Are you still worrying about the increasing rental fees and employee wages? Well, if you are a small business or a startup, why don’t you hire a virtual assistant to help you save costs? See? If you want to start a business now, this is a hot business opportunity. With the expansion of the global outsourcing market, virtual assistants are extremely needed for startups, SOHO, and small businesses. They are also part of the booming online service industry driven by remote workers. Don’t know what a virtual assistant is and how it works? Want to know how to start a virtual assistant business this year? This article may be helpful to you.
Table of Contents:
- What is a Virtual Assistant?
- Why are Virtual Assistants Important for Business?
- A Step-by-Step Guide to Start Virtual Assistant Business
What is a Virtual Assistant?
Definition of a Virtual Assistant
In short, a virtual assistant is simply an assistant who works remotely by providing administrative services to clients. A virtual assistant normally operates from a home office but can access the clients’ necessary planning documents, such as shared calendars.
Virtual Assistants are not robots. Instead, they are all real people. People who work as virtual assistants usually have several years of experience as administrative assistants or office managers. Their duties generally include arranging appointments, making phone calls, and managing email accounts. Some specialize in offering graphic design, copywriting, and marketing services, etc.
For employers, one of the benefits of hiring a virtual assistant is they can flexibly choose and contract the services they need. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, working remotely (from home) has become more accepted for both employers and employees, so the demand for skilled virtual assistants is growing as well.
How a Virtual Assistant Works
As small businesses and startups rely on virtual offices to cut expenses, and organizations of all sizes extend their use of the Internet for daily operations, virtual assistants have grown more and more popular.
Many virtual assistants operate as independent contractors, who might start their own virtual assistant company from home. Normally, clients employ a virtual assistant by signing a contract with the virtual assistant’s company. Therefore, the company does not have to give them the same benefits or pay the same taxes as full-time employees. Furthermore, because the virtual assistant works remotely, there is no need to prepare another desk or other workplace for them. Virtual assistants are expected to pay for and offer their own computer equipment, software, and high-speed Internet connectivity.
Virtual Assistant Qualifications
To become a virtual assistant, one doesn’t need to have a hard-and-fast educational background. However, as the number of people working in the Internet industry increases, more clients will choose to hire virtual assistants with some higher-level educations and specialized trained skills. Therefore, if one wants to become a virtual assistant, he/she may need to take related courses online to get certification for virtual assistant skills in order to make clients recognize his/her professional qualities.
Generally speaking, virtual assistants should have a wide range of basic computer skills and a high level of proficiency with commonly used software like word, excel, and PowerPoint. According to different specializations, different virtual assistants need to equip with different professional skills. For example, those virtual assistants who specialize in bookkeeping should be adept at basic accounting tasks.
Why are Virtual Assistants Important for Business?
Virtual assistants can do a lot to boost your business by increasing efficiency and productivity. As a small business owner or key manager, it’s understandable for you not to want to waste your time on some trivial issues. Why not leave all those complicated and repetitive work to professionals? You really need to spend your precious time on some high-value activities! A virtual assistant performs a variety of tasks ranging from managing calendars to accounting. Actually, virtual assistants can do nearly all things that can be done online. Here we’ve listed a few tasks that a virtual assistant can do.
Manage Your Calendar
A virtual assistant manages both your professional and personal calendar. They will coordinate and schedule calls and appointments, confirm appointments, provide reminders and reschedule calls and appointments that you may try to avoid for you. Meanwhile, it will also provide notice of your schedule changing or your current vacation to remind others. It can be difficult for business owners to say no to someone who is willing to meet for a coffee. Therefore, a virtual assistant can be a bad cop. Additionally, it may also provide you with a list of people who haven’t replied to requests for a meeting or a phone call each week so that you’ll know when you need to get involved.
Manage Your Email and Contact
As a businessman, every day you will receive tons of emails, be it related to your work or not. Sometimes you may feel confused about these messy emails and want them to be arranged. Therefore, a good virtual assistant is able to save you from these emails by doing the following activities. They will delete, respond, forward, or flag emails based on rules you set, so you can save plenty of time as you don’t need to spend time sorting out emails and responding one by one. What’s more, when you have a call, meeting, or other engagement with someone new, a virtual assistant can add that person’s details to your contacts so that you can know this new guy’s information in advance.
Light Receptionist Work & Phone Interactions
A virtual assistant can help you with some receptionist duties or phone answering works. When waiting for important calls that you may not be able to answer, these calls will be forwarded to your virtual assistant and will be answered with some preset answers. And, due to the fact that most voicemails can now be received by email (because of the feature of voicemail to email), these voicemails will be forwarded to your virtual assistant, and he/she will transcribe the voicemails for you.
