A virtual assistant is a must for any successful business. It doesn’t matter if you are a seasoned business owner with years of experience under your belt or a budding entrepreneur who is just starting out in the big scary world of starting your own business. You cannot do it all yourself. If you want to get your business off on the right foot or take your business to the next level, you need to focus your attention on the tasks that will get it accomplished. Everything else – all the daily distractions that are inevitable in running a business – are merely distractions.
It may seem counterintuitive to spend money before you are really making much, but hiring a virtual assistant to take care of all of the distractions for you is often the only way new businesses owners succeed. Those who jump in with both feet and are serious about success are the ones who take off.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
If you a business owner and aren’t familiar with the term “virtual assistant,” it is time to learn! A virtual assistant is a personal assistant who works remotely for either a dedicated client or oftentimes several clients. Virtual assistants handle all sorts of tasks from administrative to highly specialized. These assistants take on tasks so that business owners can dedicate their time to growing and marketing their business. By hiring a virtual assistant, you can shave hours off of your day.
Knowing what to delegate to a virtual assistant may be a bit tricky especially if you are just starting out. While the options are really are endless, there may be some tasks that will be more beneficial to your company to delegate. If you are curious about some of the most popular tasks to outsource to a virtual assistant, here are my favorite ten. These tasks are essential, but they don’t have to be completed by you as the business owner. In fact, in most cases, they should not be handled by you!
Manage your Calendar
In order to keep your business running smoothly and creating a profit, you need to have an organized calendar so you know which appointments and meetings to attend. Managing a calendar is a task that can easily be delegated to a virtual assistant. Simply set up one of many shared calendar services (many such as Google Calendar are free). Give a virtual assistant access and allow he or she to handle setting up appointments for you. You can sync your smart phone to your calendar so that as the assistant adds to your calendar, you get notified.
Email is one of the worst distractions for business owners. Without even realizing it, you can be sucked into emails for hours and hours. Let a virtual assistant guard you from that drain of valuable time. An assistant can screen out anything unimportant and reply to those common requests. He or she can also filter, archive and flag messages so that when you do check your email, you aren’t distracted. To make things even better, you can use a tool like SmartMail to personalize your emails and hire an assistant who already knows the ropes.
Invoicing is important. Without it, oftentimes you won’t get paid. But invoicing can be a tedious task that business owners often put off and sometimes forget about altogether. Getting paid is essential to staying in business, so let a virtual assistant handle it for you. An assistant can easily build a template and manage all your business invoicing – both sent and received.
Social media presence is critical in today’s online world. Everyone from the very young to the very old have some sort of social media following. You don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to get their attention using this powerful media. But social media is another one of those time sucking activities that can steal you away from your most important business tasks. Once you determine how you want to handle your social media, delegate this task to a virtual assistant. Many virtual assistants specialize in social media and will be able to help you come up with the best strategy for your business.
As a business owner, you’ll need lots of content. From blog posts to newsletters and sales pages, the written word is everywhere. And not only do you need content, you need GOOD content. That content is what will draw potential customers in and convince them to pull out their wallets. Even if you love to write, you must be a skilled copy writer to turn heads. There are many skilled virtual assistants who are able to use their experience and onboarding to write powerful copy specific to your target market.
Searching the world wide web for information may seem simple enough, but most of the time it is more complicated than it sounds. It can turn into a project that takes hours and hours if you aren’t careful. Let a virtual assistant do your research for you. If you need research completed for a presentation, a meeting or a new idea you have, outsource it to a virtual assistant. Once all of the research is compiled and organized, you can briefly go through it and pull out exactly what you need without wasting hours of your time.
Depending on your business, you may travel a lot. Even if not for your business, travel may be a big part of your lifestyle. But once you have a virtual assistant, the planning and booking part of travel can be outsourced. You can free up all of that time previously spent searching for the best deals and struggling with detailed planning. If an assistant is managing your calendar, he or she can simply book your travel arrangements and add and link all of the necessary information directly to your calendar.
Managing projects and deadlines can be a daunting task when you are busy. You still want to make sure you hit all of your milestones and deliverables, but you don’t want to waste your time tracking everything. Project management is a perfect task for a virtual assistant. There are many online platforms such as Asana that can be set up and managed so that you can stay on top of status updates without having to do all of the hands on work. Have a virtual assistant set up an account and keep it updated. He or she can send out reminders and check in with responsible parties for you. The best part is that most platforms will sync directly to your calendar and phone so you always know how everything is progressing.
Two sets of eyes are always better than one set. No matter how intimately familiar you are with the content, you may skip right over errors or typos. Allow a virtual assistant to read over and proof read all types of documents from eBooks to contracts. It won’t take up a lot of time, and you’ll likely save a lot of heartache and potential embarrassment down the line. After all, you don’t want to show up to a big presentation with a big typo or misspelling!
There are many highly skilled virtual assistants for hire. Once you have hired one who is familiar with your business, don’t be timid about asking for help with creative work. He or she might just come up with an angle you hadn’t considered or even do a better job than you might have. An assistant may also be a good sounding board for new ideas. They may have experience you lack. They may have better ideas or varying approaches that would work better. Obviously you don’t want a virtual assistant to have the final say in everything, but there is no reason an assistant can’t help come up with ideas or do some of the leg work for you. You may be pleasantly surprised with the results.
If you are ready to free up more of your time to focus on more important tasks, perhaps it is the time to consider hiring a virtual assistant. You can hire an assistant with almost any skill set and experience level you could dream up. The options are endless. When it comes to the administrative and tedious daily tasks, there is a good chance that a virtual assistant can get it done quicker and more efficiently than you could yourself. Without having to worry about everything that is required to make your business thrive, you will be able to focus your energies on strategic growth and scaling your business.
The most popular piece of advice most business owners could give to new entrepreneurs is to hire help. Delegation is essential for growth. The sooner you get started, the better. The businesses who learn this later are often miles behind where they could have been if they had hired help for the beginning.
If there are three words I can leave you with today to summarize how valuable a virtual assistant is, they would be: Delegate, delegate, delegate.
If you are a business owner, what tasks do you or would you delegate to a virtual assistant? Leave a comment below!
Melissa Ricker is a nuclear engineer and a professional freelance writer specializing in career growth, technical writing and online entrepreneurship. She writes a blog, Engineered Motherhood, for working mothers who need help balancing career growth and time management.