Building A Business Plan For Your Virtual Assistant Business

I wanted to do a quick video for you today about  building a business plan for your Virtual Assistant business. 

If you do not have a business plan, and this is something that a lot of Virtual Assistants are starting out or who are having a little bit of difficulty growing their business really often don't have in place.

When you write anything down it really helps to reinforce it in your brain.

So when VAs ask me if they need a business plan, my short answer is always: yes.

Because if you want to have any success in your business, you have to have a plan.

You have to know certain things and doing your business plan is what is going to be one of the easiest things for you to do.

One of the reasons that people don't like to do them is they get really scared of massive documents and that kind of thing. So I've got a business plan template that for my clients that I think just fits enough stuff into it.

It's not overwhelming. Well, it is overwhelming if you don't know the answers to things, but it helps you to look at what you don't know yet, what you need to figure out.

It helps you to put strategies in place but it also helps you to make decisions and that's the big thing.

If you have a big gaping hole in your business plan because you haven't figured out what your rate is, or who your ideal clients are, or  what services you're actually going to offer, or how your money's going to look, then that's a really key thing that you need to look into.

So the components of your business plan that I provide to my students are:

Your Business Model

How is your business going to be structured? Are you going to work by the hour?  By the project? By package of services? 

When you look at your business model, you can bring revenue into your business in a lot of different ways.

Are you going to work on retainer?

Are you going to work with a team?

Do you plan to have subcontractors?

Do you have part-time work?

Are you earning commissions?

How is your business going to work? There are lots of different ways.

You don't just have to work one-to-one with clients. That's obviously going to be the main way that you earn income, particularly in the first few years of your business, but there are lots of ways that you can supplement that income.

So you want to look at that and figure out how you can really make the amount of money you want to make. And the business model is a really big piece of that.

Finance and Revenue Forecasting

Because this is a really challenging area for a lot of people, I often suggest to just get help with it. Learn what you don't know.

So if you don't know how to do the finance part of it to figure out what your startup costs are, what you're going to have to pay on a regular basis, what you need to earn pre-tax, and and what you're going to bring into your household, what you need to earn in any particular month, that's what you need to look at.

You need to figure it out.

If I need to bring in $2,000 a month, and my billable rate is going to be around here ("$XX"), how does that actually convert -  how does that make sense for you in terms of client number of clients, or what those clients need to pay you?

Do you need to have two big clients at $1,000 a month? Or can you have eight smaller clients  who pay you $250 a month (is my math right?). So less commitment - it is a lot easier to get clients at a lower level, but you need more of them, obviously.

And then how does that work into how your business is going to be set up? 

So finance and revenue forecasting is really important to learn how to do.

That's something I teach, so I can definitely help!

Services and Rates

When you know what your revenue levels are going to be, then you can break that out into services.

If you need to make $500 per client (or whatever that looks like for you), how does that look and what services can you provide for clients to get them to that level? Determine what your rate is and and how much you'll do.

Services and rates always go hand in hand, so I quite often teach them together.

Clients

Big question! Who are your clients going to be?

A lot of VAs think they can serve anybody - that they can work with anybody - and although that's not false (it's actually quite true!), it really makes it hard to run a business, whenever you are sort of 'everything to everybody'.

If you target a particular industry for your marketing, in any given time you can determine the markets that you would like to work with.

I settled quite early on, on business coaches because they were often solopreneurs. There weren't a ton of people around. They were the decision-maker in their business. We could develop a one-to-one relationship. They wanted somebody long-term. They needed someone to do the things that I could do, like client care. There was always ongoing business. They did launches every few months, so I could take my marketing stuff and work into that.

So there are lots of different things that you can look at in terms of who your clients will be, and where they'll be.

Sometimes you want local clients. Sometimes you don't want local clients. That's a really big piece of your business plan as well.

Competitive Analysis

A competitive analysis is not about looking at your competitors or other VAs as competition to you. In fact, the VA industry is really really collaborative, and people who are in the industry and doing well, know there's more than enough work for everybody - really good clients!

There are tons of really good clients right now that simply don't have any help, because we're just still a growing industry ourselves.

