What Is A Virtual Assistant?

virtual office assistantBefore you can decide whether or not you need a Virtual Office Assistant or Virtual Assistant (VA) as they are also known, you should understand what a Virtual Office Assistant is and what they do.

A virtual assistant is an independent business owner, just like the owners of the businesses that utilize their services. They work from their own offices with a number of different clients who are either local, within their own country, or international.

As an self-employed independent contractor, a virtual office assistant is not an employee and they are not temp workers. They form a work partnership with their clients and have a vested interest in the success of their clients’ businesses. When their clients are successful they are successful as well, so their livelihood depends or providing superior services.

The virtual assistant can communicate with their clients by telephone, email, instant messaging, text, fax, Skype or through online collaboration. If their clients are local they may set up in-person meetings from time to time, however, since they take on clients from all over the world, the working relationship with their remote clients is purely by phone and over the internet.

Some virtual assistants offer a variety of administrative and clerical services while others are more specialized, such as working only with real estate agents, authors, and so on. There are also virtual office assistants who offer services based on specific skill sets such as transcription, database management, and desktop publishing.

What Are The Benefits Of Working With A Virtual Office Assistant

There are many benefits to working with a virtual assistant. As a small business owner you may not have the need to hire a full-time employee or, may you have the funds to take on the expense of putting someone on your payroll.

  • A virtual office assistant is an independent contractor and they pay their own taxes, pay for their own health insurance, and contribute to their own retirement funds. Therefore, you will not be responsible for payroll taxes, worker’s compensation insurance, health insurance, sick pay, holiday pay or any other type of employee benefits.
  • Virtual assistants work from their own offices and are responsible for their own overhead. They take care of providing their own computers, fax machines, copy machines, telephones, office supplies and anything else required to run their office efficiently. There is no need for you to spend money on office space, equipment, furniture, or extra electricity.
  • A virtual office assistant will contract with you on an as-needed basis, so you have the flexibility of only using them for a few hours a week or several hours a week. In addition, a virtual assistant will only charge you for the hours they work. Any down time such as lunch or appointments out of the office are not your responsibility.
  • Your work day is not interrupted by having someone else in the office with you. And, with an assistant handling day-to-day business tasks for you, you have more time to devote to growing and expanding your business.
  • A virtual assistant is a skilled business person and highly experienced in the services they office. There is no need to provide training or supervision.
  • Contracting with a virtual office assistant is a business expense and as with other business expenses, the costs are tax deductible.

When you work with a virtual office assistant, he or she will get to know your business, the systems you prefer, and how you like to work. Over time, a virtual assistant can become a valuable sounding board for your business ideas and your marketing plans. Because they are business owners as well, they value the concerns you have and they enjoy having someone with whom they can bounce ideas.

What Are Some of The Services a Virtual Office Assistant Offers?

You may be surprised to find how extensive the list is of services that are offered by virtual assistants.

Accounting
Bookkeeping/Taxes
Advertising
Appointments
Blog Design
Blog Maintenance
Data Entry
Database Design
Database Maintenance
Desktop Publishing
Editing/Proofreading
Email Management
Event Planning
Human Resources
Internet Research
Marketing
Newsletter Assistance
Office Assistance
PDF Creation
Phone Services
PowerPoint presentations
Project Management
Real Estate Services
Resumes/CVs
Sales Support
Search Engine Optimization
Social Media
Transcription
Translation
Web Design or Web Services
Word Processing

You should not expect any one virtual office assistant to be able to handle all of the services on this list. If you find a VA who claims they are experienced in everything, that is typically a red flag. A good virtual office assistant will market her or his strongest skills and will not attempt to take on services they are unable to handle. Before you sign a contract, make sure you and your prospective virtual assistant have clearly outlined what tasks you expect to be completed and what she or he is capable of handling.

It is not unusual for some business owners to hire more than one virtual office assistant, depending on the services they require to successfully run their business. A professional virtual assistant understands this and since they often network, if your virtual office assistant is unable to provide you with a specific service, he or she may refer you to another virtual assistant who has the experience to provide the specific service you need.

Virtual office assistants who provide secretarial services and administrative support have become highly valued by many business owners. In order to succeed, these virtual assistants must be diligent, have excellent time management and communication skills and, they must possess good writing skills as well. They work in an office environment that is free of the typical distractions found in a traditional workplace, so they work in a much more efficient manner. And, because the majority of virtual office assistants work from home, they don’t have to deal with weather, traffic, or other issues that may cause problems during a daily commute to work.

Business owners who wear too many hats are not making efficient use of their time and may jeopardize the success of their business by trying to handle every aspect of running it on their own.

As a smart business person, you know that your job is to grow and expand your business and the day-to-day tasks that are required are better left in the capable hands of someone who is experienced enough to perform them proficiently.

If you find that your business is running you and you do not have enough time run it, maybe it’s time you considered contracting with a virtual office assistant.