What is a Virtual Assistant – and 53 Tasks They Can Do for You



What is a Virtual Assistant - and 47 Tasks They Can Do for You

A reader asks:

What does a virtual assistant do? And how can one help my business? I run a small business but the volume of emails and customer inquiries has exploded. It’s challenging to stay organized. Yet we can’t afford to hire a full-time administrative assistant or office manager — nor do we have the space, because our office is tiny. A colleague suggested I hire a virtual assistant. Can you give me some idea of the types of tasks a virtual assistant can do?   



— Howard from Albuquerque, New Mexico 

Howard, this is a great question. Yes, we will explain exactly what a virtual assistant does.  We’ll go one better for you.

At the end of this article we outline 53 different tasks a virtual assistant (VA) can do for a small business, so that you have examples to draw on.  But first, let’s answer some basic information.

What is a Virtual Assistant


Small Business Deals


What is a Virtual Assistant?

A virtual assistant, often shortened to VA, is a professional who operates in a remote working environment, providing assistance in various areas such as administrative tasks, business development initiatives, social media management, marketing campaigns, and much more.

These professionals are pivotal in the day-to-day operation of small businesses, entrepreneurs, and managerial roles, offering support by managing recurring tasks and handling administrative work that otherwise consumes valuable time.

While these assistants typically operate from their home offices, their geographic location can be anywhere – in the United States or overseas.

Virtual assistants have seen an upsurge in their popularity within small businesses in the past decade, primarily due to their flexibility.



Depending on your business needs, a VA can be hired part-time or full-time. Whether you require their services for 20 hours, 30 hours, or even a full 40-hour week, VAs provide versatility to cater to your unique requirements.

The compensation model for virtual assistants can be quite varied. Some may prefer to be paid by the hour, while others might opt for a fixed weekly or monthly stipend.

In many cases, you may find a better value proposition by hiring a full-time virtual assistant for several reasons:

  • Prices can be surprisingly affordable, especially for offshore workers.
  • It’s easier to integrate a full-time assistant into regular workflows and get deeper benefit from the arrangement.
  • A full-time VA will be better positioned to learn any special software apps you require, develop cordial relationships with co-workers and customers, and grow with you as the business grows.

There are two primary types of virtual assistants – independent freelancers and those associated with a company or agency.



When you collaborate with a virtual assistant company, you often communicate with a manager who comprehends your needs and ensures you get a VA that is the best fit for your operations.

Virtual Assistant

Benefits of a Virtual Assistant  

In the fast-paced business world, the use of a virtual assistant can significantly amplify your productivity. Consider this – how a business owner or a key manager allocates their time could be the most critical determinant of business success.

Thus, it is imperative for them to concentrate on high-value activities and strategic matters, leaving routine and administrative tasks to their reliable virtual assistant.



Rob Levin, Chairman of Work Better Now, puts it this way, drawing from his own experience.

“In order to spend time on high-value activities, it was important for me to spend less time on lower-value activities. This is why I not only hired a virtual assistant 5 years ago but why I co-founded a company, Work Better Now , to provide virtual assistants to other business owners.”

Levin’s partner Andrew Cohen and Work Better Now’s CEO, says the most common question asked by the company’s prospective clients is “what can a virtual assistant do for me?”

To answer that question, Cohen provides a list of 47 tasks a virtual assistant can do.



53 Tasks a Virtual Assistant Can Do

A virtual assistant is a highly skilled independent contractor who remotely performs a plethora of tasks. Ranging from scheduling appointments to screening and responding to emails, a VA’s duties are far-reaching.

Yet, scheduling and emails are just the tip of the iceberg. If a task can be done online, a VA is more than capable of executing it.

This resource is your comprehensive guide to navigating the world of virtual assistants, clarifying their roles and highlighting the significant benefits they can bring to your business.

What is a Virtual Assistant calender



Calendar Management

The task of managing a calendar, both professional and personal, often poses one of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs.

