10 Tips for Becoming a Virtual Assistant
Posted on 30th September 2021 at 13:38
10 Tips For Becoming a Virtual Assistant
As more and more people are discovering the joy of working from home, many are wondering about a career as a Virtual Assistant but what do you need to know when you’re starting out?
Read on for our ten top tips for becoming a Virtual Assistant.
1. Get your setup right
This is an obvious one, but it’s one that so many people overlook when working from home for the first time: ensure your ‘work’ space is set up for productivity.
If you work best in a cafe with regular lattes arriving at your table, great! If you need a quiet corner of the kitchen with no breakfast plates cluttering the surfaces, more power to you. If you want to escape to a shared co-working space, that’s fine!
All of these possibilities are great - but you need to be in a space that suits you. That might mean no distractions, or it might mean being out of the house so you can ignore all thoughts of housework.
Once you have the space, make sure you have a working computer and internet connection - you are a virtual assistant, after all, so you’ll have to be reachable!
2. Ask for help!
Starting anything on your own is scary, and jumping into the self-employed world of Virtual Assistant work can be terrifying.
However, know you’re not alone! Reach out to other VAs - many will be more than happy to allay your fears, as well as to help out with any more specific questions you might have.
Whether you’re concerned about running a business for the first time or just need a hand getting to grips with social media marketing, our Pink Spaghetti network are always happy to share their expertise.
3. Hit your deadlines
Deadlines can be a tricky thing to navigate when you’re self-employed. You need to know how long tasks take, so you can accurately plan time for them in your schedule.
From this, you’ll also have to be able to convey that information to clients: repeat after us, “I’m sorry, I won’t be able to fit that in before Monday”!
Once you have set a deadline, do make sure you stick to it. So much of Virtual Assistant work is based on reputation, and it doesn’t look great on any of us if people consistently miss deadlines.
If you have miscalculated and haven’t left enough time to do everything, it’s always worth a quick email update to let your client know that you’re aware of the problem and are working on it. Give a revised deadline - preferably one you can guarantee you can meet, even if that means quoting a later date than you’d prefer - and get going.
4. Get motivated…
If you’re self-employed for the first time, getting motivated can seem like a mammoth task.
It can often be overwhelming, being in charge of our own schedules!
One way to get motivated is to consider why you wanted to be a Virtual Assistant in the first place. Many people decide to go down this career path because it gives them more flexibility and time to spend living their lives.
If you know that, you’ll be able to put it in perspective: would you rather do the work now, when you had planned to work, or miss out on tonight’s dinner date/school play/kayaking session?
5. ...And do your hardest task first
OK, another productivity tip - because it really is hard starting out!
Try to do the task you are least looking forward to first thing in the day. Obviously sometimes more urgent tasks take priority, but it works as a general rule. To quote Brian Tracy - “eat that frog!”.
Ideally, once you’ve done this task, you’re in the flow of your day. Not only that, but you won’t spend the day dreading this job, and you’ll be much more productive in all your other tasks.
6. Word of mouth referrals are your friend
A good website, complete with SEO and marketing tactics, can help you to grow your Virtual Assistant business.
But without a doubt, one of the best ways to get new clients is through networking and word of mouth referrals.
Because Virtual Assistants work so closely with founders, it’s an intimate relationship. The kind you don’t want to hire just anybody for. Often, for these kinds of intimate business relationships, we seek recommendations from others - how did you find your hairdresser, for example?
You can attend events in your niche or simply connect with people on LinkedIn and interact with them there, but make sure that time for networking is built into your plan for life as a Virtual Assistant.
7. Play to your strengths
Virtual Assistants can help with just about anything - which means that if you have a specialised skill or talent, you should capitalise on it.
Marketing manager in a past life? Great with spreadsheets? These are examples of where you could find a niche to limit your competition.
Plus, if you do happen to be an expert in an area, why not join one of those VA networks we mentioned earlier, and offer to help those who might be a little lost on the subject?
8. Stick to a schedule
This is so, so important - both for your clients and for you.
A schedule means that your clients know when they can reach you, and when they can expect work to be done.
More importantly, it delineates ‘work’ time from ‘home’ time for you. Without a schedule, it can be all too easy to slip into a pattern where you work into the early hours, or even just through lunch.
Make a schedule. Include breaks for walks, picking up kids, having lunch - anything that you’re realistically going to do anyway. That way, you’ll be able to plan the work around these things - rather than trying to plough through and falling behind.
9. Get to know your clients & their businesses
We mentioned earlier that a client-VA relationship was a pretty intimate one. That’s because good Virtual Assistants take the time to get to know both the client and their business.
They’ll know exactly what the business needs, and fill that gap. The more you can find out about the business, the more tailored your Virtual Assistant services will be - and the more essential that makes you to the business.
10. Enjoy it!
Remember why you started your own business in the first place? Being a Virtual Assistant means you can explore so many areas of a business, and find out which parts make you the happiest.
And the joy of being self-employed? You can focus on those parts, as well as working on a schedule that suits you.
Being a Virtual Assistant should mean a work-life balance that truly works for you - so make sure you enjoy it!
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