What it takes to become a Virtual Assistant (VA)
If you’ve already been a personal assistant, you know what it takes to be an assistant in a traditional work setting, but you’ll find that as a VA you will rely greatly on the internet, phone and other technology to communicate and get the job done. Now, the requirements will depend on the employer and will vary greatly, but at in general terms you will find that these are some of the basic conditions. Firstly, education will be important, but it will depend on the employer what level of education you’ll need. Although you don’t necessarily need a degree, it is good to keep up with different courses on different programs and tools you may need as a VA like general computer programs, equipment and administrative management. Since most of your job will rely on communicating and using technology, you’ll need to have at least above-average skills in terms of sending emails, scanning a document, using a word processor and spreadsheets, as well as virtual meeting software. Additionally, you’ll need some understanding in bookkeeping, marketing, organizational and in general communication skills both written and spoken. All of these skills will be the minimum ones that you’ll need to get started as a VA. But you will need to learn fast and be prepared to learn as you go.
Although, some employers will prefer VAs that have skills that pertain to their particular field or with an emphasis in a specific program or skill. For example, a Real Estate agent will most likely prefer to have an assistant that has some experience in this industry. On the other hand if you will be working for a social media company, than they will most likely prefer high writing skills and experience in posting content on a good variety of social media networks. If you are interested in any particular field, all you really have to do is research which skills you need and get started on developing them.
Lastly, the more experience you get, the better. As a VA you can open your own business or work for a VA company. Of course, you can begin your own company with very little experience considering it will be quite important for you to have a skillset that makes your profile attractive. If, on the other hand, you work for a company they in most cases will prefer someone who has had previous experience in an office environment, reason why in this case if you’ve worked as a receptionist, office manager or bookkeeper, it will definitely be an advantage. Everything you’ve done in a traditional setting will be seen as training for freelance work, including your own VA company.
How to get started?
If you’ve made up your mind that you want to make the change in your life, the first thing is not to let yourself be talked down by anyone. Trust yourself and the goal you have set out for yourself. Just to be completely sure, then do some research. Make sure you have what it takes to rely on the income this new company or career path can bring to you. The best thing you can do to ensure success as a VA is to choose a niche and specialize your skills and knowledge in a particular field, or using specific programs. Of course this will directly influence the brand and image that you decide on having for your new company. Depending on the country you live in, make sure you research and make sure you’re up to speed on all the legal stuff that may be needed. During your research, you should have also tried to benchmark other VAs, thus being able to determine a price range for your services. Make sure your rates reflect your skills and experience. Once you’ve got it all set up, comes the marketing. You need to come up with a strong marketing strategy that will allow others to know the services that you offer. Make sure you are present in social media and constantly networking on all the right places.
Run your business from anywhere
Once, you’ve gotten used to working as a personal assistant from the distance and have gotten down the routine of being a VA, you can now explore your options. You can literally take your office anywhere, especially if you’ve mastered the use of technology and a great variety of tools that can help you do your job better. If and when you decide it’s time to travel the world while you continue your career as a VA, just be aware of keeping your hours. Even though this is not a traditional job with office hour by any means, it will be important to understand that even though you are travelling, it is not a vacation. So you will need to be very organized and make sure you can find strategies to keep track of everything you have on your to-do list. Additionally, be aware of time differences, since it will be quite important for video conferences or deadlines.