Considering a career as a Virtual Assistant?

Author: Ana Lucia Novak

multibusinessimageThe recent market conditions and massive lay-off’s has caused many of my friends to reconsider their career paths. Recently several of my friends asked me about my business as a virtual assistant. I told them that a Virtual Assistant is someone who offers his or her expertise to a specific target audience on an hourly basis or a monthly retainer fee. A Virtual Assistant is administrative at it’s foundation, but a person can specialize in event planning, website design, content/copy writing, internet marketing and advertising, or as an Online Business Manager. A Virtual Assistant is a business owner and not an employee or contractor.

When a client decides to purchase my services, they do not have to worry about purchasing new equipment ( laptop, printer, etc.); pay my taxes nor provide me health benefits. This is strictly a professional relationship, hopefully a long lasting, collaborative one.

They expressed a tremendous amount of anxiety about quitting their jobs, and felt a little uneasy about the process. My recommendation for anyone is to KEEP your day job, but to leverage your time and finances to get your ducks lined up in a row:

  1. Assess your current skills
  2. Take a Myers Briggs Test and understand your working style
  3. Review your resume and write down the common theme – which will tell you what you love to do (and don’t like to do)
  4. Write down the type of work you enjoy – tailor it towards a particular type of client: this can be a coach, speaker, event planner; online business (retail) owner, real estate, legal, marketing, public relations or advertising
  5. Get plugged in with at least 1-3 virtual assistant sites such as: IVAA.org or VACOC.com. These sites offer resources and list seasoned and professional VA’s who are very helpful and insightful
  6. You still need to get some kind of training because it will also help your “mind-set” when you transition to working for yourself as a VA: Virtual Assistant training through AssistU, EA to VA by Sydni Craig-Hart, or JERPAT Training by Patty Benton
  7. I highly advise training in internet marketing, social media marketing and e-commerce – even if you don’t want to offer these services to your clients, you will want to apply some of these tools to your own business
  8. Once you get through at least 6 months of training and certification courses then you will want to hire someone to build and design your website offering your services, get listed in every Virtual Assistant organizations, Yahoo, Google, and MSN, and other directories

I highly recommend that you hire a Virtual Assistant who specializes in website build and design who can whip out a tasteful, classy website that will reflect your personality, professionalism and attract the right type of clients. Their prices are affordable and because they’ve “been there and done that”, would be able to provide you excellent advice about your site.

If you would like to learn more, please feel free to email me at ana@cyberqueen.net and I will be happy to help spare you time and resources and point you in the right direction!

About the Author:

Ana Lucia Novak is the owner of Cyberqueen VA Solutions. Cyberqueen VA Solutions specializes in providing high level organization and online business management support. Her services include but not limited to Internet marketing;Social media marketing; Blog Posting & Maintenance (preferably WordPress!);E-commerce; and Creating and Using Auto-responders

Article Source: ArticlesBase.comConsidering a career as a Virtual Assistant?

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When I first began my virtual assistant business in 2006, I jumped in with both feet and applied my corporate mindset to my virtual assistant business model. If I could change anything, I would have spent more time reading, networking, and listening in on what virtual assistants were saying through International Virtual Assistant Association (IVAA.org), VANetworking and Virtual Assistant Chamber of Commerce (VACOC). You could observe their interactions and get a good feel about the work, clients, issues, and suggesting training. Most of VA’s are extremely helpful and willing to help you. It’s an online family, but it does take time to transition your mind-set from corporate to virtual.

In addition to online research, I would have searched for books on Amazon related to Virtual Assistance. Most of the books would prepare your mind-set, ask the right questions to get you thinking about your brand, messaging, and service offerings. There are suggestions on setting up your web-site, how to optimize it, and market them to your target audience. They have been at it longer than me, so they would know the pitfalls, how to spot a nightmare client, and even provide suggested forms, contracts, and vendors to help you get started on the journey of being a VA professional. I have a list of suggested books on my website http://cyberqueen.net/eStore.aspx.

