With more and more people opening their own businesses, clients are becoming increasingly supportive of a flexible work schedule. As people realise the benefits of outsourcing their social media and other administrative tasks, the demand for virtual assistants (VAs) grows, you might be wondering why you should become a Virtual Assistant in 2020?

With VAs, active business owners do not have to restrict themselves to local employees; they can hire experienced assistants from anywhere in the world! So how do you become a VA and invest in yourself in 2020?

What Is a Virtual Assistant?

A virtual assistant provides office, business, or personal assistant services from their home, or virtually from the client.  Virtual Assistants can use email, telephone, Skype, zoom, slack and other online collaboration tools to connect with clients. A VA also works on a freelance basis, meaning they can keep their workload manageable creating a business that suits them.

One of the best parts of becoming a VA is that the job does not require any legal qualifications. However, VAs should always have the latest knowledge and experience doing administrative tasks and working with clients. They also will need to know how to utilise the latest technologies prevalent in customer service. The technical knowledge required is why there are several classes available that offer certifications to help VAs.

Can This Be a Full-Time Job?

Although a VA may not be seen by some as a traditional job, it is still a career and a business. VAs have the option to work as few or as many hours as they choose, making it a realistic choice for those who are looking for a flexible schedule. I have worked with Ladies who only have a set number of hours per week and others who are building and growing their business alongside their day job in order to create a future business for them and their family.

The position appeals particularly to workers whose jobs have become redundant as well as self-employed go-getters who have the motivation and drive necessary to succeed in business. Often, the age range of successful VAs ranges from millennials to 30+-year-olds with families, right the way through to mature individuals who are not afraid of hard work but also want to be in control of how hard and how much they work. The best virtual assistants have a competitive edge or an entrepreneurial spirit and receive more work than others, so working hard pays off in this profession.

Who Needs Virtual Assistants?

The truth is, more businesses need virtual assistants than expected. VAs are a valuable source of work, especially if organisations need someone to carry about important administrative roles immediately or fill in for the absence of another employee.  You would be surprised at the variety in organisations that are using Virtual Assistants to provide their admin support – everyone from single one man bands through to major banking institutions.  Some of these organisations will use these individuals for an occasional hour, here and there or for regular support each month.

How Do I Get Work?

Unfortunately, it is not as simple as getting a website and some social media profiles and the clients will be lining up at your door – instead in recent years, it has been found that the primary methods of getting clients for a Virtual Assistant business start with:

  • talking with those you already know
  • followed by face to face networking
  • and then social media.

But the website and the social media profiles go hand in hand with these 3 tracks as they often give the social proof that you can do what you say you can do.

Another way in which to get work for your Virtual Assistant business is to ensure that you make the most of every engagement and every discovery call you have with potential clients.  Successful Virtual Assistants who want more clients, have learnt how to follow up and you are able to benefit from these top tips.

What Equipment Do I Need?

Virtual assistants need a lot less than you think to set up, and not everything is needed from day one.But some of the basic essentials are: computer, telephone line, internet, somewhere safe to store that external hard drive etc.  Although you will need general office equipment – you don’t need to get a stationery catalogue and create a large order!  (I was disappointed at this one and was grateful for a client that meant I needed to buy a guillotine and dynamo machine!)

Helpful Resources

To store and share documents, schedule email marketing, or perform other administrative tasks, specialist tools and apps are excellent resources. Some prevalent resources for VAs include:

  • G Suite from Google Cloud – the platform consists of Gmail but also provides the ability to create documents, share files, schedule meetings, and more.
  • Streak is a function that you can use within Gmail that helps to manage customer relationships.
  • The app Boomerang allows VAs to send emails on Gmail at scheduled times of the day.
  • Dropbox is a top-rated resource as well, allowing people to share and edit information on documents and images.
  • WiseStamp helps to add a professional feel to the email, letting users create a personalised signature.
  • Doodle not only schedules meetings but also it helps to avoid conflicts between meetings.
  • HelloFax manages faxes, even allowing assistants to send faxes without a fax machine.

Clearly, there are countless apps and tools to make life as a virtual assistant seamless and actually I am only scratching the service here to share with you the wide and varied list of potential tools. I would suggest having a look at the VACT Recommended Resources page to learn some of my favourites.

