Are you thinking of setting up your own virtual assistant business?
You’ve come to the right place.
With more companies relying on remote workers, working as a virtual assistant (VA) in 2021 is easier than ever.
In this article, we’ll go through everything you need to know before starting your VA business.
Here’s a list of what the article contains:
(Feel free to jump into a section of your choice using the links below)
- What Is A Virtual Assistant Business?
- Pros of Starting A Virtual Assistant Business
- Potential Cons Of Starting A Virtual Assistant Business
- How To Start A Virtual Assistant Business
Let’s get started.
What is a Virtual Assistant Business?
A virtual assistant business provides administrative, technical, or creative assistance to companies, consultants or small business owners.
A VA business may consist of a single VA or multiple VAs acting as independent consultants who work remotely and handle multiple clients at the same time.
Virtual Assistant Services Include
Virtual assistant businesses usually offer various services depending on their niche. These can range from social media marketing to email management to blogging.
Some of the most popular services offered by VAs are:
- administrative work
- schedule management
- personal task management
- data entry
- prospect background research before sales calls
- booking travel arrangements
- content creation and article writing
- scheduling social media posts
Some VAs offer more advanced services like project management, programming, SEO and managing finances. These VAs will charge higher rates since their services require formal training or a degree (e.g. a degree in computer science for advanced coding skills).
There are VAs who will even provide video and audio editing services, and interview job applicants for their clients.
There’s a VA for every job or skill you can think of.
Click here for a comprehensive list of tasks that VAs perform for their clients.
Pros of Starting a Virtual Assistant Business
1. Low Startup Costs
Your work as a virtual assistant will usually have you working from home on your personal computer.
That’s all you need – your computer.
You don’t need to invest in expensive equipment or complicated applications.
All you need is a reliable computer, a stable internet connection, and a few inexpensive apps to make money as a new virtual assistant.
If you already have a good laptop and fast internet, your startup cost is zero!
2. No Need for a Specialized Degree or Skill Set
Many people want to become virtual assistants but fear that they won’t have the necessary skills to succeed.
However, most of the time, that’s not the case.
There are many different types of virtual assistants. They offer services from design to being an administrative assistant and so on.
If there’s a job, chances are, there’s a virtual assistant for it!
Don’t worry about spending time learning a new skill – just offer VA services in what you’re already good at.
3. Work Whenever You Want
Tired of working the usual 9 to 5?
Or maybe you’re simply looking for some part-time work after your full-time job.
Either way, working as a virtual assistant could be an excellent choice for you.
There are tons of virtual assistant services that don’t require you to be online at the same time as your client. This lets you work on your tasks whenever it’s convenient for you.
You can be an early bird or a night owl.
Your clients won’t care when you work as long as you get the job done!
4. Work from Wherever You Want
Tired of the daily work commute?
As a virtual assistant, you won’t need to travel to a designated workspace. Your clients won’t care where you work from, as long as you deliver their requests on time. So feel free to work while traveling to exotic locations like Lisbon, Budapest or Bali!
However, this doesn’t mean you should work from your bedroom.
It’s still a good idea to have a designated area at home for your VA services. This will boost your productivity as your mind associates this particular room with work.
But what if you’re not feeling productive at home?
Simply move to the nearest cafe or co-working space to get things done.
5. Choose Who You Work (or Don’t Work) With
We’ve all worked with rude co-workers and demanding clients in the past. Chances are, you hated every second of it.
But in most jobs, you have to put up with them – there’s no other way, right?.
However, when you work as a virtual assistant, you can decide who your clients are.
If you encounter continuous negative experiences with a client, you can decide to not work with them again. This freedom of choice will keep you happy and boost your productivity levels; helping you get more work done for your other clients!
Potential Cons of Starting a Virtual Assistant Business
1. The First Client is Always the Hardest
Virtual assistants usually build their businesses through networking and referrals.
If you do well with one client, they recommend you to someone they know.
Unfortunately, if you’re starting in the field, it’ll take some time to land your first gig as you don’t already have a well-built network.
