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Virtual assistant at a work desk facing the camera and smiling with a computer monitor in the foreground.

When our chief problem solver, Kelly Goss spoke recently at the Practically Perfect PA Virtual Summit, she talked about the wealth of opportunities that automation can bring to Assistants and Online Business Managers.  After transitioning to a remote working career a few years ago, she found her first few clients by doing freelance OBM work improving her client’s systems and processes.  That’s when she stumbled across Zapier, and quickly learned how to use it (without having a tech background).  It’s not an exaggeration to say that Zapier changed her life.  Being able to connect the apps she used on a daily basis with her clients and automate repetitive tasks meant that she immediately became more efficient, and was able to help them be more productive too, saving them time and reducing their operating costs.  Now a Zapier Certified Expert, Kelly is one of the very few women on the Zapier Experts Directory.

We wanted to dig deeper into the opportunities for Assistants and Online Business Managers because we think automating systems using Zapier can benefit you in so many ways.

Here are five reasons why Virtual Assistants, EAs, PAs and OBMs should learn automation.


1. Automation will save you time

The one thing we all share in common these days is a lack of time, with bursting to-do lists and new emails arriving every five minutes.  Many of your processes may be manual, time-consuming, and prone to error and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re so busy.  By introducing automations into your workflow you will save time by cutting out the need to rekey information from one app into another.

For example, when someone fills in your website contact form you can get that data automatically added to a spreadsheet, making it easier to respond to potential customers in bulk as a single task rather than spread out during the day.  Customer onboarding is a great process to automate too, as it typically comprises forms, emails, and contracts which is time-consuming to manage.

Do you use a CRM like Pipedrive, Dubsado, or Hubspot?  Rather than adding leads manually, you could automate your email platform to add new customers automatically when they subscribe.

Or when your deals or projects reach a certain stage in the CRM then you can automatically add them to an email sequence in apps like Mailchimp, Mailerlite, or ActiveCampaign.

Knowing that the systems are taking care of the nitty-gritty means you’ll have more time for other, more exciting things!


2. Automation makes you more productive

Being organised is key as a VA, and when you’re juggling tasks for different clients you need to have a system.  Batching tasks is one way of being more productive, rather than flitting from one type of activity to another, because each time you start something different you waste time getting up to speed.  If you use a project management tool like Trello, Asana, or Todoist then you can use automation to streamline your process further.

For example, if you receive requests from clients to do some work then rather than transferring them manually into your project management app you can use a zap to create a new task directly from the email.  Then it’s dealt with in less than 10 seconds, and you know you won’t forget anything.

Time recording systems like Toggl have Zapier integrations which makes it easy to send the time you’ve tracked into a spreadsheet or other system to create your timesheet or invoices.

For more ideas about how Zapier can increase your productivity, visit their website for plenty of inspiration.


3. Avoid forgetting appointments

Even if you’re super organised with your Zoom meetings or Google Calendar and have email prompts set up, there’s still a chance that you’ll be on the school run or in a shop when that reminder lands.  You could bump into someone, have a ten-minute chat, not realising you’re missing an important video call.

Or you could dial into a call to find that you’re the only one there as everyone else forgot!

What you can do with Zapier is send an alert by SMS which you’ll see on your phone, and also on your smartwatch too.  You can send Slack or email reminders to your attendees too, which ensures sure they remember the meeting.  There’s no excuse for forgetting anything when your workflows are automated!  SMS by Zapier is one of their inbuilt functions which is free, so you can use it for any type of notification.


4. Schedule social media posts

There are many options for scheduling social media prompts, most of which are paid-for apps.  With Zapier you can schedule posts without needing to buy any additional software.

You can write the post once and then post it to different platforms, or tweak it for each one using different columns in a spreadsheet.

Another idea if you manage social media for a client and have scheduled posts going out is to set reminders for one hour after the post goes live to check in and respond to any comments.  It saves you constantly checking the app on your phone to see if you need to do anything.


Virtual assistant at her desk, checking her smartphone with a computer screen in the background displaying a colourful bar chart.

5. Earn more!

The best thing about learning automation as a Virtual Assistant is that it can be a new income stream for you.

According to a recent McKinsey report, “over the next ten to 15 years, the adoption of automation and AI technologies will transform the workplace…” allowing businesses to become more productive.  The chances are that your clients’ workflows are not as streamlined as they could be.  There could be huge opportunities in making them more efficient and you can use no-code automation tools like Zapier to do it.

Having a new service to offer gives you a chance to promote it to existing clients and also as a way of attracting new ones.  Automation consultancy also has the potential for a higher hourly rate than you may get currently too as it is a premium service offering.

You can also use Zapier to get more testimonials which will help win more clients.  Using automation to request a testimonial at the end of a project, and following up until one is received, is a great workflow to introduce.  It’s simple, yet highly effective.


Want to find out more?

We have a few free resources which will get you started with Zapier.   The first is our ebook “Automate: The Essential Guide To Business Productivity” which explains the basics of business process automation as well as examples of automations you can try out.

If you’re already using Zapier and would like to dig deeper into the built-in helper apps Zapier includes then download our free cheatsheet here.

If you’d love to learn more about business processes and Zapier, then we are launching a course soon!  You can join the course waitlist here to be kept in the loop.

Check out our automation training programme

And finally, if you’re really keen to transform your business using automation, then visit the Solvaa Automation Academy. Our signature training programme, ‘Simple Automation Blueprint: Zero to Hero’ is aimed at anyone who wants to learn the fundamentals of business process automation from the experts – a sure-fire way to recession-proof your business.

It’s an 8-week blended learning course with on-demand videos, templates, resources and weekly group coaching sessions. And it’s more than just a Zapier course (although we do show you how to use Zapier like a pro) as you’ll learn about Process Mapping, Business Process Improvement and Business Process Management too – principles that can be applied to other areas of business too! 

Whether you are a complete novice or have been using Zapier for a while, our programme is for you. It’s perfect for individuals and teams in micro, small and medium-sized businesses, including solopreneurs, consultants and freelancers. You’ll have access to our experts and can participate in live calls where you can ask all your burning questions, as well as hands-on workshops to keep you on track with implementing your new skills. We run regular cohorts so there will be an opportunity for everyone to participate.

Our head trainer, Kelly Goss, is a specialist in business systems, process improvement and automation, and one of less than 100 Zapier Certified Experts in the world. Kelly has many years’ experience in optimising systems and processes, and implementing automations for clients and is now passing on her knowledge to students through our trademarked ‘4-Step Solvaa Automation Methodology®‘. 

Find out more via our dedicated Solvaa Automation Academy website.


Read more about how our certified experts use Zapier workflow automations to simplify processes and increase efficiency.

Solvaa is a process and automation consultancy specialising in improving sales, operations and financial administration workflows. We help you to simplify and streamline existing processes, integrate your business tools to make data transfer more efficient and automate manual tasks to increase productivity. We are Zapier Certified Experts, Pipedrive Certified Experts and Xero Certified Advisors. 

Contact us today to discuss how Solvaa can help you simplify, improve and automate all aspects of your business with Zapier to save you time, reduce costs and keep you agile as you grow.

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