Top 10 Must-Haves for Every VA
Last year, the world shifted to a work-from-home set-up due to the ongoing pandemic. That’s why people prefer remote jobs now more than ever. If you’re one of those people who wants to venture into the world of Virtual Assistants, then it’s a good choice.
Being a Virtual Assistant (VA) is fun and exciting. You get to own a business while working with different companies. But, not anyone with a computer can effectively work as a Virtual Assistant.
Before you start your journey into this exciting career path, you need to make sure you’re prepared mentally, physically, AND digitally. Let’s discuss the top 10 things every Virtual Assistant should have to be successful.
1. High-Quality Computer
As a Virtual Assistant, you rely mostly on your computer. So a slow, low-storage capacity computer isn’t gonna quite cut it. Choose a computer that is highly recommended by users. It also helps to ask other Virtual Assistants what computer they use for work.
And if you can’t decide between a desktop or a laptop, if you have the resources, you can pick both. It’s always good to have a backup plan when one of your computers malfunctions. If your desktop fails to open, you can continue your work with your laptop.
Just make sure that you have stored all the necessary files in an online storage system for quicker access.
But having both a desktop and laptop will cost you a fortune. Especially now that laptops are more preferred since they can be used even outside of your home. If you want to have a better experience working with laptops, you should consider buying a portable monitor.
Portable monitors can extend your laptop’s screen, which helps in client presentations. For example, the best MacBook Pro monitor can enhance your screen size to up to 34”. Aside from that, when your laptop dies, you can charge them in these monitors. And if you forgot your laptop, don’t worry because you can connect your mobile devices to your monitor.
Now all you need is a portable keyboard and a mouse, and you have now transformed your phone into a computer!
2. Reliable Internet Connection
What is a Virtual Assistant without a reliable internet connection? A bad one. Just think about it. If your connection is slow, you won’t be able to meet the deadlines for your work. And when that happens, lesser people will avail of your service.
After buying a high-quality computer, you need to make sure that your internet connection is reliable. We understand that it can be expensive, but it’s going to be worth it. A reliable internet connection is a great investment, especially for work-from-home jobs.
It’s also helpful that you set up mobile hotspots on your phone. You never know when you will need to work outside. There’s no guarantee that the library, for example, you’re in has a good internet connection. In this case, mobile hotspots are your lifesaver.
3. Perfect Spot For Your Workstation
Working from home sounded like a relieving setup especially during the pandemic. But once you’ve already started, there are way too many distractions around you.
A 2020 study surveyed over 1,000 Americans and found that 72% of them work from their beds. It seems ideal especially when you don’t have enough space in your house or apartment for your workstation.
But when you work in your bedroom, there’s a good chance that you’ll be tempted to turn in for another day. Worst, it will disrupt your sleeping cycle. This study explained that working before sleeping can damage your sleep quality. And when you work from your bed, your brain will stop associating your bed as a place of resting.
If that happens, you’ll find yourself struggling to sleep, leading to sleep-related illnesses. This will lower your productivity and the quality of your performance.
That’s why you need to find the perfect spot to set up your workstation. Here are some tips to help you choose the best place for your workstation at home:
- If you can, transform one room of your house into your workstation. This is the most ideal because it separates work from family or your personal life. As much as possible, this room should only be for work. So that when you enter the room, you’ll be more focused on your work instead of any other things in your house.
- If having a separate room for your workstation is not possible, you should consider a space with minimal distractions. This means that you can’t set up near your kitchen, living room, or laundry room as these places naturally generate noise.
- A space with good lighting is the best choice for workstations. Staring at your monitor in a dimly lit room can cause headaches and eye strain. It is ideal to set up your workplace near a window for natural light that is not too direct. If the sunlight shines directly on your computer, it will reflect off your monitor, causing glare.
4. Essential Software and Programs
When you work as a Virtual Assistant, you will be doing a lot of tasks, and most of them can be time-consuming. Thankfully, there are different software and programs available.
Most of these tools are free, and some need to be purchased. But, like your computer and internet, it’s a good investment. There is a wide range of tools out there. Before you choose one, you need to know which tools you need for VA tasks. Generally, you need:
- Word processor
- Graphic design software
- Programs for password sharing
- Programs that help with grammar and spelling checks
- Time tracker
When it comes to work-from-home setups, there is a lot of available software to choose from. But you need to be careful in choosing the best Virtual Assistant programs since they depend on your work responsibilities. For example, you don’t need accounting programs if your work as a VA deals more in social media management
5. The Right Skill Set
Companies hire Virtual Assistants with the right skill sets needed for the type of business they have. VAs can do various tasks for businesses, ranging from admin work to travel arrangements.
