What You Need To Get Started As A VA

What You Need To Get Started As A VA

One of the great things about a VA business is that it’s easy to start. You really don’t need much to launch a successful business. That being said, there are some steps you’ll want to take before you hang up your “open for business” sign.

Office Equipment

You’re a virtual assistant which means you’ll need equipment to help you work virtually. This means a:

• Computer

• Backup storage or system – you can backup files online so an external drive isn’t necessary.

• Copier/scanner/fax

• Internet connection

• Desk and chair

• File cabinet/file system

• Transcription software and equipment, if you’re offering transcription

• Telephone and related equipment like a headset so you can talk hands free

You likely already have much of that equipment. If not, you don’t have to spend a fortune. Take a look at flea markets and resale stores for some of the furniture. If you don’t have a computer, most experts recommend buying the best you can afford. Your business will be based on your computer so a good one helps.

Business Equipment

You’re going to want a few basics to help you market and manage your business. These include but are not limited to:

• Business Plan – this is most important! It should include your budget, goals, marketing strategy, operations, policies and procedures and so on. Create a plan so you succeed!

• Website and/or blog

• Social networking profile/pages

• Email account for business

• Telephone number for business

• Invoicing system

• Bookkeeping software

• Project or task management system

• Services agreement/Contractor agreement

• Personal insurance: health, dental, life etc. When you’re self-employed insurance is your responsibility.

• Bank account for business

• Organization tools: calendar, notebooks, whatever helps you get and stay organized

• Business services software. What software do you need to provide your services? For example, if you offer transcription you’ll need transcription software. If you provide graphics, you'll need a graphics program, etc.

Again, you may have much of this already. And most of these basics don’t cost much. You can spend a lot on software so be careful. Only buy what you really need.

Personal Equipment

Okay, so your home office is set and you have a solid business plan. What else do you need to get started?

• Enthusiasm

• Motivation

• Positive Mindset

• Perseverance

• Administrative skills

• Marketing knowledge (Read a few good books on marketing your business, you’ll be set.)

Not bad, right? If you already have a computer you can likely start your VA business for just a few hundred dollars. Many have started with nothing at all and made a huge success of their VA skills. Create a checklist. Create a plan. Create the success you desire.

How to Know If Being A VA Is Right for You

If you’re considering starting your own business then being a VA is a good choice. It’s a service that is in demand. And the demand seems to be growing. More and more people are realizing the value of outsourcing their administrative needs. It’s a career choice that promises variety, daily challenges and the freedom of being your own boss. However, it’s not the right choice for everyone.

Here are a few questions to help you determine if being a VA is right for you.

Are You Good at Managing Your Time?

As a virtual assistant you’re going to have to balance a lot of tasks. You’ll balance client work. You’ll balance managing your business. You’ll also want to market and grow your business. And of course the day to day responsibilities like laundry don’t go away either. There will be a lot of demands on your time, energy, and attention.

If you’re good at managing your time, then great. If you can focus and be productive you have what it takes to be a VA. If time management isn’t your strength, there’s still hope. Start adopting habits right now to better manage your time. Learn to schedule and prioritize. Learn how to focus and be productive.

Are You Motivated and Enthusiastic?

Being a VA takes a lot of positive energy. You’ll want to be able to get up every morning and be able to focus on your business. Of course there will be low energy days. Everyone has them. However, in order to succeed as a VA, you’ll want to be brimming with energy and enthusiasm to start, grow, and manage your business.

Are You Organized?

In addition to organizing your own business needs, tasks and information you’ll need to organize your client’s. That’s part of your job. Your clients need your help getting and keeping them organized. And the more organized you are, the more productive you’ll be. Not organized? Start creating systems right now. You can still be successful. However, you’ll have to pay careful attention to your systems and practices. Make yourself be organized.

Are You Social?

Okay, so you don’t have to be a social butterfly to succeed as a VA. However, you will want to be easy to communicate with. Clients and prospects will communicate with you via email and the telephone. Make sure you’re comfortable talking with strangers. Also, the more social you are, the more clients you’re likely to meet online and off. It’s easier to build your business when you’re delighted to talk about it with others.

If you don’t have all of these skills or personality traits, it’s okay. Most of them can be learned. You can even learn to be motivated and enthusiastic. If you want to start a VA business that desire is the first step. The rest will fall into place. To your success!

Being Your Own Boss is So Great!

