The best virtual assistant service for you is highly dependent on the type of VA you need. The easiest way to think about this is to divide VAs into 2 categories:
- Administrative assistants: Assistants who can do basic administrative tasks behind the scenes for you like data entry, bookkeeping, or invoicing.
- Executive assistants (EAs): Assistants who can take over a wide range of business and personal tasks for you, communicate on your behalf with key stakeholders (e.g. investors, board members, executive team, etc.), and learn to reliably and competently coordinate key logistical things like your daily calendar.
Most VA services, even ones that say they offer executive assistants, offer administrative-level assistants. But there are many business owners and entrepreneurs who would benefit far more from having an executive assistant.
In this article, we’re going to help you better understand the differences between these 2 types of assistants, so you can decide which is best for you. Then, we’ll explain how our executive assistant VA service works, and review 7 other popular VA services on the market.
Click below to jump to a specific section within the piece:
- Executive Assistants vs. Administrative Assistants
- Persona’s Executive Assistant VA Service
- Best Virtual Assistant Service Options
Click below to jump to a specific VA service:
If you’ve been wanting an assistant but haven’t had the time to hire one, or have had bad experiences with your first virtual assistant, click here to get started. You can try an assistant for a month or two and see how you like it. For testimonials from our clients, check out our homepage.
Executive Assistants vs. Administrative Assistants: Who Should Use Executive Assistants?
If you have rote, strictly business-related tasks that you want someone to execute on a part-time or full-time basis, then an administrative assistant can be sufficient. In general, admin VAs perform tasks such as:
- Data entry: Entering data into Excel spreadsheets, putting customer information into your CRM, etc.
- Organization: Cleaning up your Google drive into neat folders, cleaning up your email inbox, etc.
- Bookkeeping: Keeping your QuickBooks or accounting software up to date.
- Basic calendar management: Adding appointments to your calendar, notifying you of scheduling conflicts.
- Email maintenance: Tagging and sorting your inbox, deleting spam, sending templated responses, etc.
However, while admin assistants can be useful for data entry and organization, when it comes to managing your calendar and email (as well as handling other complex tasks), their utility tends to be limited. They won’t typically be able to take those things completely off of your plate.
Because managing your email and calendar requires a nuanced understanding of the way you would prioritize things, correspond with key people, and make non-trivial scheduling and communication decisions for your business. These situations often aren’t straightforward. And through our research at Persona, we’ve learned that assistants who can handle these situations competently have a mix of 3 qualities:
- High level problem solving ability: Their smarts, ability to respond and adapt to new situations on the fly, etc.
- Strong communication ability: Their ability to write and communicate on your behalf or alongside you with key people (team, board members, investors, etc.).
- Key character and behavioral traits: Their organization skills, detail-orientedness, reliability, etc.
Admin VAs tend to perform worse in these key areas than executive assistants. Therefore, if you want a VA who you can trust to actually take things like scheduling and email off of your plate, in addition to other more complex tasks, an executive assistant (which, in theory, should have the above qualities) would be a better fit for you.
You’re also better off with an executive VA if you want help with tasks outside of your business as well (things a personal assistant would help with). Many of our clients at Persona are surprised to learn that in addition to business tasks, our assistants can help with time-consuming personal things like scheduling doctor appointments, coordinating grocery deliveries, making dinner reservations, creating travel itineraries, and more.
Note: If you’re looking for support doing more specialized tasks such as social media marketing, graphic design, web design, web development, or other digital marketing activities (email marketing, content writing, copywriting, SEO, etc.), you’re likely better off seeking individuals who specialize in those areas. Many people assume VAs do these things, but most don’t. However, the absolute best VAs can offer support with these things. For example, our executive assistant VAs often help our clients with things like social media management, sending out email marketing campaigns through platforms like Mailchimp, or designing landing pages using Squarespace and Webflow.
