If you're organized, smart, capable and willing to work with deadlines, you could start a virtual assistance business and cash in on your skills without having to commit to an employer (you'd be your own boss instead) or the “cube life". A VA (virtual assistant) is basically like an administrative assistant (or whatever duties need to be filled, such as writing, link building etc) that serves in a virtual capacity. What this means is that they are independent contractors, and not employees of individual companies.
VA's get to set their own rates, their own hours and most importantly, get to pick and choose as to who they will and won't take as clients. They can choose what duties they are willing to perform and what duties are not in the repertoire. They can start their own VA firms or gain business through those already established. And with the boom of the Internet, virtual assistants are in becoming more and more utilized by companies around the globe.
According to the Virtual Business Alliance , virtual assisting (of whom most are female) will be a 130 billion dollar industry before the year 2008. In fact, many women see the trend and are entering the field with high hopes of where they can be a few years from now.
Christina Cole is the owner of www.virtualcontentandmore.com – a virtual assisting business who caters primarily to webmasters looking for content and link development services – and has found being a VA to be very rewarding. “I started my business by doing odd services for friends of mine who owned multiple websites and became overwhelmed due to too many things needing to be done and not enough time. I liked the work and before I knew it, those friends had referred me to friends and I had a full time booming business. "
While not all VA's have “formal" training, some of them elect to by attending VA courses like those offered through VirtualAssistanceU and AssistU . But, if a person has good business sense, marketing skills and a passion, like all entrepreneurs, it is doable with or without “formal training".
But, beware of some pitfalls – many virtual assistants end up working long hours (as with any start up business) in the first few years and some continue to work odd and/or long hours well after their practice becomes successful. Be sure you are willing to put in the time to make your VA service a success.
Try to find a niche to focus on – a way to make yourself stand out from the crowd. Have a proper home office in place and figure out what your rates will be – and remember to advertise, advertise, advertise – be it via paid efforts or by making a “brand" out of your name. Christina advises, “Don't think that because you've hung out your shingle or built your website that clients will begin to bang down your door. Contribute to the business communities, brand yourself, brand your agency and let people know what you can do for them. The ability to market your business and yourself is extremely important in this business. "
Audrey Hoffman is a successful entrepreneur who owns several businesses – including http://www.speedy-incorporation.com – a site that offers information about incorporating a business online as well as simple LLC formation in all 50 states.