What Is A Virtual Assistant?

Imagine a scenario where your business is off to a great start. You now own a well-established company and crown yourself as the leader of your business niche. Your list of loyal customers is endless; you build your empire as your influence takes over the global market. This is the dream of each business owner and entrepreneur when they are relatively new in the industry. Dealing with increased workload can become a nightmare for many business owners, and rejecting work may seem like a bad practice.

With multiple clients under your belt, your email inbox loaded with thousands of unread emails, you may be struggling with excessive workload. Having to do more tasks than one can handle is truly one of the biggest problems small business owners face; it brings them close to hitting the boiling point due to stress and pressure. Business owners find themselves working long hours, which eventually drains them of their enthusiasm and vitality. If you've recognized you're struggling with time and workload that may hinder the growth of your business and deplete your profits; then you require a virtual assistant.

Defining A Virtual Assistant

A virtual assistant (VA), as the name suggests, is an assistant that virtually assists you and supports your business. These are experts at remote locations; their resource pool allows them to serve multiple clients and work on different projects. Virtual assistants are highly-trained; they work according to the client's guidelines and offer a wide range of services to facilitate you and your business when called into action. Virtual assistants' demand has skyrocketed as small business owners require virtual assistance with business management and growth but don't want to spend money on a full-time employee. Virtual assistants perform tasks such as-

  • Answering and directing phone calls;
  • Email monitoring and organization;
  • Schedule meetings;
  • Social media management;
  • SEO;
  • Managing travel arrangements;
  • Preparing reports, applications, and other documents;
  • Prepare customer spreadsheets and keep online records (data entry);
  • Billing and accounting tasks.

Many experienced virtual assistants also specialize in marketing services, graphic designing, blog writing, advanced research, etc. Their services prove to be very vital for every business even if they're not there in person.

History/Origin Of Assistants

The Internet has turned human civilization upside down. Automation, innovative digital platforms, and advanced software have transformed the foundational nature of work. The presence of the Internet and the evolving technology has widened the scope of online jobs, and remote work has now become the 'new normal'. You no longer need to be present in the same room or the same location to do your job.

The Start of Secretarial Services

Today, the virtual assistant industry is one of the most leading and highly remunerative jobs. A virtual assistant's role has gained a lot of popularity in the past decade due to their professionalism and expertise that help numerous companies in countless ways. Due to their varied skills and abilities, there are diverse virtual assistant roles for each organization.

But how did the role of virtual assistant become one of the most desirable jobs of this generation?

The secretarial services industry was established in the 1940s. The invention of the shorthand symbolic writing method by Issac Pitman made secretarial services a lucrative occupation at the time. Mr. Pitman was the founder of the very first secretarial school (only for men). As society changed, public schools started graduating educated women, and they finally stepped into the secretarial industry in the late 1880s. The foundation of the 'National Secretaries Association (NSA)' (now known as the 'International Association of Administrative Professionals') and later on the development of the 'Certified Professional Secretaries (CPS) Examination' led to the professionalization of the secretarial role. The creation of "Secretaries Day" in 1952 was renamed to "Administrative Professionals Week" in 2000 and acknowledged all professional workers that performed administrative jobs for their livelihood.

Rise of the Virtual Assistant Industry

The secretarial services industry led to the birth of today's virtual assistant industry. The advancement of information technology in the 1980s brought affordable Internet to each corner of the country. Administrative assistance was now provided to businesses and corporations remotely. Organizations realized that they didn't have to hire an office assistant anymore. The development of technology made the formation of the VA industry possible.

Virtual Assistant VS Traditional Assistant

Bringing a new team member onboard comes with many decisions as hiring the appropriate individual can uplift your business, improve your team's performance, and boost growth, or it can end up hurting your business. Here are some striking differences between a virtual assistant and a traditional in-house assistant.

Increased Productivity

With a virtual assistant on your side, you don't have to worry about supervising them; working from their workspaces comfort makes them more productive. Virtual assistants have a well-managed schedule and give timely responses; their peaceful environment helps them accomplish tasks less and with maximum working capacity. Whereas, in-house employees have a lunch break, abrupt sickness leave, and vacation holidays can quickly reduce the worker's productivity.

Serves Multiple Businesses VS. Serves A single Business

Virtual Assistants work for several clients at the same time. It's a more prevalent framework for virtual assistants to have various clients at the same time. Their professionalism, developed tools, software, and fast Internet makes it possible for them to operate successfully, remotely. In-house traditional assistants cannot work for more than one firm as they've been hired as a dedicated employee by one firm.

No Fixed Salaries

Hiring a dedicated in-house assistant means you're paying a hundred dollars every month, which may sound like bad news for your budget. Plus, with added costs like taxes and benefits, the decision to hire a traditional assistant might set you back financially. On the other side of the coin, virtual assistants only charge for the hours worked.

Benefits Of Hiring A Virtual Assistant For Your Small Business

Technological advancements have made it possible for businesses to operate effectively and carry out their daily tasks with utmost efficiency. The new organizational environment is unrestrained by time and geographical workplace boundaries. The rise of the digital and versatile virtual workplaces, where productivity and flexibility have reached prodigious enhancement levels, have forced organizations to reevaluate their structure and work processes.

If you're a small business owner, you have to get a significant amount of work done each day to accelerate your business's growth. Managing all tasks on your own can prove to be more arduous than you can calculate it to be. The simple solution to your intricate problem is—hiring a virtual assistant!

Here are the different ways how a virtual assistant can help you and your business grow:

Free Up Employee Time

A proficient virtual assistant takes the routine work off your plate. You might have the skill to perform all tasks, but you certainly don't have the time. It's the virtual assistant's responsibility to free you from all the trivial tasks, so you can get time back to concentrate on tasks that require your core competency. Unnecessary administrative tasks that consume your time and can be easily handled by a VA include:

  • Appointment management;
  • Inbound and outbound call coverage;
  • Social media management;
  • Payroll preparation;
  • Email management;
  • Customer relationship management.

Organize Your Business For You

A disorganized business and increasing workload is a recipe for disaster. Small business owners often lack strong organizational skills, which can easily give rise to burnout. The absence of coordination and order means reduced productivity. Luckily, a virtual assistant can bring your business on the right track without you having to stress about it. Virtual assistants are highly-qualified and tech-savvy that can set up a virtual working space for you. You can supervise and track the progress of everything, including your projects, events, social media, communication, and file-sharing.

Efficient Service At A lesser Cost

Can you receive excellent services at an affordable price in this economy? Yes, you can. A virtual assistant provides you with their impressive services without a high price tag. Certain virtual assistants concentrate on working for specific industries. They specialize in particular skills and undertake tasks related to those skills only. You no longer have to worry about additional costs with a virtual assistant as you do with an in-house office assistant. These include:

  • Payroll taxes
  • Medical care
  • Training costs
  • Office space charges
  • Internet bill
  • Power

A virtual assistant offers you a wide range of services at an affordable cost, making for a smart investment for small business owners.

The demand for virtual assistants will only grow, and their abilities will also expand exponentially. Their virtual assistance can have a remarkable impact on your business growth and expansion. Proper utilization of a virtual assistant can significantly decrease your business costs without lowering your company's productivity and efficiency.

Tripti Bhandari