Becoming A Virtual Assistant After Being Laid Off

Question from an aspiring Virtual Assistant:

“I am interested in becoming a Virtual Assistant. I was laid off twice recently and it looks like I could do better working for myself. I’m honest, hardworking and have experience in secretarial and admin work.  Are there any real companies out there willing to give me a chance?”

Answer by Lisa:

The fact is, in spite of a recession, there are countless businesses that are still continuing to operate. Not only are they still operating, some are very successful indeed. The media hardly ever mentions the numerous businesses that are growing and becoming even more successful during the recession. That’s because negative headlines are more newsworthy than positive ones.

The wheels keep turning, and businesses still need help with tasks that a Virtual Assistant can easily perform from their own office. Virtual Assistants are proving to be a godsend in times like these and will continue to be after the economy improves.

So yes, there certainly are companies out there that would be willing to give you a chance. I would do some research into suitable businesses and offer to work as an independent contractor i.e. as a Virtual Assistant, doing their secretarial and admin tasks.

Highlight the fact that you’re saving them money because they don’t have to pay you sick pay, holiday pay, benefits etc. You only charge by the hour when work needs to be done. Approach as many different companies/businesses as possible with a view to getting multiple clients. This way, you have multiple streams of income and are not reliant on one source of cash flow.

Start thinking like a business owner, not an employee. This is easier said than done, but the first step is to become aware of how you perceive yourself. You’re now an independent contractor who saves companies time and money.

Apart from approaching companies directly, start networking in your local community face to face. Remember, it’s all about relationships. Also, network online to get clients that way. The internet provides a wealth of opportunity to build relationships and positive word of mouth referrals.

Good luck! This is the perfect time to become a VA. It’s a recession-proof industry – you’re saving people money, you’re saving them time, and you’re contributing to getting the global economy back on its feet.

If you want to become a successful Virtual Assistant, I have created a step-by-step system called The 5 Key Steps To Your Virtual Assistant Business which takes you through the entire process from start to finish. The System also includes templates for your business plan, marketing plan and start-up checklist. Find out more here


  • Viv @ Virtual says:

    Give being a VA a try. It’s worth it. You don’t have to spend heaps of money to set up – very little actually. Good secretarial and admin skills are not as valued in Australia unfortunately as they are in Europe and many managers see people who provide secretarial and admin services as “bottom feeders”.

    Many managers think that their computer skills are great and that they can write a letter and do a Powerpoint presentation. BUT, I am getting a lot of work from people wanting their presentations and letters “fixed up”. They may be able work the software, but their eye for detail and desktop publishing is not good.

    We, wonderful secretaries, work hard to achieve top of the range skills and these skills become highly valued when they are no longer available “on call” by managers.

    I found a great quote yesterday by Peter Drucker – “The only way to predict the future is to invent it.” If you been laid off twice this year, it’s probably time to do some inventing!

    Good luck.

  • Ingrid says:

    Your email Lisa couldn’t have come at a better time. I was made redundant late last year and have found it difficult to get even temporary contracts. Just as your post came through my email today I had been advised I had missed out on a contract!

    I had toyed with the idea of being a VA but never really proceeded further than reading about it. That’s now changed … your post was a sign and I can only thank you for your fabulous timing!

    I have brilliant skills which I feel have been going to waste so the information and motivation I have found from this site has given me the kick up the butt I needed.

    Thank you!

  • Susan Dagg says:

    Out of all the times in the world the best time to be a VA is in recession, because people cannot afford a permanent member of staff, so the world is your oyster. The biggest response i have had have been from new businesses that are expanding, but cannot afford to take on a PA or administrator. The agencies will not take them on, as it is insufficent work for them to handle.

    I bet you have new offices in your neighbourhood and would love someone to do all the admin for the whole building.

    I have even asked my old boss if they have work available especially supply, when
    someone is: ill, on maternity or on holiday. I had some excellent responses to this and do not forget to use employment information from their adverts to get your foot in the door.

    Good Luck

  • Evelyn says:

    What is the difference between a Virtual Assistant “Independant Contractor” and a Virtual Assistant “Business”?

  • Sandra says:

    Lisa can you or anyone else provide info re contracts (writing, templates, websites)?

  • Sandra says:

    I just looked in the TOC of your “5 Key Steps” manual and found info re contracts starts on page 60. I will be reading that chapter tonight. Thanks.

    Additional information from you or others still welcome.

  • Lisa Taliga says:

    @Susan: Thanks for the extra tips – asking old employers if they need help when existing staff are sick etc, is a very good tactic.

    I also have a friend who set up her new Virtual Assistant business by taking space in a serviced office in the city centre. She really gave her business a good kickstart using this approach, as many of the businesses in the building outsourced their secretarial and admin work to her.

    As you know, I’ve recently moved out of my home office into a serviced office and am finding the same results. It’s a wonderful opportunity to network with other business owners and I’ve already picked up two new clients so far.

    @Evelyn: There is no difference between being an independent contractor and a running your own Virtual Assistant business.

  • Ezra Shua says:

    Hi Lisa,

    I am happy this person confessed that he/she is honest, hardworking and experience. Successfull businesses depends on this 3 virtues. Therefore do not despised a little begining, start with lettle such as small scale business, build your customers from the scratch by printing just a business card, the first few good services you rendered will advertise more for you.



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