As a business leader, you probably find you have to take on countless roles. From responding to customers and paying bills to managing employees and handling administrative tasks, your responsibilities can seem endless. So if you’re all too familiar with wearing too many hats, you may want to consider hiring a virtual assistant (VA). Virtual assistants are remote-working skilled professionals with experience across fields, and they can help you reach your business goals.
In this article, we’ll take you through the advantages of hiring a virtual assistant and address several frequently asked questions about the role.
10 benefits of hiring a virtual assistant
Hiring a virtual assistant comes with many potential benefits. They can help you save time, money, and energy, which you can reallocate toward aspects of your business that need your personal touch.
Read on for an in-depth breakdown of the many benefits of hiring a virtual assistant.
- Time savings
- Improved turnaround of time-consuming tasks
- Reduced costs for staffing and operations
- Increased scale of operations
- Expanded reach
- Improved customer service
- Renewed focus on core business services
- Improved work-life balance
- Increased productivity
- Enhanced emotional well-being
Being a small business owner can be taxing; your schedule is probably packed with more tasks than you can wrap your head around. Instead of stretching yourself thin handling non-strategic tasks, you can delegate tasks to your virtual assistant. This will give you more time to concentrate on achieving larger business goals.
You could consider hiring a virtual assistant from another time zone. Some entrepreneurs use this tactic to increase their business’s operating hours beyond the nominal eight hours in their personal time zone. You’ll have more coverage when it comes to client communications and other time-sensitive tasks.
Improved turnaround of time-consuming tasks
Is there a particular task you put off doing every day? It could be anything from responding to customers’ emails to filling out forms. While tasks like these are important for business tracking and keeping customers happy, they may not always require your personal touch and may be better off delegated to an assistant.
Instead of spending your day doing defined repetitive tasks that take too long, pass them on to a virtual assistant and dedicate your time to the big-picture issues that help your business grow.
Reduced costs for staffing and operations
Hiring a full-time, in-person assistant can be expensive. Apart from paying their monthly salary, you’ll typically also have to provide medical insurance and other benefits, worker’s compensation, paid leaves and sick days, office space and supplies, and other costs.
Virtual assistants, on the other hand, work as independent contractors. You only need to pay them for the number of hours they work or for the tasks completed. Since virtual assistants work remotely, you can hire a professional from anywhere in the world. This means you have a large pool to look for someone with the skill set you need.
When you hire a virtual assistant, you also save money on training costs. You can hire an individual who already possesses the skills required, so you won’t need to invest in extensive training. You’ll likely find that when you brief your virtual assistant on their duties, they’re already equipped with the skills they need to get things done. Recruiting virtual assistants is quick and easy, thanks to platforms like Upwork.
Increased scale of operations
When you’re growing a business from scratch, predicting what you’ll need in the next month or quarter can be difficult. Hiring full-time employees and renting physical workspaces where they can congregate is a big investment that may not be viable for all companies.
Hiring a virtual assistant is a safe alternative that gives you all the benefits of having an extra resource without the corresponding financial burden. You can add or remove virtual assistants from your team as needed and scale up or down with less stress.
Having an online presence is no longer optional for brands. An ever-increasing number of customers choose to make purchases online these days. It’s estimated that by 2026, 24% of all global retail sales will be made digitally. To ensure you aren’t getting left behind, you need to expand your digital reach.
A consistent digital marketing strategy is essential to targeting new audiences, increasing brand awareness, and boosting conversions. If you're not too familiar with the world of digital marketing or don’t want to set up a full-fledged marketing team, consider hiring a virtual assistant with the relevant skill set. They can help you manage your online presence and expand your reach. Moreover, your virtual assistant can also help you sort through the leads you receive through your website contact forms, email marketing, or social media ads and follow up on them.
Improved customer service
Providing good customer service must be a priority for any brand. Not only does this practice help you build lasting relationships with your customers, but it also results in increased revenue. Roughly 73% of business leaders report a direct link between their customer service and overall business performance.
Virtual assistants can help you create a better customer experience in many ways. They can monitor your business email inbox and social media handles and respond to queries quickly.
