Starting up your own business may seem simple at first. But, issues arise when realizing the workload that comes with taking everything on alone. Entrepreneurs have felt this burden for years and it’s one of the main causes of burnout for small business startups.
Luckily, this modern era of inter-connectivity has a solution for the small and tiresome chores that crop up day-to-day when running a business. One of the newer options to help with this is using a general virtual assistant (GVA).
It’s difficult to handle every task that needs to be done when operating a business, even a small one. Time adds up and it’s not uncommon to be overwhelmed with simple yet important jobs all day and every day.
This is where a GVA can potentially be a life and business saver. The first step is to understand what exactly a virtual assistant is.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
An easy way to think of a virtual assistant is someone who can handle various tasks for you. They are similar to a secretary for the modern businessman.
These individuals generally work freelance, but those looking for contracted positions are not difficult to find. Odesk or Elance and a plethora of other sites that specialize in contract work typically have thousands of such listings available to anyone looking.
A large market for GVA’s exists in the Philippines. Do not be wary of hiring someone outside your own country. There are plenty of professionals living and attempting to burst into the Western workforce within the Philippines by working online. This can be a boon to employers as well, as the cost of living in the Philippines is much lower than the U.S.
The benefit of a virtual assistant versus a standard employee generally comes down to costs. Hiring a full-time or part-time employee in your area that must make the trek to work daily adds up. Whereas when going digitally you have the option of hiring around the world to find someone who meets both your needs and budget, and you are not obligated to a certain amount of hours per week to them.
That is not to say one should look for the cheapest available assistant. Those who have more experience in the field will cost more. But their reliability, trustworthiness and work ethic can more than make up for the extra expenditure.
How to Get Started with a GVA
This is a common hurdle for anyone first jumping into the field of digital hires. How much should you pay them? Where can I find a reliable employee? Will they provide the value I need them to? These are all common questions to be asking when hiring a Virtual Assistant.
A GVA should be looked at as a way of adding more time to your working day. They shouldn’t need oversight, though maybe some initial training, and are there to make your day as productive as possible on the things that only you as the business owner or entrepreneur can handle.
The first foray then needs to be to ask oneself, “What do I need to outsource?” There is indeed a limit to this answer, there are things that should not be outsourced to a GVA. Yet, the list of things a GVA can handle is surprisingly long.
What can be outsourced to a GVA?
This can depend on the VA and the amount of trust you want to put into someone that you do not technically know. However, lending some control to the GVA to handle simple duties can help you out a lot in the long run.
A good GVA is more than capable of handling a ton of basic tasks, and delegating even things you may consider personal to them is an excellent way to save time in a busy schedule.
✉ Email Duties
This can be a huge headache and is an easy one to procrastinate on. Sending this sort of work out to a VA is a no-brainer. A GVA is an excellent choice to use for filtering through a long list of emails and sending the important ones on to you. Setting up services like Mailchimp won't need a personal touch either and can easily be handed off to a suitable GVA.
👩💼 Client and Customer Relations
Obviously, initial meetings with clients and important meetings should still be handled by the entrepreneur. However, setting up these meetings or sending out follow-ups can be time-consuming when dealing with a large base. The GVA can shine here as well. Furthermore, answering a few phone calls throughout the day should be in their wheelhouse as well.
📊 Data Management
There are a few things more annoying and easier to overlook as unorganized data. Though it is important to keep records of previous work and current projects, all this data can easily become a handful. From a messy Dropbox to databases, the GVA is the perfect assistant for making life much easier and more efficient here.
Don’t forget about calendars as well. A nice and neat calendar is a sure-fire way to never forget an appointment. An overwhelmed business owner can forget to mark something down here, while the GVA can be completely on top of it.
This is a big one depending on what your business is. But, being well-informed in all decisions is key to running a project well. Delegate what needs to be looked up to your GVA. They can bring you tons of manicured resources to your disposal so web-crawling no longer must be one of your worries.
📋 Personal Tasks
How personal you want to get is up to you. Asking your assistant to make some purchases online or to book your next flight or stay at a hotel is simple and helps keep productivity to a maximum. Ask them to price search as well, so you no longer have to spend your time checking against competition’s listings.
📝 Taking Notes
This can vary, but for the most part GVA’s are right for this task as well. Keeping track of the length of a meeting or conferencing them in to take some notes for you are most definitely a good choice though. Also, basic transcription such as summing up a video or important videos can be highly useful.
📈 Reports and Presentations
Be sure to give your GVA proper instructions before sending this off to them. However, if they’re proficient in the Microsoft Office such as PowerPoint, there’s no reason a capable assistant can’t do this. More in-depth projects that need their own research done should be left to the entrepreneur or specialists, but formatting a simple report or presentation is perfect for a GVA.
👬 Team Management
This is not to say a VA should be the one your team goes through for important matters. But, sending out general memos and keeping progress reports need not need to be hands on.
Furthermore, your assistant can definitely send you references and resumes for new hires that are outside of their own skill sets. Artists and writers or other specialists can be sourced by the GVA for you.
📽 Media Management
Be sure not to delegate too much of this to a single GVA. However, creating Facebook and other social media pages is simple enough and can save a lot of initial headaches. They can also be responsible for curating posts or posting what you tell them to.
Blog work as well can be given to the GVA. Be sure to provide them with proper content and an assistant with basic WordPress skills should have no problem formatting and posting for you. Replying to blog comments as well can be addressed by a GVA.
They can also promote you around the web on forums and other blogs to increase links to your sites and have you participate on the web in relevant discussions.
What Can’t a GVA do?
A GVA is great with providing general help in the digital world. However, they should not be responsible for everything on the web.
Content and art need to be done personally or by professionals to ensure the best quality. They also aren’t paid to create graphics or write for you. That takes someone dedicated to that field.
Also, don’t be frustrated with a new GVA. They are humans and need some time to get used to the workload and tools being used and how a business likes to use them. A good VA is a quick learner, but they still need time to learn.
Still, a GVA can be a huge relief to any entrepreneur finding too much of their time dedicated to everyday chores. If you’re still unsure about going with a GVA ask yourself, “How much is your time worth to you?” The answer to this will steer you in the right direction.
Where to find a GVA for my business?
A little while ago I launched a unique online service called AssistNinja. It's a virtual assistant matching service that pairs entrepreneurs with a reliable and skilled virtual employee from the Philippines, Unlike other services we don't act as middle-men and instead just match you with that person for you to then hire, train and manage to become your own employee.
Visit www.assistninja.com to learn more!