Steps to starting up your own Virtual Assistant Business
• What type of business do you want to start, what services do you want to offer, look at your skills and see what you enjoy doing, make a list of jobs you have done in your career, say you did e.g. Typing, Transcription, PowerPoint Presentation etc and that is what you enjoy doing, so start your business by offering the services you enjoy doing the most and expand your business from there as you get to learn and know other jobs.
• Do Internet Research on the VA industry, local and worldwide. There are many VA sites worldwide that you can visit to see what the industry is about. Search for ‘Virtual Assistants’ via Google etc.
• Check out your Competition in the market, check out your competition, speak to other experienced VAs, ask how they started up, etc. And if an established VA will assist you as your mentor, grab her and don’t let her go,
• Learn how to run a business. Learn what a Business Owner is and what Business Owners do, you have your company books, invoicing, customer liaison, quotations, networking, marketing, debt collecting etc. There is more to running a business than just taking in typing jobs. A Virtual Assistant runs a business/company.
• Join Associations, networking groups online and local, Chamber of Commerce, small to medium business networking groups, women’s business groups etc for networking purposes, locally.
• Name your business, have a business name that reflects what you are doing and who you are. Design a company logo and a company slogan.
• Perform a business registration search in the internet, on the name you choose for your business to make sure no one else is using that name.
• Register a domain name for your website; first check that the name you have chosen is not used by someone else. My domain name is www.amftyping.co.za, the domain being ‘amftyping’.
• You need a website or blog to advertise your business on the Internet. http://alison-fourie.blogspot.com/, this is a great marketing tool, you can list your website on search engines and add your website and company details to search engine listings, classified sections, and in directories via the internet worldwide. Your website and blog are your internet advertising tools; they portray you on-line, make sure your content is good and draws clients to you. If it’s not working within 3 months relook at your content and change it.
• Create a presence on Social media sites, Linked In, Twitter, Facebook etc.
• Determine your business structure (sole proprietor, partnership, or corporation).
• Evaluate your personal budget, know what your budget limits are, and work within these limits.
• Write a business plan, list your objectives and values, create your mission statement, update as your business grows. Set up the way you are going to run your business (Procedures/structures), document it, edit, as you need to, but put it in writing.
• Register your business with the Deeds Office in (for South African VAs only, VAs from other countries must check their own country regulations) Have a choice of company names; check out your company names via the internet, because if you find someone with the same business name you will have to change your name as they were here first.
• Organise your office and office space.
• Order signage, I have a sign attached to my gate with business name and details. Place signage/magnets on your car, as you drive around, you are advertising your company.
• Business tools (computer, printer, fax machine, office supplies, and fixtures, ADSL line, Broadband/wireless connection). (Make sure you have the bandwidth to cater for your job, if you are doing transcription/typing you will receive/send large files, you need to be able to download and upload these files so your bandwidth must be adequate.
• Order/Create business stationery (business cards, letterhead, brochures, forms etc). You can create your own office stationery via your computer, it saves money.
• Set a launch date.
• Plan an opening event; create press releases, flyers, and notices. Send announcements to everyone you know that you are opening your business. Let people know about this, advertise strongly that you are opening your business, let other VAs know, report it on forums, Facebook, networking sites/social media. But get your opening information out there.
• Evaluate your marketing/networking strategy often, plan to do marketing/networking/advertising daily or as and when you can.
Join the Virtual Assistant/Transcriptionists Forum of South Africa TAVASA:
To subscribe http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/tavasa/
Business Plan Information
If you want to run/own your own Business, the best way to start, is to create your Business Plan. Sit and write/type down your idea. Write down all the steps it will take to make your idea work, put them into order, and start to organise your Business Plan. Writing down a plan/idea is being constructive and putting your idea into writing, is a positive step to making your business real. You need to list all the steps it takes to start your business, then write down the way you are going to run your business (your procedures), your networking/marketing plans, your bookkeeping, your goals and values, a mission statement, etc put it all down in writing. This is your working Business Plan. You will look at this document often, updating it as your plans change and they will, as you learn more and more about running your business. Your Business Plan should be one of your first tools you create, to run your business.
Searching the Internet you will find lots of templates and details available about Business Plans, lots of people have written steps that you need/can follow to write up your plan, details that you need to include. Do Internet research about Business Plans and you will find it is not a difficult task but rather an easy task to complete and it is one step closer to running your own Business. I think this is a task that puts people off starting their own businesses, they think it is difficult but once started, it soon becomes easy.
You can find templates for Business Plans on the Internet. You need the following within your plan:
• Goals, Values and Objectives
• Mission statement, logo, company bi-line
• Procedures/structures on how you are going to run your business, how you will do your pricing, how you will invoice your clients, how will you collect overdue payments, how will you do your marketing, networking plans, what you will do when a potential clients contacts you, , how will you approach transcription work, typing, data entry etc.
• Marketing strategy
• Networking strategy
• Advertising strategy
• Products and Services, what services will you offer clients, will you offer products like EBooks for sale on your website!
• Pricing Structure/Budget
• Skills, Training, Education, Resources
• Target Market - which type of clients are you going to market your services to? How are you going to approach clients?
• Company structure, how you are going to run your company. How will you do your invoicing, banking, statements, how will you do your books, approach clients, actually run your business.
• Contacts, keep database of all your contacts and clients. Build this up over time
• Company Debt Collecting, procedure. You will come across clients who do not pay on time or simply don’t want to pay and you will need a procedure in place of what you are going to do to recover payments for work you have done.
Determine your budget, you will need to advertise your company, you will need to do networking and marketing. Know how much money you have available to do this.
Starting up a VA business does not cost too much if you already have the computer/office equipment you need. But you will need to advertise and market your company and attend networking events and joining business groups can cost you but it is part of owning your own business. You need to take these steps to grow your client database and get your company known in the corporate world.