This is a question that many people would like the definitive answer to. Often I get asked this question by people who are not sure about leaving their full-time jobs because they aren’t certain that they’re going to earn as much working from home.
In this article from 2004 at Entrepreneur.com called Starting a Virtual Assistant Business:
“According a survey by the Virtual Business Alliance, a global consortium of virtual assistant trade organizations, the average full-time virtual assistant working in the United States grossed $39,452 in income last year.”
That article was published a few years ago in 2004 so the figure is probably higher now. Note the words “average full-time virtual assistant”, which obviously means some earn less than this, and others earn more.
I agree that it is possible to earn a full-time income from home, although there are no guarantees. One of the ways you can gauge your earning potential is to find out what kind of rates the temp agencies in your area are charging clients. Then you would charge slightly more than this, because working with a Virtual Assistant offers more benefits to the client than working with a temp. For one, a VA only charges for the work that gets done. With a temp agency, there can be a minimum charge of four hours a day, even if the temp only goes in for one hour.
Ultimately, your earning potential as a Virtual Assistant will be influenced by many different factors. Think about it this way. Everyone gets different results in whatever they do. Whether it’s learning to play tennis, learning how to paint or how to bake a cake. Running a business is no different.
Here are some factors to consider:
- Administration, secretarial and technical skills - these affect the services you’ll be able to offer and therefore the hourly rate that you’ll be able to charge
- Years of experience – this also affects your hourly rate
- Business and marketing skills – affects how many clients you’ll attract
- Negotiation skills – affects the hourly rate that you will earn
- Time management skills – you have a certain number of hours in the week. If you’re highly productive, you’ll earn more. If you waste time at home being distracted, you’ll earn less.
- Delegation skills – as I said above, you have a certain number of hours in the week. You can grow your business by leveraging the time and skills of others. Subcontract work to other Virtual Assistants and earn exponentially more. This is where the sky really is the limit with the amount that you can earn.
- Degree of motivation, dedication and persistence – greatly affects your earning potential.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is – don’t quit your day job! Make the transition gradually, unless of course you’re lucky enough to land a lucrative ongoing client before you leave your job.
I was recently chatting to a Virtual Assistant who did just this – and found an ongoing client through word-of-mouth. She was able to go straight from her day job, to working for herself from home. That’s a rare thing to happen, but not impossible.
Grabbing an immediate low paying client, however, is often false economy and can jeopardize your business venture right from the start.
When I became a Virtual Assistant, I had no idea how much I would earn. That’s why I gradually transitioned into working from home by staying in my full-time job and working on my business in the evenings and weekends.
When I got some ongoing work that I could do from home, I then found a part-time temp office job to support me until I had enough clients to work from home full-time.
Beware of work at home scams that promise the earth for very little work. You have to be prepared to put in the hours to earn a good income from home. But in return, you gain so much in personal freedom and flexibility.