Category Archives: Business advice

How To Launch Your Virtual Assistant Business With Ease and Have Fun Doing It!

 

how-to-launch-your-virtual-assistant-business-with-ease-and-have-fun-doing-it

 

Starting my own virtual assistant business reminded me of how I used to experiment in the kitchen as a 7-year-old. I would throw together a lot of ingredients that seemed to go well together, do some taste tests, and adjust where necessary.

Sometimes my concoctions were a success and sometimes I threw everything in the trash and started over.

That’s how it is when you’re just getting started a virtual assistant. There is a lot of trial and error, creating, editing, revamping and pivoting.

After doing this for 8 years I know a thing or two about how to build and run a profitable virtual assistant business. Here are some tips to help you get started on the right track. 

 

Define your services

Write down ALL of your skills. I mean all of them. It’s important to put your skills on paper so you can see with your own eyes. You should come up with a long-ish list, not a short list. Then write a separate list of skills you’d like to develop. You know the areas where you’d like to gain more experience (i.e. WordPress, email marketing, social media marketing, graphic design, etc).

Once you have your lists, start thrashing them. Narrow the lists down. The goal is to narrow down your skills to marketable services.  It’s never a good idea to have a long laundry list of services you offer. Keep things simple. Clients like that. Then take a look at the list where you wrote down areas you’d like to learn more about. Narrow those areas down to one or two things and make a point to spend some time over the next  month or two getting up-to-speed on those skills.

 

Write a killer LinkedIn profile

Most new business owners including virtual assistants assume you need a website out of the gate in order to get clients. That’s just not true. I’d rather see you focus your time and energy on getting clearer about your services and the clients you want to work with BEFORE you invest money on a website. A LinkedIn profile is an excellent stand in for a website while you’re building your business.

In fact, I didn’t have a website for the first 12 months I was in business and I closed the year with 10 clients. Once you have an idea of the services you want to offer, write an amazing summary on your LinkedIn profile telling the world about what you do and who you do it for and then optimize your LinkedIn profile for more visibility. Wait, you don’t know how to write a great summary? No problem, check out this great post  to help spark your creative writing skills. Then check out this video “How to use LinkedIn to grow your virtual assistant business” that explains how I used LinkedIn in to get 10 clients in 12 months.

 

Network like your life depends on it

I don’t care WHAT any other marketing experts say, the way to grow your business is by building your network of connections. The more people you know, the more opportunities you have in life and in business. But don’t network with anyone and everyone, be targeted about who you network with. You should target prospective clients who need your services and have the ability to PAY you for them (that’s important for obvious reasons!). Not sure who your target market is? You can sign up for my free e-course, “Your First Client” to help you define it.

 

There are several ways you can network and my favorite is joining groups where my target audience is hanging out. Beware! There are groups on LinkedIn and Facebook where self-promotion is rampant. Stay away from those groups and find yourself a group that has conversations full of value. Even if the group is small, it’s better to be in a group of 20 highly focused members than to be in a group of 500 that are barely paying attention. The key to networking is to HELP and offer solutions to others.

Be of service! Get known because you’re a giver, not a taker. The worst thing you can do is join a group start promoting yourself as a virtual assistant before you’ve offered value. Another great option is to join a group of your peers, that is other virtual assistants like The Virtual Assistant Tribe. In VA groups, network with a few select successful virtual assistants who can refer clients to you when they are at capacity or use your services to outsource when their workload is heavy. Again focus on the SUCCESSFUL virtual assistants, not the ones struggling or just getting started.  I found that I spent up to 30 minutes a day networking online when I was just getting started (sometimes longer).  It pays off if you’re consistent. 

 

Set up your back end systems now not later

My growth happened so quickly the first year that I didn’t have the proper structures and systems  in place and found myself wasting precious time backtracking to get things setup properly. Learn from my mistakes. You’re going to need the following things set up once you bring in clients. It’s best to have them ready to go BEFORE you land your first client. 

  • A client contract/welcome packet and intake forms – This is the most basic yet often overlooked thing for any service based business owner. You can grab my virtual assistant contract here
  • Project management system to handle the work (Asana, dapulse Trello)
  • Online file storage system like Google Drive or DropBox to save critical documents to access where ever you have an internet connection. 
  • Online scheduler to make booking calls easy because gone are the days when you email back and forth trying to find a convenient time (ScheduleOnce, YouCanBook.me, Calendly)
  • Time sheet and invoicing software to track your time and invoice clients easily (Invoice2Go or Freshbooks)
  • Payment processors – You’ve gotta get paid, right? PayPal is my go to payment processors but others love Stripe as well.

Set up your business legally

I’m not going to tell you how to do this because where you live will dictate that but suffice to say that you want to have all your ducks in a row BEFORE you start collecting money. You may want to set up a sole proprietorship or an LLC. Talk with a local accountant and figure out the best type of business for you at this stage in your life. Some States in the United State require a business license while others don’t.

If you live in the United States you can check out the secretary of state website for your specific state to get more information on what you’ll need to set up your business. I can’t stress this enough. Make sure you are advised by your accountant on everything you’ll need to start your business including what you’ll need to put aside for taxes.  

