Virtually Indispensable: What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?

2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic saw remote work go from a niche practice that only a few industries took advantage of to an essential strategy for the modern business world. It used to be that business leaders were hesitant to rely on workers who weren’t operating on-site, but now many recognize the value in having people who can support a business without taking up office space. One of the best examples of this is a virtual assistant.

A virtual assistant is someone who provides support services from a remote location, performing a variety of services for a business, entrepreneur, or executive. They can work either independently or as part of a larger agency. Virtual assistants can tackle a wide range of administrative tasks, from handling personal communications and travel arrangements to managing digital marketing and business development. However, this versatility can be hard for some to understand just what they’re getting from hiring a VA.

So what DOES a virtual assistant do? Read on and find out!

Administrative Work

People often assume that a virtual assistant is just an administrative assistant who works remotely. This is an oversimplification, but it’s an easy mistake to make, as many VAs will do administrative work as a part of their regular tasks. This includes answering phone calls, filling out online forms, and general file management. They can also help business leaders organize their calendars, schedule appointments, and book travel arrangements. These are tasks that can take up hours upon hours every week, so having an assistant in place to take care of them allows entrepreneurs and CEOs to focus on more pressing tasks.

Email & Contact Management

Business leaders are often bombarded with dozens (if not hundreds) of emails every day, not to mention a wave of social media messages, friend requests, and other communications. This can result in countless hours wading through spam emails and deleting lackluster leads to find the handful of messages that are worth reading. A good virtual assistant can save entrepreneurs hours of time by screening emails, managing contact lists, and updating CRM systems.

Digital Marketing

Marketing plays an important role for every business, even smaller operations that don’t have a dedicated marketing team. In situations like this, an entrepreneur could end up sinking endless hours in developing marketing content and managing social media accounts. Yet as valuable as these tasks are for building brand awareness and customer engagement, they often aren’t the best use of a leader’s time. Instead, a VA is better suited to handling many of these digital marketing tasks,

whether it be scheduling posts and responding to followers or analyzing statistics and improving SEO.

Customer Service

With few exceptions, most business owners aren’t directly interacting with their customers. Additionally, most companies already conduct the majority of their customer service interactions either online or over the phone. This means that virtual assistants are well-suited to take on customer service roles, as there’s a need for a customer service executive to be in-house. Plus, most customer service interactions are focused on addressing fairly common concerns, most of which can be answered from a manual, so this isn’t a role that requires a high level of expertise.

Business Development

Business development is a core part of any company’s growth strategy, but it is also time-consuming, consisting of many hours of research. Most small business owners don’t have that kind of time, and it can be overwhelming for existing employees who already have their own regular responsibilities to take care of. As such, hiring a virtual assistant to handle this aspect of the business can be very helpful, if not essential, for gaining the kind of industry insights needed to make meaningful improvements. A virtual assistant can analyze the competition and research consumer trends, and since they have no other duties, they can stay focused on making sure that their data is up to date.

Financial Management

Though a virtual assistant generally can’t serve as an accountant or do an entrepreneur’s taxes for them, they can take on many other financial tasks, such as maintaining a budget, making business purchases, and keeping track of expenses. They can also deal with certain financial matters related to clients, such as chasing down late payments or sending invoices. If you need more in-depth money management, it might be best to hire a designated financial assistant. But if you simply need some to handle some of the more tedious day-to-day work, a virtual assistant can fill this role well. 

What Can a Virtual Assistant Do For You?

These are just a few of the many tasks that a virtual assistant can do to lighten the load for entrepreneurs. While it can be difficult for some to put their faith in a worker who isn’t a regular employee, the convenience offered by a virtual assistant is hard to deny. Not only can they take on a variety of different jobs, but they also allow give business leaders more time to focus on the work that matters most to them, while also allowing them to make better use of their regular employees. So with remote and hybrid work becoming the norm, now is the time to consider hiring your first virtual assistant!

Mark Buckner
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Mark Buckner is a freelance writer and editor from Hammond, Indiana. A recent graduate of Purdue University Northwest, he has edited two books and written on topics ranging from social media to science fiction film. At this time, he is open to other freelance writing and editing opportunities.

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