So, what do you do?
You could price yourself lower than average until you bag your first few clients. This way, you’ll have a strong work portfolio when you decide to increase your prices later.
But there is a risk involved here – you’ll earn less, and if you price yourself too low, people might think you’re not good enough.
2. You Get No Employee Benefits
Employee benefits are incentives like sick days and health insurance that are offered to workers by their employers. Often, these employee benefits are incredibly important can help workers support their families.
However, when you start your virtual assistant business, you become a freelancer/independent contractor.
You are not an employee of the businesses that you consult for.
This means you will have to pay for your insurance plan and risk losing income on sick days; among other things.
3. You’ll be Paying Your Own Taxes
Employers in several countries withhold a portion of their employees’ pay to settle their employees’ taxes.
However, when you start your virtual assistant business, you become your own employer.
The downside to this is that you have to pay your own taxes.
Paying your taxes sounds like a headache – and for the most part, it is. In most cases, you’ll have to hire a tax accountant for this, which is going to be another additional expense.
4. You May Feel Isolated
Working in an office makes you feel like you’re part of a community.
After all, the best work cultures make employees feel like they’re part of one big family, right?
However, this isn’t the case for remote work.
When you start your own VA business, you’ll probably work from home like most remote workers. You won’t be part of a workplace community, and this can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
How to Start a Virtual Assistant Business
Follow these simple steps to build a successful virtual assistant business.
1. Determine the Services You’ll Offer
The first thing to do is figure out which services you’re going to offer as a virtual assistant.
One VA may offer social media management or calendar management services, while another specializes in virtual assistance as a professional blogger.
Settle on a few different offerings to avoid getting overwhelmed once you bag a few clients. If you try and do too much, you won’t be able to deliver on time and will lose all the traction you gained.
Initially, don’t waste time learning new skills – just work with what you’re good at. As you advance, you can determine which of your offerings are more profitable and focus entirely on these specific services.
What If There Are Additional Opportunities?
If any of your clients ask for services you aren’t proficient in, you could consider partnering with a VA who is. You could also consider hiring freelancers or full-time employees to deliver these services.
2. Choose an Industry to Focus On
It’s a good idea to focus on a specific niche/industry as a newbie virtual assistant.
It’ll be easier to establish yourself and build a sizeable industry-specific client base.
Luckily, there are tons of VA opportunities in almost every industry:
- The real estate sector can be an exciting field for VAs with tons of realtors requiring administrative, social media and SEO services.
- The healthcare industry has excellent opportunities for freelancers interested in medical billing.
- Bookkeepers and accountants can find lucrative jobs as VAs in the finance industry.
3. Decide on the Structure of Your Business
Drafting a proper business plan will help you outline your goals and decide on the structure of your business.
Ask yourself: “What’s my business going to be?”
- A sole proprietor?
- A partnership?
- An LLC?
If you’re starting alone, registering as a sole proprietor will be the easiest way to get things off the ground. Partnerships are great when you have someone else who’s as invested in your VA idea as you are. However, if you’re looking to scale things up and hire people, opting for an LLC is your best bet.
Note that each of these structures comes with its own set of risks and liabilities. Thoroughly go over them before settling on one.
If you decide to register your business, you’ll have to gather the required documentation. You can obtain the necessary licenses from your city council. If your business has a name other than yours, you will need to file a “Doing Business As” statement.
You should also open a separate bank account for your business. Talk with a lawyer or a CPA to figure out how you want to register your business and take the necessary steps to prepare yourself.
What if you don’t register your business?
That’s definitely an option to consider. The answer would depend on the legal and tax implications in your country. Speak to an accountant to have greater clarity about your options.
4. Create a Name for Your Business
Before you start reaching out to clients, decide on what you want to call your business. Remember, this is your brand and your business will always be known by the name you choose.
Most virtual assistants just go by their name, but some decide on a catchy line for their new business.
If you decide to come up with a name for your business, make sure it’s easy to pronounce and simple enough to remember. You don’t want to be confusing clients as soon as you start!
