Before I first started as a virtual assistant, I was a freelance writer while working my full-time job. A few of my clients started asking me for help outside of freelance writing, and because I needed the money, I happily obliged. That’s how I was introduced to the virtual assistant world.
Although my introduction to becoming a VA came from clients that I already had, I still had to learn the ropes of building a successful virtual assistant business. But if you’re starting from scratch, don’t worry! It’s just as easy to build a virtual assistant business from the ground up.The Pros of Starting a Virtual Assistant Business
There are so many great benefits and pros to starting a virtual assistant business. Here are just a few of my favorites.
1. You Can Start for Free
It’s affordable, and can even be free, to start a virtual assistant business.
You don’t need any special equipment, you don’t need a college degree, and you don’t need a picture-perfect, spacious office.
2. You Don’t Need a New Degree
Your VA business can focus on the skills you already possess.
There are so many different types of VAs, and no VA offers the exact same services.
Admin, research, and general management VA services are the easiest to break into, but you can offer whatever skills you’re already best at.
3. It’s Flexible
As a VA you set your own schedule. When I first started, I worked on my VA business before and after my 9-to-5. Then I added weekends as my workload grew. After I first quit my job, I worked on my business just as if it was a full time job, Monday – Friday 8 am – 5 pm.
In your virtual assistant business, you can work on it whenever you want, whether it’s part-time or full-time.
4. It’s Location Independent
You can work from home, or the coffee shop, or while traveling. It doesn’t matter where you work when you have your own virtual assistant business, as long as your work gets done.
Keep in mind though that you will need a strong internet connection to accomplish most of your tasks as a VA.
5. You Set Your Own Rate
As a freelance VA, you set your own rates. You can charge as much as you want as long as you can find clients who are willing to pay you. I know VAs who charge $45 or more an hour!
Plus, you can raise your rates at any time. No more waiting for an annual review to get a raise.
6. Get Paid to Learn
You can grow your skills (oftentimes for free) because clients may pay you to learn something that can help their business. Other times, you may decide to take a course or buy a product that teaches you a new skill so you can charge more for your services. As a VA, you’re always learning, and sometimes you get paid to do it!
The Cons of Starting a Virtual Assistant Business
While there are definitely more pros than cons when it comes to starting a virtual assistant business, I am writing this in full transparency. Here are the few cons that I’ve found.
1. It May Be Hard to Find Your First Client
Getting your first client can be somewhat difficult if you don’t have an online network to reach out to (such as a group of bloggers you’ve already become friends with). This is also true if you’re an introvert or don’t like cold pitching.
Luckily, hard doesn’t mean impossible! It often only takes one client to get the ball rolling. After you’ve gotten your first client, getting your second, third, and more will be much easier.
PS – If you enroll in the Pro level of my course, $10K VA, you can find your first, second, third, etc. clients from the leads I share with my students. Easy, peasy!
2. You Don’t Get Employee Benefits
As virtual assistant, you are a freelancer or independent contractor. (Unless you work for a virtual assistant agency, in which case this may differ!)
Since you’re a contractor and not an employee, you don’t get health insurance, sick leave or other paid days off, or any other employee type benefits.
3. You Have to Pay Your Own Taxes
Since your employer isn’t withholding money from your paycheck for taxes (since you’re self-employed!), you have to pay your own taxes. This can be a con if you’ve never budgeted for paying taxes on your own before. You also have to remember to send in your own quarterly or annual tax payments.While I personally don’t mind budgeting for and paying my taxes, I still hate working on my taxes. It can be exhausting getting everything together when you’re self-employed since you should keep track of all your own income and expenses for your business so you can claim all of the deductions possible come tax time.
4. You May Get Lonely
If you’re an extrovert (like me!) working from home by yourself may get old. I like getting out and meeting people, but there were many times where I was stuck in my seat the whole day because of my work.
Again, there are more pros than cons when it comes to starting a virtual assistant business. However, I did want to mention the cons. Many are easily solved (like getting a part-time job with benefits while building your business, or making sure to maintain a social life outside of work), but others may take some time and effort to get used to.
