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Starting and Succeeding with Your Virtual Assistant Business

ALINA MIDORI HERMÁNDEZ

13 min

·

November 28, 2023

As the world focuses more on the digital world, the demand for virtual assistants (VA) has significantly increased. With the rise of remote work culture, virtual assistants can provide support from –virtually– any location with decent internet access. 

Being a virtual assistant means you get a laid-back work environment that can afford you considerable flexibility and autonomy, enabling you to work from diverse locations worldwide while securing an income. 

It all sounds exciting and ideal; however, is VA a dream job? What’s the reality behind starting a virtual assistant business? 

In this article, we’ll show you how to become a virtual assistant, the current job landscape for virtual assistants, and the steps to turn your passion for organization and productivity into a thriving business with this essential guide for success.

What is a virtual assistant?

Let’s start with the basics. A virtual assistant (VA) is a professional who provides support and services to businesses remotely. The range of tasks a virtual assistant handles is vast and depends on the industry. Here are some of the most standard responsibilities:

  • Administrative tasks. This includes scheduling appointments, managing calendars, taking phone calls, sending emails, setting up meetings, and data entry.
  • Customer support. Answering customer inquiries, as well as providing product or service information and assistance, and resolving issues or complaints.
  • Social media management. Creating and scheduling posts, engaging with followers, running ad campaigns, and analyzing performance metrics.
  • Content creation. Writing blog posts, newsletters, and content for social media, as well as basic graphic design tasks for digital content.
  • Bookkeeping. Managing invoices, processing payments, keeping track of expenses, and sometimes basic accounting.
  • Personal assistant tasks. Making travel arrangements, shopping, and handling personal matters or scheduling.
  • Project management. Planning, executing, and tracking projects, coordinating with other team members –when applicable, and meeting deadlines.
  • Technical support. Answering inquiries which come into the contact center, providing basic IT support, website maintenance, and troubleshooting for clients.

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Leveraging e-commerce platforms for business growth

In addition to the standard tasks a virtual assistant handles, there’s a growing trend of VAs being instrumental in managing and optimizing e-commerce platforms for a variety of businesses. This includes tasks like product listing, inventory management, and customer service specific to online sales.

A popular avenue for people who want to grow their business is leveraging on demand printing services, which offer a low-risk, cost-effective way to sell custom products online.

Printful, for instance, provides an extensive range of services from custom clothing and merchandise creation to integrations with popular e-commerce platforms like Shopify. 

For a virtual assistant, understanding how to utilize tools like Printful’s mockup generator or navigating their integration options, such as Shopify integration, can add immense value to clients who are looking to expand or streamline their online store. 

By offering assistance in setting up and managing an online store through platforms like Printful, a virtual assistant can broaden their range of services, catering to clients in the e-commerce sector and significantly enhancing their business prospects.

Having said that, virtual assistants typically work for multiple clients across different industries. This means that you should be ready to adapt and fit the specific needs of each of your clients. Regardless, if you stick to a certain industry, you can specialize and become a more seasoned virtual assistant for certain tasks.

Virtual assistant demographics and statistics

Currently, there are thousands of people working as VAs worldwide. Let’s go into the demographics and statistics surrounding virtual assistants. By examining the profile of individuals working in this field, their education levels, geographic distribution, and the industries they serve, you can gain valuable insights into the growing popularity and impact of remote virtual assistant work.

For example, Global Workplace Analytics says remote workers can be 35% to 40% more productive than their office counterparts, which is a point in favor of supporting remote virtual assistant jobs. 

Another key statistic is that 87.6% of virtual assistants are women, 12.4% are men, and the most prevalent age group is 40+ years old, as shown in the graphs below. 

virtual assistant gender statistics

virtual assistant age breakdown

Regarding education, most virtual assistants, 54%, have a bachelor’s degree as their highest level of education. Associate degrees are the next most prevalent education level among virtual assistants, with 22% completing a two-year associate’s program. An additional 9% of virtual assistants hold a high school diploma.

virutal ssistant demographics

(source: Zippia.com)

Why you should start a business as a virtual assistant?

