Virtual Assistant (VA)

Find out more about the role of a Virtual Assistant (VA)

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Like a PA, Virtual Assistants handle a huge variety of tasks, but the key difference is, they are also running their own business, remotely from home.

Virtual Assistants are becoming an ever more popular choice for businesses who are not only trying to keep staff costs and overheads as low as possible, but also some large organisations are using VA’s to help keep their business open and accessible 24/7. If a business contracts the services of a VA from another time zone, phone lines can be kept manned, emails can be answered no matter what the time which all equates to a thriving, and hopefully, profitable business.

Running your own VA business means that you need to have a unique skillset (which you can read more on below) and a regimented approach is required to ensure that your business is running at its optimal level but also that the service you’re providing your clients is manageable and professionally conducted.

Your clients will come to you to ask for support with any number of tasks. What you do can depend on what the business you’re supporting does but you can see below for some of the most popular tasks VA’s are asked to do. This does mean that you need to be prepared to understand how other businesses and industries operate, which will help you provide a top quality service.

A lot of the clients you work with may utilise you on an ad-hoc basis to help with large scale projects or during particularly busy business trading periods. The majority of clients will contract your VA services on a set number of hours per week or month with the option of adjustment if needed. The beauty of working as a VA means you’re your own boss. You’ll be able to dictate your working hours so if you’ve family commitments to work around, you can do this with ease. Others simply like the appeal of working flexibly from home for different clients rather than just in one business.

The specifics

There are two sides to the role of a VA.

As the owner of your own business you will need to have an excellent grip on all essential aspects of running your own company, such as:

  • Web design
  • Social Media management – from a business perspective
  • Managing all aspects of Marketing and PR for your business
  • Business development abilities - to attract new clients, retain them and expand where required
  • Managing your company accounts and finances

As a Virtual Assistant you could be asked by your clients to do any number of tasks such as: -

  • Manage and control diaries
  • Organise travel and accommodation
  • Typing of business correspondence and reports
  • Database management
  • Liaising with customers or clients
  • Handling incoming telephone enquiries
  • Book-keeping
  • Market Research tasks
  • Social Media management

What skills and training do I need to be a Virtual Assistant?

One of the most important skills you’ll need is the ability to self-motivate as working from home and running your own business requires dedication and drive.

Other skills include:

  • Business acumen to help start and grow your own company
  • Excellent communication, interpersonal and networking skills
  • Great organisational and project management skills
  • Good understanding of basic business operations across different industries to help offer clients as comprehensive a support service as possible with little settling in time
  • Strong IT skills across a number of different platforms (such as Sage Accounting software and Microsoft Office programmes)
  • Trustworthy and discrete

Training-wise, again, you need to ensure you have abilities in both areas that you need to focus on – running your own business and assisting your clients with their business needs.

If this is the first business venture you’ve started, gaining some understanding on business structure and law,business accounts and how to market your business is essential.

When trying to attract new clients, you’ll need skills on platforms such as social media and in marketing and PR to generate awareness and interest in your service. Then, once you’re meeting a potential client, it’s always advantageous if you can show them proven skills or qualifications you’ve gained. This will lead them to trust that you’ll be able to provide a professional service.

One of our new Diplomas here at Pitman Training has been specifically designed to provide a great range of skills for those looking to work as a Virtual Assistant, click here for more details.

If you’ve already got a good grounding on some of the skills required, you could look to refresh certain subjects or progress your knowledge to a more advanced level. For example, we offer Microsoft Word to anExpert level, Microsoft Excel also has an Expert Level if required. There are also a number of other Diplomas and courses in areas such as Social Media which can help add to your skillset so you can offer a client as full a range of support as possible.

What sort of wage will I earn?

This is quite a hard question to answer, in the main this is due to the fact that VA’s are able to set their own working hours and many work part-time.

If you’re working full-time hours, with a full client list, you can expect to earn on par with office based Personal Assistants. Many appreciate that even if there is a slight drop in annual salary, this is levelled out by the removal of costs such as commuting, lunches buying smart office work wear. To give a roundabout figure, depending on the service you’re being utilised to do, skilled VA’s can charge between £15 to £25 per hour.

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