Top 5 Tips to Become a Virtual Worker – Part III – 2010 Virtual Workforce Series

It stands to reason that in order for companies to move from traditional corporate structures to a partial or full virtual workforce, there needs to be qualified, professional virtual workers available to fill this growing demand. I believe the next generation of virtual workers (Generation V?) will be found in our Generation Z graduates, innovative entrepreneurs representing Generations X & Y, and Baby Boomers not yet ready to fully retire.

The economic struggles that began in 2009 and continue into 2010 are driving entrepreneurial desires to new heights. However, traditional entrepreneurial ventures usually involve moderate to high capital start up costs, inventory, aggressive (and expensive) advertising to establish a foothold and may require leasing a store front, office or industrial space. One of the benefits about the virtual workforce industry is the generally low cost and risk involved in getting started.

Another benefit for those currently employed is that becoming a virtual worker doesn’t have to be an ‘all or nothing’ venture. Gradual transition from a job into the virtual workforce industry is easily accommodated. However, I strongly caution virtual workers to keep their new venture outside of the office. Sending and replying to emails or competing on RFPs while working for your current employer would be highly unethical and could cost you your job along with your reputation. Solid time management skills are also necessary to balance the multiple demands on your time; these often include family and other non-work related commitments. If you’re transitioning gradually to this industry, you’re going to find yourself with limited ‘free’ time until you’re ready to make the final leap to full time virtual work.

In my previous post titled, Class of 2010 – Where Did All the Jobs Go? I addressed the growing challenge facing college and university graduates to find jobs. One comment asked how educated–but inexperienced–graduates (both young and seasoned) can break into this industry. So, for students paying their way through school, those graduating with little to no work experience, or anyone else interested in this challenging industry, I’ve compiled a list of five important considerations.

Top 5 Tips to Become a Virtual Worker:

#1 – Determine the services you can offer – my advice is to choose business services in which you excel and that you L-O-V-E to do; you’ll find that your work enjoyment will increase and your clients will benefit from a greater focus and dedication to quality work. Also, be clear on what the benefits are to your potential clients – both for the services you offer and the method of delivery.

#2 – Establish your business model – make a plan for how you are going to provide those services. Decide when and where you can work – it may be set days and times or it may be completely flexible and strictly deadline driven. Choose how you’re going to be paid – cheque, PayPal, bank transfer – and if you’re going to work strictly pre-paid or on deposit. I recommend getting at least some payment before starting any work…just my ‘two bits’ worth from experience.

#3 – Join relevant associations – some associations are free to join (or at least have free membership levels) and others have yearly rates as a low as $35/year. My personal recommendations are: the Canadian Virtual Assistant Connection, the Canadian Virtual Assistant Network and the VA Networking Association. These associations give you access to: valuable industry information; membership forums and lists for phenomenal peer support; business templates (contracts, invoices, etc.); discounted group insurance; training; and a long list of special offers.

#4 -Offer your services as a sub-contractor – you’ll earn a lower rate than you would if you provided your services directly to a client, but as a sub-contractor you can build experience while having work delegated to you from a reputable company.

#5 – Remember that you are a business – check into the regulations for your own region or country about self-employment, taxes and other related guidelines. Find out whether you can operate as a sole proprietorship and if you need to register a company name. You likely need a business license to operate out of your home or dorm room. As a new business owner, it is your responsibility to check into your local regulations and adhere to them.

So, if you’re ready to enter the virtual workforce industry, set your goals, make your plan and put it in action. Good luck and have fun!

I have no secret. There are no rules to follow in business. I just work hard and, as I always have done, believe I can do it. Most of all, though, I try to have fun.” ~Richard Branson

Contact us to book a seminar presentation at your high school, college or university about The Virtual Workforce Industry.