Lately I have been asked two questions:
1) Are you a virtual assistant?
2) How do you start a virtual assistant business?
So I felt that those questions were worth a blog post.
Firstly, yes I am a virtual assistant. I specialize in the online business aspects such as social media, WordPress websites and more. I do not do the basic tasks of data entry, appointment making and customer service aspects. For this reason I have found that using the title of virtual assistant may mislead some people. I did try out the fancier title of Administrative Consultant but found that also to be misleading as you may imagine.
So I stopped using the title and have instead opted for the Creative Entrepreneur title which not only leaves all doors open for growth and reinvention but gives people an opening to ask questions. Having a title that isn’t exact can spark curiosity. Now this may not work for everyone but it’s a title I love and therefore I can represent it wholeheartedly.
Now on to the next question.
How Do You Start a Virtual Assistant Business?
Short answer: The same way you start any business.
The long answer:
You will need a website and a plan.
You must make a list of all the skills you have and wish to offer and decide who would most benefit from those skills. Then you can calculate your rates based on you income needs (don’t forget the profit).
You can operate under your own name or you can choose and register a business name. There are also agencies to join if you feel more comfortable having extra oversight or to get started slowly.
TIP: Make sure you check that the url to match your business name is available before registration so you aren’t stuck looking for a new website domain to purchase.
If you have a lot of distractions at home I suggest that you set aside a dedicated business room or area to limit interruptions while working. Depending on the services you offer this could be anywhere. You can work at a coffee shop, a library, your couch, hey, even you bed if you are sick. Naturally if your regular equipment needs include a printer, fax, physical phone line or other special equipment then chances are a stable home office is needed. When you have an income you may decide to rent office space outside the home but for starting out just do the best you can.
How Do I Get Clients?
To get clients you use the same methods you would for other business types.
You can go to community groups to network. Go to events, and remember to have some business cards printed to hand out.
A website is a must. On this site you will need a list of services and some information about who you are and how to contact you. Eventually you may add more like a blog and other information but to start out a basic site will do.
TIP: Always give visitors to your website the chance to sign up for a newsletter. You may not have much to send them at first but it’s your golden chance to connect with potential clients who just aren’t ready right away.
Join Social Media and Virtual Assistant Communities and Listings.
Social media is the greatest free marketing tool there is. Whether you like social media or see it as a necessary evil it’s the fastest way to reach the largest number of people besides email. So find out which site or sites your target market uses the most and jump on in. Find them and start connecting. Join groups, like or follow pages and start engaging with people.
As being a virtual assistant, like other independent service providers can tell you, can feel very isolating at times it is with a happy heart that I tell you that there are online communities for you.
Firstly there is the Canadian Virtual Assistants Association. CVAA has a lot to offer virtual assistants. They have 3 levels from free to full membership and with the full membership they give you the option to receive health coverage at discounted group rates, be on their listings for jobs and more. This could be a great investment for those starting out and even those who are growing.
All of the virtual assistant communities offer training but the forums at Virtual Assistant Forums offer peer feedback and more which can be invaluable when you are just testing the waters. Best of all their forums are free. VA Classroom is another training school for Virtual Assistants that will help you learn new skills for growing your business and maybe even for improving the skills you already have. There are other training programs (which you can find listed in the VA Networking Forums) so depending on your budget and needs you should be able to find the support you need to continue to level up your business.
There are many other sites so don’t be afraid to use Google and explore.
Being a virtual assistant can be a great short term option for someone starting any kind of business to get some cash flow started to move in to other ventures, especially if those ventures need an investment.
As a virtual assistant you get to choose who you work with and how many hours you work. So if you are interested in supporting others in building their businesses and balancing their lives this service based option may be the right one for you.
If you have any questions about starting or running a virtual assistant business please comment below and I will respond!!