Now it’s time to discover the reasons to launch into the dynamics of virtual assistance. In this section, we’ll show you the benefits, from the freedom to work remotely and set your own hours to the potential for diverse tasks to the cons that may emerge while choosing this career path. 

Discover how to transition from full-time employment to a thriving freelance career.

Pros of starting a virtual assistant business

If you’re still not 100% convinced about embarking on this new career, we’ve gathered valuable information to consider becoming a virtual assistant for your next big career move. 

Take a look at these ten advantages of becoming a virtual assistant:

  • Work flexibility. You can set your own schedule and work hours, providing a great balance between professional and personal life.
  • Remote work. Work from anywhere with an internet connection, whether from home, a coffee shop, or while traveling  –and be happy about it. According to a study by Tracking Happiness, employee happiness increases up to 20% by getting to work 100% remotely.

virtual assistant work remotely

(Source: Trackinghappiness.com)

  • Variety of tasks. This kind of job often involves a diverse range of activities, so it’s less likely you’ll get bored with repetitive work.
  • Low start-up costs. Starting a virtual assistant business requires minimal upfront investment, primarily a computer and reliable internet.
  • High demand. With the increased remote work, there’s a growing demand for virtual assistance across industries.
  • Learning opportunities. You’ll learn about various aspects of different businesses, which can enhance your skill set and experience.
  • Control over your workload. You can decide how much work to take on and scale your business according to your capacity and availability.
  • Minimal commuting. You can say goodbye to the daily commute and the stress and expenses that come with it.
  • Independence. As a virtual assistant, you’re somehow your own boss, giving you a sense of autonomy and entrepreneurial freedom.
  • Networking. You get to build connections with various clients and other professionals, which can open up more growth opportunities.

Cons of starting a virtual assistant business

After exploring the benefits of becoming a virtual assistant, the reality is that there are also negative sides to starting a business as a VA.

To inform your decision, here are some potential drawbacks and challenges of pursuing a career as a virtual assistant:

  • Irregular income. When you’re self-employed, income can fluctuate, making financial planning more challenging.
  • Difficulty finding clients. It can be challenging and time-consuming to market your services and secure new clients continuously.
  • No employee benefits. You won’t have traditional employee benefits like health insurance, paid leave, or a retirement plan.
  • Isolation. Working remotely as a VA can sometimes lead to feelings of loneliness or isolation without a physical team around.
  • Work-life balance. It can be hard to separate work from personal life, especially when your home is also your office.
  • Overwork. There’s a risk of overworking yourself, especially when you’re starting and trying to grow your business. Also, it can become a bit too much when you say yes to managing multiple clients.
  • Distractions at home. Maintaining focus can be challenging with the potential distractions of home life.
  • Self-discipline. Staying productive requires a high level of self-motivation. It is crucial to have self-discipline to deal with the lack of structure of a traditional office.
  • Multitasking stress. You may often need to juggle tasks from different clients, which can be stressful and overwhelming.
  • Technology dependence. Your work depends heavily on your internet connection and functioning technology; if either fails, it can directly impact your ability to work.

How to start a virutal assistant business?

Embarking on this journey as a virtual assistant offers exceptional flexibility and the chance to carve your own professional path. This section has compiled the essential steps to launch your virtual assistant business. 

Once you follow these steps and identify a niche to build a strong client base, you’ll be on your way to growing your VA career in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

Starting a virtual assistant business checklist?

1. Decide what services you will offer

In order to decide the services that you’ll offer as a virtual assistant, consider your skills, experience, and interests. Identify the tasks you excel at and enjoy doing. 

Research the market and identify the in-demand services that clients are seeking. Think about your target audience and its specific needs. It’s also helpful to analyze the competition and see what services they offer to find ways to differentiate yourself. 

Experiment and refine your service offerings based on client feedback and market demand.

2. Assess your skills and experience

Once you’ve pinpointed who you could assist and the ways you can be of service, take stock of your own abilities and background. What abilities do your clients expect in a virtual assistant? Which of your current skills can be leveraged to bring value to your clients? 

Identify areas where your skill set may be lacking and plan how to bridge those gaps.

