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If you’re the sole owner of a business, then there’s a good chance that you probably wear many different hats in managing your company. There is nothing wrong with being a solo entrepreneur, but you can’t deny the fact that more often than not, managing a business on your own can be tough and time-consuming.
Now, it’s understandable that not all small businesses, especially startups, can afford to hire people just to do menial tasks like managing emails, making appointments, or maintaining social correspondence. It’s not practical, nor is it easy, to put up a department to handle such tasks when you can easily do it on your own with no added financial burden.
But the thing is . . .
Even the most basic and boring tasks, when they start piling up, can become overwhelming and stressful for any one person to handle alone. And when you take into account the other more important aspects of running a business, it’s certainly going to be an uphill battle that you can’t possibly face alone. At some point, you’re going to need an assistant to help you with the day-to-day tasks.
But the problem is hiring someone to work in-house can be rather expensive, especially for small business entrepreneurs. This is where hiring a virtual assistant becomes a more practical and efficient solution.
What is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant, often abbreviated as VA, is someone who provides professional administrative assistance to clients from a remote location. Virtual assistants generally possess a wide array of skills to allow them to do tasks beyond the administrative level.
Some virtual assistants have enough technical knowledge to allow them to provide website development and maintenance services, search engine optimization (SEO), and even web application design. Other VAs offer creative or social assistance, meaning they can help you create and maintain your brand profile on social networks.
The Core Advantages of Hiring a Virtual Assistant
1. They provide a reasonable cost cutting solution for your business. Compared to hiring an in-house employee, virtual assistants require relatively cheaper paycheck in exchange for top-notch services. They don’t require benefits or demand vacation days, they don’t need to have their own office space or require office equipment, and you don’t have to deal with added cost on taxes.
2. They allow you to have more time to focus on other business aspects. When you hire a virtual assistant to take care of some of the more mediocre day-to-day tasks that’s filling up your plate, you will have more time to deal with the other significant aspects of running a business.
3. A virtual assistant can be an all-in-one solution. Depending on the skill and the type of services the virtual assistant is capable of providing, VAs can actually be an all-in-one solution for your business. They can manage your emails as well as your social media accounts. They help maintain your website, as well as take care of your content marketing campaign.
4. Virtual assistants are professionals who know what it takes to successfully run a business. If there’s one thing a good virtual assistant can bring to the table, it’s the experience he/she possesses. What you need to realize is that when you acquire the services of a virtual assistant, you are essentially tapping into a specific skill set that can only be obtained through years of experience.
5. Hiring a VA can help increase productivity. Having a skilled virtual assistant as a partner will effectively improve productivity and help enhance efficiency for your business, from behind the scenes of course. With every task you outsource to your VA, you are basically freeing yourself or your other colleagues to complete other important tasks.
Virtual Assistant vs. Social Media Virtual Assistant
The term virtual assistant is a rather broad term when it comes to the specific skills they have to offer. There are many different types of VAs with varying skill sets. When you hire a VA, you have to consider their experience and the skills they possess.
The following is a few of the business tasks that can be outsourced to a virtual assistant with a fairly standard set of skills:
- Email Management – The VA can take care of less important emails, make correspondence, and allocate the more important emails for you to read later on.
- Data Management – A virtual assistant with experience in data entry and software applications associated with data entry can certainly do this job quite easily.
- Online Research and Information Gathering – Whether you’re writing a blog or a piece of article, things would go much easier if you already have all the information you will need on your subject.
- Bookkeeping – This task may be easy and mediocre to experienced entrepreneurs, but if time is an issue, bookkeeping can certainly be a difficult chore.
In addition to the abovementioned tasks, some virtual assistant services can also help in events management and scheduling, booking travels, taking business calls, transcribing A/V briefings and interviews, and even do some SEO and content marketing if they possess the skill.
Virtual Assistant Services and Your Social Media Campaign
For large businesses and conglomerates, the person responsible for their social networking efforts is known as a social media manager. This is a full-time job that deals with virtually all social channels the company is participating in.
But there’s a catch.
For small business entrepreneurs, hiring a social media manager full-time might not be a viable option, considering the potential cost associated with it. If hiring a full-time social media manager is not for you, another more practical solution is to acquire the services of a virtual assistant who has ample experience not just in administrative tasks but in social media management as well.
The following are some of the social media tasks that can be outsourced through a skilled virtual assistant:
- Create and maintain your custom business page on social networks like Facebook.
- Develop relevant and engaging content that targets your main audience.
- Manage social interactions with your followers by posting comments, liking their posts, and even sharing other content.
- Elevate your brand by referring followers to high-quality blogs, news articles, and other content associated with your industry.
- Post up-to-date news and information on upcoming events and promos your company might be hosting.
- Finding relevant visual content to share on all social media platforms.
- Search and organize quality content useful to your own followers.
- Monitor and track the effectiveness of your social media campaigns through content shares, likes, and brand mentions.
- Build a strong and trusting relationship with your target audience across all social media platforms.
These are just a few of the many social media tasks you can assign to a creative and highly skilled virtual assistant. Social media marketing and management is a job that requires constant attention. It’s tough to do it while you’re busy with the other areas of your business.
Bear in mind though, that this job is not as easy as it seems. You can’t just hire any VA and expect them to do a good job in managing your social media accounts. The success of your business still relies on the kind of people you hire and work with, even if your employee is a thousand miles away, working at home.
Useful Tips for Hiring a Virtual Assistant
Whether you want a virtual assistant to do administrative tasks or to manage your social networks, it’s important that you find the right person for the job. Not all virtual assistants are the same. It’s crucial that you hire the person based on the skills they have to offer and whether or not it matches with the job you will be outsourcing to them.
A few considerations before hiring a VA:
- Create an accurate and clear job description so that applicants will know exactly what they’re applying for.
- Post the job opening on the best online places. You can use job listing websites and services or you can use social media to find the right professional.
- Go through the applications with a keen eye. It helps if you have a list of criteria of the ideal employee that can handle the kind of tasks you will be outsourcing.
- Conduct extensive interviews with potential candidates. Treat the process as if you’re hiring an actual on-premise employee.
- Ask for references. Whether you’re dealing with a freelance virtual assistant or a service company, it’s always prudent to check for references.
- Ask for a sample of their work or give them a small tryout project. For example, if you’re looking for a VA to do content management or content writing, don’t hesitate to ask for sample articles.