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Starting a virtual assistant business

How to start a virtual assistant business
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A virtual assistant is a person that manages administrative tasks remotely which means working completely online. Hence the ‘virtual’.  Virtual assistant firms aim to lower overhead costs for companies since remote workers are usually hired at a reduced expense. They can also work flexible hours.

Starting a virtual assistant company involves many of the same steps as launching any other business. You would have to create a business plan, choose a business structure, develop a marketing plan, and research competitors.

Businesses of all sizes need administrative help but having a full-time employee onsite can be cost-prohibitive. This is where virtual assistants companies come in.  A virtual assistant company will provide administrative professionals who offer a wide variety of services remotely, operating as their own small businesses.

Technology like cloud collaboration software, videoconferences, project management apps and instant messaging, provide entrepreneurs who want to start a virtual assistant firm with the tools they need to successfully work with business clients.

Does all these still interest you? Below are some expert advice to running a successful virtual assistant firm.

Start out as a Virtual Assistant.

To successfully start up a virtual assistant firm, it is essential you seek opportunities to operate as a virtual assistant first. Operating as a VA on your own can feel like you are all by yourself, but in fact, there are professional groups, online forums and books to support you in your business dream. This starting stage allows you to read, research and network in preparation for properly launching a VA company.

By reading and researching what services a VA can perform, you can narrow down your own offerings. And by networking with other VAs, you can benefit from subcontracting work or advice from more established VAs.

Develop a business plan specifically tailored for a Virtual Assistant Company.

As with any other business, you need to develop a business plan before launching a VA company. A business plan is an outline of your company and how you plan to operate. The business plan acts as a timeline for your company. Also, if you plan to seek out loans or investors for the VA business, lenders will request a copy of your business plan.

Do you need help writing a business plan? Check here

Choose your business structure.

Before making your services public, it is important you structure your business the right way. There are several business structures available out there to choose from.

According to the Small Business Administration, a sole proprietorship is ideal for a low-risk business ventures or individuals who want to test the waters with their new company before formalizing plans. Additional structure options include corporations, LLC, and partnerships. All structures have tax advantages and disadvantages.

Before launch, check with the appropriate government bodies about any licensing requirements you may need for your new business.   

Communication and Developing a New skill set.

There is a lot more to being a virtual assistant than helping with the tasks your client needs you to do. Having office experience will help you in your day-to-day duties, but as an independent business, you need to learn the ropes of how to run it.

As with any type of virtual work, not being in the office for face-to-face interactions with your clients can present some difficulties if your communication or theirs are unclear. VAs perform many of the important day-to-day tasks that keep a business running. So it is knowing what is required of you as a service provider is key to customer satisfaction.

In order to successfully run your new business, you must now be conversant in all areas of business administration. This includes sales, marketing, IT, customer service, project management, receivables, payables and compliance.

Market your VA business.

Marketing is essential when developing a successful VA business. Utilising keyword research will help you get started on a marketing plan for your company. Find out what keywords clients are using to find VA services.

Find tools that are useful in researching keyword terms. Once you select your keywords, integrate them in all marketing materials for the VA business. Your marketing efforts should also include a professional and user-friendly website. An optimized and well-designed website will attract new clients. Social media marketing should also be a part of your strategy for your VA venture.

Adapt to your clients’ needs.

As a virtual assistant business owner, you will need to be able to deliver exactly what each client needs. It would be a good idea to determine the best structure for your service packages and pricing based on what your clients are looking for.

According to Michelle Anastasio-Festi, the founder of CT Virtual Assistance, “A VA provides business owners with the opportunity to get exactly what they need, when they need it, like ordering from a menu. Because most VAs offer a wide range of services to various industries, it becomes confusing as to who needs what most. Essentially, it is wiser to move away from hourly retainers and work more towards customizing individual monthly packages that are tailored to each client’s needs.”