Are You Planning to Become a Virtual Assistant in 2017?

Are You Planning to Become a Virtual Assistant in 2017?

Over the last few months, you’ve been thinking of switching careers and becoming a Virtual Assistant. Friends who made the transition at the start of 2016 are now enjoying flourishing careers. They’re making more money and more importantly, they’re happier.

You’ve done your fair share of research and noted how an economic powerhouse like the United States and the United Kingdom have been allocating almost 50% of their work forces to virtual assistants. Job market analysts forecast the proportion may hit 65% by 2020. It seems that it should be fairly easy to land the first client and build your career from there.

Before you jump ship and swim over to the virtual world, you need a dose of reality. A career as a Virtual Assistant certainly has a huge upside given that the demand for the profession is expected to remain high over the next few years. But there are risks and challenges to becoming a Virtual Assistant.

You should ask your friends who made the successful transition as virtual assistants. They probably had different experiences and took divergent paths to success. They will give you an in-depth perspective of what it’s like to change careers and the challenges you will face as a Virtual Assistant.

Here are the current realities you need to understand if plan to become a Virtual Assistant in 2017:

How Much Investment Do I Need to Start Out? As a Virtual Assistant, you are starting your own business which means you need to capitalize your enterprise. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Register your business; if you want clients to take you seriously, register as an entity that is allowed to transact business.
  • Invest in good, reliable equipment.
  • Institute improvements in your designated work area to make sure it is conducive to productive work.

What Do I Need to Do to Find Clients? The first thing you should do is to create an online profile. If you don’t have experience in virtual assistance work, highlight your career accomplishments and strong points.

Identify a niche in virtual assistance work that you plan to explore. List down your skills, trainings and certifications you’ve received the last few years that are related to this niche.

How Soon Before I Land My First Client? Remember, you probably aren’t the only one thinking of a career transition. And that is exactly why you should not expect things to get easier; the level of competition will be very high.

Some VA’s are able to land a client in their first month while some have gone for a year without landing one. You should go full-blast in networking straight out of the gate:

  • Sign up to at least online job sites such as Elance, Freelancer or Guru.
  • Apply to a minimum of 2 posted jobs every day; Sundays included.
  • Use social media; join focus groups or connect with key people in the industry.
  • Attend networking events; distribute your calling cards and marketing portfolio.

As a Virtual Assistant, your level of income will depend on how much time you want to allocate per day to working. But keep in mind that if you’re starting out, you may not get the pay you want. As a first-timer, pricing will be a key differentiator. Clients may sign you up only if you give them a lower rate than the competition.

If you don’t have experience as a Virtual Assistant, do not prioritize your earnings. You need to prove yourself first; focus on building your portfolio and gaining experience. Consider discounts on your fees as the currency for experience or the tuition you pay to become a better Virtual Assistant.

If you can accept these current realities then you are on your way to becoming a successful Virtual Assistant in 2017.

The Importance of Streamlining Business Costs for Virtual Assistants

The Importance of Streamlining Business Costs for Virtual Assistants

Businesses hire virtual assistants primarily to streamline their costs of business. Compared to hiring regular Full Time Employees or FTE’s, hiring virtual assistants are cheaper because you only pay them per productive hour, you don’t incur additional costs of business and VA’s are not paid benefits. It is estimated that by hiring virtual assistants you can save up to 40% in business costs.

But the irony of it is there are virtual assistants who cannot seem to streamline their own business costs.

Virtual assistants are also entrepreneurs. They are proprietors of a business that provides virtual assistance services to interested parties. As such, the Virtual Assistant entrepreneur also has costs of business. If not managed properly, these costs will eat into your profits.

Some of these business costs include:

  • Rent
  • Internet
  • Power
  • Supplies
  • Telecommunications
  • Subscriptions
  • Maintenance Costs

Here are tips on how to streamline your costs and improve profitability of your virtual assistance business:

Calculate your Rent per Square Meter – If you are working from home, calculate the cost of rent based on the size of space you have allocated for your business. There are 2 reasons for this:

  • Helps you assess profitability of your business. Remember, you are still using real estate space to generate income. It should be treated as a cost of doing business.
  • Give you a basis for comparing costs if you work from home or lease a space. Some rental agreements have already factored in Internet costs.

