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A virtual assistant is a relatively new career. Without the aid of technology, working as a virtual assistant would not be possible. As a virtual assistant you work from your own home providing administrative, clerical and other support services as needed to busy executives and business owners who need to focus on their business, and not on their clerical tasks.
A virtual assistant(VA) will save a business money. Because the VA works from their own, fully equipped home office, the client does not need to pay for office space and equipment. And because a VA is only paid for the hours they actually work, the client does not need to pay a full time employee when what they need is just a few hours per week.
There are two types of virtual assistants. The generalist performs general office and clerical support. A specialist will focus on a certain field or area of expertise, such as bookkeeping, real estate, legal, or web development.
Virtual Assistants perform a variety of tasks such as:
* Handle email and postal mail
* Making appointments and scheduling
* Fax/receive faxes
* Research of all sorts
* Plan meetings and events
* Plan parties (business and personal), weddings, reunions
* Make travel arrangements — business and personal
* Handle reservations for seminars given by clients
* Proof reading
* Copy editing
* Desktop publishing
* Newsletter publishing (print and internet)
* Coordination of web design/hosting
* Buy gifts/cards for customers of clients
* List managing (majordomo, listserv)
* Reminder service
* Transcription and Dictation
* Bill paying
* Bookkeeping — business and personal
* Manage vendor relations
* Create/maintain databases
To work as a virtual assistant you will need a fully equipped home office, including a high speed internet connection, an up to date computer, and the latest office programs. You should be proficient in Microsoft Office, and be comfortable using instant messaging.
Be careful when looking for work as a virtual assistant. There are many scams out there that will charge you a fee, and then give you a list of jobs that you could find on your own. Remember, you never should have to pay to get a job.
One site that does offer virtual assistant jobs is
Working as a freelance bookkeeper can be a very lucrative home based business. With hundreds of new businesses starting every day, there are plenty of small businesses looking to outsource their bookkeeping.
As a freelance bookkeeper, you take the receipts and invoices of a business, and enter them into an accounting system. It could be a paper ledger system, but most bookkeeper enter receipts and invoices into a computer based accounting software such as QuickBooks. You then print the reports for the business owner. As you gain experience and education you might also offer payroll and tax preparation services.
You don’t need to be a CPA to do bookkeeping for small businesses. Many businesses will hire a freelance bookkeeper to do all the data entry, and then just pay a CPA or professional accountant to review the accounting and prepare the taxes.
There are many places to learn how to be a bookkeeper. I took accounting classes at the local community college. The cost was quite reasonable, and I learned all the accounting I needed in just under a year. There are also many online schools that will teach you how to use accounting software.
The start up costs for becoming a home based bookkeeper are quite reasonable. You need a reliable computer and printer. I would suggest a good internet connection as there are now many ways to work remotely as a bookkeeper. Plus good accounting software. I like QuickBooks software because it is the most popular accounting software. Your customers will be familiar with it and there is lots of support available.
The hardest part of becoming a freelance bookkeeper is finding customers. People are reluctant to trust you with their financial information until they know that you are skilled at what you are doing, and that you will keep their financial information private. Get started by offering your bookkeeping services for free to a small local non-profit. Do a good job and you will have a reference for your potential paying clients. You can also find clients by joining your local chamber of commerce and going to the meetings. Lots of new businesses go to chamber meetings, and most new businesses need a bookkeeper!
The pay rate for home based bookkeepers can vary quite a bit from place to place. Most experienced bookkeepers charge their customers between $25 to $50 per hour. It may be tempting to charge less when you are first getting started. But remember you are responsible for all your expenses and your taxes. You need to charge enough to cover all your expenses and make a profit.