5 Advantages And Disadvantages of Becoming A Virtual Administrative Assistant

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Whether you are shown the door or you remain, layoffs are miserable. After experiencing my third round of layoffs, I decided I would stop looking for the perfect job and would create the perfect job by starting my virtual administrative assistant service.

This is the first in a series of blog posts about making the transition to being a virtual administrative assistant. The goal of these posts is to provide some useful information for administrative professionals who may want to take the big (and very scary) step from being an employee to business owner.

Your journey will have challenges, but it can definitely be worth the effort. I can unequivocally state that starting my business as a virtual administrative assistant was the best thing I have ever done for myself. If you’re tired of the career merry-go-round, this may be a great option. But you need to start this venture with some idea of what to expect.

Advantages of becoming a virtual assistant:

  • You never have to look for another job, because you have created your own.
  • You set your own schedule, including vacations and days off.
  • You are the boss.
  • You can choose to earn more or less money depending on how much you are willing to work.
  • As a virtual business you can work from home (or anywhere in the world).

Disadvantages of becoming a virtual assistant:

  • You don’t have a job, which means no salary, no benefits and no vacation pay.
  • You set your own schedule, but work according to your client needs, which may mean you are up until 3:00am to meet a deadline.
  • You are the boss, which means it’s all up to you. You find the clients, you do the work, you pay the bills and you meet the deadlines
  • You work from home, with all the inherent distractions of being at home. That includes kids, housework, pets, TV, the garden, online games and Googling yourself.
  • You can make as much money as you are willing to work for, but it is way too easy to work way too much and burn out.

If you are considering becoming a virtual administrative assistant, you will need to learn how to run your own show. It is your legal responsibility as a business owner to know your obligations and accountabilities. The legal system specifies that not knowing is not a valid reason and you will face large fines and even imprisonment if you fail to meet your legal obligations. Seek out competent legal advice. Two great places to start are the U.S. Small Business Administration and Industry Canada.

There are thousands of companies that can teach you how to be a business owner – for a price. Before you start spending money you can’t spare, you should know that you have a couple of options.

If you are still employed, I highly recommend that you take a course on how to run a small business. There are lots of inexpensive learning options out there, including night school, your chamber of commerce, small business associations and local government sponsored programs. Check out this list of free online classes compiled by Inc. magazine. The SBA and Service Canada are also excellent resources.

If you have been laid off, take advantage of some of the programs run by various federal, provincial/state and local governments. Most of these government run programs are tied into a retraining program and unemployment/employment insurance, so that you can get paid for learning. For example, in Ontario, Canada, there is an excellent program called the Self Employment Benefit program that will provide you with an income (albeit small) while you are setting up and developing your business. This is the route I took – it provided a small cushion of time to find my first client.

Making the leap from being an employee to self-employed is never easy. But with thought, research and preparation, you can lay a foundation for a successful small business. The best choice you ever make might be the decision to become a virtual administrative assistant.

Here’s a preview of what’s to come in this blog series:

  • Job qualifications of a virtual administrative assistant
  • Setting up your new business
  • Keeping a healthy balance between work and life
  • Tools and technology
  • Finding clients
  • Marketing your business
  • Setting prices

(Bonnie Wooding owns and operates HyWood Services, a virtual administration and management service based in Ontario, Canada. She has more than 25 years of administrative experience.)

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