In today’s working environment of never-ending advances in technology and the slow-burning fire of crucial green issues, more and more people and companies are looking to the alternatives, from working from home and remote working from the office to using independent workers or contractors to outsource work.
Outsourcing is not a particularly new phenomenon, but it is one that has taken hold in the modern business world and one that is growing rapidly, egged on by continual technological developments. One positive side effect is the emergence of the virtual assistant (VA) industry.
What is a VA?
A VA is a self-employed personal assistant turned business owner providing the services one would expect from a PA or Secretary in the office environment, except that they work from their own premises (usually a home office), and communicates with a variety of clients via email or telephone. Just as the role of the PA has evolved, VAs, such as business owners Alex Stone and Carmen MacDougall of Smart-Sec (www.smart-sec.uk), can also provide specialist skills in marketing and business support, event management, and ecommerce development.
Where someone has had extensive experience as a Legal PA, then they will utilise that experience and their skills as a specialist in their own VA business, as the demand is now increasing.
Regardless of the current economic climate, we are noticing the number of silver linings of opportunities rising. This has instigated many Solicitors to set up their own business on a virtual basis so that they can offer quality support to their clients whilst keeping fees low for the client. The client does not always need to see the Solicitor, which allows the Solicitor to work from home avoiding overheads such as office rental, business rates and employees. These Solicitors are now in search of good, professional VAs, such as a legal VA. VAs will charge around £20 an hour, but for an experienced Legal VA they expect to pay around £25 plus an hour. VAs will only charge for the time actually doing the work, and do not need to be employed, which makes this also a very cost-effective service without affecting quality.
The demand for professional VAs is growing now as industry is looking at downsizing and working more virtually. With so many advances in technology, you can actually have a team working together but based anywhere in the world. It is not just individual business owners that will need a VA; medium organisations as well as corporations will need them due to the fact that outsourcing means not having to employ staff and, with redundancies high, there is still a need for managers to be supported.
Considering the VA industry?
Those thinking about setting up their own business as a virtual assistant often make the crucial mistake of thinking that to be a VA all you need is the relevant experience, a computer, a desk and an Internet connection. WRONG!
It’s not about simply using your office or assistant experience to provide VA services to a range of clients. You will need to be a business owner too, and that requires another set of skills entirely. In fact, the ability to actually run your business will be key to your success.
Running your own Virtual Assistant business does mean you can use your assistant and administrative skills every day, without having the hassle of a regular nine-to-five job. However, you will need to consider the day-to-day practicalities of putting your business together, getting your own administration systems and processes organized, finding and marketing to clients, and all the other details that combined will help you build a profitable VA business.
So, ok, you have your years of experience as a Secretary or PA, and you have a computer or laptop at home, plus a broadband Internet connection. These are some of the key tools you will need as a VA. But where do you go from here?
You could do a bit of research on the Internet, maybe get some general business advice from your local business advisor, join an online network or just get going! And that plan is fine if you are enterprising and have unlimited funds to subsidise your business until it really takes off. Or...
…You could play it a little smarter and get yourself some training that is specifically aimed at becoming a virtual assistant, in terms of what services to offer, what fees to charge and how to find clients. Even better, look at courses that also show you how to be a business owner, so that you not only have a comprehensive VA business but you know how to run your VA business successfully and competently.
So if you are taking your first steps towards becoming a VA, you are a start-up VA, or even if you are well-established, you should take a look at the quality training available to you by the VA Coaching and Training Company on how to structure, brand, market and sell your business and VA services to attract clients so that you become a successful and remarkable VA.
If anyone books onto our courses by 30 July they will receive VIP promotional bonuses worth over £800!
Online Radio Show for VAs. Carmen MacDougall will be hosting her online radioshow 7.30pm on Monday 6 July, and the first Monday of the month thereafter. She and other VAs will be giving an informative insight into setting up as a VA, the opportunities available and why now is the best time to be in business. This also gives listeners the chance to ask questions live. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
If you are considering a career as a Virtual Assistant (VA), then “What it takes to be a Remarkable VA” by Carmen MacDougall, The Virtual Assistant Coaching & Training Company (www.vact.co.uk), is one of the best places you could start. Packed full of information about starting your own VA business, Carmen’s book takes you through step by step not just the key elements of being a VA, but, just as importantly, the requirements and challenges of being a business owner.
In this book Carmen combines her experience as a successful VA with her superb coaching and NLP talents to provide an informative, inspiring and comprehensive book that is the perfect way to get insight into being a remarkable VA.
By reading this book you will encounter a wide range of information, including what a VA is, what services a VA can provide, how to set up your business, the financial considerations, marketing and more. You will also be challenged with Carmen’s coaching techniques that will motivate you to act upon your desire to set up your own VA business and will inspire you to make it a success.
An internationally renowned corporate and VA coach and trainer, Carmen is one of the industry’s leading authorities on what it takes to be a remarkable VA. She has personally trained over 600 VAs across the UK, Europe and Australasia; is the Managing Director for the International Association of Virtual Assistants (IAVA.org.uk), is co-founder and publisher of the UK’s only online magazine for VAs, “The VA Times” (www.vact.co.uk/vatimes.html); and is also the president and founder of the National VA of the Year Conference & Awards, which is now coming into its fourth year.