So you want to start a business … nothing big, no major investment, lots of flexibility? Here are five ideas:
(1) Virtual assistant publicity
When I published my book, Making the Big Move, I needed to spread the word. But the logistics were daunting. For example, I wanted to send a press release to several hundred radio stations and newspapers. It is possible to subscribe to a database but you also need to set up software to send a thousand or so faxes. Apparently it’s not that hard But it takes time and knowledge.
Many authors and business owners need services to implement publicity. They can write a press release (although a VA who can write, too, would be a gold mine). What they need is someone to make the phone calls and send the faxes and get the names of the right people. And a sharp VA might also be able to set up bookstore signings for authors, for a fee.
(2) Virtual assistant to authors
When an author creates a book proposal, her task isn’t over. She has to send out query letters by the handful. An author can craft a query letter but once again the logistics can be defeating. A virtual assistant who knows how to set up letters, include SASEs and call ahead to see if there’s been a name change now that’s worthwhile! A VA can help with query letters or work with a writing coach who will be her alliance partner.
Do you enjoy getting technical? There’s a market for people who can format documents for kindle ebooks and Amazon CreateSpace print-on-demand books. It’s not that hard to learn but you do need an up-to-date Word program. VAs who understand grammar, spelling and heading styles will be especially prized.
If you’re artistic and you know a design program such as Photoshop, you can design ebook covers as an extra.
(3) Community introduction service
When people consider moving to a new place, they want to learn everything they can! They turn to real estate agents. But if they aren’t ready to buy a house, they won’t get helpful information about the community. Depending on the agent you choose, you may or may not get information directly relative to your lifestyle. You can offer a private service to show people around your town or community, customizing tours to fit individual or group interests. Charge a flat rate (and be sure you’ve got licenses and insurance if you’re driving people around).
(4) Home Concierge
Professionals who make hundreds of dollars an hour don’t want to stay home to wait for a package or delivery. Newly transferred executives may want to get to the office not stay home to let someone in to turn on utilities. Almost everyone needs a pet-sitter or dog-walker sometimes. You may be able to expand to running errands. (Make sure you’re licensed and bonded and choose clients with care.)
(5) Homemaking/Gardening Educator
As people retire or downsize, they often decide they’ll do more of their own cooking, weeding and cleaning. But if they’re professionals, they’ve probably paid someone to do these jobs often for years. Sometimes they want to hire more services. But sometimes they want to learn to do it themselves. How do you care for a hardwood floor? How do you make simple meals without burning own the kitchen? Why aren’t my tomatoes growing? A great service, offered through classes, in-person tutoring or even an online service.
PLUS ONE: Okay, this one does require some skill. Or maybe you can suggest a summer job for your teenager.
Can you hook up a DVD player to a television set and still record on video? Or can you just hook up a DVD player? I’ve been told that dozens of people buy a DVD player, then return their discs because they can’t figure out how to hook everything up!
What about mp3 players – iPods and iPads? Lots of people get them as gifts but never use them because they can’t figure out how.