Start With What You Know

By July 22, 2009 General 26 Comments

A common misconception is that if you want to become a Virtual Assistant you have to know and offer every service under the sun. What if you don’t know how to set up websites? What if you’re not a Powerpoint or Excel guru?

Don’t let this be a stumbling block which prevents you setting up your business. Start with what you know! You might be a good typist or great at organising events and keeping others organised. You might have an eagle eye for spelling and grammar mistakes, which would make you a good proofreader. Whatever it is that you’re good at, you can start by offering that as a service.

There will always be clients out there looking for exactly the services you’re offering. Not every client is looking for someone that ‘does everything’. Indeed, it can be confusing and overwhelming if you try to offer everything. It’s actually better to specialise and hone your skills in your particular niche.

As time goes by, you can add to your list of services by taking training courses. However the point of this blog post is to reassure you that you really don’t need to know ‘everything’ before starting!

Find out more about starting your Virtual Assistant business here.

If this resonates with any of you, please add your comments below.


  • Sangita says:

    I have been looking for a work at home opertunity and have looked at vertual home working. Every time i read something it said i would need a this equipment and all the thing that go in an office.
    I am glad that this is not necessary.


  • Sharron Dark says:

    Hello Lisa Talgia,
    How are you doing? My biggest problem is focusing on where to find great clients.
    I used to send out a proposal letters here in Washington, DC but no response, then I started thinking it is not reaching the right person. How will I get pass the Receptionist/Administrative Assistant inside the office to pass it to the hiring manager or Supervisor to get notice? The Administrative Assistant maybe thinking that I am trying to take her place and she/he throws my proposal letter in the trash.

  • Lynda says:

    Hi Lisa
    I agree that is sound advise. The only stumbling block is actually getting the first client. I am still trying!!!

  • Hi, Lisa

    Its nice to know this because I know that clients like that PowerPoint Presentation , Outlook, Excel, etc.. and I was feeling bad because I don’t offer these services and don’t know how to do them either. So, I felt that I won’t really get any clients-so on my site there are services and those are the things I know and is good at doing. SO, thanks for this encouraging article to push forward and don’t let me not knowing how t do something hender me from doing my business.

    Again, Thanks

    Patricia H.

  • Sally says:

    Hi Lisa,

    I just want to say I am like the rest of your readers, it’s the getting clients that is hard. But I would like to comment on the PowerPoint, Excel, etc. issue. I am one who loves to learn new things and never satisfied, But can’t afford to go back to school everytime I need to update my skills. So, my suggestion is to everyone (and it I find it is very helpful), go to Microsoft Online website, click on tab called PRODUCTS, and then select the software (ex. POWERPOINT) on the left and then you can even select the version you wish to learn. There are tutorials that take you step by step under the training list. I suggest you click on the first one that says “create your first presentation”. It is not that hard to follow along and it gives you training excerise. It is great. Once you know how to do the basics, all the fancy stuff you can experiment with later.
    I have found that you can find everything on the web and can teach yourself what you would spend alot of money for someone else to show you. Give yourself a chance.
    PS – you be suprised at what people are willing to teach you on YOUTUBE for free. There is always somebody doing a how-to video.
    Good luck.

  • anne austin says:

    Hi, Lisa

    This is good advice to give. It calms fears of oh my what am I doing, I don’t know this or that. This way just feel comfortable in what you do know and provide this service. I just need good advice on landing first customer.

  • Mary Dillard says:

    Yes acquiring the clients is the hardest part, which I’m still trying to do.

  • Tiffany says:

    This is something that is definitely easy to forget. Thanks for the reminder. As I get closer to my maternity leave the thought of working from home is starting to prevail. I will definitely keep your wise words in mind when I decide to stop sitting on the virtual sidelines.

  • Gail S says:

    I am totally new, and need to find out where to publish my expertise. Should I get
    a website and post info there. I work in education and am off during the summer months. I would really like to get a typing job . I can do newsletters and presentations etc. Where do I start?

  • Tarri Williams says:

    Thank you for this post, Lisa. I’ll admit I was stressing a bit because, although I know Word and Excel, I haven’t really worked with Access too much. So I felt that I needed to know that before I could start my business. But you have encouraged me to go ahead and start with what I know and go from there. I will get Access training in the near future but won’t let that stop me from getting started now! Thanks again!

  • Hi Lisa, great article. I am still struggling with finding the right services to offer. I currently offer a variety but know I need to trim them down. It’s a scary step. This article encouraged me to do that though.

  • Marie Tucker says:

    Great advice Lisa, and that is exactly what I have begun to do in the past several months. My specialty is organizing other VAs and Social Media Networking. The clients really appreciate it when you are up front and honest about your strengths and weaknesses. If the project is beyond my scope of skills, I offer to help find a VA who can complete it.

  • Mandu Usoro says:

    Hi Lisa,
    THANK YOU:-) I now know that I don’t need a degree or specialized training to go forward with a virtual assistant business. I also just recently purchased your e-book about becoming a VA and am so thankful that I did. This post has really boosted my esteem and reassured me that I am worthy enough to have a virtual assistant business and move forward with the skills I presently have.

    Keep those tips and encouragement coming it means alot.


