Working abroad for several long years may make you realize one thing: when can I finally come back home and enjoy the fruits of my labor? Working as an Overseas Filipino Worker may take several years of your freedom and comfort. Instead of enjoying your life with your family, you may be forced to work in another country because of the financial opportunities that foreign countries have to offer. But you don’t need to end up working for other people forever. If you have enough tools and connections to utilize, why don’t you start your own virtual assistant business?
Working as a virtual assistant is like working abroad — however, instead of working physically in another country, you are working remotely for your client.
A virtual assistant business is an ideal way to take that skills that you have in administrative support and apply them to a home-based business. Virtual assistants, also popularly called as VA, do about everything: from filling the client’s taxes to managing databases to personal errands like ordering medicine for their loved ones or booking flights for vacation.
Pros of Starting a Virtual Assistant Business
There are many pros to starting a VA business.
- It is fast and affordable to start, especially if you have the tools, equipment, skills, and software to start working.
- While you need to have skills and sometimes, experience, in the service you want to provide, you don’t need any specific certifications, licenses or education to get started.
- You can decide what kind of service or industry you want to provide, whether it is general support or something more specific to social media management.
- You can work on your own preferred schedule. Although many clients want you to work regular business hours, You can work from the midnight until 6 in the morning.
Challenges of Starting a Virtual Assistant Business
There are also some challenges that you might face once you start your virtual assistant business.
- Unless you already have a network to work with or you have someone to hire you, getting your first client can be challenging. Some freelance sites can help you but they might charge you a fee.
- You have to justify your rates and impress your potential clients.
- You need to stay on top of current trends and technology in the services and industry that you are offering.
How to Start a Virtual Assistant Business
If you are ready to start a virtual assistant business, here are the steps for you to get started.
1. Create your Menu of Services.
Virtual assistants do everything under the sun: from writing, emailing, customer support, calendar management, bookkeeping, website maintenance, marketing, project management, and many more. Focus on the skills that you already have and enjoy doing. You may also offer one skill at a time such writing or you can provide as many services as possible.
2. Create a Business Plan.
Your business plan doesn’t need to be as professional as big corporations but it should cover all aspects of your business, from what you offer to whom, and what makes you different from other virtual assistants. You should also determine your service pricing, taking into consideration how much you want to make, your projected costs, and what the market is willing to pay. Usually, General VAs in the Philippines are charging $4 to $20, depending on the scope of work that the client wants.
The business plan includes preparing the tools that you need. To start with, you need a working laptop, internet (wired internet preferred), and a headset (some clients require a phone call once in a while).
3. Build Friendship in Your Niche
Once you have your clients already, impress them and build a relationship with them. As a starting VA, you might not get skyrocket rates but that is okay. Often times, your very first clients may be the long-lasting ones. There are also times when they will refer you to other friends and associates because of your work performance.
4. Ask For Referrals and Testimonials
As mentioned above, a happy client will give you good feedback or a testimonial. You can use these to land more clients and grow your business further. Some clients will introduce you to other entrepreneurs that might need help with their business. Receiving recommendation means a lot to other businessmen.
Types of Virtual Assistant Niches You Can Start With
Social Media Assistant
Social media is time-consuming for many business owners, brands, and bloggers. As a social media virtual assistant, you can help free up your client’s time by managing their online presence. This includes creating posts, finding share-worthy articles, and responding to messages and comments.
Running a virtual storefront requires a lot of time to spare. Online store owners have hundreds to thousands of items in their inventory. Other than processing orders and returns, they also have to answer general customer service inquiries. As an e-commerce VA, you write product descriptions, respond to customer inquiries, track packages and handle returns, and promote sales and product launches.
Real Estate Assistant
There are many things involved in buying and selling properties. This is why buyers and sellers turn to realtors for help. Realtors secure their home listing, help buyers in buying their dream properties, and stage open houses to name a few. A real estate assistant is involved in marketing open houses, managing calendars, and scheduling listing appointments.
Being a virtual assistant lets you work for a foreign company or employer minus the homesickness and sacrifices that you have to make when working overseas. Are you ready to get started?