How To Become A Virtual Assistant?
I have been getting a lot of people ask me “how do I become a Virtual Assistant?” So, I thought I would write a post which answers that question. I just want to make it clear that I am not a coach or mentor, so I am limited in the amount of assistance I can provide you. I do however know several different coaches/ mentors, as well as support groups and resources which I would be happy to share with you, just send me a message.
Essentials every VA needs to know
A lot of people wonder what exactly you need in order to become a Virtual Assistant, well there are only two things that a Virtual Assistant must have –
- An internet connection
- A laptop/ computer
As long as you have access to those two vital pieces of equipment, you can become a Virtual Assistant. A lot of aspiring Virtual Assistants worry that they are not experienced enough or do not have the right skills. However, a lot of Virtual Assistants when they first started did not know everything, but the used their strengths and utilised what they know.
A lot of the knowledge established Virtual Assistants acquire they have learnt as time has gone on. It’s extremely common for Virtual Assistants to start on one path but then end up somewhere completely different, a lot of Virtual Assistants fall into their niche/ specialism.
How to become a Virtual Assistant
There are many ways which you can become a Virtual Assistant, and all of these come with pros and cons. I am going to cover 4 different methods, there may be other ways, but these are the most common routes which I am aware of.
So many people become Virtual Assistants by –
- Joining a Virtual Assistant agency
- Buying into a Virtual Assistant franchise
- Setting up their own Virtual Assistant business
- Working under an established Virtual Assistant
There are many Virtual Assistant agencies out there, the best part about working for an agency is that quite often all you will be responsible for is doing the client work, everything else is taken care of. You will be working (often on a self-employed basis) on behalf of the agency, therefore, they will assign clients to you, they often have minimum requirements for Virtual Assistants to apply (experience/ location/ availability/ etc), they may also want you to work a certain way/ use certain systems. The rate of pay for working for an agency is often a lot lower than other methods, however, there are very little costs for the Virtual Assistant as the business side is taken care of by the agency.
Each agency will have it’s own requirements and way of working so be sure to contact each one individually for more information.
You can also buy into a franchise, this means that, again, you are working on behalf of another business however you will be required to invest money in order to operate your own business under the franchises name. Franchises will provide you with all the training, resources, and support required in order to start up and run your own business. They do, however, require a substantial investment in order to operate a business so you will need to ensure that you will be able to fund/ afford this before signing any agreement.
As with the agencies, each franchise will have it’s own requirements and way of working so be sure to contact each one individually for more information.
Own Business/ working under an established VA
You can also start up your own Virtual Assistant business, this means that you will have complete control over the clients you see, the rates your charge, the systems you use, the branding of the business, etc. You are also however complete responsible for sourcing clients, financial commitments, marketing, legal compliance, etc. Basically, you will be responsible for every part of the business. This can be very daunting at first but there is a lot of help and support out there, free and paid. Setting up your own business is extremely rewarding but also incredibility hard, there is no quick fix.
If you do decide to set up your own business then I suggest you do not do it completely alone. There is a lot of support, advice, and resources available. This can come in the form of a coach/ mentor, course, group, network, or working under an established Virtual Assistant. As mentioned above this can be free or paid support.
If you want to work under an established Virtual Assistant, this is usually done as an associate or subcontractor. This basically means that you are operating your own business, however, an established Virtual Assistant is offloading some of their workload to you. This can work in two ways; the most common way is that the client contract is held with the established Virtual Assistant and they pay you a percentage. However, occasionally the contract with the client will be held by you and you pay the established Virtual Assistant a finder’s fee, however, this is more the exception than the rule. This can be a nice alternative to your own business as often gaining clients is the part that Virtual Assistants struggle with the most.
How to decide the best route for you?
As I mentioned before, there are pros and cons to each of the methods mentioned, however, the main question you will need to ask is how much control you want? If you have no interest in starting your own business, then it’s best to go for an agency. If you want your own business but you are not fussed about branding, etc then consider a franchise. If you want your own business but you are unsure about generating clients, then see if you can find work as an associate/ subcontractor. However, if you want complete control over all aspects of your business, including which clients you work with, then look into how to set up your own business.
If I am completely honest, you do not have to pick just one method, you can go down more than one route or even start one way and in time go down another route. Just make sure you check all contracts/ agreements to ensure there aren’t any restrictions on any other similar work you do.
Whatever you decide to do, ensure you do your research. Do not agree to anything unless you are 100% certain about what you are agreeing to.
If you are considering starting your own Virtual Assistant business, then you can get support and advice from the Society of Virtual Assistants and/ or the International Virtual Assistants Association.
Both these organisations are not for profit and are there to provide support and assistance to Virtual Assistants and to also raise awareness about the Virtual Assistant industry.
Membership for the Society of Virtual Assistants is free to those based in the UK, however, they do request a donation, but this is not mandatory.
Membership for the International Virtual Assistants Association starts from $137 for regular membership, $44 for a 3-month trial, and $37 for