Having your own virtual assistant business can conveniently fit into almost any lifestyle, but what does it entail?
Virtual assistants are administrative experts, providing a variety of administration, technical and marketing services to clients, often remotely. Communicating with clients is done almost exclusively by telephone, fax and Internet, which is why this is an ideal home-based business. Working remotely means being able to take on clients from other cities, even other States, and some virtual assistants never actually meet their clients. I am lucky enough to met many of mine face-to-face, albiet I was on holiday and made it a point to seek them out.
Having strong administrative experience, preferably at a high-level, is essential before you can consider becoming a Virtual Assistant. Once you begin the process of starting your Virtual Assistant operation you will need to set up a company website detailing the services you offer to potential clients, along with exploring marketing opportunities afforded by social media such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
It is important to remember that you offer a professional service, so it is vital that you are professional at all times, not only when first meeting potential clients. Your clients need to see that you are trustworthy, and that you are capable of completing any tasks professionally and on time. Provide potential clients with detailed guidance on what services you provide as a Virtual Assistant, along with an explanation of your methods and what you require from the client.
What Equipment is Needed?
Basic hardware requirements include a reliable computer or laptop, a fax machine or online fax service, a printer/scanner/copier combination, external hard drive or a online cloud back-up service, a telephone and a high-speed Internet connection.
Software requirements would vary according to the services you offer, but the minimum would be a good Office package allowing the creation of word documents and spreadsheets, an e-mail program and a web browser. There are many online solutions available that you should also consider exploring, with many of them being free or low-cost in comparison to larger well-known programs.
What Training is Available?
There are a myriad of places where you can get certification, mostly unaccredited, if you feel it is necessary. Some believe that a certificate not only confirms that you have the necessary skills and competencies, but also affirms your professionalism and can be of great help in attracting clients. Being certified in social media marketing will enhance any marketing skills you already have, as will being a certified Virtual Event Specialist. Personally, I was an admin for 10 years, been an entrepreneur since I was 12, and have crazy mad computer skills.
Where do Virtual Assistants Find Clients?
Where and how you find clients will vary according to your services – are you providing a full-time or part time service; and are you targeting large or small firms, or only individuals?
Once you have established your target market you can begin exploring the multitude of forums and networks dedicated to virtual assistants, including VA Networking, Virtual Assistant Forums, the International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) and the Administrative Consultants Association (ACA).
A final important consideration is your service rates, and these would be determined by you based on three criteria:
- Your level of experience
- Your required operating profit (per hour)
- The rates of competing Virtual Assistants in your area
Surveys carried out by the ACA indicate that the current average is between $35 and $70 an hour, but the ultimate guide would be what your competitors are charging in your area.
About Out of the Office Virtual Assistance:
At Out of the Office, we offer ideas and ways to increase your productivity, decrease your workload, and work more efficiently. We nurture a successful business relationship, while continuing to grow as your business partner. We are focused on streamlining your administration, social media planning and execution, and offering creative solutions for your business success.
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