What is a Virtual Assistant?

In this blog we discuss what a virtual assistant (VA) is, and what they do

A Virtual Assistant is a freelance contractor who works remotely (i.e. away from a client’s office) to provide business administration services.  Mostly they work from a home based office, although some VA’s do site work too.  VA’s are skilled at using cloud based systems to communicate and share documentation.  Many Virtual Assistants have multiple years of experience in typical Personal Assistant or Executive roles, so a client who can’t afford, or doesn’t have enough work yet for a full time employee, can benefit from engaging a Virtual Assistant.

Different types of virtual assistants & the services they offer

If you aren’t familiar with using a virtual assistant, you might not realise how varied we all are.  Virtual Assistants come with a range of skills these days.  Some offer general VA services across many areas, while others have decided to refine their services to a few specialised areas (i.e. book keeping, websites or social media).  Melanco Consulting’s services can be found here.

The other difference between Virtual Assistants is some work strictly virtually, while others have more flexibility available to work on site from a client’s office if needed.  Melanco Consulting has both types of clients, so we do a bit of both.  Flexibility is key!

Melanco Consulting currently offer specialised administrative services that include Small Business Administration, Executive Assistance, Graphic Design, Event Management and Productivity Tools Setup and Training. 

Food Safety & Quality Networking Event

Organised by Melanco Consulting, 2019

Melanco Consulting organises events, workshops, training and conferences.

​What tools and communication apps does a virtual assistant use for their business?

Depending on the type of relationship we have with an individual client, we can use various Communication Apps to discuss ongoing work.   For day to day communications there is WhatsApp, Email, Text, Skype, Zoom and Microsoft Teams.  For project management our tools of choice are Trello and Airtable.  For Accounting and Job Management we use Xero and Workflowmax.  We also offer graphic design services, so use Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and Acrobat Pro along with Canva when you need a quick graphic designed for social media, marketing materials or a blog.

What sort of businesses hire NZ virtual assistants?

The types of businesses that look to hire a VA can be as varied as we are.  Melanco Consulting are based in Hamilton in the Waikato region of New Zealand.  We mainly work with business consultants and small business owners.  Our current client base is spread across Hamilton, Tauranga and Auckland.  We’re also a bit special, because we really love to work on site if you need us to! 

Any business or entrepreneur who has a large to-do-list that they never get through, or spend far too much of their precious time on administrative tasks, would benefit from outsourcing to a virtual assistant.

Hamilton based online business manager

​What does a VA cost?

The cost of a VA really depends on the types of services they offer, and their level of experience.  International VA’s can cost considerably less and depending on the type of assistance you require, may be a good fit.  By working with someone locally in New Zealand you can be assured that they are going to have local knowledge and experience.  You also have the benefit of working with someone in the same time zone as you!   New Zealand VA’s can cost anywhere from $40 - $80+ an hour.  Remember when hiring a VA, you don’t have any of the usual employee costs as you are outsourcing the tasks you need help with, rather than employing someone to sit with you in your office and work with you.  A VA will take care of all of the below directly:

  • Tax, ACC, Kiwisaver
  • Office work area
  • IT equipment and repair
  • Software & subscriptions
  • Training costs
  • Insurance
  • Annual leave and other special leave

You also don’t pay for any unproductive time spent at the water cooler, chatting to colleagues :)  A VA will use a time management tool, such as Harvest to keep a record of any time spent and you only pay the hourly rate or set price plus disbursements (if any)….that’s all!  

And remember, when you hire a New Zealand VA, you aren't just paying an hourly rate...you are paying for multiple years of experience.  We upskill all the time, so you can rest assured that we know what we are talking about.

Do you hire or outsource your office administration

What do you do when you’ve decided to take the plunge and hire a VA?

If you think you’re ready to take the plunge and hire a VA that’s fantastic, but you may also be feeling overwhelmed with the choice of VA’s and what to outsource.  We’d recommend sitting down and writing down all the things you love doing and all the things you hate having to do!  You should be trying to remove as many things from your to-do-list that aren’t directly helping bring you in income.  If you need help deciding what sort of things you can outsource, we’ve created a helpful list for that.  You can download for FREE right here.

Once you have a list of all the things you want to get rid of, then you need to start doing a bit of research.  Do you want to work with someone virtually only, or do you think you might like a bit of face to face support also?  When you look at your list, can you group any of your tasks into set areas?  For example, do you need help with social media management and updating your website?  You might find you really need someone to give you some training in managing your inbox and setting up some automations for you, and you realise you really need someone to book your travel and accommodation, seminars and reconcile your credit card – that all fits under the Executive Assistance umbrella.  You may really hate doing newsletters or maintaining your CRM – a VA experienced in general administration could be the right fit for you.

What if you have so many things written down that you don’t think you can afford to hire a VA for all these things?  Have a think about how many hours per week you currently spend on these tasks?  Five hours?  10 hours?  What’s your hourly rate that you bill yourself out at?  What’s 5 or 10 hours of your time worth?  Depending on what you do, you might pay half or even less for an experienced VA.  So, imagine how that will affect your business when you can spend those hours doing what you love and bringing more money directly into your business.  You might find an experienced VA can do those tasks quicker than you too, so then you might want to give them even more to do!

How do you find a VA that suits your specific needs?

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that VA’s are all so different, so you may feel overwhelmed with the choice out there.  There are a few ways to find VA’s these days.  Google would be the first port of call.  You should search for things like Virtual Assistant Hamilton, or Virtual Assistant New Zealand.  If you need a Virtual Assistant that specialises in a key area such as event management, then search Virtual Assistant Event Management.  Be as specific as you can.  Then check out their websites and social media pages, to get a feel for the type of person or VA agency they are.  Once you’ve got your shortlist of 3-4, get in touch and arrange a chat to see if you like the sound of each other.  Many VA’s will offer a free discovery call to see if you would be right for each other and they’ll lead you through the process.  A good idea when you are just testing the waters with a VA is to find a VA that offers a casual rate, so you can get a feel for how things will work.  Melanco Consulting offers casual rates, along with service plan rates if you commit to certain monthly plans.  The more hours you require, the less our hourly rate is.  

The other way to find a great VA is to ask your network.  Many people use VA’s these days and will be more than happy to refer a great VA you if you ask.  Sometimes this is the best way to find a VA as you have that personal recommendation, so you know they’re going to be great!

In New Zealand we are also extremely lucky to have the NZ Virtual Assistant Network which is an online directory of the majority of VA’s around the country.  You can review by specialty, location and whether they are a verified member or not.  Verified means they’ve been in business for a certain period of time and have been reference checked by the VA Network administrators.

Thanks for reading all the way to the end, if you’d like to get in touch to discuss how we can help you free up your time, visit our Contact Page to reach out.

About the author

Melanie Cosford juggles being a mum to her 3 year old daughter with running her own small business Melanco Consulting.

Passionate about event management, she's organised everything from 1st Birthday cake smashes through to corporate functions and retreats.  She also gets a real kick out of implementing a new system or app into a business to help them become more productive.

Melanie Cosford, Melanco Consulting, Hamilton, Waikato, New Zealand, NZ, Linkedinlocalhamilton, Small Business, Virtual Assistant NZ


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