Using a personal or virtual assistant service can shave hours from your workweek, but knowing which tasks to delegate can be tricky, whether you’re starting or growing a business. Our service focus on administrative tasks that are similar to those of an executive assistant or secretary.

With the number of personal/virtual assistant service are growing, their expertise now runs the gamut, making it easier to find a service who fits your organization, says Alex M, product manager at Tibby, based in Portland, Oregon. In May 2016, Tibby had 1950 requests for assistants, compared to about 800 in 2015.

Entrepreneurs can use virtual assistants for everything from making vendor or customer service calls to sending out thank you cards to prospective clients. It’s important to build trust, just as you would with a permanent employee. “They become a team member who just happens to work remotely,” Alex says. Not sure where to start? Here are 10 ways you can use a virtual assistant to improve your business.

Bookkeeping: Keeping tabs on bills and other bookkeeping matters can be one of the easiest things to assign to a your personal/virtual assistant. Many small businesses choose to share their bookkeeping systems with our personal/virtual assistants who can then follow up on tasks such as outstanding invoices or unpaid bills. “You will need to hand over some control [including] passwords and access to accounts.

Data presentations: Turning raw data into a clear PowerPoint presentation or summarizing research findings in a Word document can be a huge time saver when prepping for meetings. The data “comes back in a format you can share.

Online Research: You can easily farm out Internet research to our personal/virtual assistants. Common requests include finding information on corporate websites, exploring new products and vetting potential employees or business contacts. Be sure to send clear instructions, along with user names and passwords so assistants can get access to specialty search tools or paid websites.

Managing email: To keep you from wasting time in your email inbox, ourpersonal/ virtual assistants will filter your most important emails and respond to the rest on your behalf. Such email management is easy to do remotely, but you need to provide guidance on how to pick out key emails and ask the assistant to copy you before sending out any responses to reduce the risk of errors.

Social tasks: Our personal/virtual assistants can be a good bet to handle tasks such as writing holiday cards or sending thank you notes. Such tasks can become “all consuming” for business executives but a good our talented personal/virtual assistant can take care of all of it.

Travel Research: Our personal/virtual assistants are a great resource for finding hotels, booking airfares and mapping out trip itineraries both for business and pleasure. Our assistants can take advantage of the growing number of travel research tools and review sites on the Web. We can also deal with the hassle of navigating time zones when booking or researching international travel options by phone.

Scheduling: Because many scheduling tools are available online, our personal/virtual assistants are managing the calendars of many clients. Tasks include dealing with meeting invitations from others, scheduling appointments with clients and helping to plan events. “It’s about being comfortable and letting go of that calendar” to a non-staff person working remotely.

Chasing business: Prioritizing potential business opportunities can be challenging, but our personal/virtual assistants can help with the process. When deciding what to sell on eBay, for example, Mary asks her virtual assistant to look around for products that can be profitable to resell. Mary give them quite a few websites to visit, and they take it from there. Our personal/virtual assistants look for clearance items and other types of products.

Industry knowledge prep: With limited time to keep up with industry news, some small businesses have turned to our personal/virtual assistant service to keep tabs on the most important happenings. Many executives use the industry information to update their Twitter feed or bring up interesting developments in conversation with customers and prospects. This helps executives appear to have timely news.

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