startup ideas, marketing ideas, conversations, etc.
Virtual Assistant: Work from Home StrategiesAs people continue to start new businesses, and move existing ones online, they will be increasingly looking for support services in the same place.
With software available that allows remote access to any PC, your clientele can be located in Portland, Maine or Portland, Oregon.
The marketplace is online, digital and global. Products and services are already traded in a virtual environment.
Contracting for the services of a virtual assistant is just part of that environment.
When we're in the market for a product, we don't want to be limited in our choices. The same applies to buying services such as those offered by a virtual assistant.
Another advantage is flexibility. A company can hire a virtual assistant for a few hours of work or a long-term assignment.
When it isn't feasible to hire a full-time, or even a part-time employee, a virtual assistant is the perfect solution. No overhead - even better.
Email is already used as a primary means of communication by many companies, large and small, for employees within the company.
That makes augmenting that work force with virtual assistants an effortless fit.
One strategy is to offer a comprehensive list of services. Another one is to focus on a specialized area, or a group of related services.
So, who's your market? Any individual or business without the time, skills and incentive to accomplish the work themselves is a potential client.
In other words, "virtually" everyone.
Marketing yourself as a virtual assistant:
Testimonials can be one of your most helpful marketing tools. Use these prominently on your website and in any other marketing materials.
Participate in email groups where your market is likely to be found. Include a signature file (or "sig file") at the end of each message you send. Many message board forums also allow sig files, too. Some allow live links; others don't.
You may be a virtual assistant, but don't forget to market offline, too.
Always carry business cards with your website URL. Imprinted pens are another very inexpensive marketing option.
As a virtual assistant, your opportunities are global. Don't overlook the potential of your local market, though.
Contact former employers, colleagues, and clients. They can be some of your best sources for both work and referrals.
Choosing which services to offer:
You might decide to offer a comprehensive range of services. If you do, emphasize the simplicity of having one business to depend on for all of those services.
If you focus on a specific service in the beginning, you may find this to your advantage. It gives you the opportunity to brand yourself as an expert in a specific field.
When you specialize, you also have a better chance of receiving referrals from other virtual assistants.
Consider this scenario:
A client needs someone for website maintenance. The virtual assistant he or she asks is already swamped with work.
Would that virtual assistant be more likely to recommend someone who specializes in website maintenance than one who offers a variety of services?
Chances are that a VA who specializes would get the recommendation.
Also, when you focus on a specialty, you are directly competing only with others who specialize in that area.
That's far less competition than you have when offering a number of services.
Here's an example where it might be to your benefit not to specialize:
Some virtual assistants have already been doing business in an offline environment.
So, let's say that you're a new VA, but one with existing clients who can also be a source of referrals.
You're likely better off to continue with the services you're been offering.
For a brand new business, though, being the expert in your chosen virtual assistant niche can be the ideal position in which to begin.
Here are a few areas in which you can specialize as a virtual assistant:
As home-based businesses continue to grow, the market for virtual assistants will increase, too.
Almost 40 million people in the United States are involved in a home-based venture. Because of zoning regulations, most home-based businesses can't have employees on the premises.
For them, virtual assistants are the perfect answer in terms of convenience and flexibility.
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