This week, in our review of productivity principles, we visit The 4-Hour Workweek, which is…
August 15, 2019
Do You Need a Virtual Assistant?
If you’re an entrepreneur, you have to wear lots of hats. Not only do you have to do the work that your business is designed to do, but you have to worry about taxes, business registration, answering phones, making copies – it all adds up. But you don’t have the money or convenience to hire an assistant. What do you do?
Luckily, there are options. Many people are opting to hire a virtual assistant to handle some of the more repetitive, mundane day-to-day activities.
What is a virtual assistant?
The term “virtual” generally does not mean non-human. The Balance Small Business defines a virtual assistant as “a person who provides support services to other businesses from a remote location.” They can help with chores that you don’t have enough time to do – and if they’re local, they can even run errands for you. Productivity guru Tim Ferriss advocates the use of virtual assistants to outsource work in his book The 4-Hour Workweek.
It’s a huge industry. Fiverr.com listed more than 11,000 people willing to be virtual assistants and perform certain tasks for clients.
Virtual assistants can do many things:
- Online research. Working on a PowerPoint presentation? Need some information on the competition? These are easy tasks for a virtual assistant; they can even create reports and presentations for you.
- Data entry. There is nothing more mundane than entering loads of data into a database. If you have to manually do this, consider a virtual assistant to do it for you.
- Responding to emails and phone calls. With a phone service like Ninja Number, you can share your phone number with up to 5 phones so someone else can answer the phone if you’re busy. A virtual assistant can answer frequently asked questions and take messages for you, and even respond to messages if they know enough about the company.
- Email maintenance. Virtual assistants can respond to basic emails for you and flag the ones for you to respond to.
- Transcription. Need an interview transcribed? Minutes to a meeting? Outsource it.
- Personal tasks. From buying gifts to sending thank-you notes and RSVPs, they can take care of these for you.
- Booking travel. Outsource all travel plans, from choosing the best fare to finding hotels and booking a rental car.
- Appointments. Give control of your calendar to a virtual assistant and let them create appointments and let you know of any conflicts.
- Manage social media accounts/blogs. Managing your social media accounts can be time-consuming. If you have an editorial calendar, you can let your assistant take over posting to these accounts and writing/publishing blog posts. You can also let them maintain your website if you’re not technically savvy.
Bookkeeping/accounting. These tasks require a certain level of trust with the assistant, since you’ll probably be handing over financial information, passwords, etc. Use this with caution, and only outsource this with a person you have worked with for a while.
How to find a virtual assistant
Virtual assistants can be pretty inexpensive, since they’re not full time and often have several other clients they work with. Many assistants specialize in certain tasks – administrative, technical, financial – so you may not be able to find one person to handle everything.
You can find virtual assistants on several websites:
- Upwork calls itself “the world’s largest online workspace,” with thousands of freelancers with services ranging from design and marketing to writing, administration and other short-term tasks.
- Fiverr is cheap, and you have to be very selective in your hires, but you can find lots of people willing to do a wide variety of tasks. Read the reviews carefully, make sure you make it clear what you want done, and be willing to pay more than $5 for difficult, time-consuming tasks.
- Belay specializes in virtual assistants, bookkeepers, website specialists and “everything you need to grow your business.”
- Zirtual has different plans based on how many people and how many hours a month you need them
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