A virtual assistant (VA) is someone to whom you can offload a number of time-consuming but necessary tasks. They work off-site, on a bespoke project-basis, which makes them a very economical, ‘on-tap’ admin resource.
Not having a VA is false economy if, as a business owner, your time is taken up doing admin. We calculated that one of our clients saved three hours a day on average by not updating Xero, formatting documents, organising events or booking their own travel arrangements. That’s 15 hours a week that could be used to actually run and develop the business. If you then work out the cost of you doing these task versus a VA, you’ll get a big surprise: it’s costing you more in loss of earnings than hiring a VA to do them. Also, a VA will be quicker and – dare we say it – better than you!
We all need to use our time wisely: constantly check our routine to make sure that we’re being productive at work. Or, spend a bit more time at home.
VA Benefits, Where are They?
When we assess clients as part of our process-mapping service, one of the first recommendations we make is “get a VA”. For world-leading entrepreneurs, having a personal assistant (PA) isn’t a luxury, it’s vital to their performance. They don’t control their own schedule, process their own expenses or make their own travel arrangements. In the corporate world, PAs and EAs (executive assistants) are more than admin people; they’re trusted aides. They enable senior people to do their job, safe in the knowledge that the back office arrangements are taken care of, and all is running smoothly.
That’s exactly what a WJL VA Bureau VA offers: trusted corporate-level executive assistance giving you the freedom to develop your business. They’re a safety net – when you’re otherwise engaged or have to take time off. Their presence is reassurance for customers, staff and suppliers. Their role gives you some distance in the business, enabling an exit strategy. Finally, a VA allows you to take a holiday. Working round the clock is bad for your health and the business.
Trained and Trustworthy VAs
At the VA Bureau we have a network of trusted VAs, trained and ready to be briefed. We’ll carefully match you to an assistant, based on the experience and skills you need. In the first instance, however, you an rely on the following as standard:
- Wide ranging knowledge of admin tasks
- Ability to use variety of effective admin-related technology
- Follow-through and thoroughness
- Reliability and trust
- Professionalism, integrity and loyalty
We know exactly what makes a top assistant which is why we also have a service that helps people set up their own VA business.
How do I Work with a VA?
At the VA Bureau we help our clients understand what they can outsource to a VA; how to brief them, work with them and monitor performance. We suggest a modest start, maybe concentrating on just two tasks you can easily jettison. Then, as our clients feel more comfortable with the arrangement, we explore other tasks that can be undertaken by a VA. Although every business is different, the tasks they can entrust to one of our VAs are likely to be included in the following:
- Managing your schedule
- Fielding your calls, taking messages and following through as appropriate
- Formatting documents, slide decks and presentations
- Data entry – such as CRM and accounts-related support
- Transcribing audio files and proof-reading documents
- Making all travel arrangements
- Organising events – the venue, catering and attendees
- Undertaking background research – from facts and figures to finding service providers
Our VA Bureau VAs are trained to assist with admin tasks. They are not specialist freelancers so we don’t advise our clients to give their VAs tasks they aren’t qualified to undertake. For example, marketing and communication support: if they post on social media, you must set the schedule and give them a precise content brief.
Technology plays an important part in helping us run our clients’ admin efficiently. As many of our clients are not familiar with the apps and platforms available to them, we advise them what to use, then run quick training sessions. We want them to be confident tech users so they and their VA get the maximum, real-time benefit of collaborating on tasks.
These are the kind of off-the-shelf, downloadable task-specific apps we currently use:
- Project management: Trello and Asana
- CRM: ActiveCampaign
- Accounting: Xero, QuickBooks
- Scheduling: Calendy, Google Calendar
- Document sharing: Dropbox, Google Docs
- Automated communication: Mailchimp, Buffer, Hootsuite, Surveymonkey
Our VA Bureau VAs give you access to ‘corporate’ functionality so you’re free to think and behave like a CEO, and your business performs like an FT 100.
VA Bureau & Virtual Assistant Frequently Asked Questions
How can a VA (Virtual Assistant) help me?
A VA Bureau virtual assistant can help free you up to concentrate on earning and running your business.
Understandably, you want to save money by doing everything yourself, especially in the early days. However, this soon becomes false economy. Your time is better spent doing what you do best such as developing your core business and building relationships. An assistant, is just that, someone who assists you: manages admin, carries out research, triages your inbox. We encourage our clients to see their VAs as an extension of themselves.
VAs understand how to assist and, together with the right apps and software, work closely with you to create a formidable team. Working virtually adds an important level of cost-saving because you simply buy the time you need and avoid the overheads.
What type of businesses do you work with?
Anyone and everyone, though we specialise in small-medium sized businesses where we can apply the corporate approach of having a PA or EA. We encourage the smaller business-owner to see a VA as a key role however small their set-up. It’s vital that you are free to concentrate on running your business so it’s not a luxury to have a VA, it’s an economic necessity.
How do I choose a good VA (Virtual Assistant)?
Choosing a good VA is all about focusing on the skills and chemistry that are right for your particular needs.
VA Bureau VAs have a range of skills and strengths to suit our range of clients. For example, for one of our online learning clients we identified process-led skills as a must-have for their VA. A motivational speaker, however, might need someone to organise events and keep on top of bookkeeping. Just beware of those VAs who claim to be able to do everything: take on your social media, file your accounts, manage your sales… These activities are for qualified practitioners. So the tasks that you entrust to your VA must be under qualified guidance.
We help our clients map out their needs so we can match them with the right VA. Then we have a ‘Getting to know you’ session so each understands how to work with the other.
How do I brief my VA?
Briefing your VA is in two parts.
Start with what you do – give them a briefing about your brand so they’re clear from day one, that they’re going to be part of something professional and forward thinking. VAs need onboarding just like anyone else so they understand how their role contributes to the success of your business. On a practical level, this includes guidance of what to say to clients and how to use the logo.
Then, part two of your briefing, concerns the day-to-day tasks. This includes briefing individual projects as well as ongoing liaison between the two of you. Sometimes you may need to speak briefly everyday. Otherwise, sharing documents and generally collaborating through technology is the fastest and most accurate way of working together.
We can help you manage a mutually beneficial relationship with your VA.
What tasks should I give my VA?
The tasks you give your VA are those that you need assistance with.
The emphasis should be on your needs; think about where you need help. The usual list of tasks for a VA includes bookkeeping, travel arrangements, email inbox management. Whilst we agree that such tasks are for a VA, there maybe times when you need very specific help with a project. For example, researching a client, collating data, managing an email campaign, etc. It gets back to understanding where you need help and then planning the work with your VA.
When we first work with a client we ease them in slowly into the process of delegating and using the right software and apps together.
Does a small business need a VA?
Every business needs a VA – hiring one isn’t a luxury!
Just because you aren’t working for a FTSE250 doesn’t mean you don’t need an assistant to make you more efficient.
Technology teaches us to be self-sufficient but this is only a positive if it makes us more productive as business owners. Otherwise get someone else to take on the task while you get on with being a CEO. Just to dispel the myth that VAs are a luxury, remember that they are contractors (so you only pay for the time you use). Also their virtual status, means you don’t have the overheads associated with employing staff. Understanding where you need the assistance is the first step to making the best use of your VA.