I spend a lot of time on my laptop working and my family does not really understand what I do. All I tell them is that I’m working and this leaves them more confused. My mum, in particular, will sit next to me staring at what I’m doing in an effort to understand me. So one time she asked me what exactly I do online, and I told her I am a Virtual Assistant. Her next question was,” Who is that and what do they do?
I sighed and said I’ll explain later because I was falling behind my deadline on a certain task. So today I answer this question not only to my mum but everyone else that hasn’t quite understood who a virtual worker is.
A virtual assistant/worker is an independent contractor working remotely to provide administrative, technical and creative support to business owners, corporates, and overwhelmed individuals. Virtual assistants can be generalized in their services or highly specialized. For most VA’S their skill set is developed from previous employment but also a good number have undergone formal training.
Virtual assistants are self-employed hence take care of their own insurance, pension, and other personal needs. Sometimes companies hire dedicated virtual assistants who work exclusively for them at a provided workstation and internet. But as for home-based VAS’, they determine their working stations and working hours. They can also be sole entrepreneurs or employed by virtual agencies to provide round the clock support to their clients.
Characteristics of a successful virtual assistant
- Self-Starter. As a virtual assistant, you are your own boss and therefore answer to no one but yourself. This can bring a lot of laxity in the way you conduct your business. In order to remain focused, disciplining yourself to work and manage your time effectively without anyone looking after you is a mandatory skill.
- Organized. Working with different clients attracts different kinds of assignments. Some of these are things we really enjoy doing while other assignments are such a bore. Regardless of how you feel about your clients or their work, accepting to take on their assignment means you have to deliver. It is important to prioritize your work according to the deadlines. However, if they have an open deadline, always start with that which you booked first and follow the order to your last assignment. You are able to finish and submit to your clients without taking up too much on a particular project. Experienced VAS’ always meet their deadlines and in case they need more time, they do request for an extension in good time.
- Trustworthy.Virtual assistance is a business built on trust. In most cases, the client and the assistant will never meet. In order to build trust, delivering exceptional services to your clients is a must do. Not only do you gain the clients trust but also earn his confidence in you. This client will keep hiring you and even refer some of his contacts your way bringing you continuous business.
- Tech savvy. A good virtual assistant knows their way around basic soft wares and applications necessary for their business. Other than having basic computer skills it is important to know what software to use to track your hours, how you can share large files with your clients if your clients are not comfortable sharing their passwords with you, how else can you access their accounts and so on.
How do Virtual Assistants work?
Virtual assistants can be contracted for one-off projects or long-term projects depending on the assignment. Since they work with multiple clients, it is important to state clearly your scope of work, the number of hours needed in a week and in cases of extra work, this should be communicated in good time.
For a smooth working experience, constant communication is needed. You can set up virtual meeting on platforms such as Skype to bring each other to speed on the progress the assignment. You can also communicate on email or phone whichever is convenient for both of you.
After the successful completion of a project, payments are also processed online. In most cases, virtual assistants do require at least a deposit before they start working on your assignment. Others will ask for full payments but all these are communicated in terms of work contract usually provided by the VA. If both parties are in agreement with the stipulated terms, work begins.
The virtual industry has changed the way to do business for most entrepreneurs. It is possible to find a good match in any kind of field. By fully understanding who a VA is and how they work, you are able to make an informed decision when it comes to hiring one for yourself or business.