November 21, 2000
How To Become A Virtual Assistant
The more we do our own clerical work independently for our small business, the more we see how great the need is for virtual assistants who can cater to the small business community on the Web. We have also noticed at our employment site, a great surge in Internet traffic indicating another need for stay-at-home mothers and women to perform clerical duties in their homes. And what's really interesting is that men need this work as well today. Many who pass through our virtual door simply want to start their own business or to be hired as an administrative assistant of an existing business. But for years we struggled with the answer of how to do this successfully. Many said they tried to do this but just simply could not find work.
Frustrating as it has been, we see a new frontier emerging. The Information Highway, as some call it, or the Internet, has created a home for new home business owners. Over the past 3-5 years many entrepreneurs have been developing and establishing their own small businesses just as we did. We see many store fronts that are bringing in daily income for their owners, which in turn is creating more and more administrative work and a new opportunity for administrative assistants. This is good news for the struggling stay-at-home secretary. Although it will take a bit of ingenuity and hard work to get started, it's no longer impossible for women to stay home and perform the same office and administrative duties they used to perform traditionally in the office.
Since small business is still in its infancy on the Internet, a new VA has the added job of enlightening small business owners of their need for strong administrative support. We've taken the liberty here of incorporating this process into the few simple steps needed to get started....
Obviously you have a connection to the Internet if you are reading this. If you have your small home office set up and you have experience and you're ready to work at home, here's all you will need to do.
- Decide which services you will provide
- Decide what rates you will charge
- Find a nice home on the Web for your new business. There are plenty of nice places to open a "VA" business. A simple one page web site is more than sufficient.
Visit: http://www.hypermart.net for one example of a free virtual community that will assist you with just about any need you have.
- Set your business up.
Basically you would just be advertising yourself to the small business community on the Web with your web site.
- Tell the small business owners why they need you. You might want to mention how EXTREMELY reasonable your rates are.
- Tell them who you are.(ie.-I'm the answer to your problem)
One paragraph on your web site alerting the business person to all he needs to do while running a cyber-business and how you can solve that problem. An example of this is advertising, web site maintenance, newsletter preparation, etc.
- Elaborate on ALL the skills you have.
(entrepreneurs never sleep and are really desperate for someone like you) For example: Office support, correspondence, Internet research, typing or writing their newsletter, database maintenance of customers and leads, web design, sales literature design, etc.
- Give them your background and education.
(Mention too how much energy you have and how fast you type and advertise also.)
- Provide a way for them to contact you.
This is as simple as ending your web page advertisement with your name, an email link, your address and your telephone number.
- Advertise yourself in every way imaginable on the Internet.
There are actual listings for virtual assistants where you can add your business and get support such as:
You can buy materials from these sites to help you to develop your business and these places may even help you with setting up a web site and advertising. Do a search at Alta Vista search engine to find more databases like these.
When you are advertising on your own, we suggest targeting the places small business people visit. Mainly these are comprised of small business forums, discussion lists and newsgroups. Take part in the discussions and include a signature similar to the one we added at the end of this article (Never blatantly advertise in newsgroups, forums or on discussion lists).
Here are the places you can look for "marketing discussions":
- for discussion lists: http://list-universe.com/
- for newsgroups: http://www.dejanews.com
- for forums: http://www.paperdots.com/290.html
When your business is developed you can research press releases and tell the world how you are helping the small businessman via the Internet. This will help you a great deal with that and supplement all the information above as well: http://www.techweb.com/smallbiz
Why wait another day? The opportunity has presented itself today. It's a wide open arena and a great need. You could be one of the first to create this new income generating line of work on the Internet and be up and running in no time. Many large staffing services may not even realize this door of opportunity exists, so get in now. As business owners realize you are available, more and more will come to you for help.
You could be creating a new family-owned business at home beginning right now. There is even plenty of opportunity for an online "VA temporary agency" or two which will cater to the online small business world. Food for thought. Seize the moment!
Anna Mattingly is a published writer and poet. She is the owner of a web site called Morina's Millennium Profits. It houses many small business start up resources, as well as, a home employment resource center. Get tons of tips on how to accomplish small business/employment success. Visit us: lazyliving.com or send an email.