I recently hosted a free information session for Virtual Assistants.

One of the first things I ask anyone when they are thinking of starting out: why they want to start their own business.

I have heard a variety of answers to this question, but many times the answer is ‘to be my own boss’.

in-chargeWhen I start to work with someone as their coach, I ask them to look deeper into that statement. Why do you want to be your own boss?

There are always more underlying reasons that simply because you want to.

And we often talk about needed to understand WHY you want to be in business for yourself. Because some days are hard, and some decisions are hard.

Some days you will find yourself wondering if it’s worth it.

So why not start your whole business by considering that WHY, and building on it?

Why do you want to be your own boss? Think of the actual reasons.

Because it’s GREAT to be your own boss – for lots of reasons!

Here are some I have heard through discussions with other VAs:

1. I get to make my own decisions (good or bad!)
2. I can manage my own schedule.
3. I can manage my own workload.
4. I can choose the people who I want to work with.
5. I can decide which services I want to offer.
6. I can make time to fit in the other things I want to do in my life: kids’ field trips, travel, holidays, etc.

These are the normal responses that I hear.

Here are a few additional ones that you may not have thought of.

7. I get to decide what I charge, and how much money I make.
8. I get to claim some of my expenses on my taxes.
9. I don’t have to answer to anyone.
10. I can hire my own staff!
11. I can take a vacation any time I want!
12. I can make as much or as little money as I want to, anytime.

Being your own boss is a huge responsibility, but when you look at the advantages, it sure makes it easier to handle those tough days.

When you approach your business with a CEO mindset (you are not an employee, you are the owner and Chief Executive Officer of your own business), you will work better with your clients.

You will set boundaries and procedures to make things clear for everyone who works with you. Everything just becomes … easier.

Being the boss is great, as long as you act like one!

For more information about getting your VA business started, visit www.canadianava.org/va-training/

How to Find Great Clients

newcustomers

 

Being self-employed is extremely rewarding. It can also be a challenge.

Often the difference is the type of client you have.

The better your clients are, the more rewarding your business feels and the happier you are.

So, doesn't it makes sense to create a strategy to find great clients?

Of course it does!

Here are a few tactics to consider.

Network

One of the best ways to find people you enjoy working with is to meet them by networking - either local or online.

Sometimes you click right away with another business owner.

A simple, “I’d love to see how we can work together” may end up producing profitable results for years to come.

Networking both online and off is a fantastic way to find great clients.

In fact, you will likely find that networking is the best source of ideal clients for your VA business.

Spread the Word

Put the word out about your business.

Let your friends, family and associates know that you’re looking to add two or three quality clients to your schedule. (make sure they know what you do!)

You might be surprised at what you find.

You may end up with more quality clients than you have time for.

Referrals

When you find clients that you enjoy working with, ask them for referrals.

People tend to be attracted to like-minded individuals and clients referred from existing clients tend to be of the same caliber. In short, good clients refer good clients.

And often if you are working with a client you love, you learn quickly about their industry - and where more great clients are not far behind.

Consider offering a referral program for your business. Reward customers for their referrals by giving them a credit towards their own work, or even a gift card or a small gift. (I love Send Out Cards brownies!). Let them know you appreciate their referrals.

Partnerships

Consider forging partnerships with other business owners that you enjoy working with.

For example, if you’re a virtual assistant who provides social networking management you might partner with someone who creates social networking graphics.

Together you could offer a complete social networking package.

Before You Begin Searching For More Great Clients

There are a few steps to take before you begin searching for more VA clients. Taking these steps will ensure you’re attracting the type of client you want. It’ll also make sure you can accommodate their needs.

1. Make sure you have room in your schedule for them. If not, consider eliminating some of clients or tasks from your calendar. You want to make sure you can meet the needs of your new clients.

2. Identify exactly what you want in a client. What makes a client great to work with? What are you looking for? Are they easy to communicate with? Do they provide minimum instruction? Do they pay well? Define what makes a good client.

3. Take steps to make sure that your existing clients and any new clients know how much you appreciate them. Create a customer appreciation strategy. Finding those great clients is only the first step. You want to make sure to keep them too.

Finding great clients isn’t difficult.

Know what you’re looking for.

Don’t hesitate to ask for new clients.

Pay attention to the service you provide.

A good VA client can stick with you for years.

It’s worth the time and effort to show your appreciation.