Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to become a virtual assistant and launch your very own Virtual Assistant business.
Virtual Assistants are gaining in popularity as people look for new ways to make money online.
Corporations and even small businesses have also become wiser in realizing that hiring a freelancer adds to their bottom line. It’s a win for everyone.
Making the decision to start your own business always requires lots of research. However, the basic steps of getting started will remain the same.
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How to Become a Virtual Assistant and Work from Home
Here’s your quick start guide to becoming a successful virtual assistant in eight steps.
1. Choose Your Services
The most important step to take is to decide what services to offer. Consider what skills you excel in. Are you good at copywriting? Great with technology? Or perhaps, you are a Jack/Jill of all trades and want to offer general admin services.
Having clarity around what services you provide will allow you to put your best foot forward when it’s time to market your new business.
It’s important to note that your services don’t have to be set in stone. You can decide to no longer offer a service or add a service to your business at any time. That’s the beauty of being your own boss
Helpful Resource: 275 Services You Can Offer As A Virtual Assistant
2. Choose Your Hourly Rate
Once you are clear on what services to offer, it’s time to decide how much you will charge clients hourly. There is no right or wrong answer here.
When choosing an hourly rate, take into account your skill level and experience.
That does not mean because you’re just starting your business that you should charge less. An average starting rate for a Virtual Assistant falls between $20 - $30 per hour.
3. Create Packages
The great debate between VA’s surrounds the topic of charging hourly vs. offering packages. Ultimately, no matter which option you choose, the truth is you should have an hourly rate— even if it’s for the sole purpose of building packages.
Here’s why: one of the first obstacles you’ll run into as a VA is determining the amount of time it will take to complete a task.
You’re giving a best "guesstimate" until you have completed a task on behalf of someone else a few times.
Creating packages allows the client to bundle services easily. For VA’s that start out charging by the hour, most eventually decide to package their services.
By offering packages, you transition from trading time for money into trading value for money.
For example: When first starting out as a VA, it may take 4 hours to complete a project. As time goes on, that same project may take 2 hours.
If you continue to charge hourly for that same project, you will actually get paid less because you’re doing the job better and more efficiently.
This is why creating packages is a great solution.
VIRTUAL ASSISTANT COURSE: If you're interested in learning more about becoming a virtual assistant, Gina from Horkey Handbook has a wonderful course called Fully Booked VA that teaches you step-by-step how to start your own VA business.
4. Niche Down
Is it "nitch" or "neesh?" Whichever way you pronounce it, just make sure you do it.
By working with a specific sector, you become a bit of an unintentional expert or insider of that field— learning how to serve your clients better, understanding their needs and being able to give proven feedback on what works and what does not.
Who is your ideal client? You may choose a field that you’ve previously worked. This allows you to offer solutions that are needed and a good bonus is you probably have a built-in network.
Now that you have the basic foundations laid for your business, it’s time to start thinking of branding. This is an area where most people get stuck; often because they start here first.
Rather than focusing on what their business will offer, they obsess over inconsequential things like what colors to use, what to name their business and their logo.
A strong brand has importance, but a strong brand goes beyond your business name and logo.
What is your promise to your clients? What’s the story, mission and "why" behind what you do? Be sure to center your brand message, as it’s way more important than what font to choose and what is the right shade of blue for your website.
Additionally, be sure to claim your social footprint. That is, once you’ve decided on a name, grab the domain for your website and the correct handles on social platforms.
6. Systems and Processes
Day to day operations are essential to being efficient and growing your business. Decide what tools work best for you when it comes to tracking time, collecting payments, sending contracts, for project management and more.
There may be a lot of trial and error. What works for a colleague may not work for you. This is why research is so very important in the beginning.
Try all those free trials until you find the tool that fits.
For tax purposes, you’ll need to have a separate business checking account.
Essentially, there should be a plan or system in place for everything- from accounting to onboarding new clients.
Writing everything down gives you standard operating procedures that will make it easier to expand your team or hire subcontractors in the case of an emergency.
7. Get Legal
The most important document you will have is your contract. Verbal agreements in the freelance world are not a great idea. By having a contract with every single client, you protect not only yourself but also the client.
While there are many templates for contracts available on the interwebs.
I recommend getting an attorney-approved contract from The Contract Shop. The Contract Shop has templates for a variety of career fields, including entrepreneurship, designers, coaches, and more.
Other considerations when it comes to the legal realm of your business include applying for an Employee Identification Number (or EIN) and deciding if your business will operate as a sole proprietor or a limited liability company.
Speaking with a CPA about quarterly taxes is also a great idea.
8. Time To Market Yourself
Now that you have covered all your bases, it’s time to put your best foot forward and let the world know about your business.
There are many ways to get clients, but letting people know you are open for business is the best first step. Word of mouth is powerful, so shout your business from the rooftops.
Some organic marketing ideas include: making an announcement on your social media platforms, joining online groups and forums where your ideal client might hang out and adding value and tips to that space, and attending local networking meetings.
Becoming a VA is not easy, but it is simple. With the right amount of research, knowing what makes you the ideal assistant to work with and putting in the time and effort to bring in clients, you can have a flexible and profitable business in no time.