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Defining virtual executive assistants

Virtual executive assistants are the modern version of something which has already existed in the corporate world for decades. We’ve all heard of personal and executive assistants, right? Well, the only difference is that they perform all of their services on the spot, in real life, while assistants of the virtual variety do these things online.

Simple, right? So why is this article so long if that’s all there is to be said about them?

You’ve probably already guessed the reason. Although this is the simple and succinct explanation, the truth is that there is a lot more to be said on this topic. That’s why I’ve written this article which seeks to fundamentally improve your understanding of the virtual assistant as a concept. Likewise, if you are a high-level executive, entrepreneur, or just a busy person in general, this article will open your eyes to the many benefits of hiring virtual executive assistants.

First, I will go over the services which they offer. For the big five, as I’ve named them, I will go into detail about why they specifically matter, and the rest I’ll just list. Afterwards, I’ll provide you with a list of the benefits you stand to experience should you decide to hire one or more of such assistants. Finally, I’ll list some issues you might have with them and in places suggest possible solutions to those issues.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Executive virtual assistants when taking calls
Photo by Antonino Visalli on Unsplash

The big five

Although assistants working remotely can provide you with a variety of different services, I’ve decided to separate the most important ones from those which are fairly minor. Into this category, I put five of the most important services they offer.

Let’s get started with:

SEO content writing

Okay, so this is the part where I get disgustingly biased. In case you couldn’t tell by how I structured this article, I’m an SEO writing specialist. That means that I excel at optimizing pieces of writing (whether those be blog posts, articles, or web pages) to be easily picked up on search engines like Google.

SEO content writing is one of the most important marketing tools at your disposal. It makes sure that writing is not only of high quality but that it also gets noticed. What goes into it is stuff like paying attention to keyword or keyphrase usage, the number of inbound and outbound links, and alt text used for images.

For example, virtual executive assistants who are adept at SEO content writing may have noticed that I’ve just used my keyphrase the maximum amount of times I should within 500 words. What’s the keyphrase? Oh, I think you know!

Of course, you could go through the trouble of learning how to write SEO content yourself. However, I personally think it’s much easier to just hire an expert, just like with:

Social media management

This is another form of marketing which can make or break your business’s level of exposure. Social media is huge. Nowadays almost everyone who has internet access has an account on, at the very least, Facebook. This is something which can be effectively utilized to promote your business (or just yourself).

The Shakespearean rub is that it takes a lot of know-how to be effective at posting the right posts at the right times. It’s not just a matter of randomly publishing images with inspirational quotes. A deep understanding of the algorithms of websites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram is required. Who’s gonna spend all of their time learning about these? And don’t forget you also have to refine your brand’s unique voice.

Luckily, you don’t have to! If you have access to virtual executive assistants who are experts at social media management, you can simply delegate all the social media business to them. After that, you just rest assured that they’ll do a good job, the same as when they’re:

Content writer typing up an article
Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash

Scheduling

Ah yes, the curse of productivity! Not only do you have to make sure that you hop on to that conference call, but you also have to make sure that it’s scheduled at the right time. Can everybody make it? Does it clash with any of your existing obligations? Think about these things too much and they’ll drive you mad!

Luckily, as you may have probably guessed, an assistant is someone who can take care of these things for you. Scheduling meetings and other important obligations of your day are probably one of the most time-consuming, nerve-racking, and yet necessary elements of being a busy, productive person.

Instead of worrying about it and wasting your precious time, let a capable helper offer you some assistance. That leaves you with only the task of checking your schedule daily for whatever you need to do!

I should just add, however, that this is one of the services which demands the most communication between you and your virtual executive assistants to make sure they aren’t putting you down for a time you can’t make! If you want a little less communication, then maybe what you need is someone for:

Visual design

Aesthetics matter, especially when you’re trying to sell something. Visual design has many facets which can take months or even years to fully master. Assistants who are skilled in this area excel at designing graphics for any purpose you have in mind. Usually, this is done with the goal of marketing a product or person.