Why Most VA Services—Even Ones That Say They Offer Executive Assistants—Actually Offer Admin-Level Assistants
High level problem solving ability, advanced communication skills, and key character traits like organization and detail orientedness are the qualities that separate run of the mill admin VAs from executive VAs.
The challenge that most VA services face and ultimately suffer from when hiring VAs is that measuring these generalist qualities in candidates is difficult, and most VA companies (as well as recruiters and staffing agencies) haven’t developed a rigorous process for doing this.
They tend to follow the same methods that employers traditionally use when hiring for generalist roles:
- Review resumes and look at whether someone is college-educated, where they worked, and their years of experience.
- Choose candidates to speak further with about the role based on these relatively superficial variables.
- Talk to those candidates and select ones based on how well they perform in their interviews.
The problem is that this process:
- Doesn’t measure problem solving ability.
- Only measures verbal communication ability—even though most VA work is done through written communication.
- Doesn’t measure character traits like organization, reliability, detail-orientedness, etc.
VA companies often just choose the candidates who perform the best in an interview. But it’s been proven that how well someone speaks in their interview is not predictive of how well they’ll perform on the job in an executive VA role.
For people who want an executive-level VA that can handle things like email and calendar management, as well as other complex tasks, they often have bad experiences with VA services.
How Persona Finds and Hires Top 0.1% Executive Assistant VAs
We’ve used our deep expertise in assessment design and cognitive science to build a hiring process that measures the things that matter most in generalist roles:
- Problem Solving Ability: How smart are they? Can they figure things out in new and complex situations?
- Key Personal Traits: Are they organized, reliable, detail-oriented, etc.?
- Communication Ability: How well do they write and communicate? Can they communicate on your behalf or alongside you with key people (team, board members, investors, etc.)?
Unlike most VA companies—who don’t have concrete ways to assess candidates on these key capabilities and traits—we have a data-driven process that allows us to do this. So, instead of learning whether or not a VA has these abilities on the job, we can figure this out beforehand to ensure every assistant we hire is world class in these areas.
On a candidate by candidate basis, we use individually tailored combinations of the following to vet our VAs:
- Quantitative assessments
- Pre-structured interviews
- Work sample projects
- Communications exercises
- Reference and background checks
We know that a one-size-fits-all approach to hiring is simply insufficient if you want to find the absolute best executive assistants. Our entire process is customized to evaluate different candidates in different ways based on their backgrounds and how they perform throughout each step.
This in-depth, flexible vetting process allows us to understand our applicants on a deeper level, and figure out who will be the best performers for each of our clients.
In the end, we hire roughly 1 assistant out of every 1,000 candidates. The result is that those who make the cut are able to perform at a much higher level than the VAs that founders and executives typically find.
Our assistants can execute on the essentials like email and calendar management, research, and data entry. But in many cases they also help clients with things like:
- Social media management
- Workflow and project management
- Customer support
- Employee onboarding
- eCommerce management (on platforms like Amazon)
- Personal assistant tasks
Our executive VAs are used in all types of industries, including tech startups, non-profits, real estate, professional services, and more. Whether you’re a consultant, small business owner, or executive at a large company, if you want a dedicated VA that can take a wide range of tasks completely off your plate, click here to get started. You can try an assistant for a month or two and see how you like it.
Other Popular Virtual Assistant Companies
Because of our in-depth vetting process, we think we’ve developed one of the best services for entrepreneurs, startup founders, or executives who want a highly competent, dedicated virtual assistant. However, people who are searching for VAs might also consider some of these options:
It’s necessary to talk to BELAY’s sales team members in order to learn about their pricing plans.
Pros: Some BELAY clients have reported that the intake process was thorough and designed to ensure a good “fit” both as it relates to skill set and personality. Others have remarked that they’ve found their bookkeeping services to be a useful add-on.
Cons: There are many people who don’t recommend BELAY and have had bad experiences with them. People have reported issues such as VAs who completely abandoned answering calls and client emails, and that their VAs were completely unreliable or required extensive micromanaging.
