Virtual Assistant Careers and Businesses are a growth area, and they offer an exciting opportunity for Executive Assistants, PAs and other administrative professionals. It is a modern career that uses technology to provide Virtual support to your business and your customers. Naturally, any business based on technology is bound to be a growth area. However, many people who become Virtual Assistant find their new career challenging.
Types of Virtual Assistants
There are two types of Virtual Assistants. We have Virtual Assistants who are their own bosses and set up VA Businesses. Most of our members have found this option particularly popular. Virtual Assistants are employed or self-employed working for an agency or large company. These provide virtual support in varying ways but are not running their own business.
How to Become a Virtual Assistant
We will focus on the more popular option of setting up your own VA Business. The core requirement for being a successful VA has good administrative and office IT skills. This essentially means that you must have solid Assistant related skills. Many of your clients are likely to be smaller businesses. Hence, you may find more simple administrative than if you opted to be an Executive Assistant in a more significant business.
Core skills in terms of administration will include:
- Email Management
- Travel Management
- Diary Management
- Telephone skills
- Organising meetings
- Attending meetings
- Minute Taking
- Social Media Management
- Invoicing and simple Bookkeeping
- and more
All of the skills listed above are covered in typical PA Courses. Additionally, your IT skills will be particularly important due to the dependency on systems to be a Virtual Assistant. Given that you will be alone, your abilities to use IT systems and learn to use them with being more critical than if you are employed as an Assistant:
- Microsoft Excel
- Microsoft Outlook
- Microsoft PowerPoint
- Microsoft Teams or Zoom
- Trello, Asana or other planning tools
- ERP systems like SAP, Oracle, Sage, Netsuite etc
- CRM systems
- Google Office equivalents to the Microsoft Office programmes above
- Office 365
This article states that you need to be an excellent office administrator and have the key skills of a good Executive Assistant or PA. However, we have spoken to many VAs and VA Agencies to find the key to success for a Virtual Assistant. We found a common pattern in their responses. This opinion is that being an excellent Executive Assistant or PA does not automatically make you a successful Virtual Assistant.
Successful VA Businesses
As with all businesses, you need lots of customers to be able to retain customers. Therefore, you will need excellent Sales and Marketing skills to attain customers in the first place. You will need the ability to attract customers with excellent digital marketing. This can include a website optimised to be found on google, social media and other forms of marketing. However, people will not likely sign up without speaking to you. You will need to be good at sales and customer relationship building. Although Executive Assistants are often good at networking and building relationships, they often complain that the dynamics differ from Virtual Assistants.
Customer Relations Skills
Sales and Marketing are key, especially digital marketing. This is not the whole story, though, because when you have a customer, you have to work hard to keep them. This means excellent customer service skills, empathising with the customer’s needs and keeping an eye on any competition that tries to take your customers. Client care is something an EA or PA will need to deliver in their roles, but a relationship with a manager and a customer is not always the same.
One notable VA agency that employs Virtual Assistants stated that they do not want to hire failed VAs. They believe poor customer service skills will undermine many failing VA businesses. For this reason, they prefer not to hire a failing VA due to the risk that they do not provide good customer service on behalf of the agency.