Are you always having business travel arrangements? Booking flights and hotels for business travel may cost you more time than you think. All you need to do is to leave these trivial works to a virtual assistant, as they can: screen flights that fit your agenda and give you several choices; present several hotels based on your preferences including any special rates you get; book flights and hotels you’ve decided ( before that you’ll have to provide your virtual assistant with your credit cards and other frequently used info); research transportation options including rental cars, rideshare, and public transportation; arrange your meals, meetings, and other activities that are not related with works.
As online social media develops, many companies start to hunt for their potential clients through online channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Following the general guidance from you, virtual assistants can research these social media and make out a list of potential clients. Another way for virtual assistants to collect data is to use the databases along with Google. In this way, they may find the email addresses of your prospective clients whom you may want to get in touch with. In addition, if you’re going to introduce the company and its products to clients but don’t want to make the ppt slides that may be needed for the introduction, you can even ask your virtual assistant to make that. They can also enhance your proposals by adding something to your slides.
There will be a lot of management duties that need to be completed as your company grows. It’s possible that you’ll have to make reports for clients. This might just include compiling a large amount of data you may already have. To measure the progress of your company, a virtual assistant can prepare KPI reports at predetermined intervals. There are additional management responsibilities, such as recruiting more employees to your team. Sometimes it’s difficult to find a suitable employee for your company as it will spend you plenty of time. Therefore, in order to save your time, your virtual assistant will search for potential employees depending on the criteria you give.
Sometimes accounting and sending invoices can be complicated and dreadful. Why not leave it to your virtual assistant? Virtual assistants can check and match transactions and execute monthly reconciliations with little training. They can also make invoices and send them to clients. All companies should have an accounts receivable process. Virtual assistants can monitor and collect A/R during this procedure. When necessary, the process can entail escalation to the business owner or someone else.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Start Virtual Assistant Business
Now you know how virtual assistants improve efficiency and productivity after reading all the benefits of having virtual assistants listed above. And now you may also realize that the online market or the market of virtual assistants has great potential for development. If you’d like to start a virtual assistant business from now, here’s a step-by-step guide for you.
Find a specific area to start your virtual assistant business.
You know that there’s a lot of things a virtual assistant can do. However, you need to figure out the specific area you’re going to get into and avoid doing everything all at once because having a specialty can make you more competitive while doing everything with an even ability equals doing nothing. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Marketing and Design: social media management/ advertising/ branding/ website design/ SEO/ video and podcast creation.
- Writing: copywriting/ content management/ email marketing/ writing social media posts/ course creation/ translation.
- Communications: having communications with customers/ sales assistance/ customer support/ event management/ project management.
- Administration: building sales funnels/ business consulting/ business strategy making/ bookkeeping and accounting/ CRM.
When narrowing down your focus, you can make an exhaustive list of personal skills and grade them on a 5-star scale. Use the talents you’ve already mastered and finally choose the precise ability to focus on.
Set up virtual assistant business essentials.
Since virtual assistant business works through the internet, the most important thing is to have a high-speed internet connection. Additionally, you also need to use an app that has a VolP service that allows business owners to communicate with their virtual assistants from any place where there is an internet connection. Here’s a recommendation for you: EasyLine. It is an excellent business number app that contains nearly all the features that are needed in business. Another thing you need to prepare before starting your business is an official website, as it is the very first impression customers get of your service.
Build your virtual assistant business plan.
Establishing your business from scratch may be a tough process, as you have to do everything you can in the first few months in order to gain your initial clients. One of the things you can do is to make a complete strategy including how to make contracts, how to decide to price, how to communicate with clients, and how to meet expectations. Also, starting up a virtual assistant business demands some legal permissions like registering your business name, getting an employer identification number…
Focus on your needs rather than your wants.
As a virtual assistant company, you provide assisting services to other companies. But have you ever thought of what your business needs are? As your business expands, you need to keep focusing on your own and your client’s needs rather than many ‘wants’. For example, focusing on earning money instead of spending money on things you want but don’t need. Or, setting short-term contracts rather than long-term ones to avoid always changing it.
- A virtual assistant is simply an assistant who works remotely by providing administrative services to clients. Many virtual assistants operate as independent contractors, who might start their own virtual assistant company from home.
- Generally speaking, virtual assistants should have a wide range of basic computer skills and a high level of proficiency with commonly used software like word, excel, and ppt.
- Virtual assistants can do a lot to boost your business by increasing efficiency and productivity.
- See a step-by-step guide for you to start a virtual assistant business.