Starting a virtual assistant business – checklist of action you need to take
So you are thinking about setting up a new business and you feel like you’ve got the skill set to be a virtual assistant but you don’t know what to do next.
Don’t worry you are not alone, when I set up the Contracts Lady and Cash Flow Queen back in 2014, I knew I was very capable of helping companies get paid on time every time without asking for money but I didn’t have a clue what to do next.
So I wanted to help you understand the steps you need to consider before becoming your own Virtual Assistant company.
Why Become a Virtual Assistant?
Are you thinking about becoming a virtual assistant? It’s probably one of the fastest-growing small UK businesses out there at the moment and there’s certainly a demand for people with versatile skills who can provide freelance administration, book-keeping and marketing services.
It’s not just small businesses who have cottoned on to the benefits of hiring a Virtual Assistant. Global organisations have seen the cost advantages and are now hiring virtual personal assistants as permanent employees to provide secretarial and administrative support to their Partners and Directors.
Starting a Virtual Assistant Business
Many VAs start their business while working full time, building up a small client base before making the leap to being self-employed.
When it comes to running a business, there’s a lot more to it, so I wanted to share a checklist of some of basic things to think about before you get started.
Do some research
You know what you do well but do you know what your customers want?
If all of your experience has been with a large organisation, do you know how a small business operates, what its daily challenges are and where you can add your value?
Have you done you research on what becoming a virtual assistant in the UK needs, is there a need in the UK for your speciality?
Choosing a name for your business
You’ve decided on a name for your VA business but before you leap in to register or promote your brand new company, do a double check and make sure the name is available both on Companies House and available as a domain name.
ou want to present yourself as a professional business, operating under a yahoo or gmail address won’t cut it. Customers want to know who they’ll be dealing with and who is the legal entity.
Something to think about. If you choose a .co.uk domain you are easily identifiable as operating in the United Kingdom.
Will you operate as a limited company, sole trader or partnership? Which legal entity is right for your VA business?
How much to charge
One of the questions I get asked all the time is how much should I charge. I recommend you do some research across the UK.
Many VAs state their prices on websites or you could pick up the phone and ask. Will you charge the same hourly rate, will it be different depending on the type of work you do?
Apart from that, how will you charge for your travel time, meeting time or even thinking time?
When are you going to be available? How many hours a week?
Many VAs start their business because it offers a flexible working lifestyle which fits around family and child care commitments.
How to find work as a virtual assistant
The best way to find work is to get out there.
If you’re a first time networker it can feel daunting but be open, friendly and patient and be prepared to offer help to others.
Talk to people and find out what’s taking up their time.
Be proactive and curious. One of the VAs I know told me how her first assignments came from the freelance website people per hour and from there, that client went on to recommend her to another person, who did the same and so on.
Terms and conditions
This should be the first thing you do and you need to have these ready when you land your first customer. But how can you define your terms and conditions when you haven’t yet had the experience or your business?
You don’t yet recognise all the things you need to be thinking about and what you should include.
Your terms of business are important to help get you paid. With terms you’re setting out your expectations early.
By stating this at the beginning you look professional, you look experienced, you’re building up that trust relationship that’s so important in business. You’re setting out your expectations.
How do I manage and charge out my time?
When you’re a virtual assistant, managing time spent on multiple client work shouldn’t be complex but it’s so important to know how you are charging your time and what you’re spending it on.
How do you know what elements of your time you should charge for? Do you split our your travel and thinking time on your time sheets?
This is a question I get asked all the time so I wanted to provide you with an overview of 6 things you should consider when looking at how you charge your time.
Congratulations, you’re ready to raise your first invoice and your invoice is the key to getting paid.
I’ve made a whole library of You Tube videos about invoicing, including what legal stuff you need to include, when to raise your invoice, how to send it and the right way to follow up with your customers to make sure you get paid on time.
Keeping skills fresh and up to date with new technology is an essential part of being a Virtual Assistant. Prioritise development and training.
It doesn’t have to break the budget, take a look at some of the workshops in your local area. If you need a refresher IT training, ask one of the local businesses if you can spend some time with them to learn something new.
Most people are very happy to talk about their businesses
Look after yourself
Working virtually and remotely can sometimes feel isolated so build your own network of other businesses, friends and above all, look after yourself.
Remember, all small business owners are prone to having those dips in confidence and negative thoughts.
You’re not alone so boot out those negative thoughts – you’re going to be great.
I’m Rachael and I help businesses to get paid quicker. Simple as that. I’ve turned a long career in credit control into a service designed to improve your bottom line. My clients know me as the contracts lady and the cash flow Queen.