Virtual assistants step in here, transforming a daunting task into an effortless process by providing reminders and scheduling appointments. They offer the following services:

1. Coordinate and schedule calls and appointments.  A task that can save business owners approximately 10 hours a week, freeing them from doing these tasks they find cumbersome.

The key to success here is providing your VA with clear rules about scheduling, including whom and when to schedule. They can also assist in coordinating schedules for other team members.



2. Confirm appointments. It’s a best practice to provide your VA with a list of appointments to confirm, particularly for the next day. This practice can prevent time wastage caused by forgotten appointments or last-minute cancellations from the other party.

3. Provide reminders about calls and appointments. It can be easy to forget to make a call, particularly when you’re out of the office or in back-to-back meetings. A VA can provide timely reminders, calling or texting you a few minutes before your commitment to ensure you remember.

4. Reschedule calls and appointments. A VA also serves as your communication bridge, informing the other party of any schedule changes and confirming the rescheduled time.

5. Provide notice of schedule changes to others. The virtual assistant will also provide notice to the other party and get the rescheduled time confirmed.



6. Protect time. VAs can also help protect your time from unnecessary interruptions. They can step in and politely decline requests for meetings that may not be a top priority.

7. Send and maintain a “pending list”. Virtual assistants can provide you with a weekly list of individuals who haven’t responded to meeting or call requests, alerting you when your intervention may be needed.

8. Inform significant others when you will be  out of town. VAs can also keep your loved ones informed about your travel schedule. They can share a calendar invite with the out-of-town dates and your flight and hotel details, ensuring seamless communication.

What is a Virtual Assistant



Email and Contact Management and Communications

In the digital age, a massive volume of emails can inundate your inbox, and maintaining an up-to-date contact list can become a task in itself.

This is where the expertise of a virtual assistant comes into play. By entrusting these tasks to a VA, you can reclaim precious hours of your time. Here’s a look at the range of activities a VA can handle:

9. Screen emails. Virtual assistants can manage your inbox based on specific rules set by you. They can perform tasks such as deleting, responding, forwarding emails or flagging critical ones for your attention.

10. Add people to contacts. Every time you engage with someone new, be it a call, meeting, or any other form of interaction, your VA can ensure that the person’s details are promptly added to your contacts.

11. Update people’s info to contacts. There could be instances where you don’t immediately have access to all of a contact’s information. In such cases, a VA can gradually fill in these gaps, adding information to contacts as and when it becomes available, such as details from an email signature.

12. Add contacts to CRM. A key reason small businesses don’t leverage their CRM application effectively is the time-consuming data entry involved. Your VA can take on this task, adding to and organizing your CRM system.

virtual Assistant

Phone Tasks

When you require someone to handle phone interactions or even carry out light receptionist duties without the need for a physical presence, a virtual assistant can rise to the occasion.

13. Perform light receptionist duties. There are instances when you may expect important calls but might not be available to answer them personally. This is where a virtual assistant becomes invaluable.

By redirecting such calls to your VA, you can ensure you don’t miss any vital communication, while also being able to focus on your primary tasks at hand without interruptions.

14. Transcribe voicemails. In our fast-paced digital age, most voicemails can be accessed via email. These can be forwarded to your VA who, apart from transcribing the voicemail content, can also conduct any necessary follow-up activities.

This could include reaching out to the caller or setting reminders for you to respond, thereby streamlining your communication processes.

What is a Virtual Assistant travel

Travel

The task of organizing flights and hotels for business travel can be a surprisingly time-consuming process, often pulling you away from your core business operations. This is where the skills of a virtual assistant can prove indispensable. A VA can handle:

15. Research flights. Given your specific criteria such as preferred airlines, seating arrangements, and timings, a VA can perform a thorough analysis of various flight options.

They can then present you with the best alternatives, ensuring that you not only travel comfortably but also save a considerable amount of time over the course of a year.

16. Research hotels. In a manner similar to flight research, your VA can delve into hotel options based on your unique preferences.

This can include factors like the type of accommodation, location, available amenities, and any special rates you may be entitled to. They can then compile a shortlisted selection, saving you the hassle of browsing through numerous options.