Generally, it will be cheaper to work from home. But if conditions are not conducive for productivity, it would be good to have other options as a place of work.

Calculate the Required Bandwidth – Review the projects you are handling and determine the ideal bandwidth size needed to support your work. For example, if your projects require extensive outbound calling you should have at least 85kb.

Next, look at your other projects and determine how much bandwidth they need to ensure smooth conduct of work. It is possible you may not need a 50mb subscription if 10mb would suffice.

You could even split ISP costs by having a primary carrier for 5mb and back up for another 5mb. This way you are assured of smoother operations without worrying about down time.

Do Everything Online – As much as possible, conduct 100% business using online tools. For example if you have other virtual assistants onboard, communicate using Skype, Viber or Messenger.

Limit the need for paperwork. There are some clients that will request for hard copies of documents.

It could be that they are not aware e-mail is accepted as legal means of communication as long as it originates from the web address of the sender. Suggest scanning then sending signed legal documents via e-mail.

Stick to Free Subscriptions- There are many valuable services you can find online. Some of them offer free subscriptions; no monthly fees but with limited features.

Services such as DropBox, Asana, Skype and social media networks like LinkedIn do not charge monthly fees on their basic package. You can run your operations just fine using the standard features. Unless your business absolutely needs the extra features, stick to free subscriptions.

Keep your home-based business lean and efficient. Like other businesses, you will experience dry periods in virtual assistance. By doing some well- thought of cost cuts, you can build up your savings and prepare for the months when business is slow.

5 Ways to Get Out of the Virtual Assistant Blues

5 Ways to Get Out of the Virtual Assistant Blues

It happens to the best of them; even to the Virtual Assistant. Everyone has had one of those days where nothing seems to fall into place. Try as you might, you spend most of your hours looking at your computer monitor. The cursor on the Word document is blinking but you don’t know which keys to type.

This is called the “Virtual Assistant Blues” and no one is immune to them. But here are 5 ways you can get back on track:

Take a Break – Believe it or not, taking a break could be one of the most productive things you can do. It allows you to recharge your batteries through rest or simply by getting preoccupied with new and stimulating activity.

The best way to take a break is to go on vacation. Check with your schedule first and see if you have pending deadlines. Consider hiring 1 to 2 virtual assistants to manage your workload while you are on vacation. Check with your virtual assistants at least once a week to keep track of your business.

Even if you are on vacation, remember that you are still committed to ensure quality of work for your clients.

Attend to the Distraction – Our lives do not revolve around work nor should it. We also have other concerns to attend to. As much as we’d like to focus on work whenever we are on shift, there will be times when we can be preoccupied by other concerns.

If you are constantly being distracted by non-work related matters, attend to the source of conflict right away. Otherwise, it will affect your performance.

Inform your clients you will be taking some time off to address the matter but assure them you will continue to oversee their projects. You should have a contingency plan and discuss it with them. Clients will understand and will agree to give you time to sort out these distractions.

Exercise – Doctors have always said that exercise has more than just physical benefits. This is why exercise is the number one prescribed remedy for stress.

There are 3 powerful reasons why exercise chases away the Virtual Assistant blues:

  • Releases mood enhancing endorphins that make you feel more positive and happy.
  • Movement improves blood circulation throughout the body.
  • Enhances brain function; improves cognition and clears out the thought process.

Change Your Schedule – It could also be that you’ve been logging in longer hours that encroach past the graveyard hours.

Change your schedule by doing more work in the morning. Decrease your work load as you approach nighttime so you can sleep earlier and wake up more rested.

You should get at least 7 hours of sleep every night. Lack of sleep can have severe consequences on your health which will carry over to the quality of work.

Unburden Yourself – One of the best ways to clear the mind, ease the heart and calm the spirit is simply finding someone to talk to. Perhaps there is something has been troubling you for awhile but you cannot find out what it is unless you get feedback.

Remember that you do not know all the answers. It could be that fears, and the subconscious are all keeping you from uncovering certain truths about yourself.

Having someone to talk to can help you draw out those self-limiting beliefs out in the open so you can address them directly. By unburdening yourself, you can come away from the experience with a clearer mind, healthier conscience and more positive disposition.

