Ask yourself – What is the business that I want to have?

It’s great to have a business name, but having some sort of plan, even if it is quite simple, is a great place to start. To make your plan, the first thing you need to do is some research. I researched online and I spent quite some time at my local library.

The Virtual Assistant concept is still considered fairly new but running a home based business is not a new concept, and there are some great books and resources out there which can inspire and guide you.

Determine what services you want, and can, offer your clients.

It is worthwhile to determine what skills you have, what services you could offer, what you want to offer and whether there is a niche area which would suit you.

Again, a business plan is a useful tool for this.


VA Tip!

Many people think they are ready to start a business yet they aren’t aware of many great things available that would improve their efficiency and make the job easier. When I came from 20 + years in corporate offices I was pretty confident that my skills would support me as a VA.

When I started researching what a VA is I was floored to find so many amazing ways of interacting with clients from my home office. I also realised that the shackles had been removed and I was free to learn whatever I wanted! In a corporate environment, no matter how supportive, I was usually restricted to learning what they needed me to know or things that were limited to be used within their systems and usually all set up for me by the IT people. Setting up my own office opened a whole new world for a geek like me who just loves to learn! I never even knew about popping my email from web mail to Outlook because I hadn’t needed to know.

Now I am one of the biggest users of Google. If someone asks a question and I don’t know – I will Google it for my own interest as well as helping out. I have bookmarks in my browser a mile long because I find so many wonderful things I want to learn. I have joined many forums and networking sites because of the knowledge sharing, interaction and networking opportunities. You are never too old to learn and even if you think you know everything about your area of speciality, there will probably be a new development every now and then.

If you want to keep ahead of the competition, you need to stay on top of your learning. You will appear more knowledgeable to your clients and they will feel secure knowing that you are up to date and keeping them up to date.

Tip thanks to Marie Chandler of Office Support Online


Seeking the right customers

by Mary H Ruth at

One of the most difficult concepts about the internet is the long tail idea, that allows for success with highly specialized items. Made possible because of internet technologies, the concept is difficult because we’ve previously held to the notion that the more widely acceptable and desirable your product, the better.

Certainly in the VA industry, many of us fight the concept, attempting to be all things to all people. It’s scary to specialize when first starting up your biz; you want to apply all your skills and show that you can do just about anything for your clients. But the fact is that while the generalists amongst us do okay, the specialists do very well.

It benefits a VA to emphasize certain particular skills, because clients want to know exactly what they’re buying. Related to this is the fact that not anyone and everyone can be your client. VAs are very like lawyers and doctors in that clients need to find a VA they resonate with and instinctively trust.

The impulse on the VA’s part is to enthusiastically welcome every inquiry and immediately launch into all the fabulous ways you can make this person’s life and business better. But if, for any one of a thousand reasons, the vibe isn’t harmonious between you, there’s no point in pushing it. Rather, you must trust that there are enough ideal clients out there to sustain you, and continue the search.

New VAs often wonder what series of questions to put to new potential client inquiries. You do need to find out as much as possible about the client. But the major focus for your first conversations needs to be listening. Listen very carefully, and be alert to signals that might suggest this is less than an ideal match. Don’t be afraid to stretch, but do not compromise yourself either because it will not be worth the trouble.

If things look shakey to you, be very careful how much work you take on from the person, or perhaps suggest the names of a few other VAs they might check with. And then, move on. Realize that not every person has to be your customer; you only need locate the few right customers who will sustain you over time. Everyone has their tribe, and no tribe includes everyone.