Start a secretarial service
or a virtual assistant service
Ok so you want to start a secretarial service or be a virtual assistant specialising in other areas. There are some rules for working from home that virtual assistants follow.
Most virtual assistants who start a secretarial service or work from home in other capacities do so slowly but surely. They are usually in full time or part time employment and start the business off by working in the evenings, weekends and on days off.
This way you can build up your home based secretarial service whilst still earning guaranteed income from another source. If you are employed full time, then consider going part time and then eventually you can drop the part time employment and concentrate on your virtual assistant secretarial service soley.
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Skills needed to work from home as a virtual assistant in your home based secretarial service
A. Firstly you should have experience in the area that you want to specialise your business in. You may have picked up these skills from years in the workforce working for somebody else. Needless to say you should have great computer skills, keyboarding/typing skills. Although should you not be the fastest typist in the world check out
voice recognition software
. Don't take on a client unless you are specialised in that area.
Although having said that, I picked up work for two dermatologists although I had no previous experience in this area. I explained that I was a fast learner and I must admit my rates quoted were a few dollars less than the other virtual assistant rates the doctors received, so they took me on. It only took me a few weeks to get up to speed with their letters and terminology and to this day I'm still adding words to my terminology list. I have now been working for them for nearly four years and never had this experience before. I also had the same experience with doing bookkeeping for another client, who actually paid me for my time to do a crash course in his particular bookkeeping application with his accountant. Then I picked it up as I went as it was a very user friendly application.
So you can explain to a client that although that may not be your area of expertise, but if you feel you can pick it up fairly quickly, they may consider you. You can start off charging a cheaper rate until you are up to speed too, so it may not hurt to explain this to them. If you feel comfortable with doing this, this is a good way to source clients when you start a secretarial service. Just think outside the box a little and see if you can do it.
B. Great communication skills and customer service skills are necessary in order to start a secretarial service. Being a home based secretary is a different mindset. You are no longer a secretary working for one manager, or one department in big business. Your colleagues came to you for work because they had to, you were the secretary in that department. So this may sound mean, but they came to you regardless if you were good or not, you were the secretary right.
So before you start a secretarial service realise that you may be locked away in your home office and you must be able to communicate with your clients about the work being performed as you are doing this work remotely and there is no one over your shoulder to assist you. Sometimes you cannot get a hold of your clients, so you must have the job requirements communicated correctly. No matter how instructions are received, always clarify, clarify, clarify.
So before starting or continuing on a project, don't waste your time and money and try to get things right through lots of communication. You may hesitate, but don't be afraid to send off emails doublechecking issues, etc. It saves problems down the track when you try to
for extra time spent on a project, etc.
C. Realise that sometimes, as you would know, secretarial work can be mundane and not very stimulating. If you pick up transcription work for example, some of it is very interesting indeed, but some of it is laborious work. Can you do this? Will you want to do this? You will spend a lot of time at your computer I can tell you. My home office is the most frequented room in the house by me. It becomes a very big part of your life, so you must enjoy sitting in front of the computer for long periods of time. Consider these issues before you start a secretarial service from home.
The thing that keeps me sane is the knowledge that I am not away from my children and can still spend more time with them. I may be here for hours of an evening or hours during the day working, but my driving force to make this work is that I know I can take my son to school and take the kids out on outings, etc. That's the trade off for doing the boring work. Also sometimes I'm working when my toddler is sleeping and my son is in the next room playing Playstation. He strolls in and has a chat and at least I'm in the house with them and their mum is still here to get that glass of milk, etc. This point is exactly why I had to start a secretarial service from home!!!
D. Time management skills are vital if you wish to start a secretarial service or virtual assistant business. It may be frustrating if you have family commitments as well, but you will have to work out what hours of the day are best suited for you to perform your work. Tnen you know how many hours in the day you have available to you and you can take on more or less work accordingly. This is a difficult area as to master as things crop up and affect your work time, etc. You also have to be very organised and disciplined to work and be able to multi task and know how to juggle your clients and prioritise them. Remember each client forgets that you have other clients to service as well, they always think they are the only ones you work with.
This is where childcare arrangement need to be thought of, play groups organised, to give you more time to do your work. Even if your work day is broken up in to many short periods of work, that's ok too, whatever works for you.
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E. Be very confidential in what you see and discreet about each business' work. Some businesses may wish for you to sign confidentiality agreements, which is fine. These agreements just stop you from discussing confidential information with others.
F. Needless to say proper reading, writing and grammatical skills are mandatory before you start a secretarial service. A virtual assistant is relied on heavily to correct all sorts of grammar in client work.