Everyone has their off- days. Even with the best laid out plans and preparations, you should not expect every single day to be productive. For the most part, the “Virtual Assistant Blues” are nothing a little bit of rest and relaxation can’t fix. Remember that life isn’t just about work.

4 Ways to Keep Clients Happy as a Virtual Assistant

4 Ways to Keep Clients Happy as a Virtual Assistant

If you want to build a successful career as a Virtual Assistant, you should not only focus on signing up new clients. You should also focus on maintaining long- term arrangements with your existing clients.

The virtual assistance industry has grown in response to high demand for its services. So while there are more opportunities to land clients, you also face more competition. If you cannot keep your clients happy, they will find another Virtual Assistant to manage their projects.

Here are 4 ways to keep clients happy as a Virtual Assistant:

Exceed Expectations – When you’re starting work with a new client, he or she knows better than to expect perfection. Most clients will moderate expectations because they know there is a Learning Curve to respect and mistakes are part of the process.

But if you can exceed expectations, go for it! For example, you were hired by the client to manage their social media accounts. The client set initial targets at 200 followers per week.

If you have reached 200 followers before week’s end, why stop there? You could potentially reach 250 to 300 followers. By exceeding expectations, your client will be encouraged to maintain your services for the long term.

Increase Your Value Proposition – Try to go over and above targets without expecting anything in return.

For example, a client hires you to write blogs with a minimum word count of 1,600 words. The client agrees to pay you per word.

If after reviewing and re-writing content, the final draft totaled 1,700 words do not charge the client the extra 100 words. As a writer, your primary objective should be to deliver excellent content.

If it took an extra 100 words to get the job done, then keep the content intact. Don’t adjust it so you can match compensation with productivity. Clients will see there is greater value in patronizing your services.

Besides, the best clients will take it upon themselves to compensate you for your selflessness by paying you more or giving you additional clients.

Always Meet or Better Deadlines – When clients set deadlines, these are made within reason. They want to arrive at a time-table that will accommodate their business needs without compromising the quality of work.

Sometimes a client may come up with a rush project; one that has a shorter time line. It is possible that the deadline is much shorter than what you normally need to deliver quality.

Take the challenge; work on the project, meet the deadline and assure the quality of work. If the client gives you rush projects, it’s a sign of confidence in your abilities to come through. Otherwise, the client could have given the project to another Virtual Assistant.

Keep Your Client Updated – Communication is very important in business because it minimizes the risks of making mistakes. It also shows respect and extends courtesy for the client.

If you are given 4 weeks to complete a project, do not wait until the delivery date to update the client. You should frequently update the client on your progress. A weekend report or summary of developments should suffice to keep the client well informed.

As a Virtual Assistant, it will be difficult to have extended working arrangements with clients. More often than not, clients only contract virtual assistants on a per-project basis. But if they are happy working with you, clients will gladly maintain the business relationship for the long term.

4 Reasons Why You Should Hire Virtual Assistants from an Agency

4 Reasons Why You Should Hire Virtual Assistants from an Agency

Are you thinking about hiring virtual assistants? There are 2 sources for finding virtual assistants: freelance sites or agencies. You can find qualified virtual assistants from either source. Keep in mind that virtual assistants who work in an agency were also or may still currently be freelancers.

If you are undecided, here are 4 reasons why going with virtual assistants from an agency may be your best option.

Hired and Tested – Agencies have amassed a wealth of talented virtual assistants over the years. They have a data base of virtual assistants that have been assigned to various clients from a diverse range of industries.

So not only do you get well- experienced virtual assistants with the expertise to do a great job but you also have candidates who have been hired, tested and proven.

Some of these agencies have a ranking or rating system available for their virtual assistants. If not, the agency can connect you with a previous client who can give you a first account review of the Virtual Assistant.

Wider Variety of Skills – An agency has a complement of virtual assistants who have highly diversified skill sets. You can find a Virtual Assistant with the basic administrative skills or those who have more technical competencies.

If your business needs virtual assistants to fill in various roles, going through an agency is the most expedient and efficient option. An agency will save you time and resources in finding the ideal virtual assistants to fit your needs.

Greater Flexibility – If the arrangement with your Virtual Assistant does not work out, you can easily terminate the engagement with the agency. In turn, the agency can provide you a ready replacement without additional costs.

