Do You Need Special Certification Or Training To Become A VA?

Do You Need Special Certification Or Training To Become A VA?

Virtual Assistants or VAs are in high demand. They provide administrative help to people around the world. It’s a growing field and a great opportunity. If you’re considering becoming a virtual assistant, congratulations. Being self employed offers a number of benefits.

Before you get started there are a few things you’ll want to have. One of those things may be a certification or specialized training. While you don’t have to have any formal training to succeed as a VA, it can certainly help.

The Benefits of Certification and/or Training

While VA certification and training isn’t required to start your own successful business it can help. Certification can:

Help set you apart from your competition. Some potential clients may choose you over your competition because you’re certified. You can use your certification as a marketing tool.

Help you establish a profitable business. Many virtual assistant training programs walk their students through the entire process of starting your own business. You’ll cover the skills and trainings clients want you to know. You’ll also learn how to market and grow your VA business. Your certification and training can help justify higher hourly rates.

Broaden your skills and knowledge. You may already have a few marketable skills. You can, of course use these to build your VA business. A certification or training program can help you add more skills and knowledge to your portfolio of services. Many training programs offer technical skills and training. You’ll be able to offer more.

Specialized knowledge means higher fees. Some VA training programs offer very specialized knowledge. This knowledge can mean you are able to demand a higher hourly rate.

Confidence booster. There’s just something helpful about going through a training program. When you pass your certification test you may feel more prepared to start your business. Confidence does matter when dealing with clients. If you’re confident in your skills, your clients will be too.

Networking. Some training programs offer you the ability to connect with other VAs. This can be extremely helpful. It’s nice to be able to connect with others who are going through the same challenges.

Choosing a Training Program

Because VAs are in such high demand, there are a number of programs to choose from. Make sure the program you choose:

* Fits your budget.
* Offers the training and information you want or need to learn.
* Is well-reviewed by other virtual assistants.

Do you need to be certified to own a successful VA business? No, absolutely not. VAs around the globe are making a good living without certification. Can certification help you achieve success? Yes. VA certification and training offers a number of business-building benefits.

How to Get That First Client

Congratulations! You’ve set up your VA business and are ready for your first client. It’s a big step and one that deserves celebrating. So now that you’re ready to work, how do you get that first client? Consider these options:

Job Board

Job boards are a wonderful tool. They can help you launch your business. They can provide a consistent income while you’re building your business. And when you have the eventual dips in your schedule or slow season you can use them to provide additional income.

As a virtual assistant, you may want to focus your attention solely on job boards for virtual assistants. There are all encompassing freelance job boards. These generally require a membership. The freelance job board can serve its purpose. However, you may find better clients via a VA job board. Check out both options and choose the opportunities that are right for you.

Always research your potential client. Make sure they’re legitimate and that they follow through on their commitments. Some job boards simply work like classified ads. You apply for the position and communicate directly with the client. Others work as a go-between. All agreements, payments and work are managed through the job site. Both situations have their pros and cons. Again, make sure you’re working with a legitimate company and job site. Check references. Read reviews. Most opportunities are legitimate. However, it always pays to be safe.

Use Your Resources

When you’re ready for that first client, tell your friends and family. Send an email to your associates. Let everyone know what you’re able to provide. Your Rolodex of contacts is a great place to get started. With a few simple email messages and phone calls you’ll likely land a few great clients. There’s no shame in using your resources. And there really are no better clients than those who are referred to you from friends, family and associates.

Network

If you’re not already active on a social networking site, get a profile and start connecting. Networking online is a wonderful way to market your services. It’s also a great way to meet new people.

Network offline too. Join your local SBA. Become a member of your Chamber of Commerce. Participate in local meet-ups and networking events. Make sure you have a business card and a positive attitude when you’re networking. (A website is a must too.)

Also consider:

  • Making sure your business is listed on your local online business directory
  • Advertising
  • Article marketing
  • Blogging/guest blogging
  • Posting flyers around town

There are many ways to market your VA business. Knock on doors. Connect with people online and in your community. Use your resources and explore your opportunities. You’ll have a full schedule in no time.

What you Need to Get Started as a Virtual Assistant

One of the great things about a VA business is that it’s easy to start. You really don’t need much to launch a successful business. That being said, there are some steps you’ll want to take before you hang up your “open for business” sign.

Office Equipment

You’re a virtual assistant which means you’ll need equipment to help you work virtually. This means a:

* Computer
* Backup storage or system – you can backup files online so an external drive isn’t necessary.
* Copier/scanner/fax
* Internet connection
* Desk and chair
* File cabinet/file system
* Transcription software and equipment if you’re offering transcription
* Telephone and related equipment like a headset so you can talk hands free

You likely already have much of that equipment. If not, you don’t have to spend a fortune. Take a look at flea markets and resale stores for some of the furniture. If you don’t have a computer, most experts recommend buying the best you can afford. Your business will be based on your computer so a good one helps.

