No Place Like Home

Virtual Assistant, Claire Liston

Claire Liston

Gone are the days when an assistant had to be in-house. With the help of a fax machine, a computer and an Internet connection, an assistant can be in a completely different state and offer all the services a client needs. Claire Liston, 28, owner of C. Liston Communications in Alexandria, Virginia, found that out in 1998 when she started peddling her array of services, offering to do whatever they needed in order to keep their own businesses buzzing.

Liston was working in PR and as a meeting planner when she found herself in between jobs. It was then that her mentor, Katherine Hutt, suggested that Liston take the leap and turn her side virtual-assistant business into a full-time operation.

Liston's company has grown from there-strictly through word-of-mouth, as she does no advertising. All that positive talk comes from Liston's willingness to do any job her clients need her to do-be it writing a newsletter or designing a Web site. "If there's something they need done, they'll ask me if I can do it," says Liston. "If I can't, chances are, I want to learn how, and I'll [learn] it for that client." Because her existing clients keep giving her more and more responsibilities, she doesn't need to search for new business.

In the future, Liston plans to continue to expand the services she offers her clients. Hoping to gross about $70,000 this year, Liston offers this final advice for aspiring virtual assistants: "Serve your clients in as many ways as you know how."

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This article was originally published in the September 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: No Place Like Home.

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