Thus, by contracting the services of an agency to find a Virtual Assistant, you will not lose time. If you hired a freelancer and the arrangement similarly did not work out, you will have to go through the entire process of posting, qualifying, testing, selecting and training.

Greater Value Proposition – As you have read, going through an agency gives you many advantages. The usual criticism levied against an agency is that the services are expensive. The critics say freelancers are more affordable and can do a good job as well.

There is no question that there are excellent freelancer Virtual Assistants who may very well be better or more talented than virtual assistants sourced from an agency. But there are two questions that begs to be asked:

  • “Where can you find them?”
  • “How long will it take to qualify a Virtual Assistant as excellent?”

The virtual assistants from an agency already have a track record which you can readily verify. If you need to shore up talent to accommodate your expansion program, an agency can give you immediate recommendations. Finally, you can have them replaced without losing time and money.

If an agency does charge more, these differences can easily be justified and validated by a having greater value proposition.

The truth is you will only be able to confirm the excellence of your Virtual Assistant through time. The longer you work with the Virtual Assistant the more you will be able to assess his or her overall value to your business. And as with other advantages, time is on the side of virtual assistants from an agency. They have proven their value through extended tenure.

top-3-jobs-for-medical-virtual-assistants

Top 3 Jobs for Medical Virtual Assistants

The scope of work for Virtual Assistants continues to evolve as the demand for their services grow over the years.  Virtual work force is not new in the medical field. Medical transcriptionists have been providing assistance to doctors for many years now and the success of this venture led to other possibilities in the remote workforce.

Recently, the virtual doors have opened to nurses, pharmacists and radiologists as well.  Is it really possible for hospital confined jobs to be outsourced?  Given the nature of these jobs, some perceived this to be unviable.  

However, some dared to break the norm and many medical institutions are now open to the set up called Telehealth.  This is a system that enables the provision of virtual medical and health services via information and telecommunication technologies.  

Telehealth was conceptualized to help address the needs of patients who are in the rural areas and hospitals which are under staffed.  This remote setup allows patients to have access to medical practitioners without having to travel all the way to the hospital.   

On the other hand, medical practitioners now have the option to work onsite or remotely.  Thanks to modern day technology, healthcare services can be given and received virtually.  

Here are the top three jobs for medical virtual assistants that are currently in demand.

Virtual Nurse – Also known as Telephone Triage Nurse, assist patients over the phone by responding to their queries and assessing what kind of treatment they need.  

They will then refer patients to specialists and schedule appointments as per request. Virtual nurses can also help patients manage symptoms since they have access to their e-file on medical history.  

One must be a registered nurse with years of hospital care experience to qualify for this job.  A specialization will help increase your rate.  Estimated annual income is $65,000.

Virtual Radiologist– Also known as Tele Radiologists, they are tasked to read or interpret the medical images like CTs, X-Rays, Mammograms and MRIs that are sent by physicians or medical institutions.

This job can be really fast paced and hectic since the turnaround time for critical cases is really quick.  There are many hospitals now who outsource this job to companies or individuals who specialize in virtual radiology.  

One has to be licensed and have years of experience in hospital radiology to qualify for this job.  

Specializations in neuroradiology, musculoskeletal, mammography and Nuclear cardiology will increase your rate.  Estimated annual income ranges from $100,000 to $200,000.  

Virtual Pharmacist– The adoption of Telepharmacy in countries like USA, Canada and Australia stemmed from the shortage of pharmacists in rural regions.  

Now, people in remote locations can have access to pharmaceutical care 24/7.  This system helps prevent errors in medication.  A virtual pharmacist is tasked to review and verify prescriptions and advise patients on medications via video conference.  

He or she will also coordinate with the pharmacy to facilitate delivery or release of medications. One must be a licensed pharmacist with at least three years of hospital or retail pharmacy to qualify for the job.  The estimated annual income is $112,000.

Even the health industry has capitalized on technology to make medical services faster and more efficient. Going the virtual route will not only save money and resources. Most importantly, medical virtual assistants can save more lives.

5-things-to-outsource-to-a-virtual-legal

5 Things to Outsource to a Virtual Legal

If you are a lawyer who is taking a leap from corporate law to private practice, it would be a sound move to hire a virtual legal assistant to help you establish and grow your new venture. Are these people as efficient as in house staff?

