With the gig economy in full swing, almost every task you can get your hands can now be outsourced.
From the more complicated ones like web development to the simplest tasks like email management, technology has come a long way in allowing things to be done virtually.
While some businesses require a more specialized skills, most entrepreneurs (and other busy people!) could benefit from a personal assistant.
The good news is there are a handful of options to find a competent and effective virtual personal assistant.
Before we jump right in, it would be best for us to define what a virtual personal assistant does and how they can help you.
What is a Virtual Personal Assistant?
It goes without saying that the life of a business owner can be a very hectic one. Not only is their day filled with operations-related to-do lists but they also have family-related concerns to keep in mind.
How do their schedules look like?
What time is their kid’s recital?
When’s the next interview?
Have the groceries been taken care of?
Is today’s client meeting pushing through?
It’s hard to navigate these daily tasks without help. This is where virtual personal assistants come in.
A virtual assistant or a virtual personal assistant is an independent contractor who offers administrative services to clients remotely. They usually handle clerical tasks that aim to help business owners lighten their load so they can focus on growing their business.
Some of these tasks may include:
- updating social media
- basic data entry
- helping with travel arrangements
- managing email
- and more
Think Beyond Alexa. This is Real Human Support
For most people, the first thing that comes to mind when talking about virtual assistants is Amazon’s very own virtual assistant AI technology called Alexa.
Initially used in the Amazon Echo smart speakers, Alexa is capable of performing many things through voice command. It can play music, provide weather and traffic updates, set alarms and even make to-do lists.
It even has a Business version that allows people to use Alexa to schedule meeting rooms, join conference calls, and other custom skills designed by third-party vendors.
While Alexa does a good job of performing such simple tasks, you and I can both agree that it lacks the human element to do more advanced tasks.
If you want to take full advantage of what a virtual personal assistant has to offer, you’ll need real human support.
Fortunately, there are a handful of personal assistant services you can rely on. The best choice will depend on the kind of assistance you’ll need.
What Tasks Does a Virtual Personal Assistant Do?
A virtual personal assistant has a lot to offer. As mentioned, most of the tasks they perform are clerical in nature, though much of it depends on the kind of tasks you need help with–and how fast you need them done.
Some virtual assistants can function as your own personal secretary who’s dedicated to you and you alone. There are also personal assistants that you can hire on-demand to help you with one-time tasks.
You can also rely on the power of AI and other human-powered personal assistant apps to help you with tasks that require a “quick fix.”
If you need help with an errand or some very specific task, there are virtual concierge services that are available to do such.
The 5 Different Types of Personal Assistant Services
Nowadays, a virtual personal assistant can also come in other forms. Apart from independent contractors, personal assistants now also come in the form of application programs and/or artificial intelligence that can understand voice commands and perform tasks for users.
There are several options you can choose from when it comes to virtual personal assistants.
The 5 main types of personal assistant services I’ll cover here are:
- Dedicated, remote executive assistants
- On-demand, task-based assistants
- Artificial intelligence apps
- Human-powered personal assistant apps
- Personal concierge services
You just need to figure out which option is best for you. Read on to explore each.
1. Dedicated, Remote Executive Assistants
This is the most common type of virtual assistant business owners looks for.
These personal assistants function more like a personal secretary or remote team member who’s in charge of anything you assign them.
As you can imagine, having a dedicated resource is extremely valuable because you know that they’ll always be there when you need them.
Below are some of the popular and well-rated virtual assistant companies that provide such services.
Founded by Barnaby Lashbrooke, this US and UK-based company has been making life easier since 2007.
The company only employs assistants with at least 5 years of experience and accepts just roughly 2% of applicants.
Some of the tasks Time Etc virtual assistants can handle include:
- customer service
- administrative assistance
- sales and lead generation
- marketing support and writing
- accounting and bookkeeping
Formerly known as eaHelp, BELAY jumped into the scene in 2010, initially helping churches and pastors outsource their bookkeeping and administrative work. The company has expanded since and is now catering to both small and large businesses nationwide.
BELAY employs US-based assistants, and has earned endorsements from author Michael Hyatt and several Fortune 500 companies.
Founded in 2012, the company formerly known as Worldwide 101 is a premium subscription staffing company with clients and team members in North America and Europe.
What sets Boldly apart from its competitors is that it caters specifically to demanding founders and executives by providing them a highly-skilled remote staff.
Unlike other providers whose virtual assistants are considered contractors, Boldly’s US-based staff are actual employees, making sure that each of their staff will work with you for the long term.
Established in 2009, Uassist.ME is a virtual assistant company that provides remote administrative services to clients in the US and around the world.
The company has offices in both Miami and El Salvador, making it a “nearshoring” option rather than “offshoring” because of this location and timezone close to the US.
My Tasker is an India-based company that began in 2012. This is one of the top-rated overseas virtual personal assistant options.
The company has since grown and now has over 100 professional virtual assistants under its fold providing services like customer support, online research, and much more.
2. On-Demand, Task-Based Assistants
There are also virtual assistant services that offer task-based and on-demand assistants.
