11 steps for launching a killer virtual assistance business
If you’re thinking of embarking on a Virtual Assistant career, you’ve got the right idea! The Virtual Assistant industry is expected to grow exponentially. In fact, in a research report, it is predicted that by 2018, online working including virtual assistant service will be worth $5 billion as the demand for online virtual working continues to grow.
Small business, startups and corporations are looking for ways to reduce their overhead expenses as well as having the flexibility to scale at a pace that allows businesses to focus on other areas of the company. Here’s the thing, everyone has “rock star” qualities that they can use in to launch their own business, including a successful virtual assistant business. Here’s 6 steps to help you launch a killer virtual assistant business:
ASSESS YOUR SKILLS
“Embrace what you don’t know, especially in the beginning, because what you don’t know can become your greatest asset. It ensures that you will absolutely be doing things different from everybody else.” – Sara Blakely, founder SPANX
Many of you have “hidden talents” and gifts, while having gained your knowledge and skill set within the Corporate setting. You can use those skills, tools and talents to succeed as an entrepreneur.
Take a moment to think about the type of business you want to start, the services and products that you’ll offer, what additional resources you may need to invest in, in order to enhance the skills you already possess.
The best way to find out what you need is to assess your skills and talents. Understand what you already know and how you can apply it to your business. Build upon your skills either through certification courses or researching the information you need to succeed.
Choose a business idea-Link for business ideas
The First step to starting a virtual assistant business is to choose what type of business you want to start.
VALIDATE YOUR BUSINESS IDEA
To “Validate” your business idea simply means to test out your business idea. There are two ways you can validate your business idea prior to investing time and money into it. One, instead of purchasing a website and investing in marketing your products or service, send out an introduction email of your products and services to your network including family and friends. Ask your network to forward your email to any interested parties. The feedback may give you an idea on if you should pursue the business or not.
Another way to validate your business idea is to create a landing page with the words “website coming soon”. Most website service providers have low affordable and sometimes “free” landing pages for businesses.
You can track the analytics of the number of people who visited your landing page and even have a link with a “sign up to find out when we’ll officially launch” feature. This will help you build your email list as well as build up the “hype” about your product or service. What’s an email list? An email list is a customer base that you can market to on a consistent basis which is why it’s important to have customers sign up on a subscriber list.
The Business Plan
To get started on creating a business plan, include the basic elements listed below:
Your mission statement defines the purpose of your business and the approach you want to take to achieve success. It may also include the product or services in which you’re offering.
VALUE STATEMENT OR PARAGRAPH
This explains what value you’re adding to your clients, the current market and the industry you’re in.
An effective marketing strategy will help you to understand your customers, narrow down you target audience, engage with your customers and promote your products and services.
Your Marketing plan should include the following:
Who is your target audience?
Who is your competition?
What methods will you use to market your products or services (social media, tradeshows, flyers, postcards)?
The number of months and days you’ll need to market to your audience
The company’s launch date.
The marketing plan should also detail how you’ll continuously market to existing and new customers?
Budget the costs associated with marketing your products or services.
Prepare an expense budget for all costs associated with not just starting your business but maintaining it. Your budget should include:
monthly expenses such as rent
credit cards and other miscellaneous bills
office space and leases
shipping costs (if shipping items)
Prepare for the growth of your company by setting aside a budget for the salary of employees.
legal fees from advice, to having the proper contracts and documentation in place, as well as the incorporation of your business (sole-proprietor, general partner, limited liability).
NOTE: Many entrepreneurs have opted to utilize the services of Legal Zoom as this is a cost-effective solution for establishing a business legally. The site offers several business forms and templates such as contracts, invoices and budget sheets.
Think beyond the Assistant role: Create the career you desire based on your skill set
Plan ahead for when the company will launch, when you’ll be able to execute certain tasks, social media marketing days and even networking events. Consistency is the true key to success (while this opinion varies depending on who you ask). You must be consistent in order to achieve the best results.
Purchase a calendar and set daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals. This will help you to stay focused and it will help you to track your progress. Your time is valuable, use it wisely. If there are certain methods that you’ve spent a great deal of time on that aren’t producing results but others are, stick with what’s working for you.
INVESTING IN YOUR BUSINESS
Investing in your business is not limited to costs associated with marketing but also for educational purposes. Learning new skills in the form of training certification programs, seminars, workshops, even educational books can add value to your business. It is important that you continuously invest in yourself. Knowledge is both instrumental in growth personally and professionally as well. Use what you learn to apply it to your business.
Don’t focus too much on the details of your business plan. You will change it as time goes on. Remember, writing a business plan will help you to clearly outline your vision, purpose, set realistic, achievable goals, and more importantly, crush them.
Now that you’ve put a plan in place, it’s time to put your planning into action! First step: LEGALIZE YOUR BUSINESS. Here’s what you’ll need to establish and legalize your business:
Learn about the different types of business structures, and which structure best fits your business needs. The types of structures include:
Limited Liability Company, and Cooperative
Many entrepreneurs will start out with sole proprietorship because it is the most inexpensive structure to start a business quickly as a self-employed individual. You can always change the structuring of your business later. Always seek an attorney for advice on how to structure your business
MARKET YOUR SERVICES AND PRODUCTS
There are various ways you can market your products and services either through friends and family, social media or paid advertising.
Once you’ve become a legit business owner, email your friends and family about your new business venture. Include your email address, a brief description about your business, website and signature line in your email.
SOCIAL MEDIA: THE “BIG PICTURE”
“There are an estimated 2.307 BILLION active social media users in the world!”. based on research from a Social media research summary of 2016). Let that sink in…. Facebook, FB Messenger, Instagram, Twitter and Google Plus are the top social media sites, add other platforms such as Periscope and Snap Chat to the fastest-growing, latest trend and you have yourself access to customers just waiting to use your service and or purchase your products.
Take advantage of the opportunity to grow your business by way of social media. Which platform should I choose? That depends on your target audience, where your comfort level is in terms of how user friendly each platform is, and which platform turns out the best results based on your business goals.
Attend events where your potential client or customer may be. Narrow down your search for your specific target audience, such women’s conferences. If you're a life style brand dedicated to helping women overcome obstacles in their life, then perhaps a women's conference is your ideal event.
To be more specific, the "Pricing for Profit" is an event specifically designed for event professionals in the wedding planning industry. If you’re a makeup artist or hairstylist, this type of event may be the perfect opportunity to expand your network, introduce your brand and learn from wedding planners and their industry.
The great thing about a Virtual Assistant career, is that you can essentially carve out the type of business you want, based on your skill set. You have the freedom to be exactly who you want, work with whom you want while earning an excellent salary doing so!