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.
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.
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.
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.
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