Evolution of the Virtual Assistant: From 2007 to Present Day

Tim Ferris was a typical entrepreneur. He wanted to do everything himself. When he started his supplement company, BrainQUICKEN, Ferris put himself through 14-hour work days because he was so driven to succeed. He did everything; from paperwork and file documentation to appointment setting and business presentation. Within a few years, Ferris was burnt out and had little to show for his efforts. This was when Ferris had an epiphany.

It was time for Tim Ferris to invest in Tim Ferris.

Expanding your business means investing in your business. If you want your business to scale up, you have to make sure the proper components are in place to accommodate and support your expansion strategies. As you gain traction in your efforts, the volume of tasks and responsibilities that need to be managed will likewise increase. If you find yourself spending 30 minutes checking and reading e-mail, 30 minutes responding to relevant communication and 60 minutes finishing paperwork that would be two hours less spent on more essential tasks directly related to the main enterprise.

Now ask yourself, “How much do I want to earn for every hour that I am working on my business?”

If you are spending too much of your productive time working on non-essential or low level tasks, chances are you are far from realizing what you would want to earn for every hour spent on your business.

It was this realization that made Tim Ferris develop his idea of a “Four Hour Work Week”. The principle of Ferris’ idea was to allocate more resources to tasks that matter more to the business and delegate the rest to VAs. Since Ferris’ “Four Hour Work Week” gained popularity in 2007, the number of virtual assistants in the United States grew in response to a greater understanding of the value of their work.

But it wasn’t just the population of virtual assistants that grew.

Even the skill set and professional profile of the Virtual Assistant underwent an evolution.

Long before the release of Ferris’ book, the Virtual Assistant was hired primarily for secretarial duties and personal assistant services. As the world started to accept and acknowledge the advantages of outsourcing services, more skills and diverse projects were delegated outside the confines of the corporate work place.

Today’s Virtual Assistant must have skills

  1. Client Support – The number of e-mails a business owner receives rises in proportion to the increase in scale of the enterprise. Not all of the e-mails you receive are related to the enterprise. Some, if not most, may even be “Spam” or worthless marketing and promotion gimmicks. A VA is skilled in filtering e-mails. He or she can screen and delete those that are worthless and respond to those that are relevant. For those in the real estate business, proper e-mail filtering will help generate potential leads.

    In addition to e-mail filtering, a VA can also perform administrative tasks such as payroll preparation for the staff, invoice generation and in some cases, even the review and proof-reading of contracts

  2. Customer Relationship Management – In any retail business, the highest percentage of lead conversions to sales occurs between the 5th and 12th contact with the prospect. Moving the prospect down the sales funnel from generated lead to actual sales in a process that requires consistency. Business owners do not have the luxury of time to focus on each and every lead. Hiring a VA for this purpose will significantly improve the conversion rate.
  3. Digital Marketing – The Internet and the popularity of social media have given business owners new avenues to course their business development programs. But most business owners have a limited understanding of the nuances of social media, the power and influence it wields.  Statistically, a business that blogs generates 55% more business than a business that doesn’t. But blogging is not just a writing activity. To be effective, SEO principles must be applied to increase the probability of the blog appearing near or at the top of search results.

Websites also need regular updating. An experienced digital marketer can update both your website and your social media posts.

Today’s VA is not limited merely to conventional office clerical work. The position has evolved to the extent that more work; including those that require specialized skill can be delegated and contribute significantly to the productivity of the business.