What is a virtual personal assistant?
Besides the fact that they work remotely, a virtual personal assistant is no different from an in-office PA. Given technological advancements over the past few years, a virtual personal assistant can perform the same tasks as an in-house one (administrative or otherwise). The only exception is they can’t make your morning coffee!
How the virtual PA industry has progressed
Streamlining and efficiency is a distinct goal for all modern businesses. The virtual personal assistant industry is no exception. This has meant an increase in ‘specialised’ virtual PAs within the remote workforce. This means that it’s possible to hire a PA who focuses on a niche that is relevant to any business. For example, those who focus on SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) or digital marketing. This is helpful as it means talented and technically skilled individuals are easy to find and available at short notice.
A virtual personal assistant’s tasks
Business admin of any kind
- Diary management
- Email management
- Research and outreach
- Event planning
- Event management
- Personal tasks
- Family tasks
- Holiday planning and booking
Examples of specialised virtual PA roles
- Social Media Management
- SEO friendly content creation
- SEO strategists
- Website design and development
- Digital marketing
- Software development
- Medical, legal and audio transcription
- Translation services
- Inventory management
- Data protection and security
- Market research
Why hire a virtual personal assistant?
1. Save time and money
Virtual personal assistants are cheaper than in-office PAs. Except for their time, expenses incurred (coffee, wifi, floor space) are self-paid. Software (Harvest is popular for this) tracks your virtual PAs productivity by the minute. This means the only thing you pay for is time used productively. You don’t pay for employee catch-ups, coffee breaks or time wasted on social media.
2. Scale your business
Most small to medium-sized business owners don’t have the time to oversee all aspects of their enterprise. The return on investment from hiring an individual who completes time-consuming tasks is higher than the cost of hiring these individuals.
It is the delegation of these tasks, from phone calls, to SEO targetted content creation, that allows small businesses to scale up. Clear and effective strategy is arguably the most important component of business growth. A virtual PA who completes time and energy-intensive tasks means more free time and resources. These can then go into creating and following a growth strategy. Only then can a business focus on scaling up.
3. Improve health and achieve a work-life balance
A study at Harvard University found illnesses such as heart disease and stroke are strongly correlated with jobs which cause constant states of stress. They found that CEOs who maintained a work-life balance performed better. Having management who have outside interests, therefore, is not only beneficial, but crucial to any company culture.
4. Delegate and maximise efficiency
Any enterprise will be more efficient when employees can focus on completing specific tasks to a high standard. Ability to delegate work in a precise manner allows any business to start to scale up.
Where to find a virtual personal assistant
The best way to find a virtual PA who is reliable and efficient is to go through an agency. These agencies have highly selective recruitment processes. This is due to the large number of individuals wanting to work remotely (who wouldn’t). Additionally, it is in the best interests of the agent to recruit virtual PAs with several years of experience and excellent references. Finally, the PAs are assessed on an ongoing basis, based on client reviews, to ensure top-tier work.
Freelancer sites such as Fiverr or Upwork can be excellent. However, the vetting and feedback process is less rigorous – which makes hiring risky.
What prices am I looking at
The good news for anyone looking to hire is the market for virtual PAs is highly competitive. This means when going through an agency, PAs come at as little as R219 an hour. Additionally, most agencies have pricing plans wherein the more hours you require, the less you pay per hour.
The return on investment from hiring virtual PA is huge. The ability to delegate certain tasks means individuals within an SME, or those running their own business can be more productive. It means saving time, money and maintaining a work-life balance. This means this time can be dedicated to more important business areas. This enables businesses to thrive, grow and scale-up.