When someone suggests that you hire a “virtual employee” to help run your small business, you might picture a hologram, or perhaps a robot that’s been programmed to perform an assigned duty. In truth, a virtual employee is simply a real, live person who performs job functions without being on a company’s traditional payroll or under its roof.
These employees work remotely, either as independent contractors or as part of an organization that provides virtual assistant services in one or more disciplines. Here are four areas in which virtual employees can lend your business a helping hand.
Virtual Call Management
If yours is like many businesses, being completely accessible to your clients can mean the difference between success and failure. However, it’s generally impractical to staff your office 24/7.
That’s why engaging a virtual answering service might be one of the smartest things you can do to ensure that your business is “open” all day, every day. Whether it’s three o’clock in the afternoon or four o’clock in the morning, with a virtual service managing your incoming calls your clients will always be able to speak with a trained operator who is ready to assist them.
The best virtual answering systems will give you access to call analytics that can help improve your marketing efforts; this type of data can be difficult to cull when your calls are only answered in-house by anyone who happens to pick up the line. Some services even provide multi-lingual operators to allow you to reach a customer base that may have been inaccessible to you otherwise.
Proper bookkeeping is essential to almost every business, but it can be time-consuming and may divert you from giving your full attention to more important projects that will help grow your business. For many owners, outsourcing accounting tasks allows them to bring more staff under-roof who have the skillset to boost sales and improve service rather than to crunch numbers.
Everything from managing inventory to paying bills to payroll processing can be handed off to a virtual bookkeeper, who will have the knowledge and expertise that it takes to keep your financials in order. They can provide you with updates on profitability, cash flow, and balances, so you’ll always have an idea of your company’s fiscal health without having to be an accounting expert yourself.
Virtual Human Resources
Although you may start up a business entirely on your own, the moment you begin contemplating hiring even one employee is the moment most experts suggest that you engage a human resources expert. Because it can be impractical to have in-house HR when your operations are small, working with a virtual HR assistant can be a simple way to fill this need. Or a great alternative you might want to consider is engaging a professional employer organization (PEO) or employee leasing through staffing firms.
Your remote HR specialist can help you with a multitude of tasks, including recruiting, hiring, and onboarding new employees and maintaining mandatory employment and training records. They can craft policies and procedures, provide coaching and training, and oversee corrective actions and terminations. Almost any duty handled by a traditional HR department can be done virtually.
If you sell products online and have been going it alone, you probably know that managing a thriving e-commerce site can be overwhelming. Hiring a virtual assistant to take over your internet marketplace operations can free you up to spend more time marketing and promoting your business rather than worrying about keeping your website running.
An e-commerce assistant can help with product descriptions and photos, provide chat support with your customers, process transactions, and handle any return/exchange requests that arise. Virtual e-commerce workers are generally well-versed in a variety of platforms, so as you expand they can help you transition into additional marketplaces.
If your business could use some help in one or more of these areas but you don’t have the money or space to bring a raft of new hires onboard, then engaging virtual employees might be the best way to get the assistance you need.
Whether you’re looking for help with phone call management or e-commerce, or it’s operational issues like bookkeeping and human resources that require more attention than you have to give, there’s almost certainly a virtual employee out there who’ll be the right fit for your team.