What is a Virtual Assistant? Everything you need to know


Demand for Virtual Assistants (VAs) has increased enormously over recent years, as more and more people choose to work remotely, running their own businesses, starting side hustles or freelancing.

The tasks a VA takes on can vary - but in every case, your Virtual Assistant is there to take care of some of your daily tasks to free up your time and let you focus on growing your business.

Virtual Assistants typically work remotely - often from home. That means that if you’re looking for a VA to support you, location should be no barrier to finding the perfect person.

Recruiting a VA who lives in a different country can actually prove beneficial to a business by offering cover across multiple time zones. However, paying someone based abroad can come with high fees and a poor exchange rate if you go via your regular bank. Try Wise Business instead for a simple, cheap way to send money abroad using the mid-market exchange rate. More on that later.

See if you can save with Wise


Table of contents:

Key takeaways

  • A Virtual Assistant (VA) offers remote support for business owners, entrepreneurs and other busy people
  • General VA support may involve administrative tasks, organizing diaries and travel, and taking calls
  • There’s great demand for specialist VAs who can help grow a business through marketing, social media and community building
  • Virtual Assistants work remotely - meaning you can employ someone in a different timezone to provide out of hours customer support, or connect more easily with international suppliers
  • VAs may work freelance with multiple clients, or be employed by a single business

What does a Virtual Assistant do?

Virtual Assistants may perform administrative duties, arranging appointments or managing emails.

Or they may provide creative input into social media and marketing, technical support for your ecommerce store - or anything else your business needs.

If you’re thinking about getting a Virtual Assistant to support you, it’s crucial to think carefully about where they may add the most value to your business.

Create a list of tasks and duties, and use this when recruiting your VA. You may decide you want a VA to simply remove some of the repetitive administrative tasks that are eating up precious time.

Or you might prefer to have a VA with a specialist skillset, such as event planning or business analytics.

Here are a few common tasks Virtual Assistants may get involved in:

  • Email and diary management
  • Booking appointments and travel
  • Market building and following up business development leads
  • Social media management
  • Marketing activities, customer events and promotions
  • Answering customer queries
  • Technical support, updating websites or blogs

Does a Virtual Assistant need qualifications?

The skills, experience and qualifications Virtual Assistants have will vary widely. VAs with specialist experience or higher levels of education are typically more in demand.

There are also various qualifications and professional development tools available specifically for Virtual Assistants.

You may find that some VAs have taken training relevant to the role, covering organization and project management, social media and digital marketing, or business analytics.

This training is often available online, in some cases even for free.

If you’re thinking of hiring a Virtual Assistant for yourself you’ll need to consider what skills, experience and qualifications are important to you. Finding someone competent is crucial - but you’ll also want a VA you can trust, get along with well, and who will take the initiative to help you build your business.

Benefits of a Virtual Assistant

Wondering whether getting a Virtual Assistant is right for you? Here are a few things to consider:

  • Having a VA will free up your time so you can focus on what really matters
  • Getting a VA with a complementary skill set can allow you to grow your business
  • A VA can provide specialist or technical support for specific projects - with no need to bring in a new full-time employee
  • Virtual Assistants can be a very cost effective way of expanding your support team, allowing you to pay per project or per hour
  • Freelance VAs are self employed and work remotely, meaning no need to manage payroll, provide equipment or worry about taxes
  • If you have customers or suppliers abroad, having a VA in their region can make communication easier, removing time zone worries

Because a Virtual Assistant can work anywhere they have a computer and internet access, you may choose to employ someone based overseas.

Maybe the perfect person for the job just happens to live abroad.

Or perhaps it’s a strategic decision to have someone who can offer out of hours customer care, or develop better relations with your international suppliers by being close by, and speaking the local language.

If your Virtual Assistant lives abroad, you can pay them in their local currency easily using a smart new fee-free account from Wise Business. Hold multiple currencies in one place, switch between them using the mid-market exchange rate, and pay your team and suppliers in foreign currencies quickly and safely in just a few clicks.

How to hire a Virtual Assistant

You’ll be able to hire a Virtual Assistant online via freelance marketplace sites such as Upwork¹ and Fiverr². Here you can either place an advert specifying the type of tasks and the amount of support you’re looking for - or you can browse the VAs who have posted their details online to find a good fit.

You may also be able to find a great Virtual Assistant with word of mouth recommendations.

Ask around in your professional network to see if others who use a VA have recommendations about where to connect with great people - or even if they know a VA with the skills you’re looking for themselves.

As most VAs work freelance and take on multiple clients, you might find the perfect person is closer than you think.

Getting a Virtual Assistant can help business owners and entrepreneurs win back time which they can then invest into growing their businesses.

By having someone take care of the administrative, low risk areas of your company day to day, you can take a step back and focus more on what really matters.

You may also choose to use a VA to provide specialist support on an ongoing or project basis, giving your business a boost.

Because VAs typically work remotely, you’re able to fish in a global pool to find the right talent for your role. If you choose to work with a Virtual Assistant based overseas, you’ll be able to manage payroll easily by using Wise Business, for simple and cheap overseas payments. See how Transferwise can help you grow your business today.


  1. Upwork - 27 best virtual assistants
  2. Fiverr - Virtual assistant

Sources checked on 20 August 2020

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

Money for here, there and everywhere

Find out more

Tips, news and updates for your location