You can find many an article or blog post suggesting tasks you can outsource to a virtual assistant, but many of them focus on the obvious activities like email and calendar management, data-entry, and reception services.
As the profession matures though, more and more virtual assistants (and the companies that provide VAs) are selling skills that reach beyond general administration, into specialised realms like accounting or website design and development.
Indeed, this growing breadth of service-scope makes hiring a VA a worthwhile proposition for any business, given the economies inherent in the use of remote resources compared to the cost of employing part-time, full-time, temporary, or permanent in-house staff.
Dare to Outsource Differently
In this post, you’ll find some ideas for outsourcing tasks which you might not have given a thought to. Perhaps you assumed for instance, that there’s no alternative to keeping them under your direct management.
After all, these aren’t the usual tasks associated with saving your personal time…
No! These are skilled activities, necessary for business improvement and growth, and which typically command a high price, either for the employment of staff to perform them, or the fees payable to niche service providers.
But as clients of Virtual Done Well will tell you, the virtual assistant profession has changed, and if you look in the right places, you’ll find VAs capable of performing the following tasks at the very highest level, at a fraction of the cost of a conventional service provider or internally hired professional.
Handling Human Resource Matters
If you own a “small business” with 100 or more employees, you’ll be aware of the administration efforts required just to have these people working for you, never mind actually managing them. At the same time, it can be costly to employ a human resources specialist.
Consequently, many small-business owners either look after HR matters themselves or spread the tasks around among their managers or administrative staff members.
If you find a virtual assistant with the right skills though, you can have your own remote-working human resources manager. He or she can perform many HR tasks for you, including:
- Drafting employee handbooks, policies and procedures, and other HR documentation
- Initial screening of job candidates
- Creating and conducting pre-employment tests or questionnaires
- Employee time-tracking
- Managing employee files and records
- Hiring, managing, and organising payment for online freelancers (if your business uses freelancers regularly)
If you include human resources management in the roles you outsource to a virtual assistant, you will of course need to be careful about data security and online privacy, and you’ll ideally need somebody who understands employment legislation in your country.
However, even if you only outsource less sensitive HR tasks, the amount of time you save yourself, your managers, and/or your in-house administrative team will be quite substantial—and that’s time that can be spent in ways more immediately productive to your business.
Accounting and Bookkeeping
Apart from being time-consuming, accounting/bookkeeping is another of those business-activities which you can’t get away from, and which are critical for the financial wellbeing of your business. If you hire a certified public accountant (CPA), it can also be an expensive activity.
Yet this is also a duty you can outsource to a virtual assistant. Some VAs also happen to be CPAs (and can hence deal with complicated financial activities and even provide advice), but there are many more who are perfectly adept at handling less complex, but equally critical bookkeeping tasks, such as:
- Managing payment of your bills and invoices
- Tracking accounts payable and receivable
- Preparing your invoices and forwarding them to your customers
- Pursuing overdue accounts
- Compiling financial reports
Just like human resources management, if bookkeeping is something you decide to outsource to a virtual assistant, you must take steps to keep your financial data secure.
It might be a good idea to delegate in phases. You could start initially with management of financial information and allow the trust to build between your VA and yourself before outsourcing tasks involving financial transactions.
Website Design, Development and Maintenance
At the beginning of this post, we mentioned that that our aim is to inform you about some of the tasks that are less obviously suitable to outsource to a virtual assistant. We also mentioned that these tasks contribute directly to the growth of your business. Nowhere is this more true than in tasks associated with your business website.
It’s universally recognised that the business website has become one of the most important marketing and customer-engagement tools available.
Unless you’re lucky enough though, to have a long-standing business relationship with a trusted and affordable web design/development provider, finding a competent company to look after your website/s at a reasonable price can be hard work.
It should be less difficult to outsource to a virtual assistant who specialises in websites—and more affordable, especially when you consider that to be effective, your websites require constant updating and maintenance.
Here are a few of the tasks that a good website specialist/VA can take on for you:
- Design and build WordPress websites for your business
- Install WordPress themes and plugins
- Improve website functionality and aesthetics
- Develop and improve the security of your website
- Website maintenance, troubleshooting, and testing
Whether you have one business website or a dozen, you should be able to find a virtual assistant to take all your web development, design, and maintenance worries off your shoulders. Moreover, you’ll find flexibility to be one of the major perks of outsourcing to a VA rather than a web design/development company.
In Praise of VAs Who Specialise
Under most business circumstances, getting specialised tasks completed (like human resources management, website development, bookkeeping, and research) ends up being expensive or time-consuming—or sometimes both.
When you outsource to a Virtual assistant who specialises in certain activities though, you’ll not only get these tasks fulfilled more affordably; you’ll also benefit from a lot more flexibility.
For example, if you want a VA to work on a single project for you, he or she can do that. If you want her to take on tasks on a frequent but irregular basis, she can do that too, and you only pay for the time that she works for you. If you want your VA to work long-term, integrating into your team for an indefinite period, well… that’s even better all round.
In most cases, you’ll find that even specialist VAs are happy to perform general administrative and organisational activities. That means you can benefit from an extra pair of (virtual) hands on your team for when things get hectic, as well as someone who can keep your accounts in order, build your websites, or handle your HR.
Specialisation and Generalisation?
Try asking a web design firm, market research company, HR consulting provider, or CPA if they wouldn’t mind just picking up a few general admin tasks for you when they have a moment, and see what they say. You can be almost certain the answer won’t begin with “Y” and end with “S”.
If you outsource to a virtual assistant, it’s a different story—one which proves that specialisation and generalisation can go comfortably hand-in-hand. So the next time you think about trying the services of a VA, consider outsourcing some of the less obvious, more specialised, but no less important tasks necessary to help your business grow.