You should obviously have a website for your business. So deciding on a name and finding a domain should go hand in hand. Available .com domains are hard to find. So shortlist a bunch of names so that you can choose one for which a domain is available.
Quick tip – Avoid using domains with extensions other than .com. They might sound cool, but are hard to remember and many people will mistakenly type in the name of the .com domain instead of yours – landing on someone else’s site!
5. Decide Your Rates
As a virtual assistant, you’ll have to run your own business.
Your income needs to cover all your
- Business overheads.
- Personal living costs.
That’s why deciding your VA rates can be quite tricky.
They need to be low enough to attract new clients, and high enough to cover all your expenses.
Many virtual assistants start at around $15 – $20 per hour and increase their hourly rates over time. A good way to decide your rate is to identify how much money you need to live, break it down by the hour, and add $5 – $10 per hour for your other needs.
You can always use a time tracking tool like Time Doctor to track all your billable hours. As it’s accurate to the second, you can use it as a reliable time record to bill clients.
6. Reach Out to Potential Leads and Clients
When you start out as a virtual assistant, potential clients aren’t going to come to you.
You’ll have to go out there and find them.
Start with your existing network.
Reaching out to people you already know is an excellent launchpad to find your first few clients. As they already know you, they’ll be more willing to take you on – even if you don’t have any prior experience.
You can even find potential leads through:
- Social media via LinkedIn.
- Freelancing websites.
- Job postings.
However, having a proven track record with previous clients will improve your chances of landing clients this way.
7. Develop a Marketing Strategy
Your virtual assistant business will never get off the ground if people don’t know about it. You need to market yourself to bag more clients to earn more money.
- Advertise on social media channels like Facebook groups
- Get your business listed on Google.
- Focus on SEO and getting organic traffic to your site.
However, that may not be enough.
You might have to hire a marketing specialist to identify your target market and develop a tailor-made plan for your business. While this can be expensive, it could be the most important investment you make.
8. Use the Right Tools
Managing a virtual assistant business can be tiring.
You need to:
- Track your work for each client.
- Prepare invoices.
- Look into accounts and taxes.
- Manage your VA team.
However, using the right tools can streamline these processes and help you grow quickly.
For example, accounting software like Freshbooks will help you follow-up on invoicing and payments. Another important investment would be a time tracker like Time Doctor.
Time Doctor is a powerful tool that can track the time you and your VA team spends on tasks to boost your productivity.
With Time Doctor, you can:
- Track the time a member of your VA team spends on a task.
- Use the Projects Report to access detailed time records to bill your clients based on hours worked.
- Use the Web and App Usage report to track the sites and applications your employees visit during work hours.
- Boost productivity levels by holding your VA team accountable for their output.
- Reduce the amount of time wasted on unproductive tasks.
- Integrate with dozens of other software like Freshbooks to make work more efficient
Click here for a more detailed look at its features.
9. Ask for Referrals and Testimonials
Want to know how the pros look for clients?
Their clients come looking for them.
If you want clients to come to you, keep your existing ones happy and ask them to refer you to their network. You can ask for client testimonials and even make short videos of your clients describing their experience with you.
Leverage these reviews and testimonials on your website and social media profiles to drum up interest. Remember, word of mouth marketing is still viewed as the most authentic form of marketing.
Leveraging it will do wonders for your business.
This is an exciting time to start work as a virtual assistant.
However, running your own online business as a virtual assistant isn’t something you can do overnight.
It requires tons of planning and a strong work ethic to land clients and keep them satisfied. However, once you implement the right strategy and use tools like Time Doctor to stay productive, you’ll have no trouble getting your VA business off the ground.
In the meantime, why not sign up for Time Doctor and see how it can boost your productivity instantly?
Lauren Soucy is the VP of Marketing for Time Doctor, the world’s leading time tracking and productivity software. She has 15+ years of experience in marketing at fast-paced companies. Her first passion is SEO, she can’t start her day without coffee, and she enjoys spending time at the beach with her two boys and her husband.