Do You Have What it Takes to Become a Virtual Assistant?

This is a trick question because there is no hard-and-fast definition of Virtual Assistant (VA). Even if your skill set is different from other people who do office work, you can still qualify within your particular niche.

As a general rule, the job involves performing some set of needed tasks for other businesses while remaining off-site. Many VAs work out of their homes (fuzzy slippers are optional). Make no mistake; you are running a real business, with any regulatory and organizational rules that may apply. However, you decide the services that you want to perform, as well as the methods that you use to work with clients.

This type of work can be fun and rewarding, but it is not for everyone. Here are some questions you need to answer before getting started.

What Services Can You Provide?

First look at your existing skill set. You may be fully-equipped to handle bookkeeping and other complex tasks, or perhaps you want to start small, taking on basic responsibilities like answering email correspondence or even answering calls for a solopreneur who frequently travels on business. The list of needed services is virtually endless, and, thanks to technology, there are many ways to handle a variety of tasks from the comfort of your home office.

Of course, your current abilities need not limit your future offerings. You will likely develop new skills on your assignments, and you can also teach yourself how to do things of interest. With a vast array of classes available online, you can use evenings or free time between gigs to keep learning.

Do You Have the Necessary Equipment?

A computer, phone, and a reliable Internet connection are three must-haves, regardless of what services you provide. Even if you don’t need these basics to perform your work, they help you run the administrative side of your business, which includes anything from handling financial issues, to contacting clients, to selling your services. Most people find a printer to be essential, as well.

You also need software. Some of it, like a bookkeeping program and spreadsheet, help you keep track of money, clients, and more. The offerings that you provide will dictate other needed software. Most VAs need Word Processing. If you prepare taxes, then a good tax system is essential. When you include graphics in your list of services, then you need anything from basic presentation software to advanced Computer-Aided Design (CAD) systems.

Expect to send faxes, at least occasionally. But, you don’t even need a fax machine with so many great online fax options available. In fact, clients that rely heavily on faxing might pay for your online account.

Your clients might also purchase other items that that they need you to use. If they want you to attend meetings, then they will provide access to the right software. They may also provide the phones needed to connect you with their system or tokens needed to gain access to high-security networks.

The list is as endless as the number of services that you perform. Make sure that you know exactly what you’ll need to take on every new client.

Are You Disciplined Enough to Work with Little Supervision?

Telecommuting is not for everyone. In order to work effectively from a remote location, your clients need you to have certain characteristics so that they can trust you.

Even if nobody is watching you, someone will notice if you miss appointments or deadlines. You also need to view your work area as an extension of the client’s office. This means that common home-based distractions, such as pets or children, must be addressed, even if you have to hire someone to help. You also need the willpower to avoid any video distractions that don’t directly relate to the job in front of you.

While discipline involves self-control, creative solutions that address your personal issues can go a long way toward creating a professional atmosphere.

Have You Identified Reliable Ways to Find Clients?

Unless you plan to earn a little extra cash by working for one personal friend who needs you right now, marketing your services is an essential part of any VA business. Done wisely, this task does not have to keep you away from the daily work at hand.

Networking is vital, and it starts with your current client list. Statistics show that you’re significantly more likely to make the sale when prospects are referred by satisfied existing clients — and you’ll spend fewer marketing dollars. Even referrals from friends and family, or those that appear on social media increase the chances of a sale.

But, don’t forget about networking events, where you’re likely to find like-minded individuals who need your services, as well. Check out these networking tips from top CEOs to gain valuable insight into ways to develop valuable contacts.

The VA Life is a Real Business Wrapped in Enjoyment

You may not need to perform all of the startup steps that are recommended by the Small Business Administration, but it doesn’t hurt to review and consider every one of them because VAs operate real businesses. If you fail to adhere to all regulatory requirements, you can face significant consequences.

Just as important, becoming a VA means that you can concentrate on using your natural talents and exploring new areas of interest. Mark Twain famously said it best. Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

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