Building A Business Plan For Your Virtual Assistant Business

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.

What You Need to Know About the GDPR (and Why!)

Is your business GDPR compliant?

Unless you've been hiding under a rock lately, you have probably heard about the GDPR.

The GDPR is the General Data Protection Regulations that are coming into effect for people living in the European Union (EU) beginning Friday, May 25, 2018.

Here is what you need to know*:

What is the GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for anyone living in the European Union. (Which countries make up the European Union? Click here). The regulation also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU - so, wherever you live.  The GDPR gives control of their personal data to the citizens of the EU. They have the right  to know who has their data, why they have it, what they are doing with it, who they are sharing it with, and how to access it and delete it.

The GDPR actually came into being in April 2016, but there has been a two-year transition period in place. It becomes enforceable on May 25, 2018.

Why is it important?

The GDPR is important to residents of the EU because of the rights they will now have regarding their own personal data worldwide. It is important to those outside the EU because if you are collecting, processing or holding the data of someone in the EU and they have not consented for you to have it or use it, you could face stiff fines (up to $20 million pounds or 4% of your company's worldwide income). This is a law, and it is enforceable, so that is what makes it so important to understand. 

What kind of data is included?

The regulations include what is called "Personal Data". Basically, the main purpose of the GDPR is to protect the personal data of EU citizens. Personal data is anything that is identifiable to a specific person. It's not just about email addresses. It's about IP addresses of computers, names, addresses, credit card information, and more.

How will it affect my business?

If you are not connecting with or marketing to residents of the EU, you could be safe. However, this doesn't mean that you have EU customers. This includes your customers, your email subscribers, your website and blog visitors, anywhere you have contact with EU citizens is affected. If you are using custom audiences for your Facebook Ads, you will need to be sure your mailing list knows. And if you are using Google Analytics or Facebook pixels on your website, you are collecting cookies and that needs to be made compliant (for EU citizens) as well. 

The GDPR regulations are for data processors and data controllers. , etc. the basis of the GDPR is that it includes data processors and data controllers. The official definitions of these two are:

Data controller:  Article 4 (7) ‘controller’ means the natural or legal person, public authority, agency or other body which, alone or jointly with others, determines the purposes and means of the processing of personal data; where the purposes and means of such processing are determined by Union or Member State law, the controller or the specific criteria for its nomination may be provided for by Union or Member State law;

Data processor: Article 4 (8) ‘processor’ means a natural or legal person, public authority, agency or other body which processes personal data on behalf of the controller;

Data controllers are you, and anyone else who works within your company who has access to the data that is being collected. 

Data processors are the businesses or services you might use to process the data that is being collected.

Simple example: If you have an opt in on your website, and you use Aweber as your email service, and you have Google Analytics activated on your website, YOU are the data controller. Aweber and Google Analytics are the data processors. Make sense? So your data processors are your ecommerce/bookkeeping systems (or services), your email system, etc. 

What do I need to do to comply with GDPR?

Review your processes and update as necessary:

  • Maintain records of the data you are collecting and processing (or having processed on your company's behalf). 
  • Make a list of those who are processing your company data for analytics, mailing lists, marketing, payment processing, online storage systems, web hosts, website, etc.
  • Ensure that you have proof of consent for personal email data (ie mailing list). If you can't prove consent, obtain fresh consent.
  • Implement a system for people to choose the way you can use their data (ie allow them to opt out of any and all forms of retargeting, marketing, segmentation, and communication).
  • Develop a plan to remove stale data from your company's records.
  • Be certain that your business's data processors are GDPR compliant.
  • Educate your employees, subcontractors and partners on your procedures if they are handling your data in any way, or provide a Code of Conduct for them to adhere to.
  • Update your Privacy Policy on your website to include GDPR compliant language (or add a special GDPR addendum to your existing Privacy Policy if you prefer and link it to your existing policy). Add a link to this page on every page of your website, and on your data collection forms (order forms, email opt ins).
  • Update your Terms of Service on your website to include GDPR compliant language. Link your terms page to your Privacy Policy page.
  • If you do use analytics or a Facebook pixel, install a notification (pop up) to tell people their data is being collected when they visit your site.
  • Ensure that your contacts are able to contact you easily if they have they questions about their data that you may be in possession of, or request for their data to be deleted from your possession ('the right to be forgotten').
  • Develop a system to handle a data breach, should it occur.

Get more information:

If you want the whole shebang in plain English, this is the best article we have found to explain it clearly: Varonis (Michael Buckbee): GDP Requirements in Plain English

Suzanne Dibble is a UK lawyer who provides excellent information about GDPR compliance. She has a free checklist here: http://globalava.org/gdpr . She also runs an excellent GDPR specific Facebook group (download her checklist to get an invitation to join it), where you can get specific help.  She also sells a GDPR Compliance Pack that provides all the forms you might need to become compliant, if you want a handy little package (the webinar is very helpful too!) 

The Bottom Line:

Whether you are actively marketing to EU citizens or not, these are good changes to make to your business. It probably won't be long before something like this is rolled out by other countries as well. Data protection is a huge topic of discussion in all areas of business. Don't avoid the whole thing and hope you don't get caught. Do what you need to, to become compliant. Know what data you are collecting, develop good procedures to handle, process and store it, and make sure your connections know that too, and you'll be just fine. 


Disclaimer: The Canadian Assocation of Virtual Assistants (CAVA) is not an official GDPR resource. CAVA is a educational website and blog, and the information contained within this site in no way constitutes legal advice. Any person who intends to rely upon or use the information contained herein in any way is solely responsible for independently verifying the information and obtaining independent expert advice as required to become GDPR compliant.

*Article sources: Suzanne Dibble (UK Lawyer), Information Commissioners Office (ICO), Varonis Systems Inside Out Security, Europa EU, Wikipedia (definitions),