Just when the financial analysts start showing some optimism for our flailing economy, headlines prove that the job market is still dismal out there. Here in North Carolina, like many places across the country, it’s been that way for a while, so when Charlotte’s WCNC news desk reported the fact that several hundred finance workers lost their jobs last Friday, it was like adding insult to injury. Several hundred more job seekers have been added to the staggering number of overly frustrated ones that are still searching. Some of them for years. Yes, I said years. The good news for these newly unemployed financial workers and others with business office experience is that there is an opportunity to create their own jobs by entering the relatively new field of virtual business services.
Virtual office managers, virtual assistants, online technology assistants, are just a few of the titles for a new and growing industry of individuals providing business to business services without ever leaving their own homes. Businesses not only see the cost savings of utilizing these virtual service providers, they are starting to realize that it’s possible to find a high level of experience and expertise that they might not be able to find otherwise.
In fact, while the virtual services industry might seem new to some, the individual virtual professionals themselves are often far from new to the business world. Many of them have worked for years as high level executive assistants, paralegals, accountants and business professionals. They’ve just switched where they provide them from. When a business teams up with them, it becomes evident that these aren’t the virtual assistants that Tim Ferriss talks about in his “The 4 Hour Work Week” bestseller. These are people that many businesses wouldn’t be able to afford to hire if they had to worry about taxes, benefits and equipment costs. Because they can contract with these professionals for individual projects or a set number of hours a month, businesses are able to get high level results affordably.
If you’re unemployed with business office experience, a computer, a high speed internet connection and some determination, it’s entirely possible to start your own business as a virtual services provider. Just don’t expect it to be a get rich quick deal. While it’s entirely possible to start your business on a shoestring budget, it will require time, effort and patience. If you don’t know anything about starting or running a small business make sure you get some help. Places like your local small business administration or training programs like Virtual Assistant Survival School can help. In some states, you may even be able to get assistance of some sort. In the State of Maine, they have a program to help unemployed persons start a business if they have a good idea. Other states will help with the cost of training and things like having your website built.
Worried about starting a business in a down economy? Don’t be. Did you know that Microsoft, FedEx, General Electric and Revlon all began in recession or depression economies? While the economy can make traditional job hunting difficult, it can actually help usher in new ideas and services. In the case of virtual services, many businesses are looking for ways to save money without adverse effects. If you’re frustrated with the job market, maybe it’s time you created your own.
(I welcome questions and inquiries from individuals, the media, businesses and state programs regarding virtual services, the virtual assistant industry and the training program at Virtual Assistant Survival School. Feel free to email me to learn more. )