Managing daily duties at a growing company is challenging. You likely have employees juggling multiple tasks simultaneously, and hiring more full-time workers on-site to ease the load may not be feasible.
That's where virtual assistants step in.
Virtual assistants, or independent contractors (ICs), handle basic administrative tasks so you can focus on your business’ other aspects, such as employee engagement, training, client servicing, and more.
But what makes them attractive to employers? Virtual assistants complete various administrative tasks under flexible contracts and are cost-effective (thanks to their low or no overheads), making them an excellent labor choice, especially for small businesses and agencies.
So here’s all you need to know about a virtual assistant’s tasks and the niches they’re best suited to.
9 responsibilities and tasks of a virtual assistant
These ICs wear many hats and provide administrative support to ease business owners’ burdens. Here are some common duties virtual assistants execute regularly:
1. Managing emails
We've all lost valuable time reading emails that pop up every few minutes, which becomes distracting. A virtual assistant gives you back lost time by managing your inbox, allowing you to focus on other vital projects. They also delete spam, reply to simple emails, and ping you if something requires your attention.
2. Answering phone calls
Phone calls — both personal and work — sidetrack your workflow and concentration, but a virtual assistant can handle these minor distractions.
Typically, people prefer hearing a real person pick up the phone over a computerized or prerecorded voicemail. Callers will appreciate talking to an IC who responds to basic queries without troubling you. Virtual assistants can reach out if there's anything that needs your immediate attention.
But remember, virtual assistants work remotely, so it's ideal to find someone in your time zone. If you hire someone who resides on the other side of the world, they may not be able to take calls during your working hours.
3. Scheduling meetings and managing the calendar
The back-and-forth nature of scheduling meetings is a time-consuming and frustrating task. It only worsens with a larger group, as you must find a meeting time that suits everybody. Meeting scheduling tools help, but a virtual assistant is the best option.
ICs check your calendar, monitor your free time, and schedule appointments. They also share reminders in advance, so you're prepared. Plus, they can contact everyone and set up a new meeting if you need to postpone.
4. Organizing data entry
Data entry is a monotonous and highly repetitive activity. It includes real estate listings, candidate resumes for job postings, contact info for lead generation, and more.
However, data entry is a typical specialty for many virtual assistants. A competent IC helps gather, organize, and enter data using Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Sheets. We recommend using online software for automated saving and never losing important client details.
5. Conducting market research
Research is essential to growing a business. You need to analyze competitors, conduct surveys, or find articles to enhance your knowledge about a specific industry.
A virtual assistant helps with several research-related tasks, including data gathering, document compilation, and statistical organization. More experienced virtual assistants perform advanced research methods, such as competitor and SWOT analyses, to collect in-depth information.
You'll still be in charge of most legwork, but having someone eliminate irrelevant information saves time.
6. Handling social media accounts
If you maintain a consistent social media presence for your company or personal brand, consider hiring a dedicated virtual assistant and delegating simple tasks to them.
Although social media management is easy, regardless of the platform, you'll have to give the IC specific instructions before assigning them digital tasks. For example, they need to learn the brand's tone of voice, target market, and communication style when writing and publishing particular material.
Accounting isn’t a requirement for virtual assistants. Still, they help with primary bookkeeping responsibilities, including expense reporting, drafting and sending invoices, and following up to ensure clients make timely payments.
We recommend employing someone with bookkeeping expertise, as they have to edit spreadsheets with sensitive financial data. Be sure to ask them to sign a nondisclosure agreement to protect your information and privacy.
8. Travel planning
As an entrepreneur, you don't have the time to scour the internet for the best deals on plane tickets. However, travel arrangement is another routine job for a virtual assistant. They help with hotel searches and book reservations. Not only this, but they can also organize an entire travel itinerary.
9. Maintaining your website
While website development is a developer and UI/UX designer’s job, a virtual assistant can maintain a website, especially if you sell software as a service (SaaS).
ICs can check for updates, install new plugins, and maintain security patches to secure the site. They can also track glitches or broken links and alert you or contact someone more equipped to handle the situation if there's anything beyond their expertise.
In-demand niches for virtual assistants
With a multibillion-dollar industry on the horizon, virtual assistants are one of the most in-demand professions on the market. Here are a few of the most common niches:
- Ads management: Social media platforms –– such as Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn –– provide advertising options that you can delegate to virtual assistants.
- Project management: Virtual assistants help you plan projects, set deadlines, monitor progress, and more.
- Search engine optimization (SEO): This is an important skill to have if you want to improve your website’s ranking on search engines, such as Google and Bing. A virtual assistant helps with keyword research, content optimization, and link-building to boost SEO.
- Podcast management: A virtual assistant helps conceptualize, script, and promote podcasts in-house and for clients. They also save you time by working with editors and graphic designers to finalize episodes and cover art before coming to you for approval.
- Blog management: If you have a personal or company blog, delegate tasks such as proofreading, editing, and scheduling to a virtual assistant. They also update articles with relevant images and reply to comments.
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