A Virtual Assistant (also known as a VA) is a highly skilled independent contractor who partners with businesses and individuals to provide administrative support services. A Virtual Assistant works from their office, using their equipment. You may be more familiar with the terms: Administrative Assistant, Secretarial Services, Executive Assistant, or Office Assistant. As a Virtual Assistant you can work with others whether or not you are in the same town, same state, or same country as they are.
Virtual Assistants usually offer a broad range of services. Some of them include:
- Word Processing
- Desktop Publishing
- Website Design
- Resumes/Cover Letters
- Bulk Mail
- Database Creation/Maintenance
- Internet Research
- Travel Arrangements
- and More!
Who Can Use the Services of a
- Small Companies/Business Owners who do not want to hire employees
- Large Companies who need overflow help
- Individuals needing Resumes
- Real Estate Agents
- Temporary Services
VA rates differ. Hourly rates can range anywhere from $15-$75 depending on how specialized the VA and their services are. Many Virtual Assistants also offer "retainer packages." With these retainer packages, a client can save money by paying for a minimum number of hours for a set time, usually a month. Although a VA can sound more expensive than an average employee, when a client hires a VA, they do not have to worry about office space, paying employment taxes, employee benefits, social security taxes, vacation, or sick time. Not to mention that a customer only pays a Virtual Assistant for actual time worked.
I would suggest that you do tons of research. There are many classes available on the Internet with information on Starting your own VA Practice. There are also a lot of Forums/Discussion Boards that you can join. I will list a few resources at the bottom of the article.
What Will You Need?
To begin your Virtual Assistance business, there are a few mandatory items you will need:
- Word Processing Software-preferably an office package such as Microsoft Office that comes complete with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and FrontPage
- A computer
- A Printer...A laser printer is best, however, your budget may limit you to a desktop to start
- Office Supplies
- A Business Line is Preferable
- A Great Attitude
- Website- While you can definitely start your VA business without a website, you will HAVE to have a website to gain the interest of prospective clients who are not local.
IAVOA - The International
Association of Virtual Office Assistants - Although there is a
fee to join the group, you can join the discussion board/forum
VirtualBizGroup - This is another great forum with members who have Virtual Businesses.
UniversalClass Online - A self-paced online course on starting your own Home Based Word Processing/ Virtual Assistant Business
Virtual Assistance U - Provides training for Virtual Assistants.
RSS Herald - A monthly newsletter with information for Virtual Assistants.