This is an excellent option for business owners looking for help with quick, one-off assignments such as travel planning or online research — at a lower cost than the dedicated options above.
These services are usually offered through a monthly description that comes with a set number of requests. If you have an urgent need for a specific task and you’re not willing to pay a dedicated assistant for it, this is your best choice.
Fancy Hands is a virtual assistant company founded in 2010. Based in New York, what sets the company apart is its use of US-based, native-English speaking assistants.
Unlike a dedicated part-time virtual assistant, Fancy Hands is more of a time-saving tool for small one-time tasks. Tasks are limited to 20 minutes, but you can approve assistants to spend multiple task credits on one project.
You can use the service for tasks like restaurant reservations, online research, and conference call setup, just to name a few. I tend to use Fancy Hands for flight check-ins, online research, and proofreading articles.
Similar to Fancy Hands, OkayRelax is a task-based virtual assistant company founded in 2015 in Florida.
The company’s mission is to help people save time by setting up mini-projects of up to 30 minutes. Unlike most competitors in this space, OkayRelax does give you the option to upgrade to a dedicated assistant (for a price).
I’ve been an OkayRelax customer for years, and my virtual personal assistant has become an integrated part of several ongoing processes.
Established in 2012, Efficise is a Pakistan-based virtual assistant company whose goal is to help people around the world improve their efficiency and productivity.
Much like Fancy Hands, the company employs virtual assistants who can help clients complete quick, one-off assignments. Because of the workers’ location, the price is much lower.
3. Artificial Intelligence Apps
While hiring a personal assistant can do wonders for your business, it can get pricey too.
If you don’t have to spend a lot of money, you might take a look at these next two categories: AI and human-powered personal assistant apps.
Many of these apps are free of charge and may even come pre-installed in the mobile device you use.
Not only are they able to perform simple voice commands, but most of them can also do more advanced tasks like controlling your appliances, managing your calendar, requesting an uber, and connect to other apps like Skype and WhatsApp.
Still, there are some serious limitations here where a real human assistant might make more sense.
Google Assistant is a popular app that comes with your phone, speaker, laptop, and other similar devices and connects to smart home devices to help make your life easier.
Cortana is Microsoft’s answer to Google Assistant and is designed to learn from your commands so you can personalize your experience. Dubbed by Microsoft as its “digital agent,” Cortana is available on Microsoft devices, including Windows phones and operating systems.
Amazon’s Alexa functions similarly to that of Google Assistant. This voice-controlled assistant has the power to connect your entire life through simple voice commands. It allows you to control your home through its smart home features, check the weather, and play your favorite music among others.
4. Human-Powered Personal Assistant Apps
Some apps combine the power of AI and human support. These are generally fairly affordable, and can be a great way to get stuff off your plate.
Dubbed as the ‘Chief of Stuff,” Delegate combines advanced AI technology with humans who care by allowing you to text and record what you need so a human virtual assistant can fulfill them for you.
The app aims to let you take your life back by making it more balanced, meaningful and productive.
Much like Delegate, Magic is a personal assistant on-demand app that allows you to accomplish tasks by simply texting what you need.
Magic then sends you a team of skilled human assistants who will make sure to get your requests done 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The app charges you $0.50 per minute assistants spend working on your tasks. Some users complain that this can add up fast, but $30 an hour isn’t out of line for US-based support.
Wing is a new app that combines artificial intelligence, human assistants, and “a myriad of partnerships around the world” to provide you with the best personal assistant service.
All you need to do is send them a message and tell them whatever you need and their team of assistants and technologies will figure out how to best handle it.
The best part? Wing starts at just $9.99 a month.
5. Concierge Services
The beauty of a concierge service is that you’re able to get help for just about anything, anytime. Think like the concierge desk in a fancy hotel.
Another example of this kind of service would be your credit card’s concierge service, which can help you in a variety of ways. They can help you with restaurant reservations, event bookings, gift-buying, appointment-setting, and more.
Whether it’s a personal errand, an information request, or setting travel arrangements, you can rely on a virtual concierge service to deliver 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Here are a couple of the popular nationwide options.
One Concierge is considered a global leader in concierge, VIP event access, and lifestyle management services in more than a hundred countries.
This US-based luxury personal assistant company offers a range of high-end concierge services and operates on a membership model.
Founded in 2008, One Concierge handles common requests like personal errands, event coordination, and travel arrangements.
Maestro Personal Assistants
Maestro Personal Assistants prides itself on its “branded” personal assistance and concierge programs that are simple yet powerful and effective.
What makes them so effective is that they introduce your customers to your own personal assistant, one that carries your company name. This personal assistant will then fulfill any request your customers will send them.
Gone are the days when we have to do everything manually. With technology on our side, we can do pretty much everything without leaving the comfort of our homes.
Virtual personal assistants now exist to make our lives easier and more productive. Whether you require a dedicated assistant or someone who can do tasks on-demand, there’s a personal assistant service that can cater to your needs.
The information provided should give you more than enough information to pick and hire the best personal assistant solution that’s right for you.
The choice is yours so make it count!