They certainly are because Legal assistants are trained to handle tasks involved in running a legal office.  They are very capable of accomplishing things you assign to them even if they work apart from you.

Leaving the corporate world to start your own firm entails financial risks since your income won’t be coming in on a fixed cycle.  Many small business owners turn to outsourcing to save on cost without compromising work efficiency.  

It will enable you to save on operational costs by cutting down the number of people you put on a steady payroll and paying skilled Virtual Assistants on an hourly or per legal case basis instead.  

What are the tasks you can delegate to your virtual legal assistant?  Here is a list to guide you.

Administrative Tasks  Email management, scheduling appointments and meetings, Customer Relationship Management, invoicing, bookkeeping and digital filing are repetitive tasks that can be delegated or turn over to a virtual legal assistant.  

Take this workload off your shoulders so you can focus on growing your clientele for your private practice and meeting your clients’ demands.

Legal Research.  You do not need to hire a 9 to 5 employee to conduct research for you.  Virtual Legal Assistants are capable of doing extensive research so you can entrust this task to them.  Legal researchis tedious so it would be better to outsource it in order to save time and money.

Legal Transcription. You will be able to have a faster turnaround for your legal transcripts of interviews, depositions, hearings and pleadings when you hire a Virtual Legal Transcriptionist.  

You just have to send your digital audio and video file to your Virtual Assistant and let him/her do the rest.  They have undergone training for this job so you need worry about the quality of work that will be delivered to you.   

It is very practical to outsource this work because you will only get charged on a per line or per minute basis.

Website Maintenance. Creation and maintenance of your company’s website are better delegated to a tech savvy Virtual Assistant.  It is important to keep your website content and format updated to ensure better engagement with potential clients.  

Passive Income Source Management.  You may want to consider creating a passive revenue source like selling e-books or online tutorials to boost your income.

Share your legal knowledge to people who want to learn online. Enlist the help of a Virtual Assistant to write and edit your e-books or create your online tutorial curriculum.  

It may take a while getting used to the virtual work set up.  Once you have established a strong connection with your Virtual Assistants, you will be able to work seamlessly with them.  Having them onboard will certainly help you run your private practice as you envisioned.

Does Your Virtual Assistant Have These 8 Essential Soft Skills?

Does Your Virtual Assistant Have These 8 Essential Soft Skills?

Companies or small business owners look for certain traits in people they hire because they are aware that not everyone is cut out to become Virtual Assistants.  During the interview, they are always on the lookout for someone who possesses the right combination of soft and hard skills.

What are soft skills?  These are traits that enable you to effectively relate to other people and respond to any given situation.  The importance of having soft skills is often overlooked because people tend to emphasize their technical competencies or hard skills during interview.

Although the latter is essential to work execution, one cannot thrive or survive in the virtual business world without the right work attitude.

Here is a list of soft skills you need to be able to succeed in the Virtual Assistant business.

 

  • Willingness to be a team player. Although you work remotely and in isolation, business owners expect you to work with the other Virtual Assistants on board the team.  

 

Your excellent technical skills will not matter to them if you are not capable of collaborating with the rest of the group.  

 

  • Flexibility.  A Virtual Assistant must be capable of establishing rapport with people from different parts of the world.  One must be adept in creating a strong connection with clients or team members.  

 

This skill is necessary to break cultural, racial and language barriers.  If you cannot step out of your shell, it will be difficult for you to fit in the remote workers’ world.

 

  • Openness to constructive criticisms and suggestions.  You cannot be stubborn in this business.  Being corrected doesn’t mean that you are inept at your job.

 

Have an open mindset and always leave room for improvement so your relationship with your client will have the potential to go a long way. Many opportunities will pass you by if you choose to look the other way.  

 

  • Ability to spot and solve problems quickly.  You must be quick to respond to the red flags in the workflow.  It’s similar to having a built in sensor.  Something that lights up when things are not going on as planned.  
  • Effective communication skills.  A Virtual assistant must be a good listener and capable of articulating his/her ideas into spoken and written words.    

 

It’s not enough that you have a good set of ears; you must be able to understand information given to you quickly so you can carry out tasks accurately.  