With this wide range of tasks and duties, it will take a long time to become a Virtual Assistant. Even degree holders don’t automatically have the required abilities for these tasks.
But when there’s a will, there’s always a way. If you’re thinking that you need to be good at all of these, that’s not the case. According to Indeed, here are the skills that you need to work on:
- Highly reliable
- Excellent communication skills
- Time management skills
- Highly organized
- Multi-tasking skills
- Writing and typing skills
- Basic accounting skills
6. Optimized Website
There is a reason why a website is important for every business. Aside from appearing credible to your clients, it’s a good way of marketing your services to other potential clients. Consider this: 81% of people look up a product or service online before buying. This means that if you don’t have a website, you’re only selling to 17% of people.
In addition, as a Virtual Assistant, it is important for your clients to know the quality of your work. In this case, a website can also be your portfolio.
To maximize the use of your website, you should know what qualities a good website has. These include:
- A page where you showcase your services
- Being mobile-friendly
- A page dedicated to service reviews and testimonials
- Your contact information
- Blogs, podcasts, and videos
- A call to action (CTA)
- A page about you
- A FAQs page
7. Fixed Schedule for Work
When you’re working remotely, this means that you are the boss of your own schedule. That’s considered to be the number one benefit of working from home.
But with freedom comes the struggle for self-discipline. And when you’re in a place you associate relaxing the most, it tends to get harder to work. Time management is, after all, one of the greatest challenges of every Virtual Assistant.
The best solution is to choose a fixed schedule for working. And you have to strictly follow this schedule as if you’re working on site. Setting up a schedule strictly for working will help you visualize how your day will go about.
You will know what time you can schedule activities outside of work. Plus, it helps you focus on your work. There are many time management softwares that can help you in this department
8. Different Phone for Work
After a long day’s work, the last thing you want to do is to see work-related messages. Especially when you’re already on the bed, relaxing, and just wanted to look through your Twitter feed.
There is an easy fix for this. You need to have a separate phone solely for work. This will help you with balancing the personal and work aspects of your life. After working, you can switch off your work phone and enjoy watching on your personal phone.
9. A Professional Email Only For Work
People use their personal email for work like how they use their personal phone number: it’s convenient. This is especially true when you’re still in the earlier years of your VA career.
But it’s easy to create another email specifically for work. With just a few clicks, you already have a professional email.
Personal emails pose many dangers to you and your clients. Aside from looking unprofessional, your messages can be filtered as spam in some email service providers. Gmail, for example, adopted DMARC into their system. This helps them protect users from spoofing and phishing.
Not only that, but you’re also violating the CAN-SPAM Act. Like the DMARC policy, this protects users from possible phishing. The act requires businesses to have a way for users to unsubscribe from email updates. As you can see, there’s no such option when you receive a message from personal email addresses.
10. Reliable Back-Up System
We know that computers don’t last long. And that being on the internet exposes you to cybersecurity risks. In addition to these, Virtual Assistants work with client’s information and documents. For these reasons, you’ll need a reliable backup system of some sort.
Google Drive and iCloud offer a free storage system for your backup files. However, this is only ideal when you’re still working with a small number of clients. But they are the best options you can have when you’re still starting.
As your business grows, you will need a bigger storage system. Now, it’s hard to choose between an online and offline storage system. Both of them have their ups and downs.
For example, online storage systems like the Cloud offer universal accessibility and protection from local threats. But the downside is that it’s vulnerable to cyber threats and can be quite expensive.
On the other hand, storage systems like external hard drives give you enough storage for a very low price. One downside is that security is not always guaranteed since your files can be corrupted.
The best choice? Combining both of these storage systems is the most ideal. Why? To have an effective backup system, you need to follow the 3-2-1 backup strategy:
- Have 3 copies of your data
- Store them in 2 separate storage
- And keep 1 physical copy
There are different tools, equipment, and qualities that a career in VA requires you to have. With the varying duties and responsibilities, these tools and equipment will help make your job easier.
Investing in such tools and equipment can be hard at first. But, in the long run, these will pave the way towards a successful VA career.
Author: Daniel M –
Dan has had hands-on experience in digital marketing since 2007. He has been building teams and coaching others to foster innovation and solve real-time problems. Dan also enjoys photography and traveling.