Updated: Aug 5, 2019
Switching gears and going from employee to entrepreneur can be overwhelming. My first piece of advice to entrepreneurs who are wondering how to start a virtual assistant business is to set up your virtual assistant business up as a business. I know when I started a virtual assistant I thought that since my skills were transferable that I would be able to leave my job today and hop into virtual assistant business the next day. It was simple but it was a lot of work. I had to figure out -
how to market a virtual assistant business
how much does it cost to start a virtual assistant business
how to name a virtual assistant business
I made sure to research business practices and models and that's what I'm going to share with you today. These 7 steps will walk you through the process of how to start your Virtual Assistant business.
What exactly is a virtual Assistant?
What is a virtual assistant? A virtual assistant is an independent contractor/business owner who offers a specific task or set of tasks for entrepreneurs and small business owners. My clients have included Authors, Speakers, Lawyers, Online Publishing companies, Consultants and other small business owners. My services have included everything from book promotion, calendar management to writing, email marketing and more. So as you can see, services can vary. If you’re just starting out, a few examples may include executing tasks such as:
✍️ Appointment Scheduling
✍️ Email/Inbox Management
✍️ Social Media Posting
✍️ CRM Management
Pros & Cons of Starting A Virtual Assistant Business
When I started my Virtual Assistant business, my first client (and second) were both Virtual Assistants who were so helpful and really taught me a lot... I mean a lot. And I have learned a lot. So I want to help you learn, build and establish a successful business.⠀
The pros of starting a virtual assistant business
entrepreneurship is on the rise and female entrepreneurship you particular is exploding across the global landscape.
It is relatively inexpensive to actually start the business. Your visit your biggest expenses with the hardware required and filing of paperwork with your government agencies
you don't have to leave your job in order to start generating income from this business venture
you get to create income generate income on the task and skills that you love to do the most
The cons of starting a virtual assistant business
as with all entrepreneurial ventures, it can be a very lonely road to walk
this is a global arena, so there is a lot of competition for your spot
as an independent contractor/business owner, you are solely responsible for all of the costs related to the services you provide - software, hardware, etc.
7 Steps to Building A Successful Virtual Assistant Business
1. Own Your Secret Sauce
Your secret sauce, your superpower, is your unique selling proposition. Because the secret to it all is that it starts with you. If there is no you there is no business. So start with the absolute confidence in your ability to meet the need of your potential client. In order to identify that we need to really take a good critical honest look at ourselves and point out what it is about you that is uniquely marketable in this industry.
To start, think about your strengths and your weaknesses. The things that people say about you think about your style, your tone you're fine. That's all part of what makes you you. Identify those define them and then own it!
2. Identify Your Top 5
I always talk about the top five people you need in your corner when you're starting your business because starting your business is and it and it can get very lonely. Being an entrepreneur challenge you in ways that may not foresee and sell these top five are there to help us.
#1 A mentor:
A mentor can be one of the most valuable members of your team. Your mentor should be someone that you trust. He/She should have experience in your field/industry and help uncover opportunities for you to grow in your field as you navigate the terrain.
#2 and #3 - A Lawyer and A Certified Public Accountant
Second and third picks are largely based on my experience and what I remember from my last place of employment. The managing partner there was a CPA and an attorney. He was a genius - I mean, he was a top-of-the-game, summa-cum-laude, always-own-the-room type genius. So I feel over qualified to offer this piece of advice... speak with a lawyer and a Certified Public Accountant.
A Lawyer can review your filings, if any, your contracts and your website, making sure that you are in compliance with regulatory agencies. A Certified Public Accountant to help with tax & financial (income) planning, Doing Business As (DBA’s) & Corp Filings as well as Tax Identification Numbers (TIN’s) and more.
Now, I'm not suggesting you have them on retainer (unless your situation calls for that) but I am suggesting you put them on your top 5 list (if only to call on an as needed basis).
#4: Your cheerleader
There will be some really lonely days. There will undoubtedly be some people, tasks that make you second guess yourself. You really need to have at least one person in your corner to remind you of your greatness and your purpose. Choose someone you trust to give you honest, constructive feedback and inspire you to show up as your best self, even on your worst days.
#5: A Virtual Assistant
You probably won’t really need this one until you are about 12 - 18 months in to your business, but you have to start planning for it now by documenting those processes.
3. Establish Your Business Entity
Most virtual assistants business owners operate as a sole proprietorship, however I know a few who have formed Limited Liability Corps. A sole proprietorship is the simplest and least expensive business structure to establish. As the owner and founder of the business, you have complete control over all decisions. You are the CEO, CFO, sales rep and more. However, since there is no legal separation between you and your business, you can be held personally liable for all business debts and obligations. LLCs, as the name implies, offers owners a limited liability option, which may be more desirable to you depending on your situation. There are other options to consider - S. Corp, Corporation, Partnership - and a number of factors to consider when considering each. As such, I highly suggest you speak with a small business attorney as well as a certified public accountant (if only to get their recommendations).
4. Your business name
Another big question for me was how to name my virtual assistant business. Your business name is important. It's key to your company's brand identity. But it's easy to get overwhelmed with choosing the perfect name before you even start. With the explosion of businesses nowadays, choosing the perfect business name can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Ugh... Let me demystify this for you. If you put in the time to do the research, and like the way it sounds (out loud), if it's relevant and relatable to you... go with it.
5. Create your services list
This step can be pretty overwhelming for some people so what I like to do is to suggest you start with a quick brain dump. First, jot down all of the things you like to do, then the things you want to do and next you do extremely well. Then list every industry that you have ever worked with, the ones that you would like to work with and any other in that would require the services that you just listed.
Next, in order to really set yourself up for success, you need to identify your ideal client Avatar and do some skills matching here skills and interest matching here. So you want to start this early. You need to know who you're going to serve and what it is they need and want. Knowing your ideal client and the services they need will dictate your marketing strategy, it will influence your rates it will validate your business idea. Once you know who your ideal client is and you’ve done the skills, interest and service matching, finalize your list.
6. Income planning
Income planning is extremely important when you're starting your virtual assistant business. You need to be clear not only on how much it cost to start a virtual assistant business, but how much you need to generate income from your business. Often we tend to focus on what other virtual assistants are charging for their services, and use a simple copy and paste method for our rates/packages. While it is a good idea to know what the average rate is for a particular service you are providing, the first thing you need to know is if that rate (per hour) will sustain or elevate your current lifestyle. You need to know for yourself one what your income goal is for the year into what you need to charge to make sure you meet them.
The factors you need to take into consideration include your current living expenses plus your
operational expenses, business investments, saving, taxes and more. Below is a quick overview of how to plan for the income you want.
7. Create an online presence
You do need to create an online presence to begin to attract your ideal client. You should start by creating a website. Think of your website as a home-base which will allow potential clients to learn more about you, your business and your services in a non-competitive space. There are a number of website platforms that you can choose from, start where you are with your budget in mind. Most of the things are similar across many of the Dragon drop platforms.
Next are your social media profiles. Set up/update your LinkedIn page. A lot of people forget about LinkedIn but LinkedIn is the number one online professional networking site. So start here. If you’ve completed the Ideal Client Profile Workbook, you should have a good idea where to find your clients (most often). Start building engagement on the most popular platform for your audience, and one at a time, and grow as you go.
So if you’ve followed these 7 steps for how to start a virtual assistant business, congrats you now how the foundational tools to start your virtual assistant business from home. With the steps outlined here, you’ve basically drafted an outline for your business plan.
Looking for more info on building a successful virtual assistant business? Check out these additional resources.
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