11 Steps To Take To Start Your Virtual Assistant Business
Now that you know the pros and cons to starting a virtual assistant business, let’s talk about the steps you need to take to get it up and going.
1. Decide On Your Name
While you can keep this simple and just use your own name, some people want a catchy name and title for their new virtual assistant business.
If you go the route of catchy, just make sure it’s easy to pronounce and search for. You don’t want a name too long or too confusing, especially when you first start.
2. Decide On Your Services & Rates
What are you good at? Are there any specific services that you’d prefer to offer? When I first started, I offered social media services, blog management services, and even technical services.
As time went on, I narrowed down my offerings and also upleveled my skills to include some services that may pay more, like project management and team management.
When you first start, choose what you’re comfortable with. You can always change it later!
The same goes for your rates. I’ve seen many VAs start at $15-$20 per hour. Just remember that as a business owner, you have to cover your overhead, technology, taxes, and more. So find the amount you need to live on, and tack on an extra $5-$10 an hour to help cover other necessities.
3. Make It All Legal
Depending on your state, county, and city, you may need a business license to run your virtual assistant business. Be sure to check with all three to see what you need or don’t need. Also, if you do decide to name your business differently from your own name, you’ll most likely need to fill out a DBA (doing business as) form as well.
While you’re figuring all of that out, it’s also the perfect time to decide how you want to structure your business. This step may be best decided with the help of a lawyer and CPA, because setting up the right business structure will help as far as legalities, taxes, and more. I personally started as a sole-proprietor, but I know many VAs who set their business up as an LLC or S-Corp.
4. Create A Business Plan
This doesn’t have to be long and boring. Your business plan really only needs a few points, including the services you’ll provide, the contract you’ll give potential clients, how you’ll pay for your business, and what you can offer that sets you apart from other VAs.
Ready to create your business plan? This free VA Business Plan kit can help!
5. Develop A Marketing Strategy
Will you use social media as a tool to gain new clients? Do you want to have a blog and email list? How will you market your business to get new clients?
These are questions you need to ask and answer so you can pitch yourself and your services a little easier.
6. Reach Out To Your Network
Once you’ve figured out the above steps, it’s time to reach out to your existing network! Even if they don’t fall in your VA niche, they may need the help or know someone who does.
This is a great way to get your first client, and you don’t even have to step out of your comfort zone!
If you don’t find a client from your network, or if you want to branch out, it’s time to advertise your services! Post on social media, write a blog post, create a YouTube video — whatever you need to do in order to gain a new client. Part of doing business is advertising what you have to offer.
Also, don’t forget to create a “Hire Me” page or even a portfolio of work that you’ve done, so people can message you or book a call to hire you.
8. Keep Your Clients
Even once you’ve found your first clients, or even once your business starts growing, it’s important to continue making your clients happy.
Finish your tasks on time, communicate, and go above and beyond for your clients. They’ll appreciate that you care about their businesses and companies, and will be more willing to continue working with you and refer you to others.
9. Ask For Referrals & Testimonials
Along with keeping your clients, you can ask for referrals and testimonials! Don’t be afraid of leveraging the work you’ve done for your current clients.
Ask them if they’d be willing to put a testimonial on your site or social media. Record a video of them stating all that you’ve helped with. And ask them to refer you to people in their network if they’re happy with the work you do.
Because of the hard work I’ve done and the value I’ve provided my clients, I haven’t had to look for new clients in years. All of my clients come via referrals, and it’s all because I wasn’t afraid to ask questions and do the work.
10. Use The Right Tools
As I’ve progressed with my business, I’ve also realized the importance of having the right tools at my disposal.
On my “must have list” is an accounting tool, like FreshBooks. I also use Asana as my task management system, so I never forget anything that I need to do.
Investing in working with a coach, or taking a course can also speed up your business growth and help you grow your revenue faster. I know I could’ve avoided a lot of newbie mistakes if I had gotten help when I first started out. That’s why I created my course