What is a virtual assistant and why have they become so popular?

If you’re self-employed or running a company, the chances are sooner or later you’ll reach a point when running around trying to do everything just isn’t sustainable any more. The reality is that doing the “doing” isn’t always the best use of your time, and instead you should be focussing on the big stuff, like sales, strategy and business growth.

So what should you do when you find yourself in this situation?  That admin isn’t going to take care of itself after all!  It might be time to call in the experts – have you thought about hiring a virtual assistant?


What is a virtual assistant?

In summary, a virtual assistant (or VA) provides support services to individuals and businesses from a remote location as opposed to onsite.  While some VAs specialise in certain areas, others are generalists and provide a range of skills to help in multiple areas.  In both scenarios, your virtual assistant will keep your business running smoothly, keeping things organised and helping to get through your ever-growing to-do list!

What a virtual assistant isn’t

There are roles which have some similarities to a virtual assistant, and understanding the difference is key to ensuring you hire the right professional for your requirements;


A virtual assistant will handle tasks which are suited to a virtual environment; these might be administrative, recurring or systematised in nature or could include more creative or technical support.

In addition to the above, a personal assistant takes care of tasks that need to be done in-person, such as answering your phone or running errands.

A project manager has an operational role, handling key projects, managing deliverables and might also have personnel or budget management responsibilities


What can a virtual assistant do?

The tasks that are ideal for a VA to pick up are obviously those which can be done remotely. This might include:


  • Diary management and appointment scheduling
  • Email and inbox management
  • Arranging meetings, transcribing minutes and handling follow-ups
  • Event organisation; researching and booking venues, sourcing caterers, sending invitations, managing responses
  • Travel arrangements and hotel bookings
  • Preparing reports
  • Data entry
  • Online file storage and archiving
  • Setting up filing systems
  • Purchase ledger tasks; sending and paying invoices, chasing debts, bank reconciliations, expenses
  • Managing CRM tools
  • Communicating with customers about your business

  • Mailouts
  • Scheduling social media content
  • Research in any capacity
  • Managing office moves, set ups and office organisation
  • Project co-ordination


By taking on these workstreams, a virtual assistant frees your time up to focus more on strategy and goal achievement.


Why are virtual assistants on the rise?

The virtual assistance industry is going from strength to strength. There are a number of factors for this trend (which doesn’t look to be changing any time soon):


Cost effective flexibility

What with wages, paid holiday, sick pay and training, full time employees can be expensive! Meanwhile, a VA can be engaged flexibly for a set number of hours or on an ad-hoc basis as for a straightforward fee.


The boom in start-ups in the UK

Entrepreneurs and start-ups may need to take into account limited funds and cashflow while getting established. Meanwhile it can be one of the busiest times for a business! By relying on the flexible and cost effective of a virtual assistant, entrepreneurs can focus on growing their new businesses affordably and reliably.


Smarter ways of working

In today’s super-connected cloud-based world of advanced technology, it’s easier than ever for assistants to work remotely without this affecting productivity or availability.


The wake of the Covid pandemic

Many businesses incurred huge losses and have found themselves compelled to reduce overheads and embrace the trend of outsourcing. 


Still wondering whether you need a VA?

With reduced, predictable labour costs, fantastic productivity, increased flexibility and (dare I say it?) better quality of work, what is there still to wonder about?!


If you’d like to find out how I can make a difference to you or your business, why not get in touch at martha@mnvirtualassistant.co.uk.  I’d love to hear from you.