The world, as we know it today, is suffering from an economic crisis. Rich countries like the US and Japan are currently in recession and economies dependent on them are suffering just as badly, some even worse. As a result, many companies have shut down or downsized their operations, leaving hundreds of thousands jobless. They join millions of other in the unemployed group.
Despite this scenario, the current economic situation should not deter people, especially those who got laid off from their jobs, from starting a new business of their own. Even in tough economic times, there are opportunities waiting to be grabbed by those who can identify them. There are many such opportunities online. A good example would be a home-based virtual assistance service.
Essentially, a virtual assistance service provides secretarial and administrative services to clients. Services offered may include email management, transcription, preparing spreadsheets, word processing, writing, editing, setting-up appointments, bookkeeping, and online personal shopping. Other virtual assistants offer specialized services such as blogging, search engine optimization (SEO), internet marketing, web development and design, and programming. These services are often paid for by the hour, unless of course a special financial arrangement has been worked out between the virtual assistant and the client.
Is there a market for such services? Definitely. In fact, with the right marketing approach, a home-based virtual assistance service can be a very profitable business in the current economic climate. There are executives, small businessmen and entrepreneurs who opt to hire a virtual assistant than employ an office assistant because virtual assistants cost less in the long-term. Virtual assistants do not require an office space, and they do no get benefits and bonuses like a regularly employed office assistant would. All in all, hiring a virtual assistant is about making sure that the bottom-line of the business stays in black.
To set up a home-based virtual assistance service you need a good computer. It is advisable that this computer, whether it be a desktop or a laptop, should be used exclusively for the business. A stable Internet connection is also a MUST. Communications between a virtual assistant and the client are mainly done online and the virtual assistant must be easily reached through email or instant messenger. Depending on the services that will be provided, getting a phone service and an online fax service might be required too. Also consider methods by which you will accept payment for your services. At the moment, many accept payment through electronic fund transfers and Paypal.
Just like any other new business, the first months will be a really slow month for you. Take this time to increase the visibility of your business. Look and register at networking sites, try your hand at email marketing, build up leads for your business, and work towards updating your repertoire of skills. If you choose to do so, you may also get certification on international virtual associations. Ultimately, your goal is to gain new clients and keep them happy so that you build your business through referrals.