Virtual Assistance 101: How to Become a Virtual Assistant

Now that we’ve talked about what a Virtual Assistant is and what a Virtual Assistant is not, today we are going to talk about how to become a Virtual Assistant.

Like I mentioned before, a Virtual Assistant is a career choice, not some quick way to make a buck from home. It takes soft and hard skills, competency, hard work and consistency to build a successful business.

It also takes a change of mindset – especially for those who have been worn down by the corporate world. You need to act the part of the business owner that you are (or going to be). If you run your business as an employee, or allow your clients (and potential clients) to treat you as if you are an employee, you will not have the successful, fulfilling business you want.

You have the skill set and ready to build a business, so now what?

If you do a quick search around the ‘net, you’ll find a TON of advice, suggestions and programs – all designed to “help” you build your Virtual Assistant business. But the truth is, most of the advice you find online is crap and not worth your time or money. And worse, a lot of said advice is given by people who aren’t even Virtual Assistants themselves.

So, where do you go for help in building your business? I HIGHLY recommend you go to the same two women who taught me everything I know about Virtual Assistance: Anastacia Brice and Danielle Keister.

These two women are different in personality and style; and yet, both of these women have been absolutely invaluable in helping me build my business. They are my heroes and mentors. I respect them very much and am deeply grateful to both of them.

Anastacia Brice is the foundress of the Virtual Assistant industry and creator of AssistU, the premier organization for training new Virtual Assistants. I was blessed to have gone through the Assistu training program which gave me a solid foundation under my business. Graduates also have access to an amazing, ongoing supportive community for continued support in building your VA business. (Currently, Anastacia is in the process of revamping the virtual training program; but, she has put together a “Smart VA Starter Series” for those who don’t want to wait for the program to be finished.)

Danielle Keister is a veteran Administrative Consultant extraordinaire and creator of the Administrative Consultants Association. The Administrative Consultants Association is an online community and resource center for administrative experts. Danielle offers her expertise and knowledge to help others create successful and satisfying careers as an Administrative Consultant (a.k.a. Virtual Assistant – but more on the difference between a VA and ASC next week!). Her “straight-shooting advice” and value pricing business model has transformed my business!

In short, if you are looking to be a truly successful Virtual Assistant RUN, DON’T WALK, to Assistu and ACA!

(Confused about the switch from “Virtual Assistant” to “Administrative Consultant” in my post this week? Next week I’ll explain why I’ve stopped using the term “Virtual Assistant” and now use “Administrative Support Consultant” [thanks to Danielle Keister, who coined the term] instead.)


Virtual Assistance 101: What a Virtual Assistant is NOT

Okay, so last week we talked about what a Virtual Assistant IS. This week I want to talk about what a Virtual Assistant ISN’T. This is important because what a Virtual Assistant isn’t, plays a big part in the misconceptions surrounding Virtual Assistance.

A Virtual Assistant is not a telecommuter. A telecommuter is an employee who works several (or every day) days from home. A telecommuter generally reports to a supervisor and his or her work is overseen by said supervisor. A Virtual Assistant does work from home, but she reports to no one but herself

A Virtual Assistant is not an employee. A Virtual Assistant is a self-employed entrepreneur and business owner. She decides her own hours and business polices polices. She pays her own taxes and expenses. She alone determines what services she will or will not provide, when she will work and how much she will charge. She owns her own equipment and supplies. A Virtual Assistant is an equal partner in her clients’ success.

This is important. There are clients (or potential clients) who treat VAs like glorified employees. And, unfortunately, there are Virtual Assistants who allow themselves to be treated as a glorified employee. However, if the independent contractor and employee lines are blurred too much, both the VA and/or client can open up trouble for themselves with the IRS.

A Virtual Assistant is not a “single-service” provider. Remember the definition of Virtual Assistance? A Virtual Assistant offers across the board administrative services; therefore, a VA does not offer only one service exclusively. For example: A VA may offer proofreading services; however, if that is her only service, than she is a proofreader, not a VA. Or, a VA may offer graphic design services; however, if that is all she offers, than she is a graphic designer, not a VA.

That’s not to say that a Virtual Assistant doesn’t offer the above or other services as a companion to her Virtual Assistant practice. There are many VAs (like myself) who offer web design or copy writing or other services according to their expertise alongside their VA services. These side services have their own prices and policies that are different from the VA business.

One last thing: Sometimes on the ‘net I’ve come across a “top ten ways to work from home” article or blog post that includes Virtual Assistance as an option. That’s great and all, but often on these lists you’ll find Virtual Assistance lumped in with doing surveys or cold calling.

Virtual Assistance is NOT some easy way to make a quick buck from home. Virtual Assistance is a career choice made by smart, talented, experienced women.

Now that we’ve covered what a Virtual Assistant is and isn’t, we will move on to two different areas of Virtual Assistance: Becoming a Virtual Assistant and following that, (for those who don’t want to be a Virtual Assistant but rather need assistance) how to choose the right Virtual Assistant for you.