You've probably heard that there's a growing number of people who are making money online providing administrative, executive or research based support to others. Most of the time you will hear these individuals referred to as virtual assistants or VAs. I use plenty of virtual assistants on my own team and have worked with many others in my five years’ of running an online business. During that time, I have also mentored dozens of virtual assistants who are just starting their VA journey and have helped them grow from just one client to a full workload where they are actually turning down projects from other people. Some of the most successful virtual assistants share several things in common.
They are able to clearly and easily communicate the value they offer, they can provide tasks on deadline and stick to their word, and they communicate professionally and help take things off their client's plates. These three qualities time and again will come out as an indicator that someone is an experienced virtual assistant.
There are five things you should probably do before initiating a career as a virtual assistant that will help you not only get excited for the prospect but lay the groundwork for success. Furthermore, taking these steps will help you identify whether or not becoming a virtual assistant is even right for you or not. The truth is that not everyone is well suited to work online handling administrative or other tasks for another person. If you are unable to police yourself or struggle with meeting deadlines, for example, there's a good chance that you would not succeed as a virtual assistant. Going through all five stages of this preliminary process will help you identify how serious you are about committing an online career to helping somebody else grow a business.
If the prospect of entrepreneurship in and of itself excites you more than helping another person found or grow their business, you need to consider identifying another freelance opportunity such as becoming a freelance writer or an online course creator. Virtual assistants are an important component of many online and even brick and mortar businesses today but you have to be passionate about what you do and have a really clear and compelling offer that speaks to people. It is not just about getting clients on the phone or getting them to sign your contract. It is about delivering consistent quality so that they love working with you and so that your ability to charge higher and higher rates is evident. What follows are five steps that you need to take before launching your virtual assistant career.
Determine Your Time Commitment
You cannot develop an appropriate income related goal or stick to your plans as easily if you do not have a time commitment specified in advance. If you're extremely busy, being a virtual assistant can still work in your schedule. However, you should also consider that you will need to adjust your income goals accordingly. If you only have 5-10 hours per week, be prepared to spend at least 80% of those, and 100% at the beginning, working on marketing rather than being busy with billable hour projects.
Billable hours means that you have booked a client and you are currently being paid for that hour of work. Before you have a client, you will likely have no billable hours and will need to get there by marketing relentlessly. If your time commitment is 10 or more hours per week, dedicate that time in your schedule so that you can accomplish the goals of marketing or developing other materials related to your business.
Identify a Complementary Income Goal
Having a number in the back of your mind helps to motivate you particularly at the beginning of your virtual assistance business. Most people starting out may be under the impression that they can make a whole lot of money very quickly but it can take some time to land your first client. It can even take some time to land your first couple of retainers. Knowing that you intend to make an extra $500 or $1000 a month as a virtual assistant can always keep you aware of how you are tracking relative to your goals. For example, if you slacked off on your time commitment and haven't been doing the marketing necessary to land two $500 retainer projects, then it's time to revisit and get back to the drawing board. Keeping a set number in the back of your mind can also serve as a reminder of the bare minimum you need to make every single month. Having a number forces you to be aware of how much work you've truly done to get towards that goal. You can also accomplish this process by thinking about where that extra money will go once you have it. For example, if your goal is to stock $1000 aside into a vacation savings fund after you've launched your virtual assistant business, you can constantly keep yourself on track by making weekly deposits from the earnings from your virtual assistant business. Having an income goal at the start of your VA business before you've even booked any clients can make you even hungrier to achieve that target.
Define Your Strengths
Each virtual assistant brings something different to the table. This is perhaps one of the most exciting things about being a virtual assistant client- each one of my virtual assistants and all of the VAs that I have trained have their own unique skillsets. Some of them prefer to be working on many projects at once whereas others choose to focus on social media, transcription, email management or research.
There are so many different opportunities in the virtual assistant world and you need to define your strengths. Even if you've never been a virtual assistant before, you probably have some experience in your personal or professional life that can help point you in the right direction.
- Where have you had the most success?
- What projects in your job did you enjoy working on the most?
- Where do you find your personality is at its strongest when working on projects on your own?
This can help you to define your strengths which will come in even more handy as you approach step #4: Identifying your core offerings.
Identifying Your Core Offerings
Now that you've had the opportunity to think about the time commitment that you'll be able to give to your virtual assistant business, a complementary income goal to work towards, and the strengths that you bring to the table as a unique person, it is time to consider your core offerings.
What types of tasks do you like doing the most that will also bring you the opportunity to earn money? Your core offerings might be a set number of services that you offer to your existing clients. Many virtual assistants will start off offering a broad range of different types of activities and projects they can manage, but over time they niche down and work on only specific types of software or specific types of tasks. This keeps things easier for the virtual assistant because they only have to ask their brain to keep track of a couple of different types of activities and it's easier for the client because he or she does not tend to overload the virtual assistant who only manages a specific number or type of tasks.
Your core offerings may shift overtime, however, think about what you may be able to offer a client. If you'd like to learn more about some of the most commonly requested tasks handed off to virtual assistants, make sure that you get access to this free report of over 70 tasks that can be outsourced to a VA. As a potential virtual assistant, this can get those creative juices flowing thinking about what you might want to offer.
Develop a Marketing Plan
Perhaps one of the most important components of your steps to take before launching a virtual assistant business and the one that also needs to come in last is developing a marketing plan. You cannot successfully market your virtual assistant business until you've accomplished the other aspects of this planning stage. You cannot, for example, have a conversation with someone about your core offerings until you have identified the services you are going to offer. If you try to do this and speak generically about what you can do, you're unlikely to communicate your value as a virtual assistant and will simply confuse the client instead of encouraging them to sign a contract and get on retainer with you.
Your marketing plan should include all of the different ways that you will reach out for business. Do not assume that simply putting up a website and announcing to Facebook that you're going to become a virtual assistant will bring you dozens of clients ready to pay you. You need to clearly communicate what you intend to offer with your marketing plan. This could involve cold calling, networking in person, writing blog posts, participating in Facebook groups or contacting clients directly over email.
No matter what you decide, it is crucial to understand that you'll spend much more of your time marketing in the initial stages of your virtual assistant business than you will handling many other types of projects.