A Virtual Assistant (typically abbreviated to VA, also called a virtual office assistant) is generally self-employed and provides professional administrative, technical, or creative(social) assistance to clients remotely from their home office.
Virtual Assistants come from a variety of business backgrounds, but most have several years experience earned in the "real" (non-virtual) business world.
VA Institute claims to be 'Different' from other VA training providers - Why?
Yes, we ARE different because not only do we provide an individual end-to-end startup solution, but we also actively work with you one-on-one to strategise and implement
OUR GOAL IS TO GET YOU LAUNCHED IN 6 WEEKS OR LESS...
This means we do things like:
Build your website (yes - we actually do this for you as part of your program with the exception of our VA Quickstart Program option)
Provide all the essential business template you need - AND THEN make sure you know how to use them
Make you accountable - in other words, we are invested in your outcomes, and so we ensure that you do the things we need you to do in order to launch successfully
Provide you with the ongoing one-on-one support as and when needed
What skills do I need to become a VA?
It is very important that you have a good background in the service area you are wanting to offer as a VA (e.g. if you are wanting to provide administrative support services, then a background in administration is essential)
Great communication skills
Proactive and solution-focused
What tasks can a VA do?
The services a VA can provide are really only limited by the VAs experience / background.
Of course, there are certainly some standard services that we see VAs provide, including:-
General EA Support
Personal concierge services
Social media management
Powerpoint / Prezi presentations
Website design and maintenance
Client relationship tasks
Phone answering and appointment setting
Email and diary management
Email newsletter campaigns
Proofreading and editing
HR / Recruitment services
General document preparation and maintenance...and more
How much do VAs earn?
This is difficult to say, however, VA Institute's research shows that in Australia the hourly rates average between from $40-$75 per hour and higher for some niches.
In general this average will convert to the currency equivalent for each country.
How do VAs get paid?
VAs are self-employed business owners, and like other business owners, they need to invoice their clients on a regular basis.
Payments are generally received via one of the following:
Direct bank transfer
Credit card payment
Do I need to quit my job to get started in m own VA Business?
You definitely don't need to quit your full-time or part-time job to get started. In fact, if you're employed and really NEED the income, then absolutely DO NOT QUIT...yet!
You can set up your VA business while you're still working in an employed position. You can take on work in your own time and build your startup business that way.
This makes the option of starting a VA business extremely low risk ,and very attractive to many people for that very reason!
Do I need to specialise / niche?
There's no rules about what you do or don't offer, but it can be a good move to try and offer a specialised service that you love and have great experience in only because you can potentially earn more in the long run as you can really set yourself up as the "expert" in that area.
But, seriously, it's no great problem if you're going to offer 'general admin' to kick off your VA business.
What's more important is that you are offering skills you are comfortable with and experienced enough to deliver.
How do VAs find clients?
VAs as self-employed business owners, need to be committed to sourcing clients - and it's very important to have a good plan in place BEFORE you get started about how you are going to tackle this aspect of your business. It's definitely NOT a matter of "build it and they will come". VAs need to be entrepreneurial, and understand that work doesn't just magically appear.
That being said, it's not difficult to achieve - and to be honest, you really only need a couple of clients to get you off and running...
We suggest the following as a good place to begin (and we work with startup VAs to strategise precisely on this area):
Get clients, friends and family to recommend you to suitable networks for business as well as specific audiences.
Allocate time to invest in finding local (f2f) networking opportunities - actively build and generate connections within those groups.
Build your online presence via social media platforms.
Join existing VA networks to gain Job Leads and Networking
I live in a regional area and there's not too much opportunity close by. Will this hurt my ability to setup my VA business?
As long as you have access to the internet, you won't be disadvantaged in terms of getting work. There will be networking options online and offline that will definitely be available wherever you are located (and we work actively with you to research and identify those avenues, and build your networking strategy).
I am worried about 'selling myself'. Is this something I really need to do?
So many startup VAs have the biggest fears about this aspect of their business journey!
Our advice - STOP WORRYING... Selling yourself is as simple as having a conversation (yes, you know, that thing you do with your mouth) with someone new.
We work with you about networking, and how best to network so you are focusing on first and foremost on building relationships - not going in for the sale as soon as you meet someone- honestly, that's not what it's about.
By building relationships, and being generous with your conversation - offering advice when asked, or just a friendly to talk to - in a business networking environment, you will definitely reap rewards (online or offline).
Let's face it - people buy from people they know and trust...and that should be your goal when networking...not smarmy sales talk which no one is interested in!
I hear so much about cheaper offshore VAs - is this an issue?
Lets be perfectly clear here; offshore VAs are providing support to businesses in all countries, but we absolutely do not see them as competition.
Why? Simply because we, as experienced admin professionals in our own countries market, understand in great detail the business climate and culture, rules and regulations that are unique to our fair shores.
We also speak the same language (generally with English as a first language), live in the same (or very similar) time zone, and can have a conversation with our client's customers as if we were sitting in their office.
Do I really need a website?
You're an online business, so YES, you do need a website! (don't worry - we build a beautiful website for anyone who undertakes a VA Startup Program* with VA Institute as part of the course).
*all programs except VA Quickstart Program
Do I need to be on social media to be a VA?
At the very least, you should be on LinkedIn to build relationships and network with potential clients and colleagues, and Facebook so that you can collaborate with other VAs. If your clients also hang out on social media, then you seriously need to be on there, in some way, shape or form.
What about client agreements? Do I need to have one when a client engages me? Where do I source one?
Yes, you definitely need to have your client sign an agreement BEFORE you start working for them. It should set out at the very least:
Services you are going to provide for them
Your agreed hourly or package rate
How to terminate the agreement
Again, we provide these important templates to our VA Startup Program students
What sort of insurance should I arrange?
Depending on the sort of services you are providing, you may need to take out the following:
We encourage our VA Startups to seek advice from a professional financial adviser.
What equipment do I need to setup a VA business?
Most of us have the basic equipment to start a VA business. You should have at the very least:
PC or good laptop
Access to reliable internet
If possible, we suggest a dedicated office space setup so it's WH&S compliant.
Should I buy a separate phone for my VA business?
No, you shouldn't need to invest in a separate phone for your business.
The only exception would be if you are providing Virtual Reception services, you may end up buying a VOIP phone that is dedicated for provision of reception services.
What sort of professional development could I access as a VA?
Our industry is an amazing one, full of amazing professional development opportunities. We have a great summit - VA Summit - run by industry professionals, and there are less formal opportunities offered by various VA networks.
What about ongoing training to upskill? Is there something around for VAs?
Again, we have some amazing opportunities for upskilling. There are some very reputable and affordable VA-centric training / upskilling resources that we can recommend to our VA Startups.