What is a Virtual Assistant?
We live and breathe it but we still have the pleasure of meeting individuals who have never heard of a Virtual Assistant. If you’re in that camp or if you know about the concept but can’t figure out how to best utilise one, this article is for you... 
The clue is in the name, a Virtual Assistant (VA) is a skilled assistant who works virtually. Usually self employed, most Virtual Assistants from a home office or coworking space. 
No, we’re not talking about Alexa or Siri. 
We’re talking about real life super star admin, marketing, finance, sales, events, executive and personal assistants empowering entrepreneurs, small (and big) businesses, directors, executives, charities, preservation trusts, households, celebrities, freelancers, home workers and other ‘digital nomads’ to become free of their business and/or life admin! 
What can a Virtual Assistant NOT do?! That’s the question.  
We’re certainly not saying that all Virtual Assistants are wise, multi skilled unicorns. But the VA industry is vast and professional Virtual Assistants know their strengths and their limitations. They tend to niche themselves in their own specialist areas. 
You really can find a Virtual Assistant for any support task your business needs handling. 
For example... 
There are Virtual Assistants who specialise in providing Virtual PA support. Some that focus solely on bookkeeping and others that prefer to stick to graphic or web design... 
People are by far the greatest risk and assets to any business. If you hire wrong, it’s painful and can be expensive. Recruiting a Virtual Assistant should still be treated with the same degree of care as an employee but, you get to enjoy a lot less risk and a lot more flexibility. 
Flexibility is essential to any growing business. Especially those that have seasonal peaks and demands.  
With a Virtual Assistant, you pay for 100% productivity. 
The other factor is whether your business is actually set up for a traditional employee? More and more businesses are embracing remote working and teams. Business owners and entrepreneurs don’t always have, want or need to be tied to a traditional (and expensive) office space. With a Virtual Assistant, their office and equipment is already taken care of. Reducing your costs and onboarding times. 
Opting to outsource, instead of recruit, means that your Virtual Assistant can get to work straight away and you don’t have to worry about employment contracts and probation periods, holiday pay, pensions, sick pay, equipment etc... 
Plus, your Virtual Assistant has a real invested interest in your business. The harder they work, the more you’re able to meaning that as your business grows - so does theirs!  
That level of dedication is priceless! 
There are several options if you’re looking to start working with a Virtual Assistant. Let’s look at some pros and cons of the most common ones: 
Virtual Assistant Agencies: 
PRO - well established, built for volume and scale. 
CON - can be perceived as a bit faceless and rigid. Not ideal for the growing businesses who value a really personal, bespoke approach. 
Freelance Virtual Assistants: 
PRO - Flexible, adaptable and cost effective. 
CON - Can be limited to one person which can limit both your access to skills and a consistent service. For example, your freelance VA will need to take a holiday once in a while! 
Virtual Assistant Companies (such as Alchemy VA): 
PRO - In our opinion, it’s the best of both worlds. You get a dedicated, professional Virtual Assistant who has the backing, skills and support of an established, experienced company. 
CON - perhaps we’re a bit biased but, we don’t think there are any... 
'Offshore' Virtual Assistants: 
PRO - very low cost. 
CON - The time and language difference could be a challenge. Data protection could be a concern too, if you’re transferring personal information outside of the UK. 
If you’ve already decided an avenue to explore you might find our article ‘How to hire the perfect Virtual Assistant’ helpful.  
If you’re still unsure about the Virtual Assistant support you need, or if you’d just like to chat through things, do get in touch.  
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