View BELAY’s reviews on Facebook (the source of these reports).
Pricing plans for Time etc range from $290/mo for 10 hours ($29 hourly rate) to $1,560/mo for 60 hours ($26 hourly rate).
Pros: Time etc offers a free trial that allows you to try their service with no commitments. They purport to only hire VAs with a minimum of 5 years of VA experience. They also offer rollover hours and team access to their VAs.
Cons: Assistants are not fully dedicated, and can be assigned work from other clients. As a result of this, users have reported that turnaround times on deliverables can be slower than what they need. It’s also been said that their app is “a bit clunky.”
Pricing plans for MyTasker range from $140/mo for 10 hours to $900/mo for 100 hours.
Pros: Because MyTasker is based in India, they’re able to offer cheaper rates than many VA services. Users have reported their service to be useful and reliable for rote work and regular data entry tasks.
Cons: Some customers have reported that response times were slower than they would have liked. And, their VAs are more appropriate for basic administrative tasks, so if you need more complex tasks done, you’d need to use a different service.
Pricing plans for WoodBows range from $225/mo for 20 hours to $1,299/mo for 160 hours (their full-time plan).
Pros: Some WoodBows customers have reported their VAs provide great assistance for customer support and website maintenance. Others have reported their VAs to be helpful with scheduling and managing meetings.
Cons: WoodBows has a 3.3 average rating on Trustpilot. While 62% of their reviews are positive, 38% are poor or negative—indicating that customers have inconsistent experiences. Users have reported VAs to be unresponsive and unreliable, often providing poor customer service.
Pricing plans for Fancy Hands range from 3 requests/mo for $17.99 to 30 requests/mo for $149.99.
Pros: Fancy Hands customers have reported that their VAs can put together massive amounts of research and build beautiful spreadsheets. They offer different options to submit tasks, such as through email, their mobile app, via text, or phone call. They also have a dashboard that summarizes the requests you’ve made in a given time period, and the time you’ve saved.
Cons: Some users have reported their service wasn’t worth it, with VAs making mistakes despite being given plenty of detail on the tasks being requested. Others have said they’ve at times needed to reassign tasks to a different assistant to get them done correctly.
Pricing plans for Remote CoWorker range from $6.99/hour for a part-time VA to $5.99/hour for a full-time VA. They also offer full-time bilingual VAs that speak both English and Spanish for $8.99/hour.
Pros: Users report Remote CoWorker VAs having helped with a wide range of tasks, including email marketing, graphic design, CRM management, invoicing, taking calls, and more. In addition, because Remote CoWorker hires VAs from the Philippines and other international markets such as Central America, they offer affordable hourly rates.
Cons: Remote CoWorker doesn’t offer rollover hours, so if you don’t use up your hours in a given time period, you don’t get to use them in a future month.
Pricing plans for Uassist.ME range from $1,059/mo for a shared assistant to $1,798/mo for a full-time assistant. They also offer tailored plans.
Pros: Customers have reported that Uassist.ME’s VAs have adequate communication skills and are thorough when it comes to following directions. They’ve also reported a fast turnaround time on tasks, usually within 24 hours.
Cons: Based on customer reviews, there appears to be inconsistency in Uassist.ME’s outsourcing services. Some users have reported poor communication and slow response times from their VAs. Others had commented that the work from their VAs had “grammatical and spelling mistakes every third sentence of the content they drafted.”
Try a Persona Virtual Assistant
If you want a truly world-class assistant—a dedicated VA that can be transformative for your business—try Persona.
Here’s how to get started with us:
- Step 1: Complete our form to let us know your needs.
- Step 2: If you’re a good fit, we’ll set up a call to discuss our service with you.
- Step 3: Our team will hand pick an assistant who we think will be a great fit for you based on your needs.
- Step 4: Our talent team will guide you through the onboarding process over 2-3 weeks.
- Step 5: For a flat monthly rate, you get a fully dedicated assistant working for you 40 hours per week (no long-term commitment needed).