I had the right idea, but I think I would have been spared a few experiences had I read some of those books, and carefully considered my options before jumping in with both feet. As an optimist, I saw it as an opportunity to carve out my career path and start over. I had nothing to lose.

There is another aspect to consider: the mindset from corporate work to working as a virtual assistant is very different. I made the mistake of approaching my VA business with the same mindset as I did in a corporate environment. It worked well for me in that environment, and I naturally assumed it would work as a virtual assistant. Even though I did win a few clients here and there, I felt limited and stuck in certain ways and it was quite frustrating. I couldn’t take the client to another level: having the on-going, collaborative partnership and help grow their business. I had the wrong types of clients. Mind you, no mistake or failure is ever wasted. I saw it as growing pains, and it helped me stop what I was doing and evaluate my approach to my business and to ask important “why” questions.

I came to realize that even though I had 20 years of excellent work history and exceptional skills, I wasn’t conveying to my prospects what I do, who my target audience is, and what sets me apart from other virtual assistants. When I would interview with a company in person, I always was selected for the final round. But when you work on-line, they can’t “see, hear or experience you ” in a real and personal way. So when prospects came to visit me and my website, even though they were impressed with my experience and skills set, they walked away unsure of what I “really did”. Part of my message was that I worked on-site and virtual. For corporations who were looking for someone like me, they didn’t want to share me with any other clients virtually, so I lost out on on-site projects. For clients who were willing to hire me as a virtual assistant, they had concerns that being on-site would interfere with being available virtually. So I had to analyze and ask the “who, what, why and how” questions to help me narrow my specialities down to a specific set of skills (what I love to do and have passion for) and to consider what types of people I wanted to work for (coaches, authors, online business owners who sold products or services that excited me and would motivate me to right actions for their success).

This information didn’t come to me immediately. I honestly didn’t even know where to start, but when I signed up for various mailing lists written by virtual assistants for virtual assistants, I discovered a new world of opportunities! When I assessed my background and skills set, I realized that early on in my career, I was always assigned to sales and marketing departments, and that I had alot of energy around the programs and projects that were related to events, tele-seminars, webinars, off-sites, speaking engagements – anything that was sales and marketing, I had energy and passion for it! I also realize how stifling I felt as a basic administrative assistant.

In addition to taking training classes, I am a firm believer in having a coach who can assist your transition from corporate to virtual. For instance, Patty Benton of JERPAT Training and Coaching, http://www.virtualvacoach.com/ offers affordable coaching classes that can assists you with the basic step by step plan on starting out as a VA. I also suggest that you look into the Internet Marketing and Social Media Marketing Certification courses through VAClassroom.com. These particular classes are self-directed, so you are able to participate at your convenience. Most of your clients are “online” business owners who are selling products and services so it is important to know the various resources and tools (and there are many) to offer up to your clients. My final suggestion is to purchase Tina Forsyth’s book, “Becoming an Online Business Manager” http://www.onlinebusinessmanager.com/blog/.

IVAA.org and VANetworking also hosts several training courses related to virtual assistants, so it wouldn’t hurt to become acquainted with those options.

While you are working in corporate, utilize this time frame to take training classes, write your business plan out, visualize the type of clients you want to work for, write it all down; decide how much money you want to make per year; put some money into savings to invest in a new computer, printer, phone, software applications, memberships, training, and semnars and decide when you want to quit your job and actually start working as a VA. Most VA’s usually quit their full time jobs when they have active clients on an ongoing basis. Others have signed up with other VA’s to subcontract for them, and have enough work to sustain them. The bottom line is, if you do what you love, you will have passion and energy behind all your actions, and will do it well. It may take time in the beginning to win over clients, but you want the right kind of clients, so it’s important to start out on the right foot and have your ducks lined up in a row.

Between these three suggestions, you will embark on an exciting journey of becoming a professional Virtual Assistant.

101 Ways to Use a VA (Cindy Greenway)
http://www.multiplestreamsteam.com/101waystouseava.pdf