A virtual assistant (VA) is an independent contractor who works remotely for an entrepreneur or a business. The practice of working from home began in the 1980s throughout the U.S. It began in the form of organizations supporting work-at-home moms. The most renowned figure of that decade was Linda Anderson. She led an organization of home-based secretaries.

The term itself began to be used in the early 1990s after Thomas Leonard referred to his assistant, Stacey Brice, as a “virtual assistant”. Since then, the increased speed of the Internet and document sharing created the right conditions for remote work.

Virtual work is now an industry that drives business growth. Virtual assistant, freelance or remote work has increased in popularity in recent years. From 2005 to 2012, the number of telecommuting employees across the U.S. increased by 79.7%. By 2015, 34% of the U.S. workforce, or 53 million Americans, worked as freelancers. Further technological improvements fuelled this shift from traditional within-office work to freelance work.

VA vs. VPA
Don’t confuse a virtual assistant (VA) with a virtual personal assistant (VPA). Virtual assistants are real human beings whereas virtual personal assistants are software program. VPAs are designed to service customers in a human-like, yet artificial intelligent way. The idea behind VPAs is that a person can interact with the VPA equipment as if it was a real person, and get human-like feedback. Many tech giants are investing in this technology, but the whole process is far from replacing actual humans.

What Do Virtual Assistants Do?
Many businesses will reach a stage when they need to hire additional personnel to further fuel their growth. However, hiring more staff may turn into a heavy burden for a business. It may eat up much-needed profits. Moreover, many hire full-time employees when they don’t need full-time support. Rather, they only need task completion.

Virtual assistants help owners complete a wide range of tasks at a lower cost than in-house employees. VAs often perform at a higher accountability. These professionals usually work from their homes or their own offices. Virtual assistants are highly competent, especially with administrative tasks. The following are some popular virtual assistant services.

Many companies specialize in virtual assistant services. Rather than hiring an individual for your needs, you can contact a company at a profitable price. The following are some popular virtual assistant services.

Social Media
Many virtual assistants are professionals handling social media management tasks. Social media management is crucial for small businesses, modern brands, and startups to grow. Virtual assistants can do just that: manage social media accounts and grow them profitably. Notably, some related tasks are post scheduling, performance data monitoring, report generation, customer-business management, and social proof gathering.

Small Businesses Suffer From Doing Social Media Tasks Themselves
Small business owners are the ones who spend the most time dealing with social media marketing and management tasks themselves. They spend on average 6 to 10 hours a week dealing with social media marketing. Because they are the ones who are tied the most with social media management, they are the ones who profit the most by hiring a virtual social media assistant.

Content Writing
You can find many freelancers that produce or edit content related to your business. Many entrepreneurs outsource content-related tasks to other foreign virtual assistants. Many foreign-based freelancers are educated and fluent in many languages so firms will have no trouble finding relevant professionals.

Content Is A Necessity
Having lots of good content about your business online is necessary today. Good content that relates to your brand and offers value to your customers has many benefits. Gets new visitors to your site through organic search or social media coverage. Projects an image of competence to your customers. They understand that you know your field of business and care about staying in touch with current developments. Also, right content signals to customers that you want to reach out to them and start a dialog.

A virtual assistant can write content for your website, blog, and promos. They can also edit, proofread, and improve existing content. Content is a business aspect that needs constant contribution if you want to strengthen your online presence.

Online Research
Research is crucial for every business. It is a long and labor-intensive task. People that are good at gathering and analysing information can cover this role. The Internet is rich with information however analysing this data is challenging. If you want to delegate this task to someone you will need to make sure that the person can handle the task. There are many research tasks that VAs can do with little supervision.

Keeping You Up-To-Date & Competitive
Delegating research-oriented tasks to freelancers is one of the best things you can do to save plenty of time. The independent research contractors research for your business, brand, or startup. They know how to find relevant events and office space, identify investors and industry trends, gather market data, and monitor competitors. This way you don’t miss out on significant developments that affects your business plans.

Virtual Assistant Tasks
Virtual Assistant Tasks. Desing © pngtree.com.

Real Estate
A real estate virtual assistant (REVA) can perform tasks such as setting appointments with real estate sellers or buyers on your behalf, conduct competitive market analysis, manage contact lists, and manage your business presence across traditional and digital advertising channels. Other tasks a real estate virtual assistant can perform are: calendar management, meeting arrangements, lead generation, paperwork management, MLS and CRM management, and website update and maintenance.