So doing a competitive analysis (I really hate that word!),  is what it is you need. To look and see what the market will bear for the services that you want to offer.

You can't just sort of fix a price to it and go. I wouldn't suggest it, anyway.

You want to make sure that that the industry that you are going to be working with is able to support the rate that you want to charge. You want to know that you're somewhere in line with what other people are doing.

You can also get some really good ideas about how to package your services, or maybe who to market to, by doing a little bit of kind of competitive analysis for your clients.

Research is always going to be your friend here, but you have to use that research then to make some decisions.

Marketing Plan

You need to really put things down on paper. 

Set your end goal - this is always the way I do goal setting - set your end goal, and then you break it down into the steps that will take you to get there.

You break things down into actionable pieces, and then you can take those action steps and you can break those down into smaller daily activities, so that you can actually get things done.

Looking at marketing in terms of that perspective, what do you want to get? It's probably clients, right?

How do you do that? You need to write it all down. You need to  make sure that you do what you need to do.

When you put these things into your business plan, you can look at them.

You can see where the gaps are, and you can see what it is that you need to get support with, or you just need to make some decisions around.

If it's your rate, you know sometimes it's just set a rate and get going. It's not about looking around, and asking a million other people.

If you don't know how to do some pieces of the marketing, maybe that's where you need to get some support or some training.

So ... it's really important to get your business plan written down.

You can see exactly what it is that you need to work on, and then you can just get working.

There's a really great quote that I love:

Benjamin Franklin says "Failing to plan is planning to fail "

When you put things in place you can see what you need to work on.

You can see what needs to happen next, and it's really going to help your business.

For more Virtual Assistant training, visit our YouTube channel here or click the image below!


 

Skyrocket Your Success as a VA with a Specialty

3 Questions to Answer Before Choosing Your Niche

Are you considering choosing a specialty for your Virtual Assistant business?

Choosing a specialty is a great thing to do in your business for a few reasons.

Working with specific clients help you to:

  • Get your business in front of a bigger pool of potential clients who need the same services
  • Develop specific service packages that you can charge higher rates for
  • Manage multiple clients more easily because you are doing similar tasks every day

But you can’t just pick a specialty out of the air.

To make the right selection, you need to ask yourself some important questions.

Question #1: What am I really great at?

Look at your service offerings. Choose a service (or a combination of services) that you do really well. Starting with what you are really good at is key. One of my coaches told me once: ‘What comes the easiest to you, you should be charging the most for. ‘ and this is so true in business. If you have an amazing skill – organizing, delegating, project management, bookkeeping, business communication – you should consider providing this to your clients. Even if you don’t realize the value behind it, they will.

So what are you good at? Bookkeeping? Client care? Social media?  Start there.

Next question.

Question #2: What do I love to do?

The second question is so important. If you do not love the skills or services that you listed from Question #1, you need to go back to the drawing board!

To make your business happy and healthy for the long term, you need to provide services that you really enjoy. I know how to do bookkeeping, but I don’t like it. Just because you know how to do something doesn’t mean you have to do it.

You really do have to remember that your business is yours and you need drive to keep it going every day. Doing stuff you don’t like to do is not going to do you any favours.

Once you have a list of things you do really well, and that you love, there is one last question to ask yourself.

Question #3: Will people pay me to do this?

Again, take the answers from Questions #1 and 2, and now ask yourself the third question.

Are there people who will pay you to do this? You have to offer viable services to a viable audience.

For instance, I hear a lot of VAs say they love to do proofreading. And while that’s a really important skill, I’m not sure that you could build a business on it alone.

If you can’t think of people who will pay you to do what you do well and love, then you are back to square one again.

To find the best specialty for your business, you need to have services you are great at, that you love to do, and that you can get paid to do. Lots and lots of clients need to be able to pay you to do this!

 


 

Choosing a great specialty is just one of the important steps to building a profitable and sustainable business. For more great tips and information about how to build your amazing VA business, join our free Getting Started as a Virtual Assistant Facebook group here.