3. Display your services online

Besides using popular talent platforms, you can display your services as a VA using your skills and creativity. To promote yourself online as a freelance virtual assistant:

  • Create a professional website, profile, or portfolio that showcases your skills, services, and previous work. 
  • Clearly state the tasks you specialize in and the industries you can cater to. 
  • Use testimonials, real-life examples, and even client reviews to build credibility and include a clear call-to-action so potential clients can contact you easily. 
  • Optimize your presence on platforms and professional networking sites to reach a wider audience.

Pro tip: Keep your role descriptions concise. This way, your profile will display better on search results.

Linkedin role descriptions concise

(Source: Linkedin.com)

4. Look for virtual assistant jobs

For instance, to find remote virtual assistant jobs on LinkedIn, optimize your profile to highlight your skills and experience. To achieve this, use targeted keywords and phrases that describe your skills and services. 

Also, search for relevant job postings using the job search feature or reach out directly to potential clients through messaging. Be sure to highlight your availability to work remotely and your ability to communicate and collaborate virtually.

Pro tip: Want to stand out? Follow companies with a history of hiring virtual assistants and engage with their content.

Follow companies on Linkedin

(Source: Linkedin.com)

Where to find virtual assistant jobs?

Finding remote virtual assistant jobs has become easier than ever with the rise of online job platforms and freelance marketplaces. 

One option is to browse popular sites such as Upwork or Freelancer, where clients post job listings for virtual assistants. You can create a profile on these platforms, post about your skills and experience, and bid on relevant projects. 

According to Forbes, these are the best virtual assistant services of 2023:

  • Fancy Hands

Fancy Hands is perfect for people seeking efficient completion of straightforward tasks without the need for extensive negotiation on pricing. It is designed to be an immediate, on-demand solution ensuring swift action.

dedicated assistant

  • Time etc

The founder of Time etc is Barnaby Lashbrooke, who was inspired by Penni Pike, a virtual assistant for the renowned entrepreneur Richard Branson. Lashbrooke takes pride in sourcing and training virtual assistants who are dedicated to helping entrepreneurs.

Meet a vritual assistant

  • Uassist.ME

Uassist.ME is an El Salvador-founded company that caters to small to medium-sized businesses. It offers the advantage of bilingual virtual assistants capable of working in any required time zone.

virtual assistant tech support

  • Prialto

Prialto is well-equipped to cater to the considerable requirements of entire teams and organizations by fostering a team environment for clients.

Virtual assistant improve productivity

  • WoodBows

With a 98% retention rate and specialized task assignments, as a virtual assistant from WoodBows you can communicate with your clients through phone, email, text, and video chat.

Hire Virtual professionals

If you don’t find these platforms helpful, networking can also be valuable, as word-of-mouth referrals and recommendations can lead to job opportunities. 

Also, joining virtual assistant forums or groups on social media platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook can provide insights and connections to potential clients. 

Another way of expanding your business possibilities is by reaching out directly to small businesses, entrepreneurs, or busy professionals who may benefit from virtual assistance services as a proactive approach to finding job opportunities.

What do virtual assistant do?

Virtual assistants provide services to startups, entrepreneurs, and businesses of all sizes to assist their daily operations. 

As a VA, you can work independently as a freelancer, managing your own virtual assistant business and serving multiple clients simultaneously. This allows you to handle short-term projects with varying durations, and if you’re enjoying what you’re doing, you can seek long-term job positions. 

The online course provider Coursera reviewed several talent marketplaces to showcase the diverse range of virtual assistant service offerings: 

the work of a virtual assistant

(Soruce: Coursera.org)

Wrap up

Now that you’ve learned everything there is to know about how to become a virtual assistant, you can start a promising and flexible career path when seeking remote work.

As a virtual assistant, you can be a valuable asset to potential clients or employers by focusing on essential communication, time management, and organization skills. 

Additionally, seeking specialized training and certifications can help set you apart in a competitive market. Embracing technology and updating the latest tools and software can also enhance productivity and efficiency

Your success will lie in dedicating yourself to continuous learning, adapting to changing industry trends and providing exceptional service to clients. With the right mindset and determination, you can start –and grow– your virtual assistant business.

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ALINA MIDORI HERMÁNDEZ

Content Writer at Envato

Journalist-turned-content writer at Envato. She’s passionate about design and the creative industry.

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