A home-based virtual assistant provides support services to business people and companies. If you start this type of business, you will work virtually, which means you may use the Internet, telephone, fax and other tools to provide administrative support and other services to your clients. In fact, you may provide a wide range of valuable services without ever being in the same room with your clients. Virtual assisting can be a lucrative business, and the hardest part of it may be just getting started.
Assess the skills you can use in a home-based virtual assistant business. If you have experience or skills in customer service, marketing, sales or office administration, you may do well in this business. You may even begin this business if you have experience working as a real estate assistant or are skilled with Web or graphic design.
Decide services you would like to offer in your virtual assistant business. Some people choose to focus primarily on secretarial work while others may opt to target clients who need real estate assistance or writing work. You may create a list of services that encompass a wide variety of virtual assistant tasks or position yourself as an expert in a single niche.
Get a business license. Though you will operate your business from your own home, you will likely have to pay a fee and complete an application for business licensing. You can learn the requirements for licensing by contacting your city or town's department of licensing and inspection or the county courthouse.
Set up an office or dedicated workspace in your home. Because you will provide virtual support to a business person or company, you will typically need a range of supplies and equipment. For example, you may need a reliable computer and printer, scanner, phone with answering machine or service, and a copy machine. You may also need a fax machine, paper, pens, staplers and other basic office supplies.
Research online tools that will make communicating with clients easier. You may use email, instant messaging and Internet telephone services for your business. You may also use Internet tools that allow you to conduct meetings over the Internet and even show your computer screen to your clients.
Prepare a business plan that details how you will start, run and market your business. You may also include details about how you will eventually expand your business. A solid business plan may help you to stay on track toward reaching your goals.
Set your prices. You may set a general hourly price for your services or vary your prices depending on the task you are performing. Researching other virtual assistant businesses may give you a starting point for setting your rates.
Decide on a work schedule. Many virtual assistants keep normal business hours and work six to eight hours per day. As this is your business, you may choose the part-time or full-time schedule that meets your needs and fits with your other responsibilities.
Create a website for your virtual assistant business. Use it to post articles and other content that include keywords related to the services you will offer.
Market your business through brochures, fliers, business, cards, and online and newspaper ads. You may attend business networking events and ask family members and friends for referrals as well.