I stumbled across this in the Guardian, in response to a Virtual Assistant wanting to know how best to market her Virtual Assistant Business.
It’s not surprising that a VA business is still a popular choice for anyone wanting to work flexibly around their lifestyle, while taking advantage of their skill set.
As for business owners – whether large, small or sole entrepreneurs – it makes sense for them to hire a VA for a number of reasons:
- It’s cost-effective, as VAs work remotely, often from home.
- VAs are self-employed, which means little staffing costs (other than hiring and/or training if necessary).
- It also means that clients can simply hire a VA on an ad-hoc basis.
- By outsourcing, the client can focus on the important business of running their business.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
A VA provides a range of support services remotely over the Internet, from a fully equipped home-office.
Many work entirely from home, while others travel frequently and even occasionally work in their clients’ offices.
Services include, but are not limited to, anything that you would normally expect from an office Executive Assistant, such as:
- Data Management
- Desktop publishing
- Digital Transcription
- Event/diary/email management
- Internet Research
- Managing Email
- Social Tasks
- Travel arrangements
..and much more.
What skills do you need?
First decide whether becoming a VA is the right choice for you personally.
- Are you a self-starter and can you motivate yourself to work unsupervised? Working with clients remotely means that it’s up to you to decide how to manage your workload.
- Are you organised? You’ll need good time management skills to ensure you don’t fritter time away surfing the Internet. When you’re a VA, time literally is money and your clients will expect you to deliver what you say you will, when you say you will.
- Can you wear multiple hats? Working for yourself means having to do your own marketing, bookkeeping, raising and chasing invoices and updating your own website – all this alongside juggling different workloads for your clients.
What equipment do you need?
You’ll obviously need a computer with broadband Internet access. You’ll also need to be easily accessible by telephone.
Software obviously depends on the services you intend to provide. For example, if you intend to provide a remote transcription service, you will obviously need digital transcription equipment and software.
- Specialise: While it might be tempting to consider providing a range of services to a range of clients, you’ll have far better success if you focus on a particular niche. For example, a Virtual Assistant for GPs, or for Estate Agents, or for Authors. Specialising in this way will make your marketing very targeted and in time, help you to establish yourself as ‘the go to’ person in that particular niche.
- Finding Clients: This will be your hardest task. Many VAs start out by word-of-mouth referrals, until they gradually build up their client base. Never underestimate the power of networking offline. It’s only when you talk to people who know people, that you’ll find who needs what, where and when! For more tips on how to find new clients, download my free PDF “10 Ways to Land More Clients”
- Fees: If you’ve read anywhere on this blog reference to hourly fees, consider it old and outdated advice. Instead, you should bundle services together to create service packages and charge a fee based on the value of your bundle. It’s far more profitable and prevents those sneaky little extras clients (occasionally) try to wheedle out of you (for free). Here more reasons why, as a VA (or any other type of service provider) you should seriously consider moving away from the hourly model – today!
- Put yourself in your prospective client’s shoes: As a VA, you’re not just providing a service, you’re an extremely valuable member of your client’s team. In fact, Michael Hyatt describes a good Executive Assistant as “an air traffic controller to your life”. Check out his blog here where he gives “10 Characteristics of a Rockstar Executive Assistant.” A “Rockstar Assistant” Isn’t that how you’d like your future clients to think of you? High profile blogs such as Michael’s (including Entrepreneur.com and many others) grant you an excellent insight into the qualities business owners and entrepreneurs expect from a VA, so before you take the plunge, make them part of your research too.
Have you set up as a Virtual Assistant? Do you agree with these tips, or are there any others that you’d add?