, they would not be paying you for the same. Virtual assistants are often required to look for solutions to tasks that perhaps they are not aware for but will have to search them up. Keep your skills update by taking youtube tutorials, researching on the web for available information and basically trying to keep on top of the ever-changing world of technology and business.
- Time management skills: Virtual assistant is simply not the job for those who fail at time management. The ability to multi-task and yet be able to focus on the important activities of the hour is what makes a successful virtual assistant. It is also critical to remember that as a virtual assistant, one may be working with multiple clients at the same time. Managing different activities of each and giving each their due importance is a treasured quality amongst successful virtual assistants. Of course, successful time management skills call for excellent planning abilities. A virtual assistant should always be able to plan ahead and stay on top of the present as well as forthcoming tasks for efficient management. Check out this wonderful article on time management skills for a virtual assistant.
- Working alone: it is important to be able to rely on yourself for everything that needs to be done. As a virtual assistant, you are not likely to get colleagues and co-workers to rely on or be surrounded with. This is hence not everyone’s cup of tea. A virtual assistant job is meant for those who are happy to work alone.
- Value addition: This is what most corporate clients essentially look for. While it is easy to find an employee who will finish of their required job and quietly move away, there are those very limited ones who will be willing to walk that extra mile to achieve something bigger for the organization. Investing a little more of yourself in an organization and for the benefit of your client is what separates a regular virtual assistant from a very successful virtual assistant.
- Self-confidence: There is nothing that cannot be achieved by a little dose of self-confidence. While knowledge and experience go a long way in getting the work done, self-confidence, even when you do not have the skills, is what takes you that extra step further. A customer support virtual assistant, for example, will often find themselves in tricky situations. However, a boost of self-confidence and the ability to talk to the customers even in such scenarios will give them the assurance that they need with the company and the brand.
So what are the best benefits that the clients get by hiring a virtual assistant for some or all of the roles mentioned in the previous section? Here are some of the biggest and noticeable changes that your organization will start to see as soon as you outsource work to a reliable virtual assistant.
- Better time management, availability of more free time to focus on other important aspects of a business.
- Higher productivity and efficiency
- Higher reservoirs of daily energy
- Reduced levels of stress
- Better organizational management
- Sales/Profit increase, more clients
- Improved customer satisfaction
- Improved brand advertisement
Where Can I Find a Suitable Virtual assistant?
With most of your questions answered within this article, the important one yet to be looked into remains. Where to go looking for a reliable virtual assistant? It is sometimes overwhelming for clients to post on freelance job portals and then scan through the hundreds or thousands of replies and find out the most reliable one. Feeling confident about hiring a virtual assistant is extremely crucial. The bond between a virtual assistant and a client is built upon mutual trust and looking for someone you can rely upon is not always easy. While there are multiple freelance work portals where freelancers bid for and are picked up by prospective clients, the risk of choosing the wrong one always remains. Most top-notch clients hence prefer going for professional virtual assistance agencies which have been in the business for long and have a reputation of serving clients internationally. Sometimes, clients prefer going for virtual assistance companies within their own geographic region so as to get a reliable service provider who has complete knowledge of the region and its markets.
WEBCENTURE is a leading organization with over 10 years of experience of providing virtual assistance services to various National (Indian) and International clients. They have a team of reliable and knowledgeable staff willing to provide round the clock virtual assistance services in multiple roles from administrative services, legal or financial management services, content writing, copywriting, social media management, email management, customer support etc.
WEBCENTURE offers you the best of the best. With its extremely qualified and experienced virtual assistants team based in multiple geographic regions, there is always a guarantee of the exact service provider that your organization may need.
Getting other multiple benefits is a bonus to the deal. The organization provides complete flexibility in the work hour scheduling and offers weekend work services for those who want to push it a little extra. And what’s more, you get a 24/7 online client support available. The personal online assistants along with the chat support teams are always up for an instant requirement that you may have.
Every virtual assistant contract comes with a team leader and an operation manager to personally monitor your Virtual assistants activities as well as progress.
And there is more that the company has to offer. There is always a provision for a backup virtual assistant to take care of emergency activities that prop up in your virtual assistant’s off time. Plus there is a provision of replacing your current virtual assistant just in case the services do not meet your expectations.
Check out more details on the services and benefits that WEBCENTURE has to offer as a virtual assistance organization on the following link:
How Much Does a Virtual Assistant cost?
While it is true that a virtual assistant will cost you way less than investing in a full-time employee, hiring one is still an investment and it needs to be thought over in those terms. The charge that a virtual assistant asks for on an hourly basis may depend on various factors like:
- Experience in a similar profile
- The type of service and the extent of research, creative work that is required for the same
- Whether or not it is a target oriented job
- The ability to meet deadlines and the time span of the deadlines (those working on super short deadlines might need to pay up a little extra)
- Short term/Long term association
The overall costing can vary widely with prices ranging anywhere between $1 to $ 150 per hour. However, most Virtual assistant services can be obtained somewhere in the middle of those ranges, depending on what you are looking for.
While some virtual assistants charge on a project to project basis, various other prefer to be on monthly retainer terms.
Most top-notch companies like Webcenture offer multiple plans for various virtual assistance services. Ranging from Bronze Plan to the Diamond Plan there are multiple plans spanning a different number of hours of service provided. However, Irrespective of the plans one chooses, companies like Webcenture offer all the VA facilities that you would ever need to run your business in an organized manner.
For further reference, look up the pricing page at Webcenture’s website.
Some Final Thoughts
The future of the virtual assistance industry is up and rising. A virtual assistant, as discussed within the article can be a great asset for a business, especially for entrepreneurs and new business owners. With the everyday time-consuming tasks offloaded to a virtual assistant, you can get your team to put on their thinking hats and get involved in the more technical aspects of the business. Not just is this a great way to effectively manage time but also works wonderfully well in keeping your office employees stress free, organized and focused on their actual job.
Sometimes, when the focus is a little too much on the macro level tasks, the other seemingly less important tasks get pushed to the side. Often, over the time, the pile-up of these micro activities slows down an organizations progress. Offloading the same to a virtual assistant gets you back on track. And when all that comes for a price that is significantly less than what one pays for a full-time resource, the situation is definitely a win-win one.
While finding the right match can sometimes be a little taxing, sites like WEBCENTURE do the work for you.
And with lives getting super busy, it allows business managers to get some sort of balance restored within their lives wherein they can sit back and spend some happy hours with their family and friends.
Hire a virtual assistant and let them handle your day to day activities while you stay focused on the future and steer your organizational goals in the right direction.
Don't believe us, See what our clients say about our Virtual Assistant.
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