By Mike Haaren
Jan. 10, 2012
Dear Rat Race Rebellion: I’d like to start a home-based business, but I’m not sure what kind. My husband says I’m the best-organized person he knows, and I enjoy helping people stay on track. I did this for 10 years as an Executive Assistant. Could that be a business? – Dawn in Springfield, Va.
Dear Dawn: Yes, it could. Given your Executive Assistant background, you may want to consider becoming a Personal Virtual Assistant. Virtual Assistants in general offer business support services remotely, and can earn $20 or more per hour. However, like Executive Assistants versus Administrative Assistants, Personal Virtual Assistants can position themselves as providing a more “elite” service, and thus charge more.
“PVAs” can target senior executives, partners at law firms, physicians with a busy practice (plastic surgeons, for example), successful consultants and speakers, and so on. These clients are often not as price-sensitive as the smaller businesses that Virtual Assistants typically help. But they will still appreciate that your rates as an independent contractor will be less than the cost of having a brick-and-mortar employee – with a retirement plan, health insurance, office space, etc. – doing the job.
To succeed as a PVA, you’ll need to project sophisticated professionalism in all aspects of your image. These would include your website, of course; brochures, video clips and business cards; and any public speaking you might do.
The Virtual Assistant industry has grown from its origins in the early 1990s to include India, the Philippines, Australia and other countries. However, the PVA field is still relatively new. Moreover, being located in the U.S. will give you an advantage when approaching U.S. prospects.
For more on the Virtual Assistant field, see the International Virtual Assistants Association, at IVAA.org. You can also consult our Virtual Assistant guide, “The 2-Second Commute,” available at some public libraries and on Amazon.
Dear Rat Race Rebellion: I’m just starting community college and want to major in something that will let me work at home. What would you recommend? – Paula in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Dear Paula: There is mounting chaos in the career field as the Internet and global competition reshape and destroy old jobs and models. Before we get to skill sets, be sure to develop three habits so you can thrive in the growing confusion.
First, be willing to reinvent yourself continuously, learning and trying new things.
Second, embrace technical subjects even when they’re dull, as technology will increasingly colonize our lives.
Third, hang out with supple thinkers. Avoid willful dinosaurs!
For the moment, these fields look good for home-based work: customer service, social-media management for corporations, freelance writing, medical specialties (nursing, medical transcription and coding, etc.), and technical fields such as website design, programming and the like.