 

  • Patience.  The virtual set up can be very challenging.  Having to work for and with people who are not within arm’s reach can cause delays and conflicts. Clients and team members can test your patience and you must be able to resolve matters without losing your cool.
  • Persistence.  If you want to be a sought after Virtual Assistant, you need to continuously upgrade your hard skills and never limit your desire to learn new things.  
  • Perseverance. This is the ability to stay focused regardless of the difficulties, conflicts and disappointments you encounter along the way.  When you have made the decision to become a Virtual Assistant, it is necessary to have a “never give up” attitude in order to succeed.  

 

The best fit virtual assistants for your business are not just those with exceptional technical and fundamental skills. You should place a greater value on the intangibles that make your Virtual Assistant a valuable asset to your organization.

Virtual Assistant’s Essential Tool Kit for 2017

Virtual Assistant’s Essential Tool Kit for 2017

Every Virtual Assistant must have the right combination of online tools in order to work efficiently.  Working without the right tools is like driving a car on low fuel.

Since this business is technology driven, it is only apt to say that tools make the virtual world go round.  It provides synchronized solutions to people who work together apart.  

Time is of the essence in the virtual business world because there are always deadlines to meet.  Online tools can help remote workers complete their tasks on time without compromising quality of work.  

The right combination of software or Apps will also enable a virtual assistant to work with clients and others seamlessly. What should you have in your toolkit in 2017?  Here is a list for your consideration: 

Data storage and sharing tools. These tools allow you to safely share your files with your client or team members.  You to stay on sync with the rest of the team until project completion.  

 

Online Meeting Tools.  You need these to be able to facilitate online meetings with clients and team members.  Good news is that there are free online tools at your disposal.  Choose the one that is simple to use but packs a punch.  

 

 

 

Email Management Software.  Many Virtual Assistants are tasked to manage the emails of their clients.  These tools will help you get the job done right.

 

 

Scheduling tools. These tools help you synchronize your schedule with people you work for and with, across the globe. You will be able to plan and set meetings, deadlines and appointments efficiently.

 

 

Social Media Marketing Tools.  Social Media marketing is the driving force of the virtual business world.  These tools will help you make your client gain more popularity in different social media avenues such as Facebook, Twitter and Blogs.  

 

 

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Tools.  These tools will help you organize your clients’ customer data, manage leads and keep track of their interactions or engagement with customers as well.

 

Project management is also integrated in these tools so you can monitor the progress of each project that your client undertakes.

 

Accounting Software Tool.  You need software that will enable you to prepare and send invoices to your clients with ease.  

 

Since there are some projects that you get paid on an hourly basis, you will also need to track your billable hours.  Every Virtual Assistant needs this tool in place to be able to manage cash flow better.

Keep in mind that you have to choose tools that match the skills that you offer.  The most popular software may not sit well with you and this will affect your performance or workflow.  

Go for the ones that you can master with ease and do not fill your toolkit with unnecessary software. Do not be overwhelmed with the current advances in Information Technology.  Strive to learn new skills and you will be able to use these tools like a Pro in no time.

blog3

How can you say whether your medicines are real or fake?

In many countries, especially the underdeveloped countries, buying medicines don’t require a doctor’s prescription. So, there is a high risk of buying fake medicines. The availability of medicines online is also a reason for the increase in the number of fake medicines. These fake medicines can be real, but have passed their expiry date. Due to lack of proper law, the pharmacists may still sell them over the counter. The fake medicines may also be a copy of the real medicine having no curing properties. Here are some tips to know whether your medicine is real or fake.

med1

• If the amount of medicine is too little in the pill you are taking then the medicine won’t work. For example, if the medicine was meant to get rid of a headache, then you won’t be relieved from your pain even after taking the medicine.
• If the pill has too much dose of medicine, then you might have serious side effects.
• Fake pills may not contain any medicine. They could have sugar or chalk instead.
• Fake pills may contain something different other than those mentioned on the label. Taking this kind of pill can be dangerous.
• Familiar medicine in a different package.
• The color, shape, size or taste of the medicine is different.
• The words on the label or package are misspelled.

med2

To avoid buying fake medicines, you must always buy them from renowned drugstores or hospitals. Fake medicines can be very dangerous for your health. So, you must be very careful when buying medicines.