It was 2007 and I felt what I can only call a stirring to do something different. I was living in a small apartment and running my virtual assistant business from a desk in my living room/dining room combination. Maybe it had something to do with turning 40 that year - I guess women can go through midlife crises too. My sister had taken a leap a few years earlier and moved from the area where we grew up and moved to a major midwest city and I felt the need to do something similar.
My sister was my main cheerleader and because she’s the Queen of Data, she put together a spreadsheet of possible locations that would be suitable for me and the boys. And after about six months of research and putting all sorts of documents into a binder and a whole lot of prayer, I made the decision to move 400 miles away.
The beauty of the move was that my virtual assistant business traveled with me. I didn’t have to submit a resignation to a boss. I just worked ahead for a few weeks, let my clients know I would be out of pocket for about a week or so and make sure I had Internet in my new home when I arrived.
Ten years later and another birthday is staring me in the face. Man, time flew by and as I look back over the last ten years, I realize things could have gone differently. But I’m so thankful it didn’t.
Running a virtual assistant business has afforded me a lot of opportunities:
I’ve learned a slew of skills that I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn in a traditional office setting.
I’ve met and collaborated with some incredible people on some super projects.
I’ve spoken at virtual summits and shared what I’ve learned with others who are starting their virtual assistant journey.
A passion of mine is to help folks like you who are reading this (and thank you for stopping by!) live their lives to their fullest, whether that means working from home as a virtual assistant or it could be something else. But today we’re going to talk about working from home as a virtual assistant and talk about a few companies where you can get started, ok? Let’s go!
What is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant (or commonly known as “VA”) is a home-based worker who provides administrative services virtually.
What makes a rock star virtual assistant?
They're eager and willing to learn new things. The virtual assistant game is always changing. What was new and flashy yesterday can be old hat the next. Technology changes. If you manage social media accounts, you need to know the latest Facebook image dimensions. What hashtag is hot at the moment? You've got to stay on top of those changes and embrace them. Your clients and potential clients want someone who knows their stuff. That's why they hired you in the first place - so they don't have to keep up with all that stuff. You are the peanut butter to their jelly. Having said that, you've also gotta be…
Proactive. If you are the type who doesn't take the initiative in getting things done, if you need direction for each and every little thing, then I hate to break it to you but you're not going to cut it as a virtual assistant. Period. Entrepreneurs need someone who GETS their business, someone who can sense the next move, the next thing that needs to be done without having to be told. That's why you were hired, remember? Make suggestions to your client on how to improve things, come up with tools and resources to make those changes and then implement. Believe me, clients love that type of thing! That brings us to the last thing…
They're clear communicators. Unless you live close to your client, chances are you will never lay eyes on each other. Well, there's Skype, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, stuff like that. Face-to-face, I mean. To avoid lots of emails back and forth, make sure to communicate your message in as concise a way as possible. Get it all down in one email, if you can. Use bullet points for lengthier messages so it's easier for your client to know exactly what you need.
What do you need to get started as a VA?
Wherever you set up your office, you’re going to need a few things to make your virtual life easy. Here’s what I recommend to get started:
A computer. This is a no-brainer. The decision comes down to what type of computer you’ll need. I’ve used a PC, a Chromebook, and now I’m using a MacBook. There's no need to rush out and buy a new computer if the one you have works just fine. Just roll with it! The point is to get started.
A stable Internet connection with a backup plan. Having Internet in your home office is an absolute necessity. But sometimes stuff happens, right? A storm rolls through and knocks out your power but your client needs that presentation - stat.
Or your adorable kiddo spills a drink on your computer and kills it. (Ask me how I know). You've got to have a backup location where you can do your work. Don't use excuses as to why you can't get a client's work done. It's your responsibility to have contingencies in place. Have a backup computer, a tablet, a smartphone, go to the library - something.
Email account. You want folks to get a hold of you, right? Test drive a professional email for 30 days with Google, my all-time favorite. Zoho is another option. Go professional, if you can. Clients don’t like getting emails from firstname.lastname@example.org. Just sayin’.
What can a virtual assistant do?
Shoot, what can’t a virtual assistant do? From general administrative tasks to more advanced stuff, like web design or Pinterest management, the possibilities are endless.
The benefits of partnering with a virtual assistant company
The company, and not you, handles all of the back end stuff, like invoicing.
The company finds the client for you.
If you’re just starting out, signing on to work with a virtual assistant company may be a lot easier than connecting with potential clients on your own.
You get to focus on being the rock star virtual assistant you are and not have to worry about other business stuff.