Virtual assistants can also help you create more proactive customer support. For instance, they can help you reach out to customers to inform them that a product they wanted to buy is back in stock or that you’re running a special promotion on products they might be interested in. This can make customers feel valued and more likely to be loyal to your brand.
Renewed focus on core business areas
When you first start your business, you’ll likely handle most tasks by yourself. However, as your business grows, it becomes harder to do everything single-handedly. You’ll need to identify which tasks are essential for you to oversee and which can be delegated to others. It makes much more sense to focus on macro decisions like your business strategy, yearly budget, or product development—things that form the foundation of your brand—since no one understands the organization's goals as well as you do.
On the other hand, routine administrative work does not require a deep understanding of the brand’s mission and can be easily carried out by a virtual assistant. Tasks like note-taking, scheduling meetings, or generating invoices are examples of things your virtual assistant can do on your behalf.
Improved work-life balance
The stress of founding, growing, and managing a business can be enough to take a toll on anyone’s mental and physical health. You may find that if you continue to micro-manage all tasks, separating your professional life from your personal life will become difficult. For a lot of people, this can mean it’s harder to give your loved ones the attention they deserve.
Hire a competent virtual personal assistant who can take the smaller tasks off your hands and let you take some much-needed time off from work. This allows you to maintain accountability with the confidence that your work will be completed by your virtual assistant. Remember, maintaining your health and peace of mind is important for finding long-term success.
When you hire a virtual assistant with specialized skills, you can often complete tasks far quicker than if you tried to learn and do it yourself. Your team’s productivity should go up, and the burden on existing staff members should be reduced.
Hiring remote assistants to join your team can also be more productive than getting more in-person staff. Since they work from home, virtual assistants don’t need to waste time commuting or making small talk with colleagues. They’re often paid for only the work they complete. This can make them more focused and productive than full-time employees drawing fixed salaries.
Enhanced emotional well-being
We know your business is like your baby. But sometimes, you must take a break to focus on your emotional well-being. As an entrepreneur, you carry the responsibility of the firm’s success on your shoulders, which can be exhausting in the long run. You might feel compelled to care for every single thing that goes wrong—whether it's a defective product or a customer’s order getting delayed. But if you try to focus on everything, you can find yourself getting burned out.
When you hire a virtual assistant, you get a trusted individual who can share some of these responsibilities with you, making your daily schedule less overwhelming.
Virtual assistant FAQs
If you’ve new to working with a virtual assistant, you may have some queries about the role. Here are commonly asked questions about virtual assistants, with answers to clear up confusion.
How much does a virtual assistant cost?
The first step in understanding how much a virtual assistant will cost you is defining their scope of work. Try to be as detailed as possible and include all the day-to-day tasks the individual will be responsible for, such as data entry, administrative work, and contributing to marketing campaigns.
A virtual assistant's fees can depend on several aspects, such as the project's scale and required skills. Keep these factors in mind when considering the cost of a VA:
The individual’s experience and expertise
Virtual assistants charge according to their experience; the longer they’ve had the role, the higher their rates will usually be. The fee can also depend on the kind of experience they have. For instance, if they’ve worked in a tech startup, they may have highly valued, specialized knowledge, for which they will charge a premium.
On Upwork, freelance virtual assistants typically charge between $18 and $35 per hour, depending on the complexity of the role. Virtual assistants dealing with basic tasks like proofreading and data entry charge an average hourly rate of $12 to $20. Marketing or customer service virtual assistants charge between $20 and $35 per hour, while advanced consultants who work on web development and server management charge about $38 to $50 per hour.
The type and frequency of work
Depending on the work you’re hiring the virtual assistant for, you can pay them hourly on a per-project basis. The nature of the work also determines how many hours they’ll need to put in. So if you need your virtual assistant for a smaller task, you can pay them only for the hours worked. However, if you need them to handle more complex jobs like managing social media responses, they’ll need to spend more time understanding the company and will likely charge a higher fee.
The technical skills needed
Most virtual assistants possess the basic skills associated with the role, such as using MS Office or scheduling Google Meet calls. However, a company in a specialized field such as IT or healthcare might require a virtual assistant familiar with the relevant terminology and best practices.
Even if your business sells something generic like footwear, hiring a virtual assistant who knows how to manage and update your e-commerce store, track orders, and work on lead generation and SEO can be helpful. Be prepared to pay more for such specialized work, however.
