Thursday, December 17, 2009

What Is A Virtual Assistant?

Here is a great article by Nicole Dean that tells you all about the virtual assistant business!

Mom, You Can Become an Online Virtual Assistant
by Nicole Dean

Virtual Assistants are oftentimes moms, like you and me, who want to work from home. A Virtual Assistant (or VA) can offer clients any number of services from their home-based location, rather than being at a traditional office. VAs can earn a nice income, charging somewhere in the area of $10 to $30 per hour, with specialized or more technical services ranging around $50 per hour.

If you have basic computer skills, a general knowledge of how an office works, or even specific skills that business owners are looking for, you certainly will want to consider starting your very own Virtual Assistant business from home. Your start up costs will include a good computer and home office setting, but the ongoing business expenses are minimal. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Services You Will Offer: Before you start, decide which services are within your skill set or expertise. Do you love booking travel plans for people? Can you type extremely fast? Are your spreadsheet or word documents dead-on accurate all the time? Are you in your element talking to people on the phone? Can you troubleshoot mixed-up orders or information? Can you design a web page? In offering services to clients, you'll need to decide what you are suited for, and develop a strategy for working with your clients that hire you.

The Virtual Assistant Starter Pack” can help you with this step and each of the ones below.

Put Together a Business Plan: Before taking the next step of starting a Virtual Assistance business, you will want to write a business plan that includes an overview of your business, mission statement, marketing and financial plan. To help you put together your plan, decide which services to offer, etc., please review the link at the end of this article.

A Home Office That Suits Your Business: Many people have small home offices, but you'll want to go beyond working from your laptop on the kitchen table. The home office used for your Virtual Assistant business should be quiet and comfortable -- preferably with a door that you can close! Invest in a nice desk for your computer and printer when you can afford it. Consider a separate telephone line in your home office if you wish to keep client calls from being answered by family. Keep in mind that, as your client list expands, so will your business, so in the future you may want to include items like a scanner and additional storage for client information.

Your Software Needs: The software you choose for your computer will depend on the services you intend to offer clients. Your budget will determine which software programs you can purchase, but be sure you are installing only reliable programs. Upgrading your computer and purchasing new software is something that you'll be doing right along as your business grows. We suggest researching and networking with other VAs to get recommendations for the best software available.

Marketing 101: Along with getting business cards, letterhead and address labels professionally prepared, you'll need to set up a website that will serve as your "virtual office"; a place where potential and current clients can visit you online. Add information about your services, contact information and testimonials once the work starts coming in. To get started, you might offer some services free to a few business owners in return for feedback and to build your portfolio. Your service business will grow best through word of mouth.

You can enjoy your new career and make good money in the process from home. Virtual Assistants are highly in demand in an uncertain economy. When a small business owner has the option of taking on the expense and commitment of a full-time employee verses opting for a Virtual Assistant as a consultant part-time, you can see why this opportunity is growing. Get started today.

Recommended Additional Resource:

To get a full overview of what you need to start your Virtual Assistant business, how to set up your website, market your business and keep your clients, check out the Virtual Assistant Starter Pack”. You’ll learn from two professional VAs who share their success strategies, allowing you to cut your learning curve and get your business profitable much more quickly.
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