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The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Assistants in 2021

Virtual Assistant 2021

With the world waking up to the virtual working revolution in the aftermath of COVID-19, remote working has increasingly become the norm rather than the exception.

The virtual assistant industry growing at a rapid pace and it’s clear that virtual assistants are set to become increasingly commonplace in the modern working world.

Having been at the forefront of virtual assistants since we were founded in 2008 with over 5,000 clients globally, we know a thing or two on this subject. Here are the five most asked questions answered, to inform you on how virtual assistants can transform the way you work.

What is a virtual assistant?

A virtual assistant is a business support professional who works with you on a remote basis. Outsourcing business support gives organisations the opportunity to pay only for the services they need and save costs on lengthy hiring and onboarding processes associated with hiring in-house staff. Using this option offers greater flexibility and support over busy periods and can protect business continuity during periods of staff sickness or holiday.

Reasons a business may choose to work with a virtual assistant include lower costs, time saved, greater agility with support offered, and to create more time for in house teams to focus on core business tasks.
60% of virtual assistants are highly trained, educated and experienced. Virtual assistants are skilled professionals and can work with you to streamline processes, recommend best practice and work to get your business running smoothly. They are experts at business support and usually work with several clients at once, always keeping on top of trends across a range of industries.

The growth of this industry is a result of the changing shift from businesses as the discuss the decision to hire an in-house PA, or outsource to a virtual assistant. Our article on the rise of the virtual assistant outlines why we have seen such an increase.

What do virtual assistants do?

Virtual assistants specialise in delivering administration and business support services on a remote basis. This can be from their home, an office – anywhere in the world. Typical tasks you might expect a virtual assistant to deliver include diary and email management, call handling, document production and personal assistant services.
Virtual assistants can also support with a broader range of tasks, including CRM management, social media scheduling and bookkeeping.

Examples of services offered by virtual assistants:

  • Diary and email management
  • General administration
  • Call handling
  • Transcription and typing
  • Data entry
  • Reporting
  • Document creation
  • HR and recruitment
  • Customer and CRM management
  • Bookkeeping and Payroll
  • Social media and community management

For a comprehensive breakdown of each service offered by a virtual assistant, read our blog on services that a virtual assistant provides.

Working on a remote basis comes with a number of benefits – you save on equipment costs, gain greater flexibility with the hours that your VA works, and virtual workers are even proven to be more productive.

How much do virtual assistants cost?

How much you will pay for a virtual assistant often depends on their experience and specialty. On average, a virtual assistant can range anywhere from £15-£40 per hour depending on what tasks you require.

For example, a virtual assistant who is qualified to provide bookkeeping and payroll services will price at a higher rate.
With SmartPA, our indicative packages start at £300 per month, but each package is bespoke to the needs of the client and priced accordingly.

You might need 10 hours of diary and email management in a month, or maybe its 30 hours a week on administration. Your package can also scale to meet growing requirements, meaning that costs will be in line with the services you use, so that you are never left without support.

On average, we save our clients 40% compared to hiring an administrative assistant. Not only are you saving money – you are saving time that would otherwise be spent on lengthy onboarding and induction processes.

Where do you find virtual assistants?

Now that you are well-versed on the benefits of hiring a virtual assistant, you might wonder how you go about finding one. There are a few ways to find a virtual assistant – it could be through word of mouth, through a google search or on a third-party website.

At SmartPA, we are the industry leaders in virtual assistants. Work with us as we take time to understand your requirements and the culture of your business before we match you with the right virtual assistant. Working with our team of virtual assistants gives you additional security if your VA is on holiday or unwell, there will always be support available to you.

Since launching in 2008, our virtual assistants all go through an intensive 6 week training and accreditation program.

Find out more about our virtual assistants by visiting our website here.

How to hire a virtual assistant

There are a few key steps to take before you hire a virtual assistant. First, take stock of what your requirements are and what you are aiming to achieve from working with a virtual assistant. Is it so you can focus more on your strengths, or to get more time back in your day?

When you work with SmartPA to hire your VA, we start by getting an understanding of your requirements first and creating a picture of your administration headaches. We will ask questions to understand what tasks are taking up most of your time, what you enjoy doing the least and where you think a virtual assistant can help.

We will also ask you more about yourself and your business to help us get a picture of the most effective ways to work with you.

On average, business owners and managers spend 120 days per year on administrative tasks – this is valuable time where you are not focussed on the core function of your business. Working with us gives you more opportunities for you, and your business growth.

Once you have hired a virtual assistant, you might be asking how to get the best out of the partnership. Read our blog post: 5 Outsourcing Best Practices your business should follow.

Benefits of using a virtual assistant

Businesses are often challenged with individual workloads and capacities. Administration and general office duties can eat up a big chunk of your capacity, and this often results in businesses hiring further resource.

As a result, this can increase a businesses commitment to long-term resource and potentially risk profitability in the long-term.

Outsourcing to a virtual assistant, instead of hiring an in-house PA or secretary can have numerous benefits for a business.

Here are the benefits of using a virtual assistant:

Save money

Like any outsourced service, when businesses choose to go down this route, one of the core benefits is financial. On average, using a virtual assistant is 40% more cost-effective than hiring a full-time in-house employee. Moreover, you have flexibility around how much time you use each month, reducing your commitment if you are a seasonal business.

Gain back time

Whether you are a business owner or an employee, the impact general administration can have on your productivity and therefore, the business's productivity is huge. For example, on average SME leaders dedicate 28% of their time to processing claims. 

By using a virtual assistant, you can delegate all of those time-consuming tasks and free up valuable time to focus on revenue-generating tasks.

We recently caught up with one of our client's who highlighted gaining back time as their key benefit of using SmartPA virtual assistants. Watch the YouTube video here.

No training required

With a virtual assistant, you don't have to go through a complete training process - only a swift onboarding process. Virtual assistants come packed with experience as they have often worked across multiple businesses in many industries. After a quick onboarding process to get them on your systems, they will be flying in no time!

Get started with SmartPA

SmartPA is a trusted supplier of virtual assistant services with ten years’ experience delivering business support services to over 5,000 clients globally.

Our established team of virtual personal assistants offer the flexibility, agility and tailored capability required to maximise your resource and effectively complete tasks in today’s reactive business environment. We offer bespoke packages, working with you to understand your requirements from the outset.

Customer service means everything to us, and our mission is to work with you to deliver sustained improvement – every step of the way.

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