17. Book flights and hotels. With your decisions made and armed with your credit card and frequent flyer information, your VA can take care of the booking process.

This can be a tedious task to handle personally, but a VA can manage this efficiently, saving you time and reducing the likelihood of errors.

18. Research transportation options. This encompasses various possibilities, from rental cars and rideshares to even local public transportation, depending on your preference and the nature of your travel.

19. Book transportation. Once the best options are identified, your VA can take it a step further and handle the bookings, akin to the way they manage your flight and hotel arrangements. This ensures a seamless travel experience from start to finish.

20. Arrange for events. If your trip involves attending or hosting events, your VA can handle the research and make the necessary arrangements. This could include finding a suitable restaurant for a business dinner, booking a meeting space, or even securing tickets for a local concert.

21. Suspend newspaper or mail. When you’re away, your VA can ensure regular services at your residence, such as newspaper delivery or mail, are temporarily suspended. This adds another layer of convenience to your travels and ensures your home operations are taken care of in your absence.

Virtual Assistant business development

Business Development

When it comes to the task of business development, the workload can be substantial and multifaceted.

From researching potential leads on platforms like LinkedIn to finding crucial contact information like email addresses, these activities often entail time-consuming groundwork.

A virtual assistant can take the reins of these tasks, allowing you to devote your focus on the interpersonal interactions pivotal to making successful sales.

22. Research leads on LinkedIn. For B2B businesses, and occasionally B2C operations, maintaining a list of potential clients is an imperative task. After gaining a deep understanding of your requirements, a virtual assistant can conduct a thorough search on LinkedIn, creating an exhaustive list of prospects that align with your ideal client profile.

23. Find email addresses. A VA can skillfully navigate databases and employ effective Google search strategies to locate the email addresses of potential clients you’re looking to contact. This not only ensures you have the correct contact information but saves you the time and effort of finding it yourself.

24. Design presentations. Your VA can add a professional touch to your proposals by locating and inserting the prospect’s logo and matching the text color accordingly. Furthermore, they can enhance the presentation by animating slides as required, giving you an edge in your business development efforts.

Management

As your business grows, it inevitably results in an increased demand for various management functions. This could include tasks like assembling reports for clients, which might require collating vast amounts of existing data.

Or perhaps you’re looking to expand your team and need assistance with recruitment activities. Your virtual assistant can shoulder these responsibilities, providing you with the time and flexibility to focus on more strategic aspects of your business

25. Assemble reports. A VA can design and generate reports that track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) at predetermined intervals. These reports provide a clear snapshot of your business’s performance, helping you make informed decisions.

26. Help to recruit employees. The struggle to find the right talent can often be as intense as the competition for clients, if not more so.

Your VA can screen LinkedIn profiles based on the criteria you provide, compiling a list of potential candidates that might be a good fit for your team. This not only simplifies your recruitment process but ensures that you have a wider pool of talent to choose from.

What is a VA

Accounting

If managing the financial aspects of your business such as maintaining books or sending out invoices induces a sense of dread in you, it might be time to delegate these tasks to a virtual assistant.

27. Maintain the books. With appropriate training and instructions, your virtual assistant can handle financial tasks such as reviewing and matching transactions, and conducting monthly reconciliations. This ensures a streamlined bookkeeping process and consistent financial records for your business.

28. Create and send invoices. By utilizing invoice templates, a virtual assistant can draft professional invoices and distribute them to your clients. This ensures timely and accurate billing, contributing to healthy cash flow.

29. Chase down payments. Establishing an accounts receivable process is crucial for all businesses. Your VA can follow this process to collect payments that are due, which can include escalating the issue to the business owner or the relevant person when necessary.

Personal Errands

Managing personal life responsibilities alongside a thriving business can be demanding. Tasks such as making restaurant reservations or sending out gifts are integral to maintaining your personal relationships.

However, they can also be time-consuming. By leveraging the services of a virtual assistant, you can navigate these responsibilities more efficiently.

