A virtual assistant, an administrative professional, and or executive assistants support businesses and high-performing individuals in the maintenance and execution of their work.
Good support staff should make your life more manageable and increase productivity.
What’s a virtual assistant, and what role do they play in the growth of a small business?
A Virtual Assistant or Virtual Administrative Assistant provides clients with remote clerical support.
They handle tasks such as customer service correspondence, scheduling appointments, monitoring social media or conducting research for the company.
(MM) What’s the difference between a generalized virtual assistant and a virtual executive assistant?
(CM) Generalized VAs handle work that requires little guidance or supervision.
These assistants typically have base knowledge on various topics but not enough to offer specialized services.
A generalized VA may work on tasks such as filing, mailings or inventory.
A Virtual Executive Assistant is specialized in a specific area of service.
They are often the “right-hand women and men”, second brains and servant leaders behind top performers.
They’re the engines behind the company. They keep things running smoothly while working closely with leadership to ensure the business’s overall health.
A CEO is likelier to trust their Executive VA to speak on their behalf or lead a team than a generalized virtual assistant because GVAs lack the connection and rapport EVAs can foster.
(MM) What tasks does a virtual assistant typically perform for solo business owners vs business teams?
(CM) Great question.
A lot of it has to do with the workload.
At least at first, solo business owners will likely use a VA as an extra set of hands for anything.
Talking to customers, shipping orders, managing the calendar, sorting through stock images, writing blog posts, lead generation or scouting event locations are tasks a solo business owner may ask their VA to complete.
VAs hired to support teams will likely have a more structured position with fewer, weightier tasks like bookkeeping, managing corporate social responsibility endeavors or creating landing pages for marketing initiatives.
(MM) How do offloading routine tasks help entrepreneurs become more productive?
(CM) It gives them more time to work ON their business instead of IN the business.
They regain time to do more of what they want and love in their business instead of (only doing) what they have to do to keep it afloat.
Imagine you’re stuck on a small boat in the ocean.
All the effort to move or get to land is up to you.
You’re the only one there to row the boat.
Sure the waves will sway you one way or another, but ultimately you have to help yourself.
Now imagine if a few people suddenly appeared in the boat with you.
There are more people to share the labor!
A few can row while the other watches for land, or you can alternate duties.
If you’re always focused on rowing the boat you’ll never sit up and look for the land!
(MM) Are there any tasks that should not be outsourced to a virtual assistant?
Your secret sauce stuff, hiring decisions, executive leadership, and things that are authentic to you as the business owner or brand.
I wouldn’t outsource a VA to write my speeches if I’m known for being a great motivational speaker.
Chances are they don’t know me well enough to capture the essence of my voice like an in-house employee or executive VA might.
(MM) How does outsourcing to a VA service compare to hiring an assistant directly?
(CM) Hiring an onsite employee requires physical workspace, supplies, travel, higher compensation… the whole nine.
However, VAs create high value at a lower cost for business owners because many (not all) are outsourced internationally.
Their rates are cheaper, and they can help businesses scale quicker.
So if your budget is tight, outsourcing a generalized VA may be your best option.
I’d like to add that the success of your VA is heavily linked to the systems, training, communication and guidance you provide as their employer.
Virtual assistant rates in Africa and Asia are generally cheaper than in U.S. and European countries.
You also don’t have to worry about office space, workstations or supplies because the person you hire is remote and will utilize their tools.
Before making your decision, I recommend considering your needs and work preferences.
If you’re a leader that prefers face-to-face interaction and camaraderie, an in-person assistant that works onsite may be a better fit for you.
(MM) What should business owners look for when hiring a virtual assistant?
(CM) I think this varies depending on the VA’s skill level and what tasks you plan to assign them.
Generally, I look for competence (can you really do what you say you can do?).
If your resume says you can build a fully loaded LMS site for my new course, that’s what I expect to receive. I’d say they should be teachable, organized, relatable, resourceful, flexible, a self-starter, trustworthy and disciplined.
You should also see yourself getting along with the person(s).
I don’t have to love whoever I’m working with but I’d love to like em!
(MM) Do you have other advice for business owners considering outsourcing to a virtual assistant?
Ensure you’re clear on what you need or want your VA to do before hiring them.
Sometimes we say we need all this help, but we don’t know how to delegate it when it comes. We can’t think through what should be handed off to someone else.
And in all honesty, this should be sorted out before hiring a VA.
At the end of the day, the relationship won’t be maximized (for both parties) if you don’t know what you want.
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