So if I was to ask you “What does a Virtual Assistant do?” what thoughts would go through your head?
I reckon that once you’ve thought it through, your answer could be quite different from someone working in a different industry.
It’s one of those job titles that can really mean anything.
The ‘Virtual’ bit I’m sure we all get but for clarity here’s my definition:
“Used to describe something that can be done or seen using computers or
the internet instead of going to a place, meeting people in person , etc.”
Actually, full disclosure, it’s a definition from the Cambridge Dictionary but it’s kind of what I would have said!
It’s really the ‘Assistant’ part of this term that’s ambiguous.
Who are you assisting?
- Someone you work alongside?
- Your boss, a manager or director where you work?
- A friend or family member?
- A local charity?
What could you be assisting with?
If we stick to the workplace, and keeping to our definition of ‘Virtual,’ the list of what you could be assisting people with is endless, but we can make a start with these:
- Researching for a project
- Writing a report
- Invoicing clients (and chasing late payments)
- Accounting and bookkeeping
- Managing social media accounts
- Graphic design
- Website design
- Video editing
- IT support
- Arranging meetings
- Managing emails or your diary
- On-boarding clients
- Arranging travel
- Organising exhibitions and events
- Human Resources
We could go on, but you get the idea. All of these suggestions have at least two things in common:
- They are all office based functions
- There are people marketing themselves as a Virtual Assistant who offer these services
So in a nutshell, we could say:
“A Virtual Assistant (often abbreviated to VA) provides office, or admin, services to businesses, remote from their office (virtually), handling specific tasks as agreed with their client.”
Now even if one person had all the time in the world to do all of the tasks listed above, it’s highly unlikely they would have the skills to do all of them to a high, professional standard. Accountancy, IT support and Human Resources are all very different skills, as are the organisational skills a Personal Assistant can provide.
So yes, a Virtual Assistant can provide you with skills and experience to cover a wide range of tasks and activities but if you are looking for an assistant in your business, you need to be specific about what you want them to do and what level of skills and experience you want them to have.
While some tasks or activities require very specific skills and knowledge, e.g. IT support and Human Resources, and in some cases qualifications, e.g. accounting, there are other areas where a Virtual Assistant can cover a whole range of tasks.
Someone specialising in marketing could also be experts in other tasks mentioned above, e.g.
- Managing social media accounts,
- Graphic design
- Website design
- Video editing
On the other hand, someone who has had a career as a Personal Assistant or Executive Assistant can provide many of the ‘traditional secretarial skills’ as a Virtual Assistant. These can include:
Minutes - On site or remote
Type up notes
Draft and format
Create, edit and
Travel, accommodation and overseas visas
Invoice Clients (and nudge late payments)
Ad-hoc Administrative Tasks
In fact, for a Virtual Assistant providing admin support, much of their work revolves around the regular tasks that need to be done like clockwork, to keep the business running smoothly in the background.
Why hire a Virtual Assistant?
The remaining question then is, why would someone hire a Virtual Assistant?
A Virtual Assistant allows a client to focus 100% on doing the things that will help grow their business, e.g. working with clients, developing products and services, without the distractions of recurring admin tasks.
An analogy to this could be a Virtual Assistant is like a golf caddy!
A golf caddy (who is an expert when it comes to playing the game of golf) carries the bag of clubs for the golfer (his or her client). They advise the layout of the hole they’re playing, and they recommend which club to use. All of this research and preparation allows the golfer to focus 100% on the next shot, without any other distractions.
OK, that probably doesn’t come across as a particularly good analogy (it sounded better in my head) but hey, I hope you get the idea.
So... What Does A Virtual Assistant Do?
A Virtual Assistant can provide a wide range of skills, expertise and experience from a remote location, rather than travelling to your office.
A Virtual Assistant specialises in specific areas of expertise.
If you are looking to hire a Virtual Assistant, be very clear with what tasks you want to hire them for. Talk to them about their experience and ask lots of questions to be certain they have the skills to match your needs. A top Virtual Assistant will always be happy to answer every question you have.
And if you have any questions for us about this article, or hiring a Virtual Assistant in general, please get in touch.