how to be a great virtual assistant

How to be a Great Virtual Assistant: 8 Qualities You Need to Succeed

Many moms who want to work from home as a virtual assistant are hesitant at first because they think that they need to have a lot of professional experience in order to be successful.

Nothing could be further from the truth! You don’t need a college education and you don’t need professional work experience to be a virtual assistant.

In fact, the things that make a good virtual assistant aren’t professional skills at all – they’re character qualities and traits.

Working as a virtual assistant is one of the most popular work at home jobs because it is so versatile. You can be a writer, organizer, graphic designer, or so much more.

While the job duties and responsibilities may vary depending on each virtual assistant and her clients, there are certain things that don’t change. Namely, the qualities and work ethic you possess.

These aren’t things that you will necessarily do for your clients, but instead, affect the way you interact with them.

These qualities are the things that actually make a good virtual assistant stand out from the sea of competition.

If you want to become a truly great virtual assistant, you must have the following characteristics:

1. Reliability

It seems like a no-brainer, but there’s a reason I put reliability at the top of the list. Believe it or not, one of the biggest reasons why people don’t succeed when they try to work from home is because they aren’t reliable.

There are some VAs who simply flake on a deal, don’t respond to emails, or never deliver the work that they promised to perform. I’ve experienced this myself, and I hear countless stories from other people who have experienced the same. It’s one of the reasons many people are hesitant to hire a virtual assistant in the first place.

If you want to be a really great virtual assistant, your clients need to know that they can count on you.

If you can provide quality service on the timeline you say that you will, you will already be setting yourself ahead of the competition.

If you want to be a really great virtual assistant, your clients need to know that they can count on you. If you’re reliable, you’ll stand out from the pack.

2. Organization

As a home business owner, you need to be organized. After all, a big part of your work as a virtual assistant will be organizing and keeping track of tasks for your clients. If you don’t have proper systems in place, you will have a hard time keeping up.

Additionally, if you’re running a home business while your home with your kids, organization is key for managing both your household and your business.

There are obviously lots of ways to stay organized – you just need to find the system that works best for you.

Some VAs like to use online organizers like Trello or Asana to keep track of work. Others prefer to use a physical pen-and-paper calendar or planner.

Over the years, I’ve developed my own sort of hybrid approach to organization. I have a simple spreadsheet system I use to keep track of work but I also love writing things down in my physical planner.

There’s no right or wrong way to approach this, but it is crucial that you stay organized in everything. If you appear scatterbrained, forget a task, or unable to provide a client with a clear paper-trail, there is a very good chance that they won’t hire you again and will instead move on to find someone else who appears more put together.

3. Motivation

Working from home as a virtual assistant also requires you to stay motivated. Believe me when I say that there are plenty of days that you will be fighting the doldrums and struggling to get things done.

Unfortunately, in order to be a successful business owner, you need to stay motivated to do your work. This isn’t an office where you can clock in and clock out, getting paid for just showing up. When you work for yourself, if you don’t put in the effort than you don’t get paid.

In order to stay motivated while I’m working, I like to keep a sort of vision board in my office, where I print out things that remind me why I’m working. This is often a financial goal, vacation, or something I want to purchase with funds from my work.

Additionally, it helps to put good systems in place in my work day. I build up good habits, like waking up early, eating healthy foods, and exercising. This plays a big role in my overall mood and my work ethic.

Finally, I find it helpful to reward myself and take time off every so often. In fact, I make it a rule not to work on Sundays. Taking time to step away from work and recharge your batteries is so important in ensuring that you don’t get burned out in the long run.

woman sitting on couch working from home while talking on the phone

4. Good Communication

Whenever you work with clients, you need to have excellent, professional communication skills. Keep in mind that there are some clients who will prefer to communicate solely over email, while others may prefer a phone call or video chat. Be prepared to communicate in whatever method your client prefers.

Take a friendly tone, be a patient listener, and yet be fair and professional in your business dealings. You need to stand up for yourself as a business owner.

When you’re communicating via email, it’s vitally important that you use proper English and good grammar. Simple mistakes like this could cost you clients who expect top-notch professional service.

Remember that clients are hiring you because they want to make their lives easier. If they have to chase you down because you aren’t responding to emails or aren’t giving status updates, you’re actually making life far more difficult for them.

If you want regular work and repeat customers, good communication is key.

5. Flexibility

Since you’ll be working with a variety of different clients, you need to have some flexibility in how you complete your tasks.

For example, some clients may ask you to check in weekly with a status update, while others may ask you to use Trello or Asana rather than email communication.

Some may like you to create graphics in Canva, while others use Photoshop.

The more flexible you are with accommodating each client’s wants and needs, the more likely you will be to score repeat customers among your clientele.  

6. Perseverance

Working as a VA is not a get-rich-quick kind of job (in fact, there is no such thing as a get-rich-quick kind of job!). You’ll likely have to put in a lot of long hours and hard work, especially at first. It’s very important during these early days that you don’t give up the struggle.

It can be disheartening when you don’t win a bid on the perfect job, when a client decides to hire someone else, or when someone comes back with a complaint about your work.

Just know that it happens to the best of us and it doesn’t have to mean the end of your business.

There are a lot of different people who need virtual assistants, and many different ways and styles of working. If one client isn’t a good fit, just move on until you find one who is.

7. Close Attention to Detail

You know that common saying, “The devil is in the details?” It’s very true when you’re working as a virtual assistant.

As a VA, it’s vitally important that you don’t make small mistakes or common errors. In this job, it’s well worth it to double and triple check your work.

If your client is unsatisfied, it’s fairly easy for them to move on and hire a different virtual assistant. Don’t let your small mistakes be the reason this happens.

A good virtual assistant knows not to rush things and instead, will pay close attention to all the details of her work.

8. Confidence

Believe it or not, you can be your own worse enemy when you’re a work at home business owner. Too many people fail because they simply do not exude the confidence that it takes to find clients willing to hire you.

When a client is looking to hire a freelancer, they want a professional who will do a good job. If you aren’t confident in who you are and what you can provide, they won’t be confident in hiring you.

Don’t be afraid to sell your services and make it clear that you can benefit the client and provide the services they need.

When you’re working as a virtual assistant, there’s no degree or certificate that earmarks you as a professional virtual assistant.

You’re a professional if you say you are, if you treat your business like a real career, and you display a certain level of confidence and expertise to your clients.

Simply put, be confident in your business and you will win clients.

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