If you’re online a lot, you may have heard people talking about hiring or working with a virtual assistant. Maybe you’ve noticed your favorite bloggers talking about their VA(s) and how much time they’ve saved them or seen people in Facebook groups asking who to hire as a VA.
This probably has you wondering, “What is a VA and what exactly do they do?”
Another question you may have is whether you could be a VA yourself.
I became a VA in 2014, kind of by accident. I reached out to a business coach and asked if I could help her with her business in exchange for some business coaching (I was wanting to learn how to grow my coaching business). I ended up falling in love with VA work, started bringing on paying clients, and quit my job within 3 months of my first paying client.
Over the years I’ve noticed that there are 11 traits that successful virtual assistants share. These traits are important for growing a thriving business.
Do You Have What it Takes to Be A Virtual Assistant?
1. Boss Lady Material
First and foremost, you must want to be your own boss.
VA’s are freelancers so that means you have to feel comfortable running your own business. Some people are cut out for this and others are not, which is perfectly cool! But in order to be a VA and run your own business you have to embrace being an entrepreneur.
Part of being an entrepreneur is making sure that things are getting done in your own business. That means you have to make time to send invoices, pay bills, market your services, file taxes, etc. Eventually you can hire your own VA to help out, but in the beginning it’s good if you can get familiar with these things and start creating your processes.
Running an efficient business takes organization skills. If you don’t have ‘em, learn ‘em! You need to be able to find documents and papers without tearing up the house (or computer).
You also need to be organized for your clients. When they say they need you to send the graphic again that you sent a couple weeks ago, you have to be able to find it.
3. Good at Managing Time
Time management is a tricky little fella! It takes practice, tweaking and seeing what works for you.
When you’re a VA you need to learn how to manage your time properly because you’ll be juggling different clients and projects. It means making time to sit down and doing your work, even though you have other non-work related things you want to do (like tidy up the house).
FYI, this is something a lot of entrepreneurs struggle with, including myself. I especially struggled with time management when I became a VA and got really busy, quickly. Again, it takes practice and patience to work it out and of course, tweaking as needed.
It also helps to learn when you’re most productive during your day. For some people this is early in the morning, for others it’s the evening. Whatever you figure out is fine.
That’s one of the great things about being an entrepreneur! You can pretty much choose when you work!
Some days I’m ready to dive into client work right away. Other days I want to work on my own business. Find a system that works for you.
Ah, motivation, some days you have it, some days you don’t. Am I right?
As a VA you’ll need to know how to tap into your motivation when you have an important project due and you’re not feeling it. When you work from home (or on the road, if you’re a traveling VA) you’ll have distractions that try to take you off course.
I’ve found that having a plan and knowing what gets you motivated helps.
Maybe it means making a green smoothie when you’re feeling tired. Or working from bed when it’s rainy. Or spending part of the day reading and working later.
Working on your computer or online can be very distracting. Working at home can be very distracting. A pretty day can be distracting. (You get the idea.)
This is where mindfulness comes into play, like being in the present moment and focusing on one task at a time.
Taking frequent breaks is important to staying focused too (I like to set a timer and work for about an hour, then take a 10 minute break).
6. Good at Setting Boundaries
As a business owner and a VA, you need to know what you’ll tolerate and what you won’t. This can be the type of people you work with, the days you work, or tasks you do. These boundaries can be laid out in a contract, but sometimes you’ll need to speak up for yourself, or fire a client, or say no.
7. Clear Communicator
Your clients need to hear what you’re working on or what you’ve finished or when you’re going on vacation. Make sure you keep them in the loop with what’s going on so they don’t wonder or worse yet, worry.
This also means saying something if you’re struggling with a project or if you have a personal problem that could affect your work. Don’t leave your client hanging and wondering if you’re okay. It’s your responsibility to let them know what’s going on.
8. Not Afraid to Ask Questions
Another part of communicating is asking questions when you’re unclear. If something doesn’t make sense, speak up! Ask for clarification, repeat what you heard, ask for an example. You don’t want to be mid-project and realize you have it all wrong because you didn’t ask for clarification.
By the way, I had a client tell me that one of the things she didn’t like about her previous VA was that she didn’t ask questions. So don’t be shy; speak up and ask away! If you find that a client is bothered by this, then maybe they’re not the right client for you. (This is why it’s important to know who your ideal client is!)
As a VA, you have to be detail-oriented. You are helping clients with their baby. Yes, their baby!
Their business is their breathing, cooing, belching little baby. They are nervous about handing it over to strangers. They’re worried someone won’t treat it as kindly as they do. And they’re afraid someone will make mistakes with their baby.
Handing over work to a VA can make business owners very nervous. They are usually control freaks (I’m not judging, I’m one of them!) so you have to be on point. Make sure you check your work then check it again.
I’ll be honest, I’m not the fastest VA. That’s because I double check and usually triple check my work. Yes, that slows me down at times, but I’m all about quality work, not quantity. My ideal client appreciates this.
10. Willing to Take Initiative
This one separates the good VAs from the Amaz-ing VAs.
This means looking beyond the scope of the project and offering solutions or ways to improve it, without someone asking you to. It means getting inside your client’s head and figuring out what they want next and then offering it. It’s improving a system or process so it runs smoother or eliminating steps to make it better.
It’s going the extra mile because you care. Which leads me to the final habit of successful VAs.
I’d say that caring is the #1 trait of successful VAs.
This not only means genuinely caring about your client and his or her business, but also caring about yourself. You cheer on your client when something good happens and you lend an ear when they need to talk something out. Yet, you care to set boundaries for yourself in your business and personal life.
When you genuinely care about your client and believe in what they do, it shows. And it makes your work much more enjoyable. That’s another reason why you need to know who your ideal client is and the industry you want to work in.
Caring also means taking time to improve your skills and listening to feedback on your work without getting defensive.
When you love what you do it’s not hard to care. That’s why I love being a VA. I work the hours I want to work, with clients I want to work with and do work that I want to do. It’s really a dream come true.
Interested in learning more?
If becoming a VA is intriguing, I invite you to learn more. Here are a few articles to get you started: