My work from home experience all started as a Virtual Assistant. Australia had just caught onto this idea of having an assistant that works remotely, and it suited my situation to a tee. With a baby and no permanent employment to return to, I had the Virtual Assistant skills and the drive I needed to make money from home.
But, taking up self-employment as a Virtual Assistant isn’t as easy as some may think. From setting up a website and social media presence to working out your Virtual Assistant pricing, there’s a lot of time spent working on your business before you can even get clients. But in the end, it is worth it, and your professionalism and attention to detail will shine through.
So where on earth do you start? Well first, make sure you have the skills to be successful as a Virtual Assistant
Essential skills to rock as a Virtual Assistant
Tech-savviness – The reality is that being in a remote situation will require you to be pretty savvy with all things tech and digital. You’ll need to know your way around a computer, email, your website platform such as WordPress, the internet and other software as well as social media for your marketing. When something stops working, it’ll usually be up to you to troubleshoot the problem.
Reliability – As a Virtual Assistant, reliability is essential and plays a huge part in the success of your career and the reputation of the industry. It’s important to deliver projects to your client on time to do the work agreed.
Discipline – Working from home isn’t for everyone, some people are more easily distracted than others. As a Virtual Assistant, you will have deadlines to work to, but no one is standing over your shoulder asking when you’ll be finished. Are you able to meet deadlines instead of going out with a friend to coffee? A good VA delivers work without the client having to chase.
Motivated – Clients can tell when you’re motivated and love your job, the enthusiasm comes across during conversations. Motivation is also an essential Virtual Assistant skill because you’re running the ship, if you’re not motivated to do the work then, you don’t get paid and possibly lose your clients.
Quick thinker – When you’re on the phone with a client, it’s likely they’ll want to discuss ideas about their project. You have to be able to think quickly and come up with suggestions quickly, and when things go array in your business, you need to be able to come up with a quick solution.
Writing skills – As a remote worker, writing skills are must have Virtual Assistant skills. The ability to spell, use the correct grammar and syntax are required when writing emails and preparing things like reports, word documents and flyers for clients. Poor writing skills will reflect poorly on your professionalism.
Business management skills – Beyond providing your specialist VA services, you need to have management skills to run your own business. Skills like keeping your accounts, invoicing and managing your insurances are just a couple of things that need to be maintained.
Now that you’ve made sure you have the skills to be a VA, I’d like to share some tips I learnt when I had my VA business.
10 Virtual Assistant Tips
- There’s no need to go it on your own. Finding your first few clients is hard so why not join a Virtual Assistant Network like 121temps. Networks like this provide invaluable support through mentoring, webinars, resources and training.
- Pick a specialisation instead of providing every service. Having a niche will make it easier for you to direct your marketing. For example, I specialised in Social Media. You may wish to specialise in bookkeeping, administration or web design. If you’re not sure, make some phone calls to local businesses and tell them you’re doing some research for your new business. Ask them what their most significant challenges will be this year and what things don’t they have the time to do; this will give you a better idea of what is in demand.
- Define which businesses you are going to target – small business, medium business, soloists or industries etc.
- Don’t be afraid to do some cold calls. It’s tough, but you’d be surprised at the results. Call local businesses and introduce yourself and your business. I acquired my second VA client this way.
- Before taking on clients, I made sure my business was all set up. My website was complete, my social media accounts were up and running, I had a logo and tagline, my business cards were printed, I had forms created, terms and conditions written and a Virtual Assistant pricing structure complete. I wanted it to look like I had been in business for a while.
- Keep up to date. Whatever you’re specialising in, make time to attend webinars and do market research.
- Get on social media, primarily LinkedIn. I acquired one of my clients through LinkedIn. He searched using the keyword ‘Virtual Assistants’, found a few and contacted me because my experience in Quality & Occupational Health and Safety fit the client’s requirement. To get this client, all I had to do was ensure my LinkedIn profile was optimised and maintained. Find out how to do this in my post ‘The Power of LinkedIn: Improving Your Profile‘.
- Use your family and friends as your PR people. Its a simple as giving them a pile of your business cards to hand out. But first, make sure they know about your business and the services you provide. Could you imagine having to explain to a potential client that you don’t create websites at all? My husband was fantastic and connected me with two potential clients, just by giving out business cards to businesses he deals with his work.
- Make sure you have a terms and conditions document. It’s best to seek the advice of your solicitor, but these can be of huge help when it comes to project delivery and making your payment terms clear.
- Always have the client pay in advance for work that you are going to carry out. For example, if the client has purchased a monthly package, have them pay a month in advance. Pre-payment covers you in the situation of doing a months work and not getting paid or getting paid very late. It also helps you plan.
Now you’ve got the essential Virtual Assistant skills down pat and tips noted, you’re on your way to becoming a VA! Good luck!