  • Susan Dagg says:

    Hi Lisa
    This is brilliant advice as i always feel i am learning something new all the time.

    I suggest you get to know a very good IT trainer, who lives close by as they hate administration! I handle her calls while she trains and also some times the clients who she is training. In return i sometimes ask her for training or updates in current training this works brilliantly.

    Girls get out their and find a trainer just initially say you need one at hand for enquiries to get you in the door!

    As for not being able to do everything do not worry just tell them you will find someone who can help them. Once you discover who can call them an associate add 20% to their cost for yourself and you have earned without lifting a finger hardly!

  • Lisa Taliga says:

    @ Sharron – As you’ve discovered, you’ll find that mailouts have quite a low response rate. You’re absolutely right, often people will just throw it in the bin
    or leave it in their inbox gathering dust. Try some other marketing techniques
    and you’ll have better success.

    @ Sally – great tip about teaching yourself new software programs by using
    existing resources online.

    @ Tarri – Absolutely, you don’t need Access knowledge to start your VA business.

    @ Becky – It is a scary step trimming down your services. I actually also feel
    that I offer too many services myself, but I’m targeting clients in the internet

    marketing niche, and clients in that field generally do like a good range of
    internet marketing skills. It really does depend what target market you’re

    marketing to. It’s best to specialise in tighter range of services or in a particular target market niche.

    @ Marie – Yes, great point that I meant to include. You can always refer
    clients on to a fellow VA who specialises in skills that are complementary to
    yours. That’s why this industry is so great, because we can all collaborate with each other rather than compete.

    @ Mandu – Excellent news that you’ve decided to forge ahead with your

  • Mary Dillard says:

    I like Maria Tucker’s idea of networking. If you know a client who need services you can’t handle, it’s a good idea to refer them to another VA

  • My only problem is putting a rocket under the person (friend’s daughter) who is doing my website for me, then I can get going! I am going to specialise in a few veins first and actually don’t think I will ever get my head around websites, so will happily leave that to those who can. My problem will be getting to know a VA I can trust implicitly to hand other things over to. Lisa, you would be my first choice so far (though I realise you would be too busy); especially seeing you use the correct ‘complement’ – too many people don’t have basic spelling/grammar skills for my liking! I don’t mean to sound derogatory, I’m just the fussiest person on earth with that sort of thing. Good luck to everyone anyway, I am sure there will be plenty of work for all :-)

  • Linda says:

    Hi Lisa,

    Wow! I have enjoyed reading all the updates to your blog. I am still working on the content for my website, which is a time consuming task in itself. I have a webdesigner, but it’s up to me to provide content so I am working just as hard as he is :) What I am deciding to do and which is the topic of this feed today is find a niche and go with it. Something that I know I can do comfortably. My background is in sales and marketing, so I am going to go with that and enter the world of social media marketing.

  • Edmond says:

    Thanks Lisa.

    I have been enjoying and appreciating all your articles carrying advices, the way forward to be successful as a VA etc. May you continue to be there for us who are interested on this field.

    Starting with what I know, how do I get clients to even try what I can do on wordprocessing be it in English or French language that I can handle accurately. Added to that is translation from either language and vice-versa.

    Finally, may I say to you Lisa to try me with some jobs and let me know the conditions in which they are to be carried out? I need to start from somewhere isn’t it and I think you always have plenty of jobs.

    Look forward to hearing from you.

  • Mary Dillard says:

    Focusing on the skills you have is great advise. What I have noticed is that it’s going to take perseverance in marketing. People will start remembering your name as they need help.

    Join your neighborhood chamber of commerce and always keep business cards on hand. Notice that you usually end up in a conversation with someone on a daily basis, take that opportunity to mention what you do.

    I’m noticing that most of my clients are people I talked to months and even a year earlier. After I complete the task at hand and they are satisfied, they will usually refer you to others.

    Note: hope leads to faith, faith leads to opportunity and opportunity leads to satifaction. Be blessed !!!!

  • Jerri says:

    Hi Lisa,

    I am researching the possibility of becoming a VA. I have over 10 yrs of administrative experience with a wide range of skills. I have the equipment needed to start although, I am not sure HOW to start. Can you give me some advice on how to get my business of the ground?

    Thank you.

  • Melanie says:

    Great news, Lisa! Thanks for posting this article. I’ve been holding back on getting started because I really only want to focus on what I do the absolute BEST — proofreading.

    Now I realize I don’t have to be a “jack-of-all-trades” to earn an income as a VA. I can do what I love!

  • Sonet says:

    Hi Lisa

    I am so excited for this challenge! I see that everybody is from America, Australia ect. I am going to start my business in South Africa, and I think the opportunities are great here. Wish me luck!! Thanks for all the tips. I am gathering as much information as possible.

  • Lyndon Gales says:

    I agree to your post ms. Liza, I just started my training as a VA and I found out that I really don’t need those special, complex skills to start with. Just my average computer literacy and sincerity in my work. Online Virtual Assistant

  • Ugg says:

    Spot on with this write-up, I actually suppose this web site needs rather more consideration. I’ll most likely be once more to learn far more, thanks for that info.

  • shen says:

    There are lots of informations that inspire me to have a courage to become a VA but i don’t how to establish my on website in order to start on the business.

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