Businesses require administrative assistance and having a full-time employee on site can be cost-intensive. Thus, the need for Virtual Assistants; administrative professionals who offer a wide variety of services remotely; mostly from their homes, operating as their small businesses. Since the 1990s, the business has become a thriving one due to the growth in technology and entrepreneurship. The work of a Virtual Assistant has started to gain recognition as even websites which specialize in contract workers, such as o desk.com and e lance.com, have several listings for Virtual Assistants.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
Virtual, Assistants are independent contractors or freelance workers who work mostly from home and perform administrative tasks which are similar to those of a secretary.
Virtual Assistants can do just about everything. Do you have administrative skills? Can you design websites? Are you proficient with social media? Then you can become a Virtual Assistant! To begin with, you need to make a conscious decision to start working online; even if you have no idea what exactly you intend to do. Then, analyze and write down what you are good at. The virtual assistant industry is a fast-growing industry, and a lot of people work from the comfort of their homes now; increasing their income and enjoying the dividends of being their own boss as well.
As a virtual assistant, you are an independent contractor. Clients pay a fee for your services, and you are responsible for paying your taxes, insurance, equipment, healthcare, and training. Through technology, like project management apps, video conferences, instant messaging and cloud collaboration software, entrepreneurs who intend to start a virtual assistant business have all the tools they need to work with business clients successfully.
Virtual Assistants offer the following services:
- Website designing and maintenance
- Writing and emailing
- Project management
- Calendar management
- Marketing services
- Customer support services
- Book-keeping and so on
How Do I Begin?
To start a business as a Virtual Assistant; You will need a computer, high speed internet, a phone line, printer and scanner. Then you can source for clients based on your skill set. Once you find your clients, you gather work from them via email, text, instant message or fax. You can interview each other through a phone call to ensure you are a good fit for each other’s business. After this, a contract, clearly stating the roles both of you are to perform and the payment schedule, should be drawn up; to prevent conflicts. Here is a step by step guide on how you can start a business as a Virtual Assistant:
- Draft a list of the services you can provide: Although Virtual Assistants can handle just about everything from writing, emailing, customer support, calendar management, bookkeeping, marketing, website maintenance, project management and more; You have to pick a niche. Focus on the skills you have and enjoy doing. This will give you a greater sense of direction. You can offer one service, such as writing or you can provide many services.
- Draft a list of potential clients:
The next step is to itemize the list of people you feel may need your services. These people could be sourced from possible markets that require virtual support services. You can even channel your services to suit the needs of a particular industry. Another option is to focus on a niche and provide that particular service, across several industries.
- Develop a business plan:
Draft a business plan to cover all aspects of your business; from the services you offer, to whom you intend to serve and the cost of your services. Also include your distinguishing factor, how you intend to manage your business financially; your source of funds and your marketing strategy should not be left out. The structure of your business and a name for your business has to be decided upon while drafting a business plan.
- Get required permits and licenses:
Most local cities or counties issue business licenses. Even if you intend to work from home, you will also require a zoning waiver. You will also need a business bank account.
- Draft a marketing plan: After getting up your business permits, provide answers to questions like; Who are your most likely clients and where can you find them? What do they need and how can you meet their needs? Answers to these questions will help you create your marketing plan.
- Start providing great service: After everything is all set up, you can begin to implement your plan. Strive to get your first clients and deliver great services to them. You can also ask for referrals from clients to help boost your portfolio.
Benefits of Starting a Business as a Virtual Assistant
Starting a business as a Virtual Assistant comes with a lot of benefits. Such benefits include:
- It is an easy and affordable business to start. You only need a set of skills, equipment, and software to begin the business.
- For the most part you do not require any education to get started. Your skills are enough. Subsequently, you can improve or expand your skill set.
- You get to decide which services you want to provide, which industry you want to serve and so on, as you are virtually your own boss.
- Being a Virtual Assistant also enables you to create your schedule. There are a lot of people in need of Virtual Assistants online, from several continents. This offers you the opportunity to pick clients whose demands match your schedule.
- You also get to work from the comfort of your home, with flexible working hours, doing what you love and making money out of it.
Cons to Starting a Business As a Virtual Assistant
Despite the many benefits, starting a business as Virtual Assistant has a few cons. These disadvantages include:
- Getting your first client can be very challenging, especially if you do not have a network, or a client willing to hire you as soon as you begin. Some contracting websites can help with this; however, the rates are often not that high. With higher rates, potential clients may feel put-off, as offshore Virtual Assistants charge really low rates.
- Also, how much you can earn as a Virtual Assistant, depends on the amount of time you are willing to invest in the business. As an online job, you directly trade time for money, and you are only one individual. However, this problem can be solved by bringing together and managing a team of Virtual Assistants.
Finally, starting a business as a Virtual Assistant requires a lot of dedication and hard work. You are your own boss, but that should not make you complacent. Always read and research about the services a Virtual Assistant can perform. You can also network with other experienced Virtual Assistants for subcontracting jobs or even advice. Most importantly, you have to modify your knowledge of current technology and trends in the industries and services you offer.