So you want to work from home! Maybe you’ve been a stay home mom for a while but you need to bring in some income for your family. Or maybe you’ve been searching for a way to leave your 9-5 and come home to pursue a passion or be home when your baby arrives.
But there’s a problem. You have no idea what you’d do, you don’t have business experience, and you don’t think you have any marketable skills. What legitimate, non- sales job could there possibly be for you?
You can become a Virtual Assistant with no experience and no start-up fee!
What is a Virtual Assistant and what does she do?
In short, a Virtual Assistant (or a VA) is someone who works remotely to perform tasks for business owners.
Those tasks are as varied as the business owner and the VA herself – the sky’s the limit when it comes to what a VA can do to help a business owner run a business!
Some people assume you have to be super techy or have specialized skills to work from home as a VA, and of course there are great opportunities for VAs with skills like web design and video editing, but you absolutely CAN get started with no high tech skills, and the reason is the best-kept secret in business.
Most business owners need someone to take over simple tasks so they can focus on the things only they can do for their business.
Here’s what that looks like:
Someone who designs and manufactures purses has to answer customer emails, upload photos of their purses to their shop, write and post social media posts, process returns, and communicate with their manufacturer.
Someone besides the business owner can do any of those tasks, and if a VA could take some of them over, the business owner could spend their time on new designs.
A blogger, Youtuber, or podcaster does so much more than what you see as their final product online. They email their audience, research new topics, reach out for guest collaborations, edit and format their posts, videos, or podcasts, and moderate the comments they get. Again, a VA could do any of those tasks so that the business owner can focus on creating the final product they’re known for.
Even your friend who sells Essential Oils or runs an online boutique has business-related tasks they might want to offload, like processing orders, sending invoices, handling returns, posting to social media, and keeping track of their finances.
Business owners have strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and time constraints – a VA helps solve a business owner’s individual problem, allowing them to focus on why they got into business in the first place.
Your time, desire to help, and willingness to learn are your greatest assets as a VA – not the skills you already have or don’t have.
5 Steps to becoming a Virtual Assistant asap:
- Build a work schedule that fits your family.
- Find your potential clients.
- Reach out to potential clients.
- Understand independent contractor and get your ducks in a row.
- Track your time and get your first paycheck.
Build a work schedule that fits your family
If you haven’t worked from home, you’ll want to take a look at a typical week for your family and figure out where your working hours lie. If you’ve recently left a job, you might have 40 hours a week to fill with VA work from 9-5 Monday through Thursday, but many VAs are looking to work in the margins of their jobs – around their families or their day jobs – so you’ll need to find the hours that work for you.
The beauty of VA work is that you set your own schedule, but you need a general idea of how many hours a week you have to work so you know how many clients you can take on.
Print out this schedule and fill-in a typical week. Don’t forget to factor in times you’re picking up kids from school and the time it takes to cook dinner. You’re looking for the truly free hours in your week.
Find your potential clients
The short version is: Anyone running a profitable business is a potential client.
Current research shows that having a personal connection is the number one way to make your email, resume/flyer, or phone call stand out.
So start with people you know. That might be your friend who runs a direct sales business, your favorite boutique in town, or your realtor. A second tier of potential clients are business owners your friends and family know. Your personal connection is the mutual friend and just adding their name to your initial contact can shoot your communication to the top of the stack.
Reach out to potential clients
Once you’ve got a list of people to reach out to, you want to have a clear, professional way to show them what you can do for them, and 99% of the time that’s not a formal resume or CV.
Instead, it’s a well-crafted email, a simple website, a flyer-style resume, or a Facebook page.
No matter what method you use, the information is the same. You need:
- Your basic contact information
- A summary of the services you offer
- And, most importantly, the VALUE you bring to a business owner.
It might take a few tries, and not everyone is going to say yes, but if you continue to show a business owner how you can save them time so that they can work on the parts of the business that make money, someone will say yes and you’ll have your first client!
Understand “Independent Contractor” and get your ducks in a row.
Most of the time, a VA is an Independent Contractor, not an employee. That means you provide what you need to do your job (a computer, an internet connection, and a place to work).
It also means that you are not an employee of a company and are not given benefits like medical or retirement and you are solely responsible for your taxes. In most cases, a client will send you a 1099 at tax time to report how much they’ve paid you, and you will owe 100% of the taxes on your income.
It’s not as scary as it sounds! But you do need to set up a couple of things before you start accepting payments.
A Paypal Business Account. This is separate from your personal PayPal account if you have one. All of your invoices will be sent through this PayPal Business account (unless your client has another preferred method) and you won’t make any personal purchases through this account. It will help you keep your personal and business money separate, which is right and legal and helps you at tax time. A PayPal business account is free, but it will charge you 2.9% + $.30 on every transaction – but, you want that. It’s protection for you and your client.
– A Business bank account. Again, this keeps your business income and expenses separate from your personal and it helps you follow tax law. Any business banking account will do, and your local or current bank might have one you can easily sign up for. You can also do a Google search for free online business banking accounts. With any account, make sure to read and understand the terms of service so you never get stuck with fees.
Track your hours and earn your first paycheck
Accurately tracking your work hours is important! I use and love Toggl, a free online timer. With a free account, you can set up multiple clients plus multiple projects under each client. Their reports are clear and simple and you can export your report and attach it right to your invoice so your client can see where your hours were spent. It also helps you get a better understanding of how much time certain projects take you, so you can bid them accurately.
Want to learn more about getting started as a VA right away? Check out Moms Work Hard Course for VAs!