What exactly is a VA?

Since lockdown began back when the sun was shining, the letters VA probably passed you by and you didn’t even notice them. Just a couple of random letters of the alphabet.

However, since we’ve all be forced to work from home, I suspect these two letters have appeared more and more in your social media feeds, in your network groups, I also reckon you even know two or three of them.

So, what does VA stand for? VA is a virtual assistant – and in the words of Wikipedia:

A virtual assistant (typically abbreviated to VA, also called a virtual office assistant) is generally self-employed and provides professional administrative, technical, or creative (social) assistance to clients remotely from a home office.

However, I suspect what really puzzles you is: what does a virtual assistant actually do?

Well that is the magical question. A VA can do a huge variety of tasks – more on this later.

Invariably, a VA would have had several years’ experience as a PA (personal assistant), and EA (executive assistant) or a secretary / team admin support within an organisation gaining and building their craft and skillset. That said, there are a number who have not and have just as good a box of skills as the next.

A large number decide to take the leap of faith and go it alone for a variety of reasons such as to improve their work/life balance, grow their family or just to avoid the commute. What is even better, is that there is a huge VA support network online to help, support and ease the transition from employment to business owners.

Whilst they are all new (complete assumption here!) to being a business owner, the actual work they take on for their clients is, for them, the easy and enjoyable bit! They will have a huge knowledge base, skillset and back catalogue of experience that will stand them in good stead for themselves and all their clients.

So, what does a VA do? As Wiki states, there are a huge number of tasks that a VA can help a business to:

  • Keep the paperwork in check
  • Manage your diary, your inbox and your CRM system
  • Create documents and presentations – and anything to do with word processing
  • Chase invoices / payment
  • Content management for your website, social media and newsletters
  • Event planning
  • Telephone answering
  • Basic accounting (provided they are AML registered)

VAs are used to juggling conflicting priorities, a number of bosses and tasks. Most are people pleasers by nature so, if a task is not listed in their services, just ask and it’s often just done (or they will know someone who will be able to do it!).

How does working with a VA actually work?

A VA will become an integral part of your business and will be there as a sounding board, as well as someone will be able to give you another perspective, but most importantly, be there to do all those tasks that mean you’re working long hours and allow you to concentrate on what you enjoy the most and are good at.

For the VA to do their job properly you’ll probably need to set up a company email for them and/or access to your inbox and calendar as well as your files. If they’re looking after your social media, access to those too.

Before you sign a contract with a VA check they have:

  • Insurance
  • ICO registration
  • Anti-Money Laundering (AML) registration if handling the books

So, if you’re thinking of engaging a VA, spend an hour making a list of all those tasks that you:

a) Do regularly
b) Hate doing
c) Don’t have time to do
d) Are always left to another day

When that’s done get some recommendations for a local VA and have a chat. Whilst it’s not imperative to get a local VA, it’s often good to meet occasionally face-to-face as it builds the relationship. Don’t be afraid to contact several VAs as you do need to feel they’re a good fit. It maybe that you outsource different aspects to a couple of different VAs, as different VAs have different skillsets and services.

We really are a fab industry and you won’t be disappointed to have one on your side.

Contact Susan on 02023 290 2750

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