If you’re looking for a way to make money from the comfort of your home, then perhaps a good side hustle to take on would be starting a virtual assistant business.
Ever since the internet started to become popular in the late 1990s, the demand for virtual assistants (or VA’s for short) has been increasing. VA’s offer remote assistance to busy professionals by completing routine tasks that they generally don’t want to do themselves. You could think of it as being like a personal assistant, but nearly all of your work happens on your computer.
Becoming a virtual assistant has become a desirable work-from-home occupation for many people since it costs no money or experience. All you need is a laptop and an internet connection.
If that sounds like something you’d like to do, then here’s everything you need to know about how to start a virtual assistant business.
Define the Services for Your Virtual Assistant Business
What Tasks Will You Do?
The first question you should ask yourself is what kind of skills do you have that would be helpful to a busy professional? For example, as a virtual assistant, you might be able to offer the following specialized services:
- Responding to emails
- Scheduling appointments
- Returning phone calls
- Paying invoices
- Marketing activities
- Data entry
- Social media management
- Customer relationship management
Don’t underestimate your talents or abilities. No matter how simple or even ordinary these tasks may seem to you, your clients are short on time and will need your help. Therefore, your skills could be more marketable than you think.
At the same time, you should also think about any services you would NOT want to offer to potential clients, such as dealing with private matters or financials.
When Are You Available?
Another essential dynamic of a VA business is that your clients may be in a completely different time zone than you. For example, let’s say you live on the east coast and get a client based in Hawaii. That means you’d have a 6 hour time difference to contend with. Is that something you’re up for doing?
What Rates Will You Charge?
Finally, decide what rate you’d like to charge.
According to the site Small Revolution data, virtual assistants can earn anywhere from $13 to $35 an hour. So if you could offer virtual assistant services 40 hours per week, that would work out to $28,000 to $73,000 per year – not too bad!
When you’re just starting, you might find most gigs offer the lower end of the VA hourly rate. However, as you build your experience and credentials in the virtual assistant industry, you can confidently apply for other job postings with a higher payout.
Form Your Virtual Assistant Business
Think of a Business Name
Most small business owners name their enterprises. So, even if you’re working just part-time, give your business a creative and unique name. This will help make it more professional than just using your actual name.
Write a Business Plan
The next crucial step when starting your own virtual assistant business is writing a business plan. Doing this will help you determine how big the demand is for hiring virtual assistants. You’ll also ascertain who your competitors are, the services you’ll offer, business expenses, and whether to open a business bank account.
The plan is also the road map that will help you stay on track during the first months and years of your new business. It lets you know how well you are doing and what else you need to do to achieve your goals. Revisit and update the plans as you grow and develop new business ideas.
Decide Your Legal Business Structure
As the IRS requires, you have to define what type of business you’re starting.
If you’re working alone and part-time, you can do nothing and define yourself as a “sole proprietorship” when you file your taxes. However, if you’d like more legal protection, it’s generally recommended that you consider forming a limited liability corporation (LLC).
If you form an LLC, you’ll also have to apply for an EIN (employer identification number) with the IRS. This is like a social security number for a business owner.
Get Any Required Licenses or Permits
Though it’s probably not required, some places might require you to apply for a license or permit, even if you run a home-based business. Get in touch with your local government administration and find out the requirements for your new virtual assistant business.
Invest in the Tools of the Trade
Unlike other businesses, you need very little to start your own VA business. As most virtual assistants know, all you need is a laptop and stable internet connection. However, in addition to these things, you can consider other tools like:
- Time tracking
- Invoicing and accounting
- Project management tools like Trello, Asana, Basecamp, and Evernote.
Attract Your First Clients
Job Posting Sites
Job boards are a great place to find your first gigs when you’re just getting started. People from all over the world will post many jobs every day, ranging from short to long-term assignments.
Look around at postings from sites like:
- Flex Jobs
Though job posting sites do have a reputation for paying less than when you work with clients directly, remember that they may still be helpful as a stepping stone towards more lucrative opportunities.
Social media is a terrific way to reach a large audience without a lot of physical effort. For example, you could post that you’re open to accepting work as a virtual assistant and encourage your friends to repost it.
You could also go to LinkedIn and create a profile for your business account. List the services we talked about earlier, any experience you have, and what you’re willing to offer your clients.
It might also be helpful for you to connect with some special groups or fan pages on social media that cater to virtual assistants. Again, this would be a great way to make some connections and see if they lead to any potential work opportunities.
If you already have a blog on your business website, then you could quickly start offering your VA services. Add a simple advertisement or tab that says “Hire Me.”
Though it takes more effort, never underestimate the power of manual outreach.
Start by making a list of all the working professionals in your area, and then contact them directly to see if they would be interested in your VA services. The chances are that they may have thought about getting a VA but weren’t actively looking for one. That would be a bonus for you because you’d be their only applicant!
You can print business cards for this purpose. Although it might seem a little old school, it is still a great marketing strategy.
Build Your Client List for Your Virtual Assistant Business
Keep on Marketing
Even after getting your first regular customers, you’re not going to want to slow down your marketing efforts. So continue to look for other job postings, promote yourself on social media, and so on regularly every week.
Remember, with each new opportunity; you could negotiate a higher wage and potentially better working hours.
Ask for Referrals
There’s a high potential that whoever you’re doing VA work for now, might know of someone else who could use your services. So if you’ve managed to build up an excellent reputation, then ask if they would be willing to refer you to some of their associates. You can get your first client this way.
Suppose your current clients are pleased with your work. Leverage this positivity by asking for written testimonials or reviews. This will be helpful when you apply for your next gig and want to show your next potential client a solid work history.
Final Thoughts: How To Start a Virtual Assistant Business
If you like to work from home, have a laptop or computer, and get things done, starting your own business as a virtual assistant could be a great option! It’ll take some work, but it can pay off in the end. Use this guide on starting a successful virtual assistant business and getting your business up and running!