Becoming a Virtual Assistant

inboxesThere are a great many benefits to working from home as a Virtual Assistant. Personally, I realized in early 2001 that I was missing the best parts of my childrens life, all those milestones (like my daughter Madison's first step!). At the time, I was running several local dotcom's for a "mover & shaker" who got a lot of press for all the great work that I was doing. I realized that the advancements in technology and the Internet were prime for me taking the plunge into working from home.Perhaps, like me, you want to be able to stay home with your kids or to help a family member. Also, you may find a daily commute limiting due to health reasons or you live in a more rural area where job prospects aren't too terrific. Whatever the reason, the freedom of working from home - working for yourself is quite the siren song.

You get to set your own hours, choose who you work with and have mastery over you life and your goals.

sillylegsThere are a great many things to consider before you decide to become a Virtual Assistant. Realize that Virtual Assistance isn't just about working at home in your pajamas. As they say in Spiderman, "With freedom comes great responsibility." As a Virtual Assistant, you'll put on a great many different hats throughout your work day; salesperson, marketer, technology support, bookkeeper, customer service, etc. You also should realize that as an entrepreneur, 100% of your success or failure rests upon your shoulders. Thus, taking the time and doing the necessary research prior to launching is critical. Many Virtual Assistants get their feet wet while they stay at their full or part time job.

It's not for the feint of heart, so I would recommend doing your due dilligence prior to making your decision. Research Virtual Assistance here and on other terrific sites, interview practicing VAs and ask them what their daily life is like. Only then will you be fully prepared to make a choice for Virtual Assisting.

vaclassWhen considering launching your Virtual Assistant business, you should closely consider what types of services you'll want to offer. First, take some time to evaluate what you're good at. Over your lifetime you've probably developed a great many skills. Examine these and get them all down on paper - not only will this help you decide your service list but it will give you encouragement and personal satisfaction. Second, consider those functions that you really enjoy. No Virtual Assistant wants to get stuck working on boring and unfulfilling projects, so spend some time going over your past successes and determine what brings you the most satisfaction.Once you have a basic list of possibilities put together, you can then research the marketplace to determine what skills are in the most demand. You may decide that choosing a niche is your best option. Many Virtual Assistant firms specialize in a particular industry such as Law or Real Estate.

handshakeChoosing how to structure your rates as a Virtual Assistant is one of the most critical steps towards success. If you charge too low a fee, you get stuck with "low-rate" clients and work yourself into the ground. If you charge too high a fee, you have "NO" clients and and empty bank account. Finding the right balance between affordability and profitability is the key. Sit down and take some time to examine your potential overhead and start-up costs. What equipment and software will you need? Next, decide how much income you will personally need to clear in order to stay afloat. Remember that not every single hour you work will be "billable" - so there will be costs involved in running your business like the time you need for marketing, bookkeeping, call backs, etc.

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bizmeetThe old adage, "Those who fail to plan, plan to fail" certainly holds true when it comes to setting up your Virtual Assistance business. The process isn't too difficult, but proper planning is necessary to set you on the path to success. You may want to do some research into creating a business plan. Creating a proper business plan ensures that you don't leave out any critical element. You'll need a name for your new business as well as a logo and some basic marketing materials such as your business card, flyers and website.You'll need a business license, so check your local county or state website. You may be required to gain insurance or pay "Business & Occupation" taxes, so be sure to do effective research now to prevent any bad news later.

guystudyWhen starting your Virtual Assistant business, a sound business plan is your roadmap to success. Unfortunately, many Virtual Assistant's rely on their memory and never actually commit their ideas to paper. Even if they do consider writing a business plan, they are often overwhelmed or confused by the planning process and never understand the value of this critical document. As a result, many Virtual Assistant business dreams fail or fall short of their actual potential.Writing a business plan will force you to objectively develop and evaluate your tactical and strategic plans. It will also help you identify the opportunities and risks encountered as a result of your decisions. You will better understand the environment in which you operate, the strengths and weaknesses of your business, the competition, and the validity of your assumptions. Most importantly, you will understand who your customers are and how you can meet or exceed their needs and expectations.

guyhelpYou've done all the work, you're sitting there in front of your computer in your pajamas waiting for the phone to ring. Now what? Now you need to start marketing. How do you land those clients? First, consider the old marketing adage ''AIDA'' which stands for Attention - Interest - Desire - Action. You need to guide the prospect through each of these mental states before they'll take that "action" and sign your contract. You're providing a service - but even more important, you're providing a benefit to your prospective client that they need. In all of your marketing, whether it's your website, your flyer, your business card, keep this phrase in your memory banks: "What's In It For Me?" or WIIFM.What can you provide that prospective client that they will find beneficial? An example would be cost savings as you only bill for "time on task" or you lower that clients overhead because they don't have to provide you with vacation pay.

messydeskWhat did your Grandmother used to say? "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?" What does that mean to you as a Virtual Assistant? Well, when running your business - an existing client is worth more than two prospective clients, or twenty! Keeping your existing clients thrilled with your services is the only way to succeed. This requires excellent attention to detail and tenacious communication. Sure, a happy customer might tell a couple of associates about you - but an unhappy customer will tell literally thousands!Clear communication is critical. DO NOT disappear on a client or you'll quickly have no client. You must strive to plan for emergencies (they most certainly will come up) and develop relationships with other Virtual Assistants to help you cover your schedule.

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VirtuAllin owner, Cheryl Allin offers a wide array of services such as website design, graphic design and many more. 

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