Starting Your Virtual Assistant Business - Part 1

5/12/2014 Cindy Coulter
Starting Your Own Virtual Assistant Business
 By Cindy Coulter 
 

So you've decided to start your own Virtual Assistant (VA) business. Now what?

  

 

Many people think it's as easy as turning on your computer and putting a post on Facebook, and the jobs will start pouring in. Not so fast. Unless you've resigned yourself to simply doing everyone's Christmas cards and wedding invitations, you're going to have to do a little more work than that.

 

Where Do I begin? Selecting Your Specialty
 

  
The first thing you will need to do is decide exactly what type of work you want to pursue. Are you going to specialize in one area or are you going to be a Girl (or Guy) Friday? You must also be sure you are capable
of doing that type of work. Just because you like the idea of proofreading articles for a medical journal doesn't necessarily mean you are qualified to do it - or that someone else is going to pay you to do it for them.
  
Virtual jobs run the gamut from data entry clerks to online college faculty members. You must find your niche and then market yourself as The Very Best [insert your desired position here] you can be. If you're among
the group of people who "don't know what I want to be when I grow up," it's time for a personal inventory.
  
Personal skills inventory. Start by making two lists: first, write down every skill you have acquired in your career (typing, travel arrangements, original writing, data entry, database management, etc.). List everything 
you can think of, even if you don't immediately see how it might fit into your dream job. Go back and read through your list. Highlight those things you love to do and in which you truly excel. And be honest with 
yourself - just because you ran spell check and made 50 color copies of your former boss' presentation doesn't make you a PowerPoint expert. Also take note of any tasks you truly dislike.
  
Next, make a list of the skills or tasks you believe are crucial to the VA field you have chosen. Now, compare your lists. Are there any overlaps? Are you lacking skills that would make it
impossible for you to excel in your dream job? For example, if you love to type and believe that you would be a fantastic legal transcriber, do you have the background and education required for this position? If not, 
you have two choices: 1) select a different specialty, or 2) obtain the skills or credentials required.
  
Research, research, research. Once you have decided the direction for your business, take the time to do your research. Find out what potential employers or clients are looking for. Study job postings and look for
common threads. If every listing requires expertise in a particular software program, make sure you have that skill, or take the steps to acquire it. Read the profiles of other VAs in your field. Is there a recurring 
theme? Do you possess similar skills? If not, perhaps you need to go back to your personal inventory and rethink your area of focus.
  
Sound overwhelming? Don't worry. Just take your time to ensure you have selected a field you will enjoy and one in which you can excel.
  
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