Business Equipment

You’re going to want a few basics to help you market and manage your business. These include but are not limited to:

* Business Plan – this is most important! It should include your budget, goals, marketing strategy, operations, policies and procedures and so on. Create a plan so you succeed!
* Website and/or blog
* Social networking profile
* Email account for business
* Telephone number for business
* Invoicing system
* Bookkeeping software
* Content management system or delivery system. How will you deliver client work to them?
* Services agreement/Work for hire agreement
* Personal insurance: health, dental, life etc. When you’re self-employed insurance is your responsibility.
* Bank account for business
* Organization tools: calendar, notebooks, whatever helps you get and stay organized
* Business services software. What software do you need to provide your services? For example, if you offer transcription you’ll need transcription software.

Again, you may have much of this already. And most of these basics don’t cost much. You can spend a lot on software so be careful. Only buy what you really need.

Personal Equipment

Okay, so your home office is set and you have a solid business plan. What else do you need to get started?

* Enthusiasm
* Motivation
* Positive Mindset
* Administrative skills
* Marketing knowledge (Read a few good books on marketing your business, you’ll be set.)

Not bad, right? If you already have a computer you can likely start your VA business for just a few hundred dollars. Many have started with nothing at all and made a huge success of their VA skills. Create a checklist. Create a plan. Create the success you desire.

How To Start a Home-Based Word Processing Business

How To Build A Virtual Assistant Business

by Janice Byer and Elayne Whitfield-Parr, Founders, CVAC

elayne-bookAlthough the term “Virtual Assistant” is still very new to the business community, there are thousands of home-based administrative workers around the world who now refer to themselves as VAs.  The opportunities for the professional services offered by these VAs are endless.

So, how exactly do you start and build a Virtual Assistant practice, let alone expand it to a level where other VAs are working with you? The first thing you need to do is determine if you have those necessary skills. Having a computer does not make you a VA. You really need to have some real-life experience doing the tasks that are generally expected of VAs. If you have a background in the administrative field or a history of providing other VA-related services, you are well on your way to having what it takes to build a successful Virtual Assistant practice.

You also need to ensure that you have the passion and commitment to make your business successful. “If you build it, they will come,” does not work in the real world of building a small business. You also need to learn how to actually run a small business so the following are just some ideas for starting your Virtual Assistant business.

One of the first steps you will take will be deciding on a name for your business. Many VAs have ‘Virtual Assistant or Assistance’ in their business names. This definitely helps others to determine what you do (well… if they know what a VA is and does) much more than if you pull some name out of a hat and use it just because you like it. Make your business name meaningful, easy to pronounce and understand, and easily adaptable should you decide to change the focus of your business.

Once you have decided on your business name, it is time to register it. Every province and state in every country has different procedures that they require you to follow so your best bet is to contact your local small business enterprise centre or local government office and they will help you with everything that needs to be done.

Next step… your business plan. You don’t necessarily need to write out a formal business plan, although you do need to plan your business.  Planning your business is 100% thinking, analyzing, investigating, choosing and decision-making.

Some benefits of producing a business plan include:

  • the process of preparing a business plan will force you to think about your business, research some options, recognize opportunities and risks, and test some of your assumptions;
  • a business plan will help you identify the cash needs of your business;
  • a business plan can be used to raise funds from banks and investors;
  • a business plan provides a benchmark against which to compare the progress and performance of your business.

It is a good idea for all businesses to prepare and regularly update their business plans.   Once you have made the decision to start your Virtual Assistant business and have made a plan of action, it is time to set up your office. Your office equipment is extremely important to the success of your business. You need to have the most current software to provide the best services as well as an up-to-date and reliable computer system. Other peripherals that you will need could include a multi-line phone system with an answering machine and a printer that allows you to scan and perhaps even fax. You may also need to get other dedicated equipment depending on the services that you will offer.

Once your office is set up and you have determined what services you will be offering, it is time to think about how you will market your business and who you will target your marketing to. Your first step will be to develop your business cards and other marketing pieces. You may want to have a brochure ready to hand out at networking events and possibly provide in a direct email campaign. Other means of getting the word out about your business should include a website and you can also write articles for distribution both online and in print publications as well as offer an online newsletter which can help you have a form of keeping in touch with your clients and contacts.

Owning and operating your own Virtual Assistant business can be very rewarding but does require a lot of work. However, if you are passionate about making your business a success, the entire journey will be a labour of love.

This article is just a taste of How to Build a Successful Virtual Assistant Business. You may also need help with determining your rates; getting clients; training and certifications; moving your business; and even expanding your business. The new book of the same name as this article, written by Janice Byer & Elayne Whitfield-Parr, has over 200 pages of information to help you with these and other challenges that you may face during all aspects of running your business. Visit http://www.howtobuildavirtualassistantbusiness.com for more information and to order your copy.