I found this article today while catching up on my reading today.  Written by Diana Ennen, Author, “Virtual Assistant: The Series, Become a Highly Successful”, and President of Virtual Word Publishing, offering publicity and marketing.  The link for this article is: http://www.flixya.com/post/MoneySecret/1645384/Virtual_Assistant_Do%27s_and_Don%27ts_to_Be_Successful

Virtual Assistants (VAs) are highly skilled professionals who provide administrative support and specialized services to businesses, entrepreneurs, executives, and others who have more work to do than time to do it. Examples of services a VA can do include publicity and marketing, web design and maintenance, word processing, meeting and event planning, desktop publishing, article and press release submissions, internet research, bookkeeping, business start-up consultations and so much more. This can be the perfect work-at-home opportunity for many with good computer and Internet skills.

Following are several Do’s and Dont’s to keep in mind for starting and operating your Virtual Assisting business.

DO — Decide on a targeted market and initially focus your marketing efforts in that area. By developing a “niche” in your field, your reputation spreads quickly and soon you become a recognized expert. Several specialties include: publicity, medical, legal or business transcription, resume consulting, transaction coordination — real estate industry, working with authors, academic typing, internet research, etc.

DO — Be creative about where you can find business. The Internet offers a large variety of potential for clients just waiting for you to contact them. Actively network and don’t limit your marketing to simply sending out one press release, placing a few ads in newspapers or the Yellow Pages, or posting on a board or two. You want to find where there might be a need- and go fill it.

DO — Write a complete business plan and marketing plan. Too many leave out this vital step and waste valuable time unorganized and without a clear-cut goal and direction for their business. When starting a business you will have tons of ideas floating around. You need to materialize all these and put them into a workable plan of action.

DO — Develop a website that looks sensational! Your website is often the first connection a potential client has with your services. It must immediately let them know that they are dealing with a professional. Your site must then have the POWER to draw them to you and contact you. Let them see that you value quality by the look and feel of it. Tell them why you are qualified to be their VA. Be sure to include why you are the best! For example, if you have been featured in articles, radio shows, etc., have them listed with the dates.

DO — Learn everything you can about starting a business. Knowledge is power and the more you know, the greater your chances for success. Look to online services and message boards and chats to talk with other Virtual Assistants operating a business. Remember these are often run by pros who have been in business for years and are willing to share their experience.

DO — Join associations that are targeted for our Industry. By connecting with these associations and being active, you learn from them what works and what doesn’t and you are able to post your questions to associate members via list serves often getting answers to your questions within minutes.

DO — Read, read, read. By frequently continuing to increase your skills and your knowledge of your profession, the end result is a more confident satisfied you. Every tip you get from a book can be a new tool in your business. I recommend highlighting areas from several books and adding them to your library. Keep in mind that you might not use that idea today, but it might apply to specialties you might add down the road.

DO – Enjoy. There’s no greater feeling than landing that first client or finishing your first big project. Plus, wait until you get the opportunity to tell someone you own and operate your own virtual assisting business. It sure beats I’m a secretary at …. Plus, when you enjoy your business it shows. Your clients will sense your positive attitude and want to be a part of your team.

DON’T — Underprice your services. The average virtual assistant today makes $25 to $100 an hour, depending on their skills, services offered, location, and years of experience. Don’t make the mistake of assuming if you charge the lowest prices, you’ll get the most work. You won’t. Instead, you’ll end up working outrageous hours for peanuts! Clients will pay more for professional services. When clients see a lower rate they often anticipate less quality of services as well.

DON’T — Overextend yourself. One of the common mistakes many virtual assistants make is to accept too much work and then not be able to accurately complete it. Learn now to say no, or get a qualified subcontractor. Remember one of the most important ingredients for success is keeping your clients satisfied. If you are overextended, it can jeopardize your business.

DON’T — Get discouraged. It takes time to get a business going. Plan ahead and have extra money. Don’t buy items until you have found the best possible price and there is an absolute need. This advance planning takes the pressure off of having to make money NOW. If things are slow and the phone just isn’t ringing … MAKE IT RING!! There’s more work than ever before with all the added publicity today, you just need to go out and get it.

Finally, the most important ingredient for success is your belief in yourself. If you believe in you, there’s nothing stopping you. DREAMS DO COME TRUE. SOMETIMES YOU JUST NEED TO MAKE THEM HAPPEN.

Diana Ennen, Author, “Virtual Assistant: The Series, Become a Highly Successful”, and President of Virtual Word Publishing, offering publicity and marketing.  Free to reprint as long as bio remains.

Are you intrigued with the world of Virtual Assistants and like the idea of getting away from having to commute into work each day? Yet, you still need an income?  I was in that position when I typed “Assistant” under Google search and “accidently” came across  links to virtual assistant websites, so I typed “Virtual Assistants”  under Google and Yahoo search and found several more virtual assistant website along  with a few organizations.  I was pleasantly surprised and it gave me hope.  But I wouldn’t be hasty and quit your job.  In the article written by Carolyn Moncel, “Starting a Virtual Assistant Business, Sharon B. Williams say:

Before packing up the office cubicle and giving notice to your boss, know that becoming a virtual assistant isn’t an easy job that just anyone can do. Sharon B. Williams of The 24-Hour Secretary cautions, “To become successful, you need a good marketing strategy in addition to that phone, PC and Internet connection.” Many virtual assistants work between 14 and 18 hours a day during the startup phase. Even after establishing solid practices, one-third of these business owners admit to working nontraditional hours, including weekends and holidays.

I needed the income, so didn’t quit my job, but I leveraged the time to read and research thereby becoming acquainted with several Virtual Assistant organizations and observe the interactions between the VA’s.  I also checked out several virtual assistant web-sites to get an idea of their niche and how they presented themselves. VA’s are professional and savvy. I was encouraged to give it a try.  I looked at my resume and saw that I could sell myself as a VA, and to be honest, I winged it.  What I know now is: Don’t be hasty. Do your homework and try to get started on the right foot.  I recommend that you join several VA sites.  I recommend the following:

International Virtual Assistant Association (IVAA); Virtual Assistant Association-Virtual Assistance Chamber of Commerce (VACOC); Virtual Assistant Networking Association (VANA).

There are many more available which I will mention through out my blog. What I want to convey is that it is important that you are clear about your business model and to have a plan. I will blog later this week and provide a few links from VACOC and other VA sites with their own version of recommendations and steps to follow in starting out as a VA.

Even though I “winged it”, I considered myself successful, because I did land a few VA positions and through those experiences, learned what my strengths and weaknesses were, likes and dislikes, and learned to be bold about my rates. Daniel Keister, founder and Chief Virtual Officer of VACOC has been an advocate for Virtual Assistants and has encouraged VA’s to educate clients, family, and friends that Virtual Assistas ADD value to a business owner and are experts in their field. We do not do clerical work, we have brains, style, technique and finesse.

Stay tuned for additional blogs regarding steps to take for your VA business and more stories about my journey!