Building a Successful Virtual Assistant Business

A virtual assistant is an independent contractor who provides administrative, technical, and or creative assistance to clients. They usually serve to other independent entrepreneurs as well as solo and small business practices such as lawyers and realtors.

Virtual assistants work from their own office, thus making it a fairly popular and growing profession. Common modes of communication and data delivery include the Internet, file transfer protocol, and fax machine. Although the occupation gives a degree of independence, work is on a contractual basis, work flow can be sporadic, and a long-lasting cooperation is standard.

Many new virtual assistants take more than six months to land their first project. This is further challenged from growing competition from VA’s in India and the Philippines who charge at a lower hourly rate. Meanwhile, the most successful virtual assistants are those who act like entrepreneurs, having to spend as many as 80 hours a week networking and fine-tuning their business models, building a Web site, and marketing their services.

If you are interested to start a career as a virtual assistant, here are what you should consider.

Work experience – Ideally, a virtual assistant should have at least five years of administrative experience in an office. However, you can start your career as a virtual assistant with basic knowledge of Internet, file transfer protocol, and using the fax machine.

Dedicated office space – You can work right in the comfort of your own home, but make your office space appear professional. Your space should have a phone, printer, fax machine, and a computer with high-speed Internet service and all the software your clients will expect you have.

Marketing plan – Create a market plan that lays out who your likeliest clients would be, what services you would offer, what rates you would charge, and how you would find clients. You can join a virtual assistant’s organization such as the International Virtual Assistants Association especially if you are starting. Joining an organization is an easy and affordable way to connect with other virtual assistants who can give you advice and perhaps even send some work in your direction. You could also set-up a professional-looking Web site about you and your services.

Ample training – You can also hone your skills through thorough training. Organizations like AssistU will walk you through the steps of setting up your business, promoting yourself, and finding clients. However, some training courses are not cheap.

Finding clients – The hardest part about the virtual assistant career is when you seek for clients. You may want to sell your services both online and offline. For instance, join local business-networking groups like a chamber of commerce. You could also place ads in classified Web sites like Craigslist.


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