People are always wondering what exactly they can outsource to an assistant. Either they don’t think they have any work to delegate or they are too afraid to let go of the reigns. This is a series of ideas that can be outsourced to an assistant. Use these as suggestions for tasks your clients can pass on to you.
[toc]Um, hello? Can I say “no brainer?” Administration is probably the most common thing associated with assistants. It’s amazing just how many individual tasks small business owners could delegate. In fact, more than 50% of valuable time is taken up by tasks that really should be outsourced to a virtual assistant.
Business creativity and onward development should be the focus for your clients. If they aren’t sure what they could actually pass on to you, suggest that they quickly jot down everything they do over the course of a 5-day workweek (and weekends if you are also doing personal assisting for them). If any of them take up too much time and they feel like it is something a spouse could handle, then they can likely pass it on to you. If any of them fall into the following categories, there’s a good chance they can pass the buck.
Usernames and Passwords Handling
Help your clients keep track of those dozens of usernames and passwords that they have all over the web. It can start to get really annoying when one site asks for use of a special character, another site says they need at least one number and a lowercase letter, and so on. Funny, just when we think we’ve come up with the perfect password, we stumble upon a website that says you need an additional requirement.
I use LastPass to keep track of passwords, and the best way to do this with a client is to show them how to set it up and then create a shared folder* that you also have access to. They can add websites and passwords as they are created (you can do the same on your end), and they’ll never have to remember which site used the exclamation point or the dollar sign.
*Note: To use shared folders, you would need a premium subscription ($12/year).
Yep, this is a thing. Why? Because people get lots of emails. You will be a God send if you can wrangle the chaos and manage their inbox…a plus if you can get it down to zero on a daily basis.
Show your clients (or give them suggestions if they are already familiar with email shortcuts) how to add labels, folders and/or categories to their emails to begin the organization process. You can start with managing a few of those labels – responding to them in a certain way or have your client set up a system where certain emails get filtered into a “VA” folder and you will manage those types of emails for them. Examples include comments on the blog posts or email inquiries from the contact page.
Find out which email tasks are taking up too much of their time to respond to or manage and see if they are items that can be delegated (there’s that word again).
Do you have bookkeeping experience? Doesn’t really matter – a little knowledge goes a long way. If you have managed any financials or worked within any of the more popular finance software, there is a good chance that you are able to take on some of the smaller bookkeeping tasks. Start with budget management or simple client invoicing. However, if your client needs heavy bookkeeping and you lack that experience, then please seek a professional and refer them out for that portion of their business.
Employee Onboarding / HR Tasks
If your client is part of a larger company or a startup that is ramping up their hiring process, see if there are some onboarding tasks that you can coordinate and create a recurring template for. There are certain steps each new employee would have to go through, so if you create an onboarding process and take over some (or all) of the tasks, this could streamline the onboarding for future employees. Some ideas include:
- New hire personal information collection (addresses, birthday, phone, travel preferences, etc.)
- Distributing and/or collecting the HR information
- Assigning employee numbers, key codes, and adding to a database
- Creating company email addresses and setting them up in the system
- Scheduling and Calendar Management
Newsletter Management & Minor Website Edits
Some companies send out occasional newsletters which you could either curate content, create content or schedule delivery. Once delivery is scheduled, create a system to monitor the analytics and produce a report to keep your client aware of their efforts.
Gathering Testimonials from Customers
Every business is only as good as its reputation. In order to build or maintain a reputation, you might want to get testimonials from customers. You can proactively take on this task and create a system for collecting testimonials and present any results to your client. You could set up a questionnaire in Survey Monkey and distribute it to customers. Depending on your relationship with your client, you may need to get approval before sending out something like this.
Data Entry / Transcribing
Let’s talk about something that is really a huge time suck. Data entry. If your client is not delegating their data entry, they are wasting a lot of their time that can be spent on other things like business development. Find out if you can help lighten their load. Data entry is basically copying or transferring information from one place to another. Examples of data entry include:
- Entering data into a spreadsheet
- Collecting customer demographic information
- Transcribing presentations or podcasts
- Creating reports from statistical information
- Update handwritten data and add it to a computer system
Not all business is conducted online and many people still want to talk with a real ‘live’ person before they decide to buy products or services. If you are receiving calls on behalf of companies, you’ll want to make sure you have a nice land line phone or a very secure and stable Internet connection that you can make VOIP phone calls. Have your client create a company extension for you that is then forwarded to your home phone or choose you own phone number via services like Skype or Google Voice (now calls are only made via Hangout).
Another tedious task is research. More people should be outsourcing this and I’m sure most VAs don’t mind doing it. Speaking for myself, I like doing research because I find myself learning new things in the process and I can do it at any time of the day. One thing to remember about researching though is that there is a smart way to Google and if you learn how to do it, you’ll be faster and you’ll find more information than the average “Googler”. Check out this Lifehack article, 20 Tips to Use Google Search Efficiently, and learn to Google like a boss. Then take your findings to your client and get ready to impress!
I’m sure this is all tip of the iceberg stuff and you could probably think of even more administrative tasks that could be delegated. My point here is don’t just be confined to an “email checker”. If your client hasn’t tasked you with more to do, reach out and suggest some new ideas. They’ll be impressed and more comfortable with letting go.
This post is part of a series. Check out the other posts for Ideas for Outsourcing.