Understanding Virtual Assisting – Part 4
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If you’ve been following this series, then you’ll recall that the last two articles focused on certifications to receive and what services to offer. Now it is time to discuss what equipment you will need to open your virtual assistant practice.
Obviously, some of your equipment will be based on what services you plan to offer. One of the biggest mistakes that future virtual assistants make when deciding upon their equipment, is they buy too much. They overspend. You don’t need an elaborate list of equipment and software to impress the client. The client will probably be more impressed with your ability to curb your spending, look for creative options, and assist them with cutting their own expenses and wasteful spending.
If the client insists on equipment or software that you don’t have and can’t afford, they can purchase it for your use. If they can’t purchase it, then find clients who are willing to use what you have.
Below is a basic list of equipment you will need for your virtual assistant practice. You probably already have most of it:
- Personal computer or laptop with at least a 1 GHz Pentium P4 processor and a minimum of 1GB RAM with sound card and speakers
- Updated browser of your choice (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Safari are the most common)
- Printer compatible with PC (one with a scanner and copier is best)
- Wireless, DSL or Cable Modem connection to the Internet (Comcast, Cox, Verizon)
- Windows XP/Windows Vista/Windows 7 (Mac users will want OS X or what is recommended)
- Email account (recommend having one other than a Gmail account)
- Eternal hard drive backup or an online backup (Carbonite.com)
- Anti-virus software (Avast, Norton)
- Anti-malware prevention software (Malwarebytes)
- Gmail account to use Google Docs and manage multiple projects and clients
- Dropbox.com (free account) to share larger documents
- Cell phone or free Skype.com account (landlines are also welcome)
- Paper, pens, and a few office supplies
Please note that there are other service providers other than the ones listed above in parenthesis. I didn’t want to overwhelm you with choices, but you can also check with other friends or online workers to see what they are using.
Fax machines and all other equipment are optional. Also make sure that you have a comfortable chair and are in an area of the house where you can actually work without distractions. Accounting software, graphic software, and everything else can be added later. This is unless you plan on offering accounting and/or graphics as your primary services.
In future articles, we’ll also discuss marketing materials. However, I will go ahead and inform you that you can survive and thrive with a simple web site, business cards, and three FREE social media accounts (Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook).
As you can see, it really doesn’t take an excessive amount of equipment to get started in your virtual assistant practice. The good news is that most–if not all of these items–will become tax write-offs for your business.
In summary, my advice is to start small, make a profit, and continue to invest in your equipment, your training, and your marketing. A low overhead will cause a lot less stress for both you and your future virtual assistant practice. Nothing is worse than to try to concentrate on growing a business with several maxed-out credit cards constantly on your mind.
Good luck, and I am always available for questions.
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