Dear Shama…How do I start a Virtual Assistant business?

Dear Shama,

I was an administrative assistant for over 15 years, and now I am ready to start my own business-at least I think I am. I want to start a virtual assistant business but I am not sure exactly how to go about doing so. What do I really need to start such a business and how do I market myself?

-Lost Virtual Assistant in Plano, Texas

Dear Lost Virtual Assistant,

I don’t think you are lost at all! I think you have chosen a great way to take your experiences and turn them into something more profitable. Just the other day someone asked me-What is Secretarial Services? A virtual assistant business would be a great example of such a service. Let’s break your question down into parts.

First part-How do you start? Well, you already seem to have set an intention to do so which is really the first step. Now, you have to focus on who you want to work with? There is a great need for Virtual Assistants in many fields, and you can choose whether you want to be a generalist of specialist. A generalist virtual assistant can work on a variety of projects, just like most administrative assistants. As a specialist, you can choose to work with only lawyers (doing legal research), or with medical professionals (medical transcription, etc), or with any specific group that requires a special skill set. There is a need for both types of virtual assistants, and you can go with what feels most comfortable to you.

Second part-What do you need? Characteristics wise, most clients ask for virtual assistants who are sharp, can take initiative, and who will help further the client’s business. If this sounds like you, you may find your business booming before you know it. You also need a good working computer, an internet, fax, and phone connection, and lots of folders to keep you organized. Remember to back up your files often. Careless errors in your first years in business can cost you.

Third part-How do you market yourself? Leverage the internet! Set up a great website that lists your services and your credentials. Now, tell everyone you know. This includes your friends, acquaintances, and even your kid’s teachers. Contact old employers and tell them what you are up to. Many businesses are now looking to hire virtual assistants to decrease in-house costs. Create a short movie on the benefits of hiring a virtual assistant and load it on YouTube. Don’t forget to list your website address at the bottom! Once you get those initial clients, remember to wow them with your service. Best of Luck and Work Smart!


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  • Heather Juma

    Hi Shama, Thanks for giving advice on this. Those of us online really need VAs. This is great advice, showing someone with “offline” skills how to use those skills for an “online” business.

  • Shari

    Hi Shama, Great advice. I am a virtual assistant who specializes in providing internet marketing support to small business owners. The VA industry is growing by leaps and bounds every year and there is plenty of opportunity for new VAs! I belong to 2 amazing VA forums and would recommend that any new VA join. The forums are completely free and are a wealth of information. and

  • Shama


    Thanks for sharing the forum information. And thank you for taking the time to leave a useful comment on the blog for others to use!