Have any questions about getting your virtual assistant business off the ground? Leave a comment below. I read every one.

Reese

2 Responses to How To Launch Your Virtual Assistant Business With Ease and Have Fun Doing It!

  1. Lenlen says:

    I want to become a virtual assistant..but how to start it????

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Virtual Assistant Business + Motherhood = Lunacy & Here’s Why

Just in case you didn’t know, I have 4 kids and I run a virtual assistant business and I train women (and some awesome dudes) how to create and run a profitable virtual assistant business. But here’s something you don’t know. There are mornings where I just can’t get my shit together. I wake upContinue Reading

16 Responses to Virtual Assistant Business + Motherhood = Lunacy & Here’s Why

  1. Ruxi says:

    Your post came up on my twitter feed at a particular moment when I really needed to hear it. A big, fat thank you.

  2. Hi Reese! Thanks for the laugh – I really needed it. My life has been all about taking care of family and I have one adult child, a 16-year-old and some care for my mom. It’s been KA-razy lately. I keep reminding myself how thankful I am to have the flexibility to run to doctor appointments or run errands or make meals for them. It’s nice to know we are in good company. Keep on keep’n on!

    • Reese says:

      You’re welcome, Melissa! We have to laugh at ourselves sometimes, right? You certainly are lucky that you have the flexibility to be there for your daughter and your mom. We’re definitely in good company! xo

  3. Becky says:

    Thank you! I am still a full-time worker who is trying to get a business going – and between a full time job, being a full time mom (I am one of those who works without lunch to make sure I’m at all events and such and helps with homework) and cooking dinners and cleaning house it’s after 9pm and I’m so exhausted it’s difficult to focus on what I need to do to make a go of my business. Thanks for making me feel better about days that turn into weeks – but I’ll get there! Wishing you all the best!

    • Reese says:

      You’re welcome, Becky! Lately my days that turn into weeks has become the norm. I just get done what I can and keep moving. That’s all we can do, right?

  4. Naama says:

    Soooo true! I hear you sis…

  5. Lourdes says:

    HI Reese,
    Was it just the full moon that just passed? OMG, I am going thru the exact same thing. Except I don’t have 4 kids, just a 17 yr teen. So what is my excuse? I’m in business for 1 year now and man, it’s been a ride. It does get a little overwhelming at times, like right now. I need to shake this out as I do feel guilty not “putting in as many hours” I normally would. What to do!?!

    • Reese says:

      Lourdes, I think we’re all going through the same things just as different times. You don’t need an excuse! A 17 year old can be harder than 4 small ones put together. Just remember, you’ll have ups and downs and you just need to ride them out like the tides of the water. Keep swimming!

  6. I LOVE this post! You just described my life only minus the Hebrew 🙂
    Thanks for keeping it real Reese.

  7. Jodi says:

    I SO needed to hear this today. I know there are so many WAHM’s out there doing the VA, Coach, Entrepreneur thing that need to hear this, too. It’s SO okay to have days like this. I just need my hubby to understand that, too. :/

    • Reese says:

      I am so glad I wrote it! I nearly didn’t because it was one of those personal posts instead of the tip posts I am used to writing. SO glad I did! I hope your hubby starts to understand a bit more. I’ve learned that when I’m having days like these, it’s best to just turn work off and zone in on the home. It happened this week and I went on a cooking spree. A man is never as happy as when he has a full belly and boy did he ever. Kids too!

  8. Sarah says:

    Seriously…I’m still laughing. You really can’t make those things up!
    And the homework in Hebrew….I fear that day!

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How To Annihilate The Fear of Starting Your Virtual Assistant Business

I’ll never forget the first day I came across the words “virtual assistant”. It was back in 2008 while I was surfing the web on a local Craigslist type site here in Jerusalem, and came across a job ad for a virtual assistant. After reading the ad, I thought to myself “who the hell knewContinue Reading

23 Responses to How To Annihilate The Fear of Starting Your Virtual Assistant Business

  1. Lisa Lisson says:

    Reese,

    You are so right! I’ve spent too much time trying to get everything “perfect” and ready, I’ve failed to get right to the heart of the business – clients! I’m being bold today and networking for clients!

  2. GiGi says:

    It’s really important to know one’s strengths and to continue to develop new skills as well. We need to keep up with the fast pace of change in the internet world. It’s true that one can be fearful of working as VA especially for a real novice like me but knowing that someone like you can and is willing to help can eliminate that fear.

  3. Christy A says:

    It’s like you wrote this for me. I just spent 3 hours working on my website and, at the end of those three hours, I realized how much I’m carting before the horse :). I’m taking your advice to heart. I know the three areas I’ll specialize in and I’ll use a greater chunk of my limited time to really make sure I’m as up to date and prepared as possible

    • Reese says:

      Christy, THAT put a huge smile on my face this fine morning! Sounds like you know what you need to do now! You’ve got this.

  4. Faith says:

    WOW! This was just the kick in the butt I needed! I only have 1.5 clients right now, but I DO have my biz name, website design, biz cards…. Everything that I thought was important. What is even more important then branding??? CLIENTS. Duh.

    Thank you for the gentle and humