Work from Home as a Virtual Assistant and Be Your Own Boss
In this day of a struggling economy business owners are cutting costs wherever they can. Many times that means cutting hours or laying off employees. Enter the virtual assistant. The virtual assistant (VA) is paid for completed assignments and is an independent contractor. The VA requires no office space, equipment or salary with benefits.
While the VA is great for business owners, the VA is also a small business owner. Working to help many different clients with their individual needs, the VA creates a part time or full time business of his or her own. For the VA that means flexibility in both scheduling and earnings. It means being able to be selective of clients and assignments to complete.
Today's economy is ripe for the virtual assistant career. More and more employers are in need of cost effective ways to keep the quality of their products and services high. Let's explore the VA career.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant helps business owners with tasks they may be too busy to complete or need technical help completing. A good VA is viewed as an extension of the client's employee base but with additional benefits to the client.
The VA is not a direct employee but rather an independent contractor. The independent contractor arrangement benefits the client in many ways. The client pays only the cost of the project to the VA; no additional benefits are provided. The VA works independently and requires no supervision. The client saves on expenses like office space, equipment and wages that a traditional employee would require.
So, VAs can help a client with necessary tasks and also with financial management of the business. VAs keep client costs low while providing exceptional talent and services.
Profile of a Virtual Assisant
Ann Brown, President of VirtualAdminsPlus, has been working as a professional VA since 2004. This is how her business started. "I was working in outside sales to real estate agents in the Cleveland area. When I sold them a website, I would enhance it for them as part of the “sale”. Then, the company I worked for got rid of 75% of their sales force, including me. So, I decided to turn my enhancing of existing websites into a business. That was 9 years ago, and I haven’t looked back since! I now do so much more than just enhancing websites, and basically, I do anything except bookkeeping and telemarketing. I have clients all over the United States and several in the UK as well."
Brown also enjoys flexibility of her schedule which has afforded her the opportunity to be involved in the lives of other family, be her own boss and be in control of her finances and destiny.
What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?
According to Brown, a virtual assistant does:
- work that a client does not want to do;
- work that a client does not know how to do; and,
- work that a client does not have time to do.
By doing these three types of tasks, the virtual assistant helps the client to take that workload and stress off their shoulders so they can concentrate on growing their business and making money.
VA's help with all types of tasks including:
- website design and maintenance
- content writing
- social media management
- logo design
- customer service
- and more!
The Life of a Virtual Assistant
How Does a Virtual Assistant Get Paid?
A virtual assistant will either charge a per hour rate (typically from $35/hour to $75/hour and up) or per project rate for completing assignments. Payment is made from the client directly to the VA via credit card, PayPal or check. Typically electronic methods of payment are preferred.
Benefits of Being a Virtual Assistant
Virtual assistants are independent small business owners. As such, VA's can be selective about:
- who they work for;
- the type of work they do;
- the number of hours to be worked; and,
- how much money they would like to earn.
When asked about the benefits of being a virtual assistant, Ann Brown replied, "Working from home and being my own boss are two of the reasons I started my business. It’s also a huge benefit to decide on my income and schedule. I like that I do not have to rely on what anyone else is doing, and that I am able to chart my own course, so to speak."
What are the Obstacles for Someone Considering a Career as a Virtual Assistant?
According to Ann Brown, "A lot of people say that they don’t have enough discipline to work from home. I don’t really think it has anything to do with that. It comes down to a simple fact: if I don’t work, I don’t make money. And I like making money. I think the only obstacle people would have as a VA is not having the drive to succeed. You can’t go into this with the mindset of “Well, I’ll try it for 6 months, and if it doesn’t work out, I’ll get a real job.” When I started, I said to myself, “Whatever I have to do to make it work, I am going to do it.” That is the difference between success as a VA and failure, in my opinion."
Online resources for Help Starting a Home Based Business
- Virtual Admins Plus | Virtual Assistant, Marketing, and Social Media Services
Free e-course available titled, "Working with a Virtual Assistant."
- Starting a Virtual Assistant Business | Entrepreneur.com
How to start your online business being a virtual assistant.
- IVAA - International Virtual Assistants Association
Advice for Anyone Who Wants to Become a Virtual Assistant
Ann Brown believes that having a direction for your VA business is key to success. Direction coupled with passion, drive and determination are all factors in the success of a new VA business venture.
In her own words, "Decide why you want to become a virtual assistant. This is important because it will give you the motivation to succeed. That is the first step. Second, figure out what your strengths are and what you like to do, and build your business around that. Finally, know that you will have to do a lot of legwork when you’re starting. When I began, I made 50-100 phone calls a day to local real estate agents to get maybe 2-3 appointments a week. I don’t have to do that now, but you can’t be afraid of a lot of work in the beginning until you build up your client base."
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