Ever since I have been telling people I am setting up my own Virtual Assistant business I have been getting questions like: ‘What is a Virtual Assistant, what do they do, how do you set yourself up and what do you need to get started?’ So let’s answer some of those questions shall we?

So, what is a Virtual Assistant?

According to Wikipedia a Virtual Assistant, or VA for short is ‘an individual who is generally self-employed and provides professional administrative, technical, or creative (social) assistance to clients remotely from a home office’.

So a Virtual Assistant can provide pretty much any service to any client. I know of VAs who concentrate on offering one service, like for example bookkeeping; VAs who offer a broader spectrum of back office support services and VAs who concentrate on website building (WordPress) or the social media side of things, like me as I offer Pinterest Marketing Services. These are only a few examples however, the market for Virtual Assistants is very broad!

Picture of a highly organised desk indicating that you should hire a Virtual Assistant for your business as they keep you focused and on track with all your admin tasks.

Virtual Assistants have been around for a while – according to the Society of Virtual Assistant, in 2019 the ‘oldest’ VA had been offering remote admin support for 27 years! With the arrival of technology all of a sudden it was possible to do traditional office work remotely. This meant more and more people have been taking entrepreneurial job paths and set up their own business. As a result another business opportunity arose for outsourced help, and any women have been honing in on this, as a consequence the Virtual Assistant industry has been growing steadily in the last few years as well.

So, what are the benefits you ask?

Well, if you think about it, it is a no-brainer really! Hiring a Virtual Assistant provides HUGE (excuse the shout out but it is true!) benefits for the Virtual Assistant but ALSO for the company hiring them.

For the Virtual Assistant the advantages are:

  • No commute into the office as you work remotely,
  • Flexible work hours to suit your (family) life,
  • Better work/life balance,
  • You are your own boss.

For companies the advantages are maybe even better:

  • Saving time be delegating admin tasks,
  • Reducing work load,
  • Decreasing costs (as VAs work remotely there is no need to provide an office space, parking space or pay their pension contributions, NI and tax!),
  • Being able to utilise other staff in the office better,
  • Creating a better work/life balance,
  • Increasing productivity, and therefore growth of the company.

It is a win-win situation!

Another benefit for VAs is that because every Virtual Assistant is different, has their own skills set and offers different services, this has the advantage that competitiveness is relatively low and, with hard work, you will be able to make your own mark in the industry!

Easy peasy lemon squeezy?

Whilst above sounds fantastic and is true, setting up a succesful Virtual Assistant business is not easy. It requires a lot of dedication and hard work! You will need to do your research as to the service(s) you want to provide, the clients you want to have and how you will offer your services. A go-getter attitude is very much recommended! And take it from me, who has just been through it all, setting up takes a while….but if you really want to do it, you will get it done!

To know what services you want to offer as a VA, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions:

  1. What do I like? Where is my passion? Is it admin, tech, marketing, bookkeeping, events organisation etc.
  2. What am I good at, what am I not good at?
  3. What have I always been interested in, don’t master yet, but would like to learn?

Looking at myself, I started out thinking I was going to offer back office support services but actually found my passion in social media and am now offering Pinterest Marketing Services. Something I did not think I would do but after a lot of research and some great professional development opportunities I felt very excited about!

Tools of the trade 🙂

Tools-wise you don’t need much to set up as a VA; a quiet place in the house, a laptop/computer, a good internet connection, a mobile phone and a cup of coffee are all you need, really! Over time as your business grows, however, you will want to invest in different tools. Look out for my future blog posts as I will be writing about that soon!

Prospects for VAs

On top of all this the prospects for VAs in the UK are good! According to consultancy.co.uk who draw their data from the Office for National Statistics and the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), there are now 5 million self-employed people in Britain, that is a lot of small/medium size businesses, which is exactly the market VAs should be targeting!

So, if you are on the fence about becoming a VA, I hope I have answered some of your questions and have inspired you to make the leap!