These days, it’s becoming increasingly common for budding entrepreneurs to take over and do a multitude of tasks that are not related to their expertise. This may come in the form of scheduling meetings, organizing calendars, managing a database, and other administrative tasks that eat up a chunk of their time. In turn, this results in them struggling to grow their business and focus on their core expertise. Hiring a general virtual assistant is one solution to ease this situation.
Growing a business takes more than just hard work and talent, entrepreneurs must be surrounded by the right people. By the “right people,” it means they should have at least someone who will be able to help in their day-to-day tasks and provide support for their operations.
Having an administrative secretary in-house is a good choice but will cost more in the long run due to the overhead costs. In fact, a recent study showed that businesses in the US can save as much as $11,000 annually by hiring a virtual assistant versus having someone in-house. Hence, more companies are turning to the services of a general virtual assistant (GVA).
What is a General Virtual Assistant?
A GVA is an outsourced, typically offshore assistant, who, from the name itself, works virtually. Unlike virtual assistants with a specialty like content writers, web developers, or graphic artists, general virtual assistants have a broader scope when it comes to their job description.
They act as your office administrator or personal assistant – whichever you need. A GVA may be assigned as a personal assistant to the CEO or to provide support to a whole department. The only difference is that they do all of their work online instead of on-site.
What most companies do these days is hire a GVA offshore for lower labor costs without sacrificing the quality of work. General virtual assistants from developing countries, especially in the South East Asian region, are mostly preferred due to their fluency in English and the proven quality of their work.
GVAs take away a lot of tasks from a staff or department’s plate. They help alleviate the heavy workload of an individual or a team by being in charge of routine tasks that would otherwise consume the time of an organization’s onshore staff.
General Virtual Assistant Tasks
Just how “general” can a GVA’s tasks be? Having such a broad scope of tasks and responsibilities, it’s not a surprise that GVAs can accomplish a lot for their clients. Here are the typical tasks a general virtual assistant can do for their clients:
- Calendar and schedule management
- Getting in touch with clients as needed (sending out personal emails or following up as needed)
- Organizing and filtering their client’s email
- Respond to queries on a chat box (whether live chat or not)
- Appointment scheduling or booking
- Monitor recruitment advertisements across multiple platforms (before passing them on to the recruitment team)
- Make and receive calls
- Light research work (look for relevant content about given topics)
- Maintain a professional relationship between the client and their internal/external contacts
- Help in setting up autoresponders on channels like Facebook or e-newsletter platforms
- Monitor multiple social media accounts along with the social media manager
- Keep your database updated (such as contact lists on CRMs or marketing platforms)
- Look for potential leads that fit the provided criteria
- Take minutes of meetings and prepare a report based on those minutes
- Organize files and documents on a cloud-based storage
- Take care of personal errands (book hotels or flights, make reservations, purchase gifts online, etc.)
- Create and manage basic reports to track KPIs, weekly tasks, and sales
- Prepare basic presentations such as slideshows
- Monitor blogs (check for responses, comments, feedback, etc.)
- Schedule posts/content on blogs (content provided by a writer or social media manager)
- Transcribe audio recordings of meetings, voicemails, or presentations
- Write blog comments that create backlinks to your website
- Engage in forums or discussion sites to promote your brand and increase awareness
- Product uploading for your e-commerce website (Shopify, WooCommerce)
- Monitor and keep track of product stocks on your e-commerce store
- Track product/service pricing and keep them updated (on a spreadsheet with prices provided by the management)
What General Virtual Assistant skills should one look for?
With the swift growth of this industry, more and more people are making a career switch to becoming a GVA. They can either work from home or be office based under an outsourcing firm. With such a large pool of choices, choosing one person from another may be challenging.
The skills required for a GVA highly vary depending on the client’s needs. Even if GVAs are someone who can do general, day-to-day tasks, clients should look for the following skills when planning to hire one:
Since a GVA will be working remotely, exceptional communication skills are highly important. They should be capable of getting their message across clearly to their colleagues even if all their communications are only done online. Being able to convey instructions plainly, making and receiving feedback, and asking the right questions are signs of a great communicator.
They should be proficient in both oral and written communication due to the fact that making calls, writing emails, and doing presentations are just a few of the main tasks typically assigned to GVAs.
General virtual assistants do all their work through a laptop or computer and it is a must for them to be reachable during their working hours. Although IT issues are sometimes unavoidable, it will be a big help if a GVA has basic troubleshooting knowledge to promptly address and fix those problems.
Having proficiency across multiple software and applications is also a plus. Most GVAs do their tasks via Microsoft programs or G Suite applications – potential employers can save time training their GVAs if they’re experienced with these tools.
Being one of the most common tasks assigned to a GVA, having data entry skills are essential. This may come in the form of formatting documents, encoding data to make it easier to understand and more presentable, transcribing, or organizing files.
Although it’s not a must, quick typing skills are also important especially if a client is hiring a GVA solely for data entry.
GVAs who need to engage with clients need to have exceptional customer service skills. Aside from communicating with business patrons effectively, they must also always provide a positive customer experience as they will be representing your business.
Someone who understands the basics of customer service adds tremendous value to any organization. They will help maintain or enhance a company’s reputation and ensure that customers remain engaged with the brand or business they’re representing.
Being knowledgeable about implementing strategies to productively complete tasks on time is also a skill that a GVA must have. This includes helping to manage a team, tracking deadlines, and monitoring a project’s progress.
Having a background in project management tools such as Trello, Zoho Projects, and Asana is a plus in a GVA’s portfolio.
Benefits of hiring a GVA
Since GVAs are usually freelancers or outsourced, an employer can save a lot on other overhead costs. The low cost of living in other countries means reduced expenses on wages. Employers won’t also have to pay for equipment, insurance, taxes, and other miscellaneous fees.
Aside from costs, employers also save time on training their virtual staff.
By delegating ad hoc tasks to a GVA, clients spend less time doing unrelated tasks to their specialty. In turn, they can give more of their attention to growing their business and networking with people in the industry they belong to.
This allows entrepreneurs to continuously build their businesses to their full potential.
Having a virtual assistant is the perfect solution whether a business is scaling up or down. They support the entire team by helping them manage their work volume and extending a hand to them throughout the transition process.
A GVA works depending on the client’s hours. No matter the time difference, a virtual assistant will be ready to cater to their client’s needs.
Being self-employed, GVAs also work twice as hard to ensure client satisfaction. Slacking off might result in them being less likely to get hired by other employers in the future. That’s why their goal is to always maximize their hours and make sure they use it productively.