A Virtual Assistant is an administrative professional who works from a remote location, usually without ever stepping foot into the client’s office.
Virtual assistants, or VA's as they are called for short, perform a variety of duties ranging from answering phone calls to updating websites. Some read and respond to emails, type up transcripts, write articles and do light bookkeeping. The services provided are determined based on the client's needs and the virtual assistant’s expertise.
Virtual Assistants are sought after by numerous small business owners, particularly those with online businesses. Many clients are looking to free up their workload so they can concentrate on the money-making activities of their business rather than on administrative tasks.
Virtual assistants are also a popular option over hiring a regular employee because they're considered Independent Contractors who have their own office equipment and pay their own taxes, therefore saving potential clients a lot of money in overhead costs.
What skills and tools are needed to become a VA?
Basic office skills and organizational skills are a must. You will be keeping track of several clients at one time. The basic tools you will need are: a computer with high speed internet access, email programs, office programs software, phone, printer, scanner or fax machine and a website to promote your services. Other things to consider are: a desk, comfortable chair and a quiet space to work in.
If you've done administrative work in previous jobs, starting a VA business could be right up your alley. Once you have a home office set up, start marketing your website to obtain clients to work for. It's a great idea to offer special grand opening rates to attract first time clients. Never hesitate to ask for client referrals as well -– there always seems to be someone looking for a reliable VA.
There are many valuable resources available online for those who are just getting started in this business. Look for tutorials and newsletters that are being published by more experienced virtual assistants and you'll learn a great deal from their example. You may even want to hire a coach to give you personalized feedback.