30. Make personal restaurant reservations. With access to your personal preferences and login details for reservation platforms like Open Table, your VA can make restaurant bookings on your behalf and even coordinate with the guests.

31. Make purchases. Sometimes, even platforms like Amazon might not have what you need, or the purchase process can be too tedious. Your VA can help with online shopping to secure the items you need.

32. Research and send gifts. For occasions when a generic gift card doesn’t suffice, your assistant can find something distinctive and arrange for its delivery.

33. Manage the logistics for your hobby. Whether it’s securing a studio for your garage band rehearsals or organizing your book club’s meetings, a VA can alleviate the logistical burdens, allowing you to indulge in your hobbies without stress.

34. Track down problem orders. When an order doesn’t arrive on time, your VA can liaise with the supplier, handling hold times and troubleshooting, keeping you informed throughout the process.

35. Manage the family calendar. Scheduling family events and tracking appointments can be seamlessly handled by your virtual assistant, freeing up more of your personal time.

36. Schedule medical appointments. Given relevant details such as birth dates and insurance information, a VA can arrange doctor’s visits and even start filling out the requisite paperwork.

37. Pay personal bills. For infrequent purchases or vendors who don’t offer online payment options, a virtual assistant can manage the bill payments.

38. Call stores to get information. Whether you’re hunting for a rare bottle of Scotch or a special gift, your VA can make the necessary calls to find the store stocking the item you’re searching for.

what is a VA

Operations

As a small business owner, your focus should be on strategic planning for your company’s future, conceptualizing new products and services, and driving initiatives that will elevate your business. Therefore, operational tasks such as filling out online forms and managing files can be delegated to a reliable support system, a virtual assistant.

39. Fill out online forms. Your virtual assistant, equipped with pertinent company details, can fill out various forms, such as those necessary for subscribing to Software as a Service (SaaS) products, saving you precious time.

40. Take notes from webinars. When you’re interested in the content of a webinar but can’t allocate time to watch it, even if it’s on-demand, your VA can “attend” on your behalf, note down key points and provide you with a comprehensive summary.

41. Convert files. If you’re in need of a different file format, say, a JPEG instead of a PDF, your VA can handle the conversion for you.

42. Conduct research. Your VA can carry out initial research for crucial decisions, such as evaluating various SaaS products to ascertain which one would be the most suitable for your needs.

43. Set up projects in your project management system. A VA can set up new projects in your project management tool and extend invitations to the relevant participants, ensuring a smooth kick-off.

44. Handle file management. Be it Dropbox or a local server for file storage, your virtual assistant can ensure appropriate file organization with accurate naming conventions. They also ensure access permissions are correctly allocated.

45. Schedule social media. Your virtual assistant can streamline your social media strategy by scheduling your posts according to the process you’ve outlined.

46. Proofread and edit letters, blogs and presentations. Overwhelming workloads can sometimes lead to inadvertent errors. Your VA can help proofread and edit important communications like letters, blogs, and presentations, ensuring professional and error-free content.

47. Maintain a virtual assistant manual. Business owners often prefer establishing processes over strictly adhering to them. Your VA can keep a manual documenting their tasks, which proves handy, especially during unexpected absences.

Here’s a summary of the diverse range of tasks that a Virtual Assistant can handle, all neatly packaged in a convenient comparison table.

Task CategoryExamples of Tasks a VA Can Perform
Calendar ManagementScheduling appointments, providing reminders, rescheduling appointments
Email and Contact ManagementScreening emails, updating contacts, adding contacts to CRM
Phone TasksLight receptionist duties, transcribing voicemails
Travel ArrangementsResearching and booking flights/hotels, arranging transportation, suspending regular services
Business DevelopmentResearching leads, finding email addresses, designing presentations
Management TasksAssembling reports, helping recruit employees
AccountingMaintaining books, creating invoices, managing accounts receivable
Personal ErrandsMaking reservations, online shopping, managing personal schedules
OperationsFilling out forms, taking webinar notes, managing files, scheduling social media
Tasks a VA Does Not PerformVaries depending on specific VA services, rules, and boundaries

More Tasks a Virtual Assistant Can Do

Expanding the scope of what a Virtual Assistant (VA) can do for your business opens up even more opportunities for efficiency and growth. Here are additional tasks that showcase the versatility and comprehensive capabilities of a VA:

48. Data Entry and Database Management: A VA can manage and update databases, entering new data, and ensuring that all records are accurate and up-to-date.

