If you are tired of your job as an office assistant, or if you are interested in beginning a new career, you should think about starting a virtual assistant business. Virtual assisting is one of the fastest growing telecommute careers. Virtual secretaries perform many of the same duties as office assistants, including but not limited to:
- Word processing
- Database management
- Appointment scheduling
- Mailing correspondence
If you feel that a career as a virtual assistant might be the right path for you, then try these tips for beginning your own virtual assistant business.
Build Your Home Office
Virtual assistants operate from their home office, so it is important to have a proper work environment to ensure maximum productivity. These are the office must-haves for your virtual assistant services business:
- Home computer with a high speed Internet connection
- One to two land line telephone numbers
- Fax machine
- Printer/copier/scanner combo
You may also need to purchase a dictation/transcription system to transcribe voice recordings into document form. Some of these systems can cost $200 or more, so inquire as to whether your employer requires a specific transcription system before you purchase one (or if your employer requires transcription services at all).
Review Your Qualifications
In order to have a successful small business as a virtual assistant, you must ensure that your skills and qualifications are top notch. While you neither have to have virtual assistant certification, nor have a specific degree or training to be a virtual secretary, there are still certain qualifications that you need:
- Excellent communication skills
- Above average skills in writing and grammar
- Ability to perform basic computer functions
- Ability to create documents, and manage spreadsheets
- Proficient skills in organization and management of files
- Skilled in the use of email and other software programs as deemed necessary by the employer
- Excellent typing skills of at least 70 words per minute (wpm)
- Ability to multitask, while still thinking clearly and logically
While employers may or may not want to hire virtual assistants who have four year degrees, one qualification that nearly all employers expect is work experience. If you are new to the world of virtual assisting, it may be helpful to do an internship as a virtual assistant in order to gain work experience. Not all internships are paid, however this is a sacrifice that you may have to make in order to gain necessary work experience that will lead to paid jobs.
Build Your Reputation
Although work experience and quality references are the best ways to build your credibility when beginning a new business venture, there are other ways that you can shape your reputation. Joining professional organizations and making business connections via networking are some of the best ways to gain a positive reputation for your virtual assisting business.
Try these resources for professional organizations and networking opportunities:
- International Association of Virtual Office Assistants (IAVOA)
- International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA)
One of the keys to a successful small business is advertising. Try these tips for advertising your virtual assistant services:
- Develop your own small business website
- Create your own email tag line or signature advertising your virtual assistant business
- Post flyers on community message boards
- Leave business cards and literature with relevant business like office supply stores, computer stores and printing businesses
If you think that a career as a virtual assistant is right for you, then consider these ideas for creating you own successful virtual assistant small business.