3 Great Reasons to Specialize Your Services In Your Virtual Assistant Business

Virtual Assistants who are just getting started in their business often get frustrated by veterans who tell them they need to specialize their services to succeed.

When you get started, anxiety can often set in as you try to find clients.

It can be tempting to say yes to any client, for anything they ask you to do.

But the problem is that soon you will probably realize you are either unhappy with what you are doing, or with what you are getting paid to do it.

When you start your business, you are the one who gets to make the decisions.

You get to decide what you do. You get to decide what you charge. You get to decide who you work with.

But when you are starting to struggle finding clients, it is really easy to give up those decisions when someone says they need you to help them do something.

So getting really specific with what you do and who you do it for from the start is a good business decision.

Here are a few reasons that you want to set up a specialty, or work towards one:

Reason #1: Be Seen By A Bigger Audience

When you make a decision to focus on a particular industry or a specific group of people that need a similar service, you expose your business to a larger, common audience.

Instead of hunting and pecking with every business owner you meet, you can find people in larger groups that are seeking the kind of support you offer.

Reason #2: Improve Your Daily Work Flow

If you offer varied services, you will find yourself jumping from one task to another a lot of the time. When you narrow down the services you offer to a specific niche, you will do fewer tasks every day, and they will probably be tasks that are related to each other.

Your daily work flow will naturally improve when you work on similar tasks, or linear tasks.

Reason #3: Develop Custom Service Packages

As you connect with your niche or target industry, you will learn more about what types of service they need. You can stay on top of trends they are seeing.

You can build packages that really speak to their needs. When you are connecting with the right people, you can build your business any way you want. And you can become the go-to person for your particular service offerings.

Bonus Reason: Charge Higher Rates

When you specialize your services, you can often charge higher rates. Expertise is value, and clients will pay for it when you position it properly.

You might even develop package pricing, which is always good to do because it gets you away from charging by the hour, which can make it difficult to raise your rates.

 


 

Choosing a great specialty is just one of the important steps to building a profitable and sustainable business. For more great tips and information about how to build your amazing VA business, join our free Getting Started as a Virtual Assistant Facebook group here.

I Hate Selling - How Do I Get Clients for my Virtual Assistant Business?

Do you get uncomfortable selling your VA services?

If you do, don't worry you're not alone.

This is one of the most common issues for Virtual Assistants who are just getting started (or who are trying to grow).

Here's the reason: we have usually not had any sales training in the corporate world. It's really as simple as that. We don't know how!

When I talk to VAs who are struggling with this, and I ask them what they say to people when they are networking, the result is almost always the same.

The trip over their words.

They try to educate the client about the VA industry.

They leave the conversation frustrated, and the potential client confused.

But did you know that the most effective sales conversations are simply that ... conversations?

 What are you saying to potential clients?

If this is you, it's a really simple fix!

All you have to do is make all of your conversations about the client.

Not you. The client.

Ask them questions.

  • What do they do for their business?
  • Do they have support?
  • What keeps them busy?
  • How do they find clients?
  • What systems do they use to run their business?

The answers to the questions will help you tell them more about your own business - believe it or not!

And everyone LOVES to talk about their own business (trust me on this one!). Once you start asking them questions, you will be much more at ease because they will end up doing most of the talking.

You will also learn quickly whether you can help them or not.

If you can, great - you can tell them how. It's just a conversation. 

If you can't, then you move on.

No selling involved.

Try it in your next networking conversation.

When someone says to you, 'What do you do?' respond with, 'I'm a Virtual Assistant. What do you do?'

... and watch the conversation develop from there.

There is no need to fear sales - because when you offer support, either you can help someone or you can't.

Sure, you still have to talk about logistics and pricing and all that good stuff, but the general conversation doesn't have to paralyze you.

Leave the infomercial out of it.

Many VAs I know avoid in person networking for this reason alone.  They think they have to start every conversation with their awkward one-minute infomercial. 

Don't do that. It's not natural and it usually falls completely flat.

Just talk. Ask questions. Answer questions.

Your services will naturally come up. 

No sales necessary. And I guarantee you that you will get clients!