No matter what your specialty, there are certain skills every Virtual Assistant needs. When running a home-based business, you are responsible for everything. This article covers some of the basic skills required by a virtual assistant to help things run smoothly.
Organization. Perhaps one of the most important skills a virtual assistant needs is organization. This includes everything from an uncluttered workspace, to an effective filing system (both computerized and paper, if necessary), to contact management to keep track of client/customer lead information.
Time management. A critical skill when working from home is time management. Virtual assistants must be able to prioritize work on a daily basis, and multi-task when necessary. Plan your day according to deadlines and schedule blocks of time to complete each task. Set a timer if you need to. Recognize distractions (such as children or pets) and find ways to minimize the interruptions.
Bookkeeping. Virtual assistants must have basic bookkeeping skills. You do not need an accounting degree, but you should be able to track your time, bill your clients, and record payments. There are many software programs available to help, such as Quicken, but in many cases, a simple Excel spreadsheet may suffice.
It is recommended that home-based business owners seek professional assistance for taxes. Detailed record keeping will alleviate much of the stress that accompanies tax time.
Typing. Assuming most of your work is completed online, basic typing skills are essential. There are many online resources (some free) to improve your typing speed and accuracy. Keep in mind, anything you can complete more quickly and efficiently frees up your time for other tasks.
Grammar. Command of the English language, including grammar and punctuation, is vital to the success of your home-based business. Nothing says 'unprofessional' like work containing misspellings, improper word usage or other typos. Be especially conscientious when spelling the contact name or company name of your client.
Sales and marketing. As a virtual assistant, you are your own sales and marketing team. Home-based business owners must generate business by cold-calling or otherwise prospecting for new leads. If you are uncomfortable with sales, consider attending a workshop to build your confidence.
Networking. An important skill for any business owner is networking. As a virtual assistant, networking can provide the critical link to the outside world in an otherwise solitary profession. In addition to regular contact with like-minded individuals, networking is key to acquiring new business and referrals. People like to work with people they know.
Depending on your virtual assistant specialty, your work may require specialized skills, advanced training, or higher education. These areas may include transcription (medical or non-medical), desktop publishing, web design, or online teaching.
One of the keys to operating a successful virtual assistant business is to run it like a well-oiled machine. If you take control over the basic responsibilities discussed above, you will enjoy more productive, stress-free days.
If you are lacking in any of the areas discussed, seek out educational opportunities to acquire these much-needed skills.
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