If a company is advertising, that usually means they have an immediate no, meaning no waiting around for client work.
If you’re ready to launch your virtual assistant business or if you’re a seasoned virtual assistant in between clients, here’s a list of virtual assistant companies that hire.
I subscribe to quite a few emails and Worldwide 101 is one of the few that I regularly open. Worldwide101 has offices in New York and the UK. Services include social media management, project management, customer service, copywriting, bookkeeping, to name a few. They also provide bilingual customer support to clients. You’ll need at least 7 years of work experience, as well as a stable Internet connection. Click to learn more and sign up for their newsletter to receive job leads.
Another feature I love about Worldwide101 is their support of military spouses. They have a dedicated jobs page for military spouses - definitely check it out.
UAssistMe provides bilingual English/Spanish personal and business assistants that are highly skilled in secretarial and administrative duties. While the company doesn’t consider themselves offshoring, virtual assistants are based in El Salvador. If you’re based in El Salvador and are proficient in Microsoft Office and have awesome communication skills, click here to apply.
Initially founded in 2010, the current company of BELAY came about through a merger in 2017. BELAY assistants provide bookkeeping, content writing, webmasters and virtual assistants. They stress a positive work-life balance and profess their faith openly. Get started here.
Have you heard of Sir Richard Branson, the guy behind the Virgin brand (Virgin Air, Virgin Mobile, etc.)? Well, Time Etc.’s virtual assistant team leader is his executive assistant of 31 years! You’ll need 2-3 years of experience, be able to work Monday through Friday, and have your own computer with Microsoft Office. Click here to get started.
Services include scheduling, community management, customer service, document formatting, market research, copywriting and a whole lot more. Perks include weekly training opportunities, as well as a private community where you can connect with other virtual assistants to get answers to questions and to hang out. What can you bring to the table? A technical skill set, the commitment to working virtually and a good character. If you think you’ve got what it takes to join their team, get started here.
Do you have a medical background? Put that to good use as a healthcare virtual assistant with Hello Rache. You’ll need a degree or certificate (nursing, transcription, etc.), have reliable Internet, a webcam, and a headset with a microphone. Find out more.
ContemporaryVA virtual assistants provide a number of services, including telesummit assistance, copywriting and online business management. The team is English-speaking and are located worldwide. Most of the team is located in North America, but there are team members in the UK, Australia and across Europe. Candidates will be put through a rigorous hiring process, will go through training and then an apprenticeship-type program. For the latest openings, click here.
Virtual Assist USA
The company has been around since 2008 and as the name suggests, they hire US-based virtual assistants. If you’ve got at least 10 years of experience in your field and a Bachelor’s Degree, get more information here.
Virtual Assistant Talent
Virtual Assistant Talent is a US-based company and not only do they place experienced virtual assistants but entry-level VA’s as well. Clients needs include real estate virtual assistant, social media marketers, transcriptionists and customer service. Find out more here.
This company has three tiers: admin VA, eCommerce VA and Specialist VA and each tier has a unique set of responsibilities. They are currently accepting applications from the Philippines & the rest of Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, Jamaica (US Territory), India & South Africa. Get more information and apply here.
Based in Cape Town, South Africa, AVirtual offers employee opportunities as opposed to freelancing in various areas, including personal concierge, social media, content writing and travel arrangement. Click for more information.
If you want to earn a little money on the side or a full-time income, Surplus Hands might be an option for you. Surplus Hands is currently accepting the US and Canadian-based applications only and you’ll need to have a proactive outlook, an up-to-date computer, and some college. Click to learn more.
Virtual office support, writing, and financial support are just a few of the services Premier VEBA freelancers offer and according to their website, they are always on the hunt for talented people. Spruce up your resume and cover letter and head on over to get started.
Speaking of cover letters, if you have trouble coming up with just the right words to “wow!” your next potential client, download my swipe file that includes a sample proposal.
Calling all highly-trained US-based assistants. Zirtual might be what you’re looking for. You’ll need a degree plus at least 2 years of professional work experience to be considered but the perks are worth it: a competitive salary, medical, dental, and vision coverage and stock options. Apply here.
24/7 Virtual Assistant
From the website: “Average pay for a US virtual assistant is between $10-$12 per hour and it depends on VA's skill level and client's requirement. 90% of the time, clients are looking for part-time VA's which ranges from 20-120 hours a month.” They offer a whole host of services, such as inbound sales, mailing list development, data mining, real estate services and human resources. For more information on where to send a resume, visit here.
Good luck to you and let me know how you get on!