There is a certain impression a person or brand gives off when they are represented by an aesthetically-coherent image. Everything is in its place. Trust is automatically built. People’s interest is piqued.

Hiring several virtual executive assistants or just one to be in charge of visually designing graphics that go on your social media feed, T-shirts and other merchandise, or even construct the appearance of your whole website is a good idea. It saves you a lot of time having to learn all of the inns and outs of visual design and also the time it would take to then apply that knowledge in designing new things. Something, on the other hand, which doesn’t require that much expertise is the management of:

Personal affairs

This may not be the obvious thing to go in the big five, but I’ve decided to put in it just because of the sheer tendency of successful, productive people to put their personal lives on hold because of work. Why let your relationships suffer? Why let your family miss you?

Oh, I know why! Because you simply don’t have the time to book that hotel or schedule that vacation.

But goes far beyond simple recreation. Sometimes you can be so busy that you’re hard-pressed to, for example, arrange a nanny for your child. Or, even if you can do it, it’ll greatly upset some other obligation you have for the day.

All of these things, however, can be taken care of by an assistant. What’s more, they don’t even need to be that highly skilled. This category of service only demands some soft skills such as good communication and you’re set!

Don’t let your personal affairs suffer just because you want to be professionally successful!

Visual designer working
Photo by Kreated Media on Unsplash

Other services

Finally, here I will list the rest of the services that virtual executive assistants can perform. Keep in mind that, while I don’t go into detail about them, in certain situations these might be even more valuable to you than those we’ve gone over in the big five.

  • Coordination
  • Dealing with Paperwork
  • Administration
  • PR Pitching
  • Community Building and Engagement
  • Prospecting and Lead Generation
  • Data Entry
  • Invoicing

…and others!

Benefits

In this section, I will list the main benefits you can expect to get from hiring these types of assistants. Keep in mind that this is just a general overview and that some of these might be more pronounced for you than others.

Likewise, don’t forget that there are many other benefits which are simply too niche to mention in a general article like this.

Without further ado, let’s get started with:

Saving time

This is without a doubt one of, if not the most important reason to look into virtual executive assistants. Entrepreneurs, CEOs, and other high-level executives often keep themselves so busy that they can scarcely take any time off. This makes them stressed and overworked, and the quality of their work can start to suffer because of that. What’s more, this state of affairs can wreak havoc on personal relationships.

To stoke the fire, a lot of this work that keeps them or you so busy is repetitive and boring, and yet so key. Luckily, by hiring an assistant(s) and delegating those tasks to them, you can take care of that problem easily. These types of tasks are often not those which require your full attention and can be safely left to someone else.

With more time on your hands, you can concentrate more on obligations which are worthy of your attention. There are things only you are qualified for waiting to be done, such as strategizing, going to conferences, giving speeches, or doing consultations. Don’t let the monotony of repetitive labour stop you from being the best you can be!

And for that, you also need people who:

Don’t slip up

This point is related to the last one as well, but if you’re a busy individual and are constantly juggling a lot of tasks, it’s easy for you to not pay that much attention to all of them. You might think this isn’t a problem with more menial obligations such as answering emails, but one mistake with these can mean the difference between scheduling a meeting at a time when everyone’s free and having only a handful of people show up at your meeting.

Virtual executive assistants specialize. Their sole purpose is taking care of these tasks. Thus, they’re much less likely to make mistakes out of sheer neglect. That’s why it is recommended to delegate these tasks and ensure that all of them are paid the proper level of attention.

With your assistants paying attention to the more repetitive and laborious elements of your work, it frees you up to focus on the aforementioned more serious elements. This, in turn, means that you are much less likely to slip up during an important conference call or speech. Everybody wins!

Now, this is not to say that you’re in some way bad at answering emails or scheduling appointments, but

Virtual assistant typing
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

They may be more skilled than you in certain areas

Now, of course, answering emails and regulating your social media don’t sound like Einsteinian tasks, but there can be some real finesse needed sometimes to take care of these tasks properly. Virtual executive assistants who’ve been trained to be SEO and marketing experts, for example, will probably do a better job than you at writing your blog post and generating you leads and followers.

