How many virtual assistants are currently working in the United States or abroad? The numbers vary depending on where you source your information. In 2004 there were upwards of 2500 to over 3000, today's numbers have most likely doubled. Any business magazine, such as Entrepreneur or Inc., will tell you that virtual assisting is one of today’s fast growing industries.
What makes becoming a virtual assistant so appealing? The primary reason is the ability to fit the work in with your current life style. With so many people needing to stay home and take care of elderly parents or sick children, virtual assisting allows more flexibility then your average 9-5 job. This “benefit“, however, also makes it a more difficult profession regarding flexibility.
How easy is it to begin a virtual assistant business? The starter steps are just like those you would find in any other home-based business. Don’t be misled, however, being successful in the business takes a lot of hard work before you can reap the rewards.
There are initial questions you may want to consider, including:
- What type of services would you offer and to whom you would offer the services to?
- How would you market your business and access clients?
- Determine the time and energy commitment it will take in lieu of your other activities.
- Do you have the equipment necessary to do the job? This includes a computer, fax, answering machine, printers, etc… If you already own quality equipment, start up costs should be relatively low.
What type of services could you offer? It’s basically up to you. Administrative Assistant services, phone answering services - the possibilities are endless. One warning, however, it’s important not to overextend yourself. Quality in this case, is infinitely more important then quantity. One raving fan client will bring you more business then ten dissatisfied clients will.
What about the personal side of being a virtual assistant? As an entrepreneur, you will need to not only market your own business, but also pay taxes and provide your own health care coverage and other personal expenses. There is also the time commitment you will need to make. Unless you restrain your business to local clients, you will be dealing with different time zones. Your clients across the country will expect you to be awake during their business hours. They really won’t care about your need for sleep.
Virtual assistants are independent contractors. They are not alone, however. There are many organizations and associations that support this fast growing profession. Before you decide to embark on this journey, do your research. Virtual assisting can be just the career you need to fit your lifestyle.