What Is A Virtual Assistant?
A Virtual Assistant (VA) provides business support services working from a remote location using the telephone & internet. This means they work from a remote location, often a home office, using technological tools to perform their job duties and to stay in touch with clients, supervisors and other team members. Technological advancements and a greater market acceptance of remote staffing has encouraged the rapid growth of virtual assistant services over the last three decades.
While administrative support defined early virtual assistant services, the breadth, and variety of service offerings available now through VAs are vast and growing. Your company can hire a Virtual Assistant to do anything from answering customer calls, handling scheduling & appointments to performing social media marketing duties and managing PR for your company. That’s why recently Entrepreneur stated that a virtual assistant is the “fastest ticket to growth.”
Global Workplace Analytics recently revealed that more than 4 million workers perform their jobs from home. This trend has increased 140 percent in less than 15 years. From 2015 to 2016, the number of telecommuting, self-employed workers grew slightly more than 7 percent, at 7.3%. This worker demographic includes VAs. It’s a booming trend and one that forward-thinking companies are recognizing as a boon for their organizations.
While brick and mortar offices may never completely be phased out, it would be foolish not to acknowledge that working remotely is becoming more and more acceptable. In 2017, only 2% of workers in the United States worked full-time remotely. By 2027, 50% of workers in the United States will be completely remote. The virtual office of the future allows everyone to work collaboratively regardless of location, and fosters authentic communication and familiarity that is difficult to build in a typical office.
Virtual Assistants are a perfect fit in the cloud-based, virtual workplace model, because they aren’t limited by traditional geographical barriers. Working remotely is not only convenient but is also saves time & money. Overhead costs are much lower because people do not need as much physical office space anymore — but they still attend meetings virtually, and have all their processes and systems connected the same as a local team member. There is no difference between someone working in the same city or from halfway across the world. International is the new local, it does not matter where you are hiring from, what matters is the quality of work and the level of leverage you gain. Hiring globally is not only a way to keep costs down but a great way to find talent and dedication that you may not necessarily be able to find in your neighborhood or locale.
What Virtual Assistant Services Are Available?
Virtual assistants provide an incredibly diverse array of business support tasks, but the key types of virtual assistant services typically offered can be broken down into 4 key areas:
- Office Administration: Virtual Assistants handle your routine administrative tasks like CRM management, email & calendar management, basic administrative support, listing support, phone answering & reception, bookkeeping, and so much more.
- Inside Sales Agent: A Virtual Inside Sales Agent can handle prospecting calls, like warm & cold calling, lead screening & qualification, prospect & client follow-up & nurturing — these inside sales virtual assistants create opportunities & improve customer service.
- Marketing: Virtual Assistants can tackle your online marketing, social media, collateral development, video editing & production, graphic design & layout, and much more — professionally delivered by your virtual assistant to make your brand stand out.
- Customer Support: Virtual Assistants are common utilized to take help desk calls, manage trouble-tickets, followup on issue resolution, and more. They provide a cost-effective alternative to in-house call-center staff for providing customer care, education & training, and retention tasks.
Again, the categories above are typically how virtual assistant services are marketed, but most virtual assistants handle a variety of tasks specific to each business that may fall outside these categories.
As Real Estate Broker & long-time VA advocate Aaron Armstrong recently stated, “What can a virtual assistant do for you? It’s a questions I get from people all the time. Well, the honest answer is they can do anything that doesn’t physically require them to be in your office. Yes, ANYTHING!”
Why You Should Use Virtual Assistant Services
Relying on virtual assistants can help your company financially while boosting productivity. There are several advantages to contracting with a virtual assistant services provider over hiring a traditional assistant. Some well-known benefits include:
- Lowered employment costs: You aren’t required to pay employment taxes for a non-employee virtual assistant, nor are you responsible for workers’ compensation insurance, unemployment, sick leave or vacation time. Plus, recruiting, onboarding and training are minimal — if even necessary at all.
- Flexibility: A Virtual Assistant can work during whatever schedule you set. For example, if you need a Real Estate ISA to cover your phones on weekends or during off-hours (in the evening or early morning), you can set their schedule as such.
- Minimal overhead / reduced equipment expenses: You don’t need to provide office space, desks, computers or mobile devices for your VAs. They work from their own remote offices and supply most of their own equipment. You retain the option of providing them with specific software you may require for the performance of their job duties.
- Bigger talent pool: By tapping into a wider geographic area and giving workers more flexibility and work arrangement options, you increase your access to varied talent.
- Enhanced productivity: Most business professionals can benefit from virtual assistant services, no matter the size of their organization. A solopreneur juggles a lot of balls and is typically overextended. A virtual assistant can pick up the slack, allowing the entrepreneur to focus on essential duties. Small companies who retain the services of a VA can benefit in many of the ways that entrepreneurs do, and they can also lower their employment costs and business expenses while increasing productivity. Mid-size to larger organizations will reap all these benefits and more with the strategic use of skilled, experienced VAs who can tackle value-added job duties.
- Maximizing the value of your time: Successful businesses and entrepreneurs know the value of being economic with the use of their time. Low-level tasks like email management and customer support can clutter up your schedule, restricting the amount of time you can spend on the more profitable tasks of your business, like dealing with leads and strategizing for future growth. Virtual assistant services enable you to free your schedule of non-revenue generating tasks and expand your business without blowing up your budget.
- Affordable Business Growth: Business growth requires investment. By hiring a virtual assistant you expand your operations without drastically increasing your wage bill and the amount of investment needed to grow your business. A VA is not only substantially more affordable than hiring in-house, the continual management and training costs are also far less.
- Freedom from Administrative Busy-Work: Responding to emails, managing meeting times and appointments, and data entry are all necessary daily administrative tasks, but they can easily eat into your schedule. A virtual assistant can ensure these tasks are completed on time, enabling you to focus on the more productive aspects of your business. While it’s important to provide clear instruction on what you want your virtual professional to achieve, having these recurring admin tasks taken off your plate will help you focus your time on growing your business.
- Gain valuable customer feedback and market data: Knowing the needs of your customers and potential clients is crucial to sustaining the growth of your business While monitoring the industry you operate in, keeping informed on what your competitors are up to, and collating customer feedback are all important to help grow your business, they also require an investment of time and energy. A virtual assistant can collate all of this data for you, providing a valuable resource for your business. Having up to date access to this important data could prove a game changer for the growth of your business.
- Maintain Your Online Presence: In the age of social media, businesses are expected to have a strong online presence. However, while the benefits of maintaining the presence of your business across social media and consistently producing content are well known, the work involved can stretch your budget and consume time that should be spent on the more profitable tasks of your business. A virtual assistant can help you manage your online presence, responding to customers and prospects on social media and producing and repurposing content so you can keep your social media posts fresh and engaging.
- Avoid Burnout: Every professional can suffer from burnout during their career. Hiring a virtual assistant to assist in managing elements of your workload can help relieve the stress that a hectic work schedule can cause. Having someone there to help organize your schedule and deal with tasks frees up your work schedule to focus on more productive aspects of your business and also helps to avoid your work leaking into your personal life. Virtual assistant services can help you maintain a work-life balance that is crucial to optimizing your productivity and general well-being.
I hope this article has been a helpful introduction to virtual assistant services — this is an area that’s truly on the forefront of 21st century business because it promises to provide cost-effectiveness, rapidly scalability, and overall flexibility to a variety of enterprise types, ranging from small business up to massive corporations.
To learn more, visit us online at https://www.myoutdesk.com and make sure to schedule a Double My Business Strategy Session with our business scalability experts while you’re there!
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