This does not mean that they are more intelligent, but that they’ve simply had more time to undergo the necessary training for these types of tasks. You didn’t have any time. You were too busy building an empire and advancing up the corporate ladder, remember?

Of course, it’s entirely possible that you’re good at some of these things naturally. It’s also possible that you’ve been able to allot some time to educate yourself in one or two of these areas. But no matter what, a jack of all trades will always be a master of none. So why not build an environment of workers where everyone is master at what they do? Like in a well-functioning organism, the proper functioning of each individual piece will ensure the well-being of the whole.

Issues you might run into

While so far we’ve discussed only the positive aspects of hiring a remote executive assistant, there are some potential issues also that you might run into. This section is dedicated to exploring those issues and offering possible solutions should you run into them.

The first one, which is perhaps a little obvious, is:

Things may get confrontational

Virtual executive assistants are human beings. When working with human beings, things can sometimes get out of hand. No matter how calm and collected we are, some situations bring out the worst of us. It’s the same with working with assistants.

This can especially be a problem with random freelancers you might come across on LinkedIn and Upwork. If you get an assistant via a company like Remote Bob, for example, there is less chance for this as they are constantly being held accountable by their superiors.

The essence of this issue are situations where either you or the assistant become frustrated with something. Maybe you didn’t explain something clearly enough. Maybe they completely misunderstood you. Whatever the case may be, when the service provided doesn’t match up to expectations, it can mean unpleasantness from either side.

As already mentioned, consider hiring assistants via companies and, if it does come to a confrontation of any kind, do your best to establish a dialogue and de-escalate the situation. Of course, if you’re just dealing with a confrontational and angry person, or if you’re constantly having disagreements, then maybe they’re not the right fit for you.

They’re also not a right fit is sometimes they seem to be:

Headache because of virtual executive assistants
Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

Slacking off

They’re only human, you know? Sometimes you’ll inevitably find virtual executive assistants slacking off. The work is too boring, or maybe they’re not in the right mood to work on certain days. Whatever the cause of this behaviour, the end result is that sometimes they just don’t deliver on your expectations.

This, again, can be more of a problem with random freelancers. Try your best to screen your assistants properly so that you know you have a diligent and hard-working person right off the bat. Be clear about your expectations and don’t be afraid to reprimand them if they’ve done (or haven’t done) something.

Here again, I can recommend hiring remote workers via companies rather than just searching for them yourself. This is because these same companies hold them accountable for their work so you don’t have to be hyper-vigilant with monitoring their hours. There is less chance of lying and cheating. Likewise, working at a company always gives a person a greater sense of structure than if they were just freelancing by themselves, which serves to ramp up their work ethic. But, for them to know what they need to do in the first place, you have to go through the process of:

Onboarding

Ugh… this is the final issue I’m going to talk about and quite frankly it’s the single most frustrating thing which turns people off of hiring virtual executive assistants. It’s just so much work, isn’t it? You have to not only explain what their specific task is, but the history and philosophy of your company, who did that task before them and how, what precisely is expected of them. It can be an absolute nightmare.

There really is no way around onboarding unless you get someone to do it for you. Now, you can take the route of having a professional… onboarder (?) who’ll be in charge of it, or you can try virtual assistant services which already do the onboarding for you.

Signing a deal with a company dealing with virtual executive assistants
Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

Conclusion

Hiring an assistant who works remotely can seem like a strange decision. After all, it’s so much easier to keep track of everything when the people working for you are in your physical proximity. However, with all of the services they have to offer, these types of assistants are the way of the future.

If you want to reap the many benefits they offer without having to deal with the issues and drawbacks, the best route to take is to hire them via a dedicated assistant company like Remote Bob. Of course, you could go the more complicated route and take care of all those little details by yourself, but why bother?

Email us at business@remotebob.co.uk if you want us to match you with your ideal VA.

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