Virtual Assistants / PA Services
Carry on being a Virtual Asssistant
1. Know why you want to be a Virtual Assistant
The first thing you should to do is ask yourself “why do you want to be a Virtual Assistant?” when you know the answer, write this down and put it somewhere where you can refer back to it at a later date. The answer to this question will be the motivation you need to keep you going, it will also give you the focus you need to carry on when you reach certain obstacles in your path. Your reasons for stating your own Virtual Assistant business will help put you into the right mindset and will of course help you to concentrate on the things that need to be done.
2. Finding a name for your Virtual Assistance business
I can’t stress to you enough how important it is to get this right! When you are choosing a name for your Virtual Assistant business, please keep in mind that being an online business the name of your company is usually the first thing that your clients will see. It is therefore crucial that your company name has the quality to catch the attention of your potential clients and should also be a name that is easy to remember and that is descriptive of the services you will provide. The following resources should prove useful when choosing and registering a name for your Virtual Assistant business:
· www.companieshouse.co.uk – a must when checking if a business name is already being used.
Other resources where practical advice can be found include:
3. Write your Business Plan
There is no right or wrong method for writing a business plan. The only right is that you have one which will help you focus on the direction of your business. Your business plan is a great motivator and will help you to stay focused and on track. Your business plan should include the following Key Components: Link to Doc
4. Deciding which services to offer
Be selective when choosing the services you will be offering to your clients and only choose those in which you are experienced or are willing to learn. I would suggest that you offer services that you are both skilled at and that you will enjoy doing. For inspiration click on the link below Link
5. What is your niche?
Your niche will set you aside from your competition An example of some of the niche services already being offered by today’s Virtual Assistants:
· Database design and maintenance
· Desktop publishing
· Event Planning
· Graphic design
· Internet Marketing
· Marketing specialist
· SEO specialist
· Website design
6. Who are your clients and where to find them?
Now that you have decided on your Niche Market it should make answering this question so much easier! Consider using sites such as Linked, FreeIndex, Thomson Local and Yell, these are a good starting point in trying to find those business that may require your services.
Talk to everyone and start getting your name out there! Valuable information and networking opportunities can be obtained through various Virtual Assistant Associations, chat groups and message boards. Here are some of my favourites:
Virtual Assistant Forums
www.virtualassistantforums.com/ - Proved to be invaluable to me when I was starting up my own Virtual Assistant business
www.societyofvirtualassistants.co.uk/ - Membership is free and one of the very few sites based here in the UK www.vanetworking.com/ - Not the best looking site, but jam packed with great tips and useful information
www.linkedin.com/ - The biggest online networking site with over 11million users
www.ecademy.com/ – Very good SEO benefits
www.business-scene.com/ – Despite not being a networking site, very useful in that it features business events all over the UK.
www.xing.com/ - over 9million members from over 200 countries
Social Networking sites
www.freeindex.co.uk/ - Create your free business profile page
www.business-directory-uk.co.uk/ – Free listings for UK business in exchange for a link from your Company Website. www.uksmallbusinessdirectory.co.uk/ - Provides free business advertising to UK small businesses.
www.scoot.co.uk/ - add your business for from free.
www.yell.co.uk/ - effective online advertising, including free advertising and pay-per-click
www.thomsonlocal.co.uk/ - get free business listing on Thomson Local
8. Target your Marketing
There are many cost effective ways to market your Virtual Assistant business, however, your most powerful tool is your website, so you must first decide if you will create your own or outsource to another company. Diversify your marketing techniques and keep notes on what does and doesn’t work review this every three, six or even 12 months. Some marketing methods you may want to consider are: · Business Cards – essential when networking · Flyers – a great way to promote your business cheaply · Marketing email – if you are considering email marketing then make sure that your practices are in keeping with spam laws. · Marketing letter – there are many sites out there offering free marketing templates or you can have some fun creating your own! You may also consider putting together a Marketing Kit that can be sent to potential clients who have requested further information; a typical kit might include the following: · Company Information leaflet or booklet depending on its content · Business card· Brochure of your services · Testimonials from previous clients · Money off voucher Don’t expect immediate results, remember you can keep yourself motivated by reminding yourself “why do you want to be a Virtual Assistant?” your business plan is also a great tool for keeping you focused and on track.
9. Fees and pricing
It would be a good idea to know how you are going to run your business before you start working out your fees and pricing structure, however the most commonly used pricing structures used by Virtual Assistants today are: Hourly rate – For clients who prefer to pay on a pay-as-you-go basis. Retainer – Ideal for those clients who require support on a regular basis, normally offered at a discounted hourly rate for a fixed amount of hours per month. You may want to consider using a time-tracking software to keep track of how many hours are left and when they expire for each client. I can highly recommend www.easytimetracking.net for up to the minute billing, you can download a free version of the software here, There is plenty of Time Tracking software available on the web and with a little research you should be able to find the right one for you. 10. Financial Management You should have a basic understanding of the financial aspects of running a business before starting a virtual assistant business. You can attend a free workshop with HM Revenue & Customs Advice Teams once you have registered your business. A good book-keeping and invoicing system will be invaluable to give you inside information in to the flow of money into your business. You can either decide to do it yourself, or outsource it to someone else, having a strong grasp of the financial requirements of your business can take you a long way. There is much accounting software available on the internet, it is also a good idea to ask other Virtual Assistants what they are using, make sure you shop around until you find the right one for you The following site may be useful in your search: www.tassoftware.co.uk/free/www.adminsoftware.biz/www.sage.co.uk/www.kashflow.co.uk/www.quickbooks.co.uk/
11. Design your office space
This is where you will be spending most of your time so ensure that it is comfortable, has good lighting and that you have all the equipment you need.
12. Tax and Registration You can find all the information you will need relating to registering your business, Tax and National Insurance at: www.hmrc.gov.uk Please Note: you have a legal requirement to register your business within the first three months of trading.
13. Plan your website
When you are putting a website together it is important to make sure that the layout and content is user friendly and will help the visitor find what they are looking for. Try to answer the Who, What, Where, When, and Why of your business when deciding on your content.
At a bare minimum the information you should provide should include your contact information, services, rates and an about me page. Remember to register your domain name, ideally your URL should include the name of your company, however, due to high demand, an exact match is not always possible. Websites aimed at the UK market often tend to end in “.co.uk” whereas those aimed at a wider international audience should ideally end in “.com”.
14. Business Docs/Contracts
The following documents may be useful when starting your Virtual Assistant business: