Overview Of Business Model
Hiring a “virtual assistant” is becoming extremely popular in today’s workplace environment. Many companies will seek the use of a virtual assistant service when they cannot afford or do not have the workload to sustain a full-time in-house staff member. Other companies look for suppliers of this type of service during the summer, when many people are out on vacation, in order to take care of the workload. Other companies simply have too much work to be done by existing staff from time to time and need the assistance of an off-site assistant to handle some of the workload. As more and more home-based businesses are springing up, the need for this type of service is going to increase.
This is an ideal niche market to penetrate as an online business. There is a huge demand for online virtual assistant services. You will charge for your services by the hour, by contract for the job, or on a monthly retainer basis. This is one of the easiest and least expensive businesses to start online.
Excellent keyboarding skills are an invaluable asset. Oral and written communications skills are also very important as your clients will demand quality work, and you will be communicating with your clients on a regular basis. In addition, an understanding of today’s widely used business applications is a must.
Cost To Start This Business
Initially you will have to pay for the design, development, and hosting of your Web site, computer hardware, computer software, a scanner, a fax machine, and a printer. If you currently have some of these items, your initial start-up costs will be reduced accordingly. Other costs that you will incur are related to the promotion of your business. Estimated cost is $3,000 to $5,000 to start.
Number Of Employees Needed To Start
One person can easily start this business on a part-time basis.
This business has little international potential. A majority of your clients will be based in your immediate geographic area.
Important Business Issues To Be Addressed
One important issue you need to address is compatibility with the software your client uses. You do not want to put your effort into developing an electronic report only to find out your client cannot open it. Find out what software your client prefers beforehand.
Online Marketing Techniques
- Develop a comprehensive link strategy. You will want to generate as many links as possible from appropriate Web sites, directories, Web rings, and meta-indexes related to your target market. Find all the business service sites for your local market and get linked from as many as possible.
- Promotion through related mail lists and newsletters is important. You may even develop your own newsletter or mail list to stay close to your target market.
- Ensure that you submit your site to the search engines and directories. Because many of your clients will likely be regional, be sure to get yourself listed in any regional online business directories that your target market may frequent.
- Develop a viral marketing strategy where people can “Tell a Colleague about This Service” via your site. This will spread the word about your site.
You could earn extra money by performing value-added services such as scanning services or printing services. You could charge a per-page fee for either service. You could provide desktop publishing services, newsletter content development and distribution services, bookkeeping services, telephone answering services, and any other administrative services needed by home-based businesses.