Frequently asked questions
What exactly is a Virtual Assistant (VA)?
A Virtual Assistant (typically abbreviated to VA, also called a virtual office assistant) is generally self-employed and provides professional administrative, technical, or creative (social) assistance to clients remotely from their own home office.
Virtual Assistants come from a variety of business backgrounds, but most have several years experience earned in the "real" (non-virtual) business world.
What Skills do I need to become a VA?
- Very important that you have a good background in the service area you are wanting to offer as a VA (e.g. if you are wanting to provide administrative support services, then a background in administration is essential);
- Great communication skills
- Proactive and solution focused
- Go-to person
- Entrepreneurial mindset
What Sort of Businesses Use the Services of VAs?
There’s no hard and fast rule about what business will engage the services of a VA. In fact, with the growth and affordability of technology in recent years, along with the exponential growth in the number of solo-preneurs, has come an ever increasing demand for skilled virtual support staff.
The benefits for businesses who choose to engage the services of VAs include:
- Scalability (the ability to scale up and down as their workflow peaks and troughs)
- Working with experts regardless of their location, age, race, religion (i.e. there is no room for discrimination in the world of VA support – it’s ALL about their ability to provide the expertise required
What Tasks can a VA perform?
There’s really no hard and fast rule about what services a VA can or cannot provide – it’s really only limited by the VAs experience / background.
Of course there are certainly some standard services that we see VAs provide, including:
- General EA support
- Personal concierge services
- Operations management
- Social media management
- Powerpoint / Prezi presentations
- Website design and maintenance
- Client relationship tasks
- Phone answering and appointment setting
- Email and diary management
- Email newsletter campaigns
- Proofreading and Editing
- HR / recruitment
- Digital transcription
- Data Entry
- General document preparation and maintenance… and more.
How much do VAs generally earn?
This is difficult to say, however, VA Institute’s research shows that hourly rates for Australian VAs range from $30 per hour to $70 per hour.
How do VAs get paid?
VAs are self-employed business owners, and like other business owners, they need to invoice their clients on a regular basis.
In Australia, payments are generally received via one of the following:
- Direct bank transfer
- Credit Card payment
- PayPal payment
Do I need to quit my job to get my VA business started?
You definitely don’t need to quit your full-time or part-time job to get started. In fact, if you’re employed and really NEED the income, then absolutely DO NOT QUIT…. yet!
You can set up your VA business while you’re still working in an employed position. You can take on work in your own time and build your startup business that way.
This makes the option of starting a VA business extremely low risk, and very attractive to many people for that very reason!
How do VAs find Clients
VAs, as self-employed business owners, need to be committed to sourcing clients – and it’s very important to have a good plan in place BEFORE you get started about how you’re going to tackle this aspect of your business. It’s definitely NOT a matter of “build it and they will come”. VAs need to be entrepreneurial, and understand that work doesn’t just magically appear.
That being said, it’s not difficult to achieve – and to be honest, you really only need a couple of clients to get you off and running…
We suggest the following as being a good place to begin (and we work with startup VAs to strategise on precisely this area):
Get clients, friends and family to recommend you to suitable networks for business as well as specifically female audiences.
Allocate time to invest time in finding local (f2f) networking opportunities –actively build and generate connections within those groups.
Build your online presence via social media platforms
Join existing VA Networks to gain Job Leads and Networking
We also have our own joblead network called "Find a VA" which VA Institute graduates have access to upon successful completion of the program
How do Clients generally send work through to VAs?
Most clients communicate their tasks and projects using email, phone, sms, messaging platforms, and this is the way that work is sent through. It’s not very different to working in a traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ office really.
I live in a regional area and there's not a lot of opportunity close by. Will this hurt my ability to get my VA business started?
As long as you have access to the internet, you won’t be disadvantaged in terms of getting work. There will be networking options online and offline that will definitely be available wherever you are located (and we actively work with you to research and identify those avenues, and build your networking strategy).
Do I need to Specialise / Niche?
There’s no rules about what you do or don’t offer, but it can be a good move to try and offer a specialised service that you love and have great experience in only because you can potentially earn more in the long run because you can really set yourself up as “the expert” in that area.
But, seriously, it’s no great problem if you’re going to offer “general admin” to kick off your VA business.
What’s more important is that you are offering skills you are comfortable with and experienced enough to deliver.
I am worried about having to "Sell Myself". Is this something I really need to do?
So many startup VAs are fearful about this aspect of their business journey!
My advice – STOP WORRYING… Selling yourself is as simple as having a conversation (yes, you know, that thing you do with your mouth) with someone new.
We work with you to explain networking, and how best to network so you are focusing first and foremost on building relationships – not going in for the sale as soon as you meet someone – honestly, that’s not what it’s about.
By building relationships, and being generous with your conversation – offering advice when asked, or just a friendly ear to talk to – in a business networking environment, you will definitely reap rewards.
Let’s face it – people buy from people they know and trust… and that should be your goal when networking… not smarmy sales talk which no one is interested in!
Should I be worried about the Cheap Offshore VAs?
Let me be perfectly clear here; offshore VAs are providing support to Australian businesses, but I absolutely do not see them as competition.
Simply because we, as experienced admin professionals in the Aussie market, understand in great detail the business climate and culture, rules and regulations that are unique to our fair shores.
We also speak the same language (generally with English as a first language), live in the same time zone, and can have a conversation with our client’s customers as if we were sitting in their office.
Do I really need a Website?
You’re an online business, so YES, you do need a website! (don’t worry - we build a beautiful website for anyone who undertakes a VA Startup program with VA Institute as part of the course).
Do I need to be on Social Media?
At the very least, you should be on LinkedIn to build relationships and network with potential clients and colleagues, and Facebook so you can collaborate with other VAs. If your clients also hang out on social media, then you seriously need to be on there in some way, shape or form.
What about Client Agreements? Do I need to have one and where do I source one?
Yes, you definitely need to have your client sign an agreement BEFORE you start working for them. It should set out at the very least:
- Services you are going to provide for them
- Your agreed hourly or package rate
- Payment terms
- How to terminate the agreement
Again, we provide all these important templates to our VA Startups.
What type of Insurance do I need?
Depending on the sort of services you are providing, you may need to take out one of the following:
- Public Liability
- Professional Indemnity (recommended)
- Cyber Insurance
We encourage our VA Startups to seek advice from a professional financial adviser.
What Equipment do I need to get started as a VA?
Most of us have the basic equipment to start a VA business. You should have at the very least:
- PC or good laptop
- Access to reliable internet
- Mobile phone
- Multi-purpose printer/scanner
If possible, we suggest a dedicated office space set up so it’s WH&S compliant.
Should I buy a separate Phone for my VA business?
No, you shouldn’t need to invest in a separate phone for your business.
The only exception would be if you are providing Virtual Reception services, you may end up buying a VOIP phone that is dedicated for provision of reception services.
What sort of Professional Development could I access as a VA?
Our industry is an amazing one, full of amazing professional development opportunities.
VA Institute holds 2 day VA Summits (Melb, Syd, Bris and Perth) - check www.vasummit.com.au for further information
You claim to be "different" from other VA Training providers - How?
Yes, we ARE different because not only do we provide an individual end to end startup solution, but we also actively work with you one-on-one to strategise and implement.
Our goal is to get you launched in 6 weeks or less…
This means we DO things like:
Build your website (yes – we actually do this for you as part of the program)
Provide all the essential business templates you need, AND THEN make sure you know how to use them
Make you accountable – in other words, we are invested in your outcomes, and so we ensure that you do the things we need you to do in order to launch successfully
Provide you with ongoing one-on-one support as and when needed
Give you access to our Mastermind Facebook Group and the fortnightly group calls we run for additional learning and support.
What about ongoing training to upskill? Is there something around for VAs?
Again, we have some amazing opportunities for upskilling. There are some very reputable and affordable VA-centric training / upskilling resources that we can recommend to our VA Startups.