Being in business for myself has been one wild and amazing ride. And, it can also be very consuming when it comes to both energy and time.
Like most people, I got into this whole thing and decided to become a VA back in 2014 to not only support my then-family of four (now five!) but so that I could spend time with them. You know, that whole time freedom/flexibility thing!
So how do you balance giving your business your all so that you can be successful with making sure you’re not a time slave to it?
Whether it’s delivering your VA services, streamlining the process of how to find Virtual Assistant jobs or working on your business, a strategy I teach in my VA training program, The #FullyBookedVA System, is using automation tools as much as possible to help strike that balance.
But which tools for Virtual Assistants are the right ones when it comes to automating your business? There are so many out there – with new ones popping up all the time. In this post, automation expert Jimmy Rose is going to share with us the top five automation tools for your VA business.
Ready? Take it away, Jimmy!
Running a Virtual Assistant business is hard work. Between getting things done for your clients, creating systems for yourself and trying to grow your business, there’s never a dull moment.
Whether it’s sending quotes, scheduling meetings or chasing clients for information, it can be hard to find time to spend on your own business.
However, in modern times technology has the ability to play a large role in making all of this so much easier. It’s possible to automate repetitive tasks – for both you and your clients.
Of course, this saves a lot of time, but it goes beyond that. Automation also eliminates human error – something that is normally inevitable. And best of all, implementing automation for your clients can blow their minds (in a good way). The result is happy clients that sing your praises.
With automation tools for Virtual Assistants, the biggest hurdle is figuring out where to start. With so many possibilities and tools, it’s a little overwhelming. So let’s dig into some of the best places to get going.
Here are five automation tools for Virtual Assistants that can help you put your business on autopilot.
Virtual Assistant Tools for Automating Your Business
Zapier is somewhat of an essential tool when it comes to automation – it’s the perfect place to start.
The majority of people use Zapier to connect different apps. That way, they can shift data from one app to another. For instance, you could connect your website’s contact form to your email list, meaning that, as soon as someone fills out the form, they’ll be automatically added to the list. Alternatively, as another example, you could get Zapier to automatically save attachments from your emails to Dropbox, saving you time.
There are so many things you can automate. It’s also worth noting that these things don’t always have to be small-scale. Zapier allows you to connect multiple apps at once, making it possible to create complete workflows.
If we revisit the example of the contact form, we can extend the workflow as follows:
When your contact form is filled out by a client/prospective client, if they select “content marketing” as their preferred interest, send them your content marketing questionnaire. Then, add them to your email list for a follow-up sequence.
There is a multitude of possibilities when it comes to Zapier, mainly due to its large variety of apps. You can build almost any workflow! If you’d like to learn more about Zapier and how to get started, give my Zapier tutorial a go.
If you’re only going to need simple automations, you can make use of Zapier’s free plan. However, if you’re looking at creating multi-step automations, you’ll need to sign up for a paid plan, the lowest being $19.99 per month.
Within most businesses, the number one cause of setbacks and delays is almost always related to content or document collection. Getting information from clients can be an absolute nightmare. The majority of people attempt to use email or Google Forms to collect the information they need.
However, more often than not, these methods fail to deliver. Sifting through endless email trails in order to piece together scraps of content just isn’t a good long-term solution. In reality, it’s nothing but a huge time waster.
Content Snare allows you to tackle all of that content collection chaos and turn it into organized bliss. All information is collected and stored in one place, making it easy to locate and come back to later. Plus, as well as having a simple client UI (user interface), Content Snare sends out automatic reminders, alleviating the unnecessary stress that comes with following up.
Some of Content Snare’s features include:
- Straight-forward client portal
- Automatic email reminders
- Content approval & rejection feature
- Built-in templates for a variety of industries
- A central dashboard for all of your client content
Pricing, with unrestricted access to all features, starts at $9 per month.
The back-and-forth when trying to schedule meetings or book appointments can be painful. The amount of emails you can end up sending whilst negotiating times and checking availability is just excessive. Plus, if there are time zone differences involved, something’s bound to go wrong.
This is why allowing your clients to consult your schedule online and choose from a range of available slots is the way to go. Not only does it allow more flexibility for both yourself and the client, but it also makes your business look much more professional.
Calendly is a great option when it comes to scheduling software. It allows you to avoid all bottlenecks and send your clients your booking link with no additional hassle. You can even embed it directly on your website, allowing clients to book from there.
Some of Calendly’s features include:
- Ability to sync with your calendars
- Payment collection
- A variety of integrations
- Time zone detection
- Confirmation emails and texts
Calendly offers a free basic plan, as well as paid plans starting at $8 per user per month.
As writing is a necessary daily activity, most people don’t notice just how much time it can take up. This is why using a text expansion tool can pretty much revolutionize your daily routine.
In essence, text expansion involves creating a shortcut on your keyboard that will expand into a longer block of text, whether that be a few words or an entire sentence. These shortcuts are referred to as snippets.
For example, this could be as simple as turning “imo” into “in my opinion”.
This same principle also applies to longer, more extensive groups of text, which is where the real time-saving element comes in. You could turn something like “;ncfe” into a “new client follow-up email” that you send to each client in order to follow up on their onboarding progress.
This removes the need to completely retype the email or even copy and paste it in. When you think about it, even the smallest of things can waste time, which is why this type of automation can come in handy.
Text expansion could be useful for anything you’re likely to have to type on a frequent basis, such as:
- Your email address
- Links (website links, for example)
- Answers to FAQs
- Whole emails
With TextExpander, you can also include placeholders within your snippets, allowing you to populate certain fields automatically. This is particularly useful when it comes to client first names, surnames and business names.
As far as pricing is concerned, you can try TextExpander at a starting price of $3.33 per month.
Task delegation, note-taking and project management are all at the core of any business. It’s essential to be able to communicate with your team, generate new ideas and keep track of progress.
However, a majority of the time, these things are all done separately and in different places. This results in a setup that’s not very teamwork friendly, as well as a lot of time being wasted navigating from one platform to another.
Coda is an all-in-one doc that allows you to avoid splitting everything across apps, documents and spreadsheets. Instead, you can design a process that’s perfect for your team on one flexible surface.
Some examples of ways in which you can use Coda include:
- For meeting notes
- For defining project briefs
- For discussing and voting on ideas
- For creating roadmaps
- For managing and tracking projects
Coda also has customizable views, meaning that the same data can be viewed by each member of your team in a different way, based on their preferences. That way, everyone’s happy.
Pricing plans with Coda, after the basic free plan, start at $10 per month per doc maker.
Automation is a worthy investment of your time. Whilst setting up all of your automations and workflows may take you a little while, you’ll be able to begin reaping the benefits immediately. Even the little things can really add up, which is why you’ll be surprised by just how much more time you have on your hands.
That extra time can then be shifted towards the more important things within the business, boosting productivity and increasing revenue.
To start taking advantage of the power of automation, check out the above automation tools and try integrating them into your daily process.
Ready to kick off your journey as a Virtual Assistant and be on your way to automating YOUR business? Join The #FullyBookedVA System and let’s do this!
Jimmy is the co-founder of Content Snare – a software platform that helps professionals collect content & files from clients.