What are the Skills Required to be a Virtual Assistant

What are the Skills Required to be a Virtual Assistant

Working from home involves, well working from home. Not lounging around at home watching daytime TV, not spending hours on Facebook or surfing the web, but hours working; either for yourself to build up your business and to gain clients or working for clients.

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If you are going to become a virtual assistant and work from home you need to make sure you are self-disciplined enough to do so. There will be no boss checking up on you; no-one making sure you start work at nine and only take an hour for lunch, no-one to make you work the afternoon instead of going out and enjoying the sunshine; no-one but you.
You have to be self-disciplined enough to sit at your computer and work the hours you have decided you are going to work, be that two hours a day, four hours a day or eight hours a day.

Many Virtual Assistants deliberately start their VA business part-time as something they do in the evenings or at weekends only, as a way to make sure they are self-disciplined enough to work for themselves. Plus by starting off part-time, they can build up their work, their skills and their clients slowly but surely and slowly acclimatise themselves to working for themselves.  You might be longing for the day when you are your own boss, but the downside is, you will be your own boss. Make sure you are ready to take on this role.

Are you a self-starter or do you need to be motivated to do things? If you are a self-starter, great! If you need motivating you’re going to have to think up some ways to start motivating yourself to sit down and get to work each and every day.

Time Management
This is an absolute must-have skill for anyone who wants to work from home, regardless of whatever business they want to do. As a Virtual Assistant, someone on whom many clients are depending, good time management skills are a must.

You need to decide what hours you are going to work and then be available for your clients during those hours. You cannot break off half-way through work to go and put the laundry on, you are at work!
You will also need to make sure that you are making the most of your time whilst at work. So you need to think about how often you will check emails, when you will do invoicing, when and how you will drum up new business and always, ALWAYS, make sure you get your clients’ work done on time and to a perfect standard.
If you are going to charge your client by the hour, you will also need a reliable way of tracking your time too, but we will discuss that later. For now, you just need to make sure you have enough time in your day to get your work done and if you haven’t, you need to think about how to organise your working day to get the most out of it.

You will need to be tactful but firm with others around you too, people who are not used to you working. You need to explain to them that whilst you are still at home, you are working and cannot just pop around for a coffee or invite them in for a chat, or talk for hours on the phone. From my own experience I can say that this is one of the hardest parts of setting up in business as a Virtual Assistant; people find it hard to accept that you can be at home but not be available for social calls. Persist however, firmly but politely and eventually they will get the idea.

Self-Confidence
There are hundreds of Virtual Assistants in the UK and thousands throughout the world and because you are a virtual assistant, you can be based in any country as far as your client is concerned. Most British Virtual Assistants have international clients as well as British clients, only a few have clients who actually live anywhere near them. This means that when you start out as a VA you can feel a little over-awed by the number of VAs out there competing for business. Don’t be. Have confidence in yourself and your abilities and remember that the Virtual Assistant industry is a friendly, supportive one. Get involved in VA forums and societies, get your name out there and you’ll soon find you’re being contacted by other VAs who would like to outsource some of their work to you, or who can advise you as to how to get clients. 

Later on you will need that self-confidence when you come to raise your rates; you need to be confident enough in your skills and your work to be able to do so.

Persistence
Starting up any business is not as easy as you think it is going to be. You will need persistence to be successful. You will need to spend time setting up your business, building your website, sorting out your services, marketing and trying to find clients before you finally get a client.
Some Virtual Assistants have told me it can take up to three months from initial contact with a potential client to actually landing that client; and these are experienced VAs! You need, therefore, to be patient with yourself and to work hard at building up your business and at putting your hours in even if you are only working at attracting clients and improving your skills.

You see, building any business takes time and effort, but as there is a huge demand for Virtual Assistants, persevere and you will get the clients you need for your business to take-off and succeed.

Keenness to Learn
All successful Virtual Assistants share one trait: they are keen to learn new things, master new skills and offer new services to their clients. The world of work changes rapidly and as a Virtual Assistant you have to keep up with all these changes. Your clients will need you to know how to operate the latest versions of Office, how to use WordPress or the latest Accounting or Bookkeeping packages, how to share files via Skype or DropBox and how to use social media. As a Virtual Assistant, working virtually via the web, you have to keep up to date with the latest inventions and revolutions in software and hardware and know how to use the programs and applications your clients need you to use.

All successful Virtual Assistants are never happy to rest on their typing speeds and knowledge of Microsoft Word, they know they need to keep updating and improving their skills if they are to remain useful to their clients.

Copyright 2013 Philippa Oakley. All rights reserved.

See here to learn more about becoming a Virtual Assistant.