49. Online Research for Business Development: A VA can conduct in-depth market research, competitor analysis, or find potential business opportunities and partnerships.

50. Handling Online Purchases and Returns: Managing online transactions, tracking orders, handling returns or exchanges can also be efficiently managed by a VA.

51. Website Maintenance: Basic website updates, content uploading, and monitoring for functionality issues can be assigned to a skilled VA.

52. Managing Affiliate Programs: If your business is involved in affiliate marketing, a VA can manage affiliate relationships, track program performance, and coordinate payouts.

53. Customer Feedback Collection and Analysis: Collecting and compiling customer feedback, conducting surveys, and analyzing the results to provide actionable insights for business improvement.

Things a Virtual Assistant Does Not Do

Of course, there are a few things your virtual assistant won’t do. You needn’t worry about a virtual assistant’s attitude if you ask them to do something.  A VA does not:

  • Roll his or her eyes at you. At least you won’t see it if it happens! And you won’t “hear” it in any communication.
  • Require a bigger office or another desk. These folks won’t be sharing your office space, so there’s no need to make extra room.
  • Interject drama.  With virtual assistants you won’t have big egos to coddle. You won’t need to walk on eggshells or worry about gossip overriding professionalism. The nature of the relationship being long distance means office drama is nonexistent.

Next Steps to Get a Virtual Assistant

  • Identify the tasks in your business that would be best to outsource. Hint: Focus on tasks that do not require your expertise. Ask yourself if the task is the best use of your time or would be better done by someone else?

Once you’ve identified the tasks best suited for outsourcing, the next step is to find the right VA who can seamlessly integrate into your business operations. Services like Work Better Now can match you with VAs that not only fit your needs but also align with your business’s ethos and culture.

Incorporating a VA into your business strategy is not just about delegating tasks; it’s about empowering your business to reach its full potential. Whether it’s scaling up operations, enhancing customer engagement, or simply achieving a better work-life balance, a VA can be a pivotal part of your success story.

Remember, the role of a VA is not just to take tasks off your plate; it’s also about bringing in new perspectives, efficiency, and skills that you might not possess. This collaboration can lead to innovative solutions and strategies for your business.

By choosing the right VA, you’re not just hiring a virtual assistant; you’re investing in a partnership that can drive your business forward. So, take the time to assess your needs, explore your options, and embrace the journey towards more streamlined and effective business operations with the right Virtual Assistant by your side.

For more information about virtual assistants, read:

All answers to reader questions come from the Small Business Trends Editorial Board, with more than 50 years of combined business experience. If you would like to submit a question, please submit it here.

Image: Depositphotos.com 8 Comments ▼


8 Reactions
  1. It is nice that you can now have someone work for you remotely. This eliminates the need for a physical office.

  2. I love this! Most Thorough article I read about VAs so far!

  3. I enjoyed reading this Article about VAs. Thanks

  4. Your simplicity of presentation is motivating for learning. Please keep it up for your teeming followers.

  5. Thank you for those information. Virtual assistants are very important for various work. Find an ideal virtual assistant can help in your business, they can be anywhere in the world and still contribute to your business. 2 months back I hired a virtual assistant for my business a company named “SageDoer” at a very reasonable price. I am reasonably happy with their services.

  6. I recently took a virtual assistant training course and went into it open-minded and now with this infromation from this article I bet I’m ready to get tasking.

  7. This wonderful article is addressing on what is the virtual assistant. I loved reading this article. Here the tips and tricks for addressing such are mentioned . Such content must be made more and more available. Thank you for this article!! This is really very informative.

  8. Really interesting info, thanks for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*