How Do I Charge Clients?

The method you use to charge clients depends on the individual virtual assistant. Some charge for their services by setting an hourly rate; others agree upon a budget with a client initially. Some assistants even offer what are called retainer packages, which establish a set cost per month with a client for a set number of hours.  A virtual assistant needs to know their worth so that they are not undercharging for their valuable time and services.

Telephone calls, stationery, out of hours cover and travel are typically separate costs from the hourly rate or budget.

Over the years, I have had discovery calls with individuals who are charging way below the worth, they instantly up their rate for new clients coming in and become fully booked in short order.  People will value the service you provide – you need to value the service you offer.

Does It Ever Get Lonely?

Short answer: No. Often, virtual assistants have clients that they are always interacting with and updating on the projects. VAs also frequently communicate via Skype or telephone, so they are in contact with other clients or other Virtual Assistants. Communication is happening all the time.  I recommend you book catch up calls with clients each week to stay on top of projects and for them to delegate more work to you.

This office time does not only include the amount of time spent home working on the computer. Remember that you may need to attend different networking events to make your presence known and grow your client base.  Networking is not a go once and people will buy from you – you will need to build the relationships – and that can often feel like dating.

An individual VA also may be a part of a VA community, something like our Facebook Community the VA Help Desk as well. In short, no, virtual assistants do not get lonely because they are so often making new relationships and talking with interesting people all the time.

How Do I Know If I Am a Good Fit to become a Virtual Assistant?

It may be surprising, but most people have the transferrable skills it takes to become a successful virtual assistant.  It’s not as simple as do I have a piece of paper with a list of secretarial qualifications on it.  Although a few years ago – some VA trainers would have said don’t bother unless you did.

One of the key traits required is resourcefulness, which means someone is good at solving problems and discovering new ways of doing things. As a VA, it is always important to find the most efficient solution for every issue, making resourcefulness one of the essential traits of an assistant.

No matter what, virtual assistants should always have excellent communication skills since they need to keep their clients updated on the status of projects. For people who are talkative and eager to share their thoughts and ideas, they already have half of what it takes to be a great virtual assistant.

A virtual assistant must have superb time management skills so that they can keep up with the constant flow of work and the large variety of clients. Once an assistant feels like they are working efficiently, they can do more in less time. A lot of times, VAs get a flood of various tasks and assignments, often making it overwhelming. To deal with this, you will need to know how to prioritise and manage your time to ensure you keep your clients work on track.

Why Should I Invest in Coaching, Training and Mentoring?

If you are serious about your business and launching a successful career as a VA, then it would be worth investing in yourself and your business and courses like the ones VACT offers, can give you the roadmap to success. In this post, we share 6 big reasons why you need to invest in VA training.

Training available from the VACT shows assistants exactly how to price yourself correctly, create a niche market (if applicable) and a specialty for your business. The investment in VA training is worthwhile because it shows people how to run and manage every aspect of their profession in an increasingly competitive field.

With the VACT, assistants also can fast track their success and learn to avoid common mistakes. The program offers VA coaching to help participants learn how to sell themselves as an actual business, build their reputation, attract the appropriate clients, and manage clients most effectively. This training even shows you how to understand business numbers and use analytics to make the right decisions for the business.

Becoming a VA and Changing Your Life

If you work a typical office job for forty hours a week every week, then it is easy to see how working from home can be such a dramatic change or the ideal. However, it has its advantages. VAs who work from home can create their own schedule and choose when and how they work. Virtual assistants can take as many or as little clients / projects / hours as they want that fits around their life.  I was reading a social media post this week, of a fairly new VA who happened to be a mum, and all 3 children have recently had chicken pox – one after the other… imagine having to ask an employer to take leave of absence 3 weeks in a row to look after your children.  Nightmare.  So in her case, being a VA literally changed her life, yes there was some disruption but it was totally manageable.

If you have not yet launched your VA business but you are still wondering if its the best things for you – I would suggest registering for our free training webinar – Start Your Own VA Business Webinar – these webinars are run regularly you can book your place on this webinar here.  We generally hold these live every 6-8 weeks depending on what is going on. You can check the Events tab to learn about other events that are happening near you.