“Where do I sign up to get work?”

As a director on the Board of IVAA, an author, and an active participant on VA groups and forums, VA newbies will often ask where they sign up to get work. Huh? Unfortunately, some people don’t research what is involved in becoming a virtual assistant and instead think they are becoming a telecommuter–and that someone will find work for them.

The reality is that virtual assistants are independent business owners and responsible for marketing and finding their own clients. That is often the hardest part of being a VA and one business aspect that takes careful planning and consistent effort. Take out your Entrepreneurial Freedom book and turn to Chapters 4 and 6 now, then share with us your own favorite marketing and networking tips.

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VA inspirational quote of the day

Success in business requires training and discipline and hard work. But if you’re not frightened by these things, the opportunities are just as great today as they ever were.
David Rockefeller
US banker (1915 – )

I heard this on the Dave Ramsey show today. Isn’t this true when it comes to the virtual assistance profession? We are very lucky to be living in a time when we can run a business from our home. 15 years ago, this business model didn’t exist. But just the fact that virtual assistance is a great, flexible career, doesn’t mean it’s easy. You have to learn from others, continually add to your knowledge, and be dedicated to the success of your business.

Colleges are beginning to offer the Entrepreneurial Freedom course. If you would like to do the home-study version, you may order the book and workbook here.

Entrepreneurial Freedom book and workbook now in community colleges!

Look for a press release coming soon with all the details. Entrepreneurial Freedom has been adopted by a community college on the West Coast as the material of choice for teaching their virtual assistance class. More announcements coming soon!

If you teach a college virtual assistance class and are looking for an easy-to-use and comprehensive book and workbook to teach your virtual assistance course, please email us for details on our educational discounts.

Knowing how to do the work doesn’t mean you can run a business

When over at the “Hello My Name is Scott” guy’s website, I downloaded this great free ebook. One of the snippets from it that is just so true is this:

90% of new restaurants fail within their first year because someone out there said, “You know, I like to cook. And people enjoy my food. Maybe I should start a restaurant!” LESSON LEARNED: just because you know the trade, doesn’t mean you can run the business.

I get so many emails saying, “I have the skill set to be a (fill in the blank type of virtual assistant) but tell me how to run a business. I don’t know the first thing about how to get clients.” That’s why Entrepreneurial Freedom: How to Start and Grow a Profitable Virtual Assistance Practice is such an important book to college students considering working for themselves instead of a “boss” or for professionals who are tired of paying three-dollars-a-gallon for gas to commute to a job they don’t even like.

But just like Scott says, there’s more to running a business than knowing how to do client work.

A Niche to Consider: Cover Letter Writing

A Cover Letter Should Show Nothing ‘More’ Than The Real McCoy

By Beverley Neil CERW, CRW

I recently read a very apt modern day description of what a cover letter really is – or has evolved into being – Career Marketing Letters.

They have passed the point of simply ‘covering’ the résumé and formally announcing that you are forwarding your application for job title so and so to being powerful documents in their own right.

If you are considering adding résumé writing to your services, you will need to understand that while the résumé is a hard hitting, concise and factual document, the cover letter is where your client’s personality gets a chance to shine through.

Yes, the employer wants to know the facts of what your client has achieved and how he or she meets the company’s specific requirements, but the employer also wants to know your client, the individual, and how they communicate and express themselves.

As the résumé writer, this can create a tricky balancing act. You want and need to sell your client, but you also need to showcase ‘the person’ and keep the communication to within the limits of how your client communicates. With some clients – very tricky.

So how do you approach a cover letter for a client who communicates in a down-to-earth manner? With honesty and integrity for the individual.

You can never falsely sell anyone. Remember, it is not you who will be sitting at the interview trying to live up to a false image. Yes, by presenting a great oratory you may win the interview for your client and praise for your skills, but at what cost.

In this example both polish and integrity of the individual has been maintained by drawing upon the individual’s own words to bring out the personality that will greet a potential interviewer:

“Over the 25 years I have been involved in the smash repairs industry I have always maintained pace with technology and am known for taking up state-of-the-art methods in advance of my competitors. The best buzz I get is the look in a young boy’s or a man’s eyes when I show them something they have never done, or I show them how to fix the problem and it all comes together for them.”

Including an expression such as ‘the best buzz’ may not be considered precise, professional writing, but it does demonstrate the individual’s personality and enthusiasm and way of communicating.

So, yes, sell your client as powerfully as possible, but only ever within the bounds of who your client really is and how he or she will communicate in a face-to-face situation.

If you would like to learn more about writing powerful online cover letters and résumés please visit www.onlineresumewriterscourse.com or feel free to contact Beverley direct on d_scriptive@optusnet.com.au

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Virtual Assistance Equals Best Quick Cash-hmmm

In Readers’ Digest, there’s an article called, “Best Quick Cash-Amazing Ways to Make Extra Money.” The article isn’t bad, really, but my biggest beef with it is the category it’s under. Being a virtual assistant is a good way to make cash, but to do it right, I wouldn’t say that it’s a way to make quick cash–not if you want to be in business for the long term.

The most successful virtual assistance businesses have solid foundations, solid marketing efforts, stellar ethics, ties to professional associations, and much more. They are not just looking for quick cash…they are building strong ties with their clients and constantly striving to learn more and do better.

And, I’m not sure where Readers Digest got their figures from, but in my experience, $35 per hour for basic transcription sounds a little on the high side.

I was happy to see that two groups I’m a member of were listed in the article: IVAA and the Virtual Assistant Networking Association.

The Feminine Mistake and Entrepreneurial Freedom

In today’s Harrisburg Patriot News, I read an article about the book, The Feminine Mistake, and its author, Leslie Bennetts. I’m going to order the book, but after reading reviews on Amazon, I have a pretty good idea of the gist of it–the financial implications on being a Stay at Home mom. Sure, quitting the workforce has financial implications. Even if you’re not making a ton of money, you lose your own medical benefits, retirement plans, and your income. You also run the risk of being widowed, divorced, or your husband losing his job. But being a stay at home mom has some perks…like saving on commuting, dry cleaning, lunches out, convenience meals, daycare, plus, of course, being able to spend a lot of time with your kids. And anyone who thinks a stay at home just sits around watching soap operas and eating bon-bons, obviously has never been one.

But my point is that people often see the SAHM/WAHM as a black and white debate. But virtual assistants, or VAs, know that it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition.

Let’s face it. There are no guarantees in life. Sure, Leslie Bennetts, my husband could pack up and leave tomorrow. But I don’t feel I’ve made “The Feminine Mistake” by staying home with my kids most of the time and having them in child care part of the time while I’ve built my business. My virtual assistance practice has given me immense self-satisfaction and the Entrepreneurial Freedom to live a balanced, successful and rewarding professional and personal life.

Funding Your Virtual Assistant Business

I came across an article in Fast Company about Prosper.com. This is a service where you can act as a lender or buyer. As a lender, you offer money to loans and spread out your risk among many. As a buyer, you plead your case, get assigned a credit rating, and people can offer you money at an interest rate that might be better than what you can get at a bank or through a credit card.

I did a quick search and didn’t see any VAs requesting loans, but it might be worth investigating for someone who needs some start-up cash.

How to Start and Grow a Profitable Virtual Assistance Practice