The virtual assistant’s location
Since virtual assistants work remotely, you can hire one from anywhere in the world. Their location and the average cost of living in that area will impact the fees they charge.
Remember that their location affects not only the cost but also the flow of communication. If you hire someone in your time zone, you’ll have more opportunities for real-time conversations. On the other hand, if you hire someone from a different time zone, you can ensure that someone is available to manage operations and respond to customers during your non-working hours.
What are the different types of virtual assistants?
Virtual assistants come with a wide variety of skill sets across industries. Some common types of virtual assistant jobs are as follows:
- Bookkeeping virtual assistants maintain your financial books and account records and track your firm's overall and department budgets.
- Administrative virtual assistants schedule meetings and events, take notes, answer phone calls, handle travel bookings, and manage communication between executives and clients or vendors.
- Social media virtual assistants create and schedule posts for your brand’s handles on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. They’re also responsible for monitoring messages and comments from customers on these platforms and responding to them quickly.
- Data entry virtual assistants compile and sort data and then upload it to your CRM (customer relationship manager) or database. They’re also responsible for checking data accuracy and creating reports for necessary departments.
- Research analyst virtual assistants conduct interviews or any required research and compile findings into reports.
Which industries get the most benefits from hiring virtual assistants?
Virtual or administrative assistants can be beneficial in most industries. For example, a healthcare business can use a VA to schedule patient appointments, verify the completeness of records, and file insurance claims. Given the diversity in virtual assistants' skill sets, ranging from social media marketing to project management, you’re certain to find one that suits your business needs.
What virtual assistant tasks provide the greatest benefit to the client?
Virtual assistants can help you with various jobs and offer the flexibility of multitasking. They are often used for handling routine admin roles like data entry, taking phone calls, scheduling meetings, and handling payroll—so you can focus on more important or strategic tasks. That said, if you hire someone with existing skills, they can help with bookkeeping, video production, and social media management.
What are the benefits of being a virtual assistant?
Working as a virtual assistant comes with plenty of benefits. While one obvious advantage is that you get to work remotely from anywhere in the world, the perks don’t end there. Here are some reasons you should consider signing up for the role:
- You can manage your own schedule. Working as a virtual assistant, you can tailor your workday to suit your lifestyle. You aren’t confined to clocking in and clocking out at certain times. If you enjoy the outdoors, you can go for a run before lunch instead of waiting for the work day to end. Or maybe you’ll want to take half an hour off in the afternoon to grab coffee with a friend. Working as a virtual assistant can help you achieve a healthy work-life balance.
- You can control how much you earn. One great part about being a virtual assistant is that you can work as much or as little as you like. The amount of money you earn will be directly proportional to the hours you put in, so your efforts are always compensated. Moreover, you can decide how much you want to charge per hour or per project. You get to set your own rates and decide when you want to raise them. Apart from this, you can work for multiple clients at the same time.
- You can do work that you enjoy. Businesses across industries require virtual assistants, which means you can choose to work in a field that appeals to you. If you’re a social media geek and are fascinated by the quickly evolving world of digital marketing, then there's a suitable virtual assistant job for you. Whether you’re skilled with numbers or want to learn more about how a corporate office works, you’ll find plenty of opportunities you’ll enjoy.
Find top virtual assistant talent on Upwork
Virtual assistants can help you with many aspects of your business. It’s essential to spend time selecting a virtual assistant with all the skills and experience your company needs.
So where can you find trusted virtual assistants? Upwork hosts thousands of talented professionals with profiles for you to choose from. Browse based on cities, services, agencies, or other criteria. You can schedule a risk-free consultation with expert virtual assistants over Zoom and discuss your project details like your timeline, budget, and scope. Once you feel you’ve found the best virtual assistant, you can start your project with confidence.
If you’re looking to work as a virtual assistant, Upwork can be a valuable platform for finding great clients. All you need to do is set up your free profile, including your work history, skills, and photo. Then, you can bid for jobs and choose one or more clients you’d like to work with. Whether you agree to hourly or fixed-price projects, Upwork provides payment protection so you can focus on doing the work without wasting time making sure you’ll get paid promptly.
Sign up on Upwork today!
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