Making Use Of REVAs
Real estate firms can use virtual assistants to increase their productivity, save time, get fresh input, and operate strategically in new markets. REVAs can perform tasks at a competitive cost. They know how to follow a systematic workflow. Also, they can suggest useful strategies based on their own experience. REVAs can carry on with repetitive and multiple tasks while real estate agents focus on signing up new deals.

Email Management
Many virtual assistants will handle emails, filter them, and respond to most essential emails on your behalf. With the right guidance, VAs can easily manage emails remotely.

E-Mail Management As A Customer Care Aspect
Email management is part of customer care efforts. However, in-house customer care departments typically need plenty of money to run. Thus, smart entrepreneurs outsource customer care tasks such as email management to freelancers or virtual assistants. As a result, entrepreneurs keep costs down without harming relations with clients.

Organisational and Administrative Tasks
Virtual assistants can do most of the tasks that a regular assistant does. They can schedule meetings, organize calendar, compile itineraries, and other related tasks. Many entrepreneurs suggest that you do not have to do all these tasks yourself, even if you know how to do them well. Rather than spending time balancing your finances, booking travel tickets, or managing your postal inquiries, you can focus on strategic thinking, learning, and getting more leads.

VAs Help You In Your Personal Issues
A virtual assistant can also organize your personal routine. They can schedule appointments with your peers, prepare and send gifts or thank you cards on your behalf, and arrange your calendar according to recent developments.

Every business needs a website. Many businesses will use WordPress as a content management system for their website. However, very few business owners know how to create and maintain a profitable WordPress website. Most business owners don’t have the time to learn the specifics of WordPress website maintenance and development.

Let Professionals Take Care Of Your Site
Because WordPress is the most popular CMS, there is a large pool of WordPress Virtual Assistants available. Thus, you can screen through many candidates and find the one that works best for you. Most WordPress virtual assistants have lots of experience. They know not only the developing part of their job but also the marketing and designing aspects of it. These experts will often go the extra mile and help you grow your business and brand. Hiring a WordPress virtual assistant will benefit your business website as well as your entire organization.

Benefits of Hiring a Virtual Assistant
There are many benefits to hiring a virtual assistant. From reduced cost to strategic development, hiring a virtual assistant helps you grow efficiently. Here are the main benefits of hiring a virtual assistant.

Virtual Assistant Benefits
We at Tasketing have identified these benefits of hiring a virtual assistant.

Reduced Cost of Business
Hiring a virtual assistant reduces your costs when compared to other hiring options. The actual salary you should pay to a virtual assistant depends on several factors. They include experience, expertize, work type and frequency, technical know-how, and location. In any case, the virtual assistant pay will bottom that of a full-time employee.

Comparing Actual Salaries
The average hourly rate of a virtual assistant is $15.69. On the other hand, that of an average full-time employee (U.S.) is $22.95. What’s more crucial, virtual assistant pay includes only their actual work whereas that of office employee includes other costs in addition to actual salary.

Pay Per Work, Not Per Presence
Virtual assistants don’t use up additional office space from your quarters. So, you’ll save on rent and utility expenses. Also, you don’t need to provide to them benefits, bonuses, paid holidays, and additional assistance as you would to regular employees. Instead, you’ll only have to pay them for what they do. The payment is typically hourly based or project based. Virtual assistants or freelancers have their secured Internet service provider. Therefore, you’ll not spend for additional Internet bandwidth.

Assessing The Math
Let’s take a more specific example and assess the costs for the role of social media manager. A full-time social media manager will earn about $47,190/year. However, the actual cost to the employer will be way higher: about $80,000/year. On the other hand, a virtual social media manager will cost an employer only $25,000/year.

Estimations suggest that hiring a virtual assistant over an in-office employee will save up to 78 percent each year in operating costs alone. Overall, hiring virtual assistant can save you as much as 40 percent in business expenses compared to an in-house employee.

Re-allocate Resources
You can use saved costs into other aspects of your business. You can use saved money on areas such as digital marketing campaigns, cyber-security, operating system improvements, and supply-chain improvements.

More Time For You
Time is the most valuable resource of humans. When you delegate mundane tasks to professionals you’ll earn time for yourself and ensure that the tasks delegated will be done better and faster.

Delegate & Save Time
Don’t try and do all business specific tasks for yourself. Delegate especially those tasks that you find challenging and boring. Virtual assistants have enough skills to do tasks that you find challenging a lot quicker. Researchers suggest that a virtual assistant can save you at least two hours each day.

Don’t Get Stuck In Traditional Hiring Steps
The process of hiring a full-time employee is long and goes through several steps. It involves setting up a proper hiring process, screening through different candidates, interviewing, testing, and more. So rather than spending time and effort to find the perfect employee, try on a virtual assistant that simply gets the work done.

No Training Required
Most virtual assistants have prior work experience and are highly competent in their field. Thus, you don’t need to provide them with training as you would provide to junior employees. You can reap the rewards of the virtual assistant’s skills right away. With junior employees, you have to wait a couple of months until they attain and master the set of skills you need for your business. So, with virtual assistant pour value into your business without additional time and financial waste.

Think Of The Big Picture
Many entrepreneurs get stuck in doing low-level, repetitive tasks rather than focusing on the overall business strategy. Doing routine tasks is a must but unless you delegate them to others, it will harm your business development and growth in the long-term. So delegate these tasks to a virtual assistant to have more time at your disposition for other more large-scale business aspects. You can use saved time to meet new clients, assess new business opportunities, or simply spend more time with your family or friends.

Increased Productivity Level
Hiring a virtual assistant does not only increase profits by lowering costs. It also increases profits by increasing productivity. A study from CTrip shows that employees who work from home outperform those within the office by 13.5 percent. The same study estimates that companies can save up to $11,000 per year per employee by incorporating telecommuting as part of their work process.

Entrepreneurs Love Virtual Assistants
In an article on Inc.com, Diane Gottsman labeled virtual assistants as “the best-kept secret of modern productivity”. Then, the author lists the factors that make virtual assistants more productive. Notably, they will “grow with your company”, “work within your budget”, take on multiple roles, “help you stay connected with customers”, “bring a valuable skillset to your company”, and allow for more delegation.

Amy Vetter, another successful entrepreneur, referring to productivity states: “hiring a virtual assistant is the best move entrepreneurs can make”. She suggests business owners should learn how to delegate more tasks so that they increase the overall business productivity.

Why VAs Are More Productive?
The nature of virtual assistant work makes them naturally productive. Professionals that work as virtual assistant know that they will get paid for being highly productive and adding value to their employers. Since they earnings depend on performance and efficiency, virtual assistants work accordingly, take initiative, and stay on schedule.

On the other hand, employees on payroll will be prone to spending time off of their desks, on breaks, gossips, and irrelevant actions. Although this time will count as working hours, these employees are not contributing directly to the growth of the company.

Increased Business Efficiency and Flexibility
When you outsource your services to a virtual assistant or a virtual assistant team, you increase the efficiency and flexibility of your business. The efficiency factor in this business arrangement is already clear: more free time and more services done for lower costs. More focus put into the overall business performance and more budget into other business aspects.

VAs Earn When They Deliver Work
87.7 percent of virtual assistant get paid on a productive hour basis. What this figure tells is that most virtual assistants will earn their salary only after completing tangible tasks. This unique and efficient relationship is not present between an owner and a full-time employee. With full-time employees, you have to pay them full salaries as stated by the law no matter their productivity.

Water-Cooler Time Effect
A study from Steve Pavlina, a personal development coach, showed that the average in-office employee only spends 90 minutes doing actual work. The remaining time is spent as “water cooler time”, browsing the Internet, and taking extended breaks. On the other hand, a virtual assistant contributed a good four hours (240 minutes) to the business. This means that the contribution into the business efficiency clearly favors a virtual assistant over a full-time employee by a significant margin.

Time Travelling VAs
Virtual assistants help you keep your work issues separate from your personal or private issues. Because this work arrangement does not follow a rigid corporate structure, both the virtual assistant and the supervisor will be more flexible in their schedule. A classic example of added flexibility is hiring virtual assistants from different time zones in order to achieve 24/7-customer support. The timezone differences will benefit you, your business, your employees, and your customers.

It’s a Strategic Partnership
There is a common misguided concern that people have with virtual assistants. They think virtual assistants will leave a business for another one once they have completed a project. Generally, this is not true. Most professional and ethical virtual assistants will seek to grow along with your company. Many of them will be the first ones concerned with the performance of your business.

Since VAs have an interest in your business similar to what you have, hiring them means establishing a strategic partnership. It’s important to let your assistant know about your business model, culture, and ideas. The more you share, the better will the partnership function.

It’s the future
We are heading towards a gig economy. That is what the data says. “The gig economy…is now estimated to be about 34 percent of the workforce and expected to be 43 percent by the year 2020” Intuit (INTU) CEO Brad Smith. A good way to learn how to master managing the workforce of the future is to get a virtual assistant. It’s the best way to cope with the changes in your market.

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