Now more than ever is an exciting time to start your own virtual assistant business. Whether you have been downsized or just want out of the corporate world, then start planning now to launch your own career. The best part is: you determine your income, your hours, your work location, and your clients. You can’t say that working for someone else!
If you are ready to make the change and start providing virtual administrative assistance, plan now. Sit down; define what you are good at, what you are fast at, and most of all what you like to do. After that, start putting together your virtual office.
The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools. -Confucius
What hardware do I need to get started?
At the bare-bones minimum: you need a computer, high speed internet, a dedicated phone line, a place to work (with no distraction), and professional email account (not your firstname.lastname@example.org) account. Good email account examples include email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is a list of other “must haves” I have put together:
- Dedicated phone line (consider using a Google Voice number for your business!)
- Surge protector
- 2nd monitor for dual tasking
- Ergonomic mouse and keyboard
My Favorite software picks
So much for the hardware, now let’s take a look at the software. This software list is based on basic tasks you’ll need to provide with most businesses. If you have a target market – such as legal or creative services – you will need additional software. Your clients will let you know what they need, so don’t sweat it at this point.
My basic “must have” software list includes:
- Google Docs – Create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations online from anywhere.
- Calendar – I prefer Google calendar to stay on target
- Evernote – Keep all non-sensitive information here. I mean e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.
- Two different browser types – I use Chrome, then Firefox, then Opera, then IE.
- Skype – Whether for IM, video chat or phone chat, Skype is a must.
- Phone service via Google Voice (saves a ton of money compared to other services)
My list favorite list of “optional” software:
- Invoicing – Whether it’s PayPal (easiest) or Freshbooks, Zoho or Quickbooks, you need some way to get paid.
- MS Office – Word, Excel, and Outlook are priorities. PowerPoint, Access, and OneNote are important, but not as crucial to get started.
- Mozilla Thunderbird with the Lightning extension (for GCal sync) – If someone is compelled to use a desktop email app, I’d recommend Thunderbird because it’s free and does almost everything Outlook does.
- A paint/Graphics program – Photoshop, PaintShop Pro, and GIMP adds a professional look to documents, flyers, etc.
And if you have the $$:
- Hootsuite Pro – If you want networking and engagement, you need to be in social media. To link bomb, then you can probably manage ok with HS free.
- Sprout Social – If you are the go to person for your client’s social media management, this is the tool.
- Website – WordPress and Google Sites
- Scheduler – Appointy or vCita
- Calendar – Google Calendar
- Email Marketing – MailChimp | Aweber
- Time Tracking -Toggl | MinuteDock
- Project/Task Management – Asana
- Productivity suite – Google Docs | Microsoft Office
- Accounting – Zoho or Freshbooks | Quickbooks
- Payment – Paypal, Google Wallet (going away soon for the new integration into GMail)
- Social Media Management – Hootsuite | HS Pro or Sprout Social
- Graphics – GIMP | Photoshop
- Communication – Skype or Google Voice | Ring Central
- Password Management – PasswordBox or LastPass
So there you have it, your arsenal to get started in your own VA business. And to network and start building those valuable relationships – post your online profile and join social media site groups like LinkedIn, Google +, and Facebook. It’s important to be seen and get your services noticed by clients who desperately need your help!
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. Join me at the Google+ Virtual Assistants Community to share information and network with like-minded professionals.
Image credit: BenjaminNelan | CCO Public Domain