Using a virtual assistant can shave hours from your workweek whether you're starting or growing a business. With the number of virtual assistants growing, their expertise now runs the gamut, making it easier to find someone who fits your organization.
Entrepreneurs can use virtual assistants for everything from making vendor or customer service calls to sending out thank you cards to prospective clients. It's important to build trust, just as you would with a permanent employee. They become a team member who just happens to work remotely.
Not sure where to start? Here are 10 ways you can use a virtual assistant to improve your business.
Bookkeeping: Keeping tabs on bills and other bookkeeping matters can be one of the easiest things to assign to a virtual assistant. Many small businesses choose to share their bookkeeping systems with their virtual assistants who can then follow up on tasks such as outstanding invoices or unpaid bills.
Online Research: You can easily farm out Internet research to virtual assistants. Common requests include finding information on corporate websites, exploring new products and vetting potential employees or business contacts.
Database entries: Whether it's a slew of new business cards picked up at a conference or updated information for existing contacts, keeping databases current is a suitable task for virtual assistants. Follow up is a huge thing for business owners. Sometimes clients will fax or scan business cards to us, and virtual assistants will plug them into the database.
Data presentations: Turning raw data into a clear PowerPoint presentation or summarizing research findings in a Word document can be a huge time saver when prepping for meetings.
Managing email: To keep you from wasting time in your email inbox, some virtual assistants will filter your most important emails and respond to the rest on your behalf. Such email management is easy to do remotely.
Social tasks: Virtual assistants can be a good bet to handle tasks such as writing holiday cards or sending thank you notes. Such tasks can become "all consuming" for business executives.
Travel Research: Virtual assistants are a great resource for finding hotels, booking airfares and mapping out trip itineraries both for business and pleasure. The assistants can take advantage of the growing number of travel research tools and review sites on the Web. They can also deal with the hassle of navigating time zones when booking or researching international travel options by phone.
Scheduling: Because many scheduling tools are available online, virtual assistants are managing the calendars of many clients. Tasks include dealing with meeting invitations from others, scheduling appointments with clients and helping to plan events. It's about being comfortable and letting go of that calendar to a non-staff person working remotely.
Chasing business: Prioritizing potential business opportunities can be challenging, but virtual assistants can help with the process.
Industry knowledge prep: With limited time to keep up with industry news, some small businesses have turned to virtual assistants to keep tabs on the most important happenings. Many executives then use the industry information to update their Twitter feed or bring up interesting developments in conversation with customers and prospects.