G. Put your foot down and learn to turn work away as well. Yes if a client becomes overbearing and doesn't realise that you have a family and other clients on your plate as well, tell him so. It took a while with one client, but the message finally got through. He used to bother me too much, phone calls, micro managing, seeing where I'm at, etc. I had to tell him to back off and he soon realised that I knew what I was doing. Also say no to clients if you are too busy. Don't just take the job on and wonder how you are going to find time to complete the work. Say no or you may wish to sub contract to another virtual assistant if you are afraid of losing a new client for instance.
What is your niche and what services will you provide?
A. Before you start a secretarial service decide just what services you will offer and make sure you are experienced enough in this area. You may wish to undertake further training in particular areas. Make sure you have the necessary equipment to provide this service. You can expand your services in time, but start off with the ones you are best at.
B. Find out if there is a need for your particular services and in the area you wish to service, be it local, country specific or globally, before you start a secretarial service.
Other vital things to do
C. Find out how you go about
identifying a market for a virtual assistant
and have a marketing plan organised.
D. You might think yuk, but it is necessary to set up a
before you start a secretarial service and to review it often. You definitely need a business plan if you are seeking any form of financing.
E. Get the financial and legal issues sorted out first before you start a secretarial service and before taking on any clients. Don't hesitate to contact your friendly accountant for advice and recommendations. Talk to him about how your business will be set up, how you will draw money out, how much tax to be paid (and make sure those funds are always available in your account ready for when paying your taxes).
F. A business coach told me years ago that when you start a secretarial service to advertise the fact that you are 24/7. Well you sort of are, because if you have children you will be working outside of normal business hours a lot of the time. You may be able to drop this fact down the track when you have grown sufficiently or you do in fact revert to only working during more normal business hours.
G. Join online
virtual assistant networks
and/or organisations or
WAHM message boards
. Ask a lot of questions in the forums that these groups have. You can even join before you start a secretarial service, but you must have prior relevant experience to join these networks. It's amazing what you learn and pick up. The group I joined was absolutely vital when I first started out and it's still providing me with so much information on an ongoing basis.
H. One of the first things when you start a secretarial service is make sure you set up an appropriate signature block in your emails. This shows prospective customers, forums, etc who exactly you are, your business name, contact details and area of expertise. I know forum users do not like it when a new person on the forum does not have a signature block. They don't know who you are, where you are from, what you do, so this is vital. It makes you look professional straight away, even if you do not have any clients yet.
The signature block makes you look professional from the outset. To do this on your Outlook email go to Tools, Options, Mail Format, and at the bottom click on the Signature icon and create an email signature block from there.
I use Skype to communicate with an overseas client and I am blown away...we talk for free!
Do I do business in my bath robe then...?
When you start a secretarial service it is very difficult to be taken serioulsy as a work from home professional, so in a way you have to over compensate. Therefore I am always very professional in manner to my clients over the phone, over email, faxes, and to those that I see in person.
Every morning, well most mornings, I make sure that I look presentable and dress well. This has amazing consequences for the way you will feel for the rest of the day. Professional on
the outside usually means professional attitude on the inside. Even if your mobile/cell rings suddenly and you're out and a prospective client is on the other end, always answer your phone in an appropriate manner. My mobile/cell phone is for personal and business use and I always say 'Sandra speaking' and never just say 'hello'.
Think to your casual clothes days at the office, did you remember that whenever you were dressed casually your attitude to your work was a bit more casual as well? Yes so although on some early morning starts we may be working in our dressing gowns, I try to do the majority of my work in a business manner both on the inside and the outside.
Besides some virtual assistants actually do spend some time on client premises, especially as they start a secretarial service, be it small or large corporations or other micro business owners who work from their respective home offices. So you may be seen by clients occasionally as well.
Presentation is the key as the client will have faith in you as a professional offering professional services. So consider this especially as you start a secretarial service.
Go to virtual asssitant articles
for specific articles on how to start a home based secretarial service and how to make money in a home secretarial service.
Go to start up costs for a virtual assistant and home based secretary
Go to start up as a virtual assistant
for so much information on all aspects of how to start a home based secretarial service, where to source clients, target markets, advertising, you name it.
Go to free ebooks for free resources and/or purchase start up systems
on how to make money in your secretarial work from home. Fantastic list of resources available to you, even very niche specific such as medical transcription, transcription, working with coaches, resume writing, etc.
Go to how to make money in a home secretarial business
Go to virtual assistant job finder page
where I list all the pages on this site that have information on exactly where to look to find virtual assistant jobs.
Go to high paying secretarial jobs
for those who stumbled onto this site looking for such jobs, and found the VA industry.
Go to home business for mums
Go to secretarial work from home
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