One of the first questions I’m usually asked when a person meets me for the first time is where are you based. The second question is what does virtual mean. In the world of virtual administration (VA), location is almost secondary now to the ability to deliver. Location does matter in business, don’t get me wrong, but as businesses move towards fully online systems the requirement to be on site to provide administrative support is lessening.
Technology and software have changed extensively over the last 10 years. Even the last 5 years have dramatically changed the online landscape. Facebook (approx. 14 years), Twitter (12 years), Instagram (8 years) and online banking did not exist 15 years ago. Developing a website was a complex and often expensive undertaking, and administration support was usually structured around staff and temps.
Online systems are getting better at automated delivery
The development of online systems has opened up a whole new world of business, with the ability to manage businesses completely online. As online systems get better, businesses can now be run single-handedly with the ability to automate so many tasks that no longer need to be staffed.
Virtual is defined as not physically existing, but the concept of virtual administration is still to have someone operating in a trusted role within the business construct, but in a way that you physically do not see them for the majority of the work. The relationship is still like a person is working alongside the team with deliverables and structure. The important difference is that VAs are consultants who are not employees of the business.
Building trust takes time
There are different viewpoints depending on what industry you work in and how comfortable you are with using a VA. From my experience with the rural industry, it takes a long time to build a relationship with unfamiliar people. Trust takes time, and the scope of a VA is very difficult to understand. In stark contrast, a fairly new online business would have no hesitation in outsourcing to a VA as they understand the nature of online business and a virtual team structure.
Adapting to change is critical
Business owners need to adapt. As more business functions move solely online, as well as banking and business systems, there is a real need for businesses to get on board the virtual environment. VAs can help transition businesses from a paper based / office structure to an online structure. We do this by learning and listening to how your business works, then offering solutions to fit the business needs. There are experts in all levels of business who can also support so it’s not just VAs who can assist with transitioning, and often will recommend others to assist, but businesses need someone who can understand who they are and what they need.
Businesses can save money using a VA
Virtual also means cost saving in a lot of ways. By not hiring employees but using a VA, businesses are taking a lot of cost elements out of the support roles. VAs do not want to replace the teams already in place, but provide an extra level of assistance. If you need a full-time administrator in your office then a VA won’t work! Teams are being asked to deliver more than ever before, with less time and less training. VAs can help to take some of the pressure off the team and allow them to focus on delivery of their tasks, whilst being supported virtually.
Here are a few ideas for what you can ask a VA to do virtually:
- Online research
- Data entry
- Social media
- Document editing and finalisation
- Database entry
- Presentation development
- Website building
- Diary scheduling
- Team travel coordination
- Event preparation
- Email management
I’ve done nearly every one of these tasks in the past week, so I hope this gives you an idea of the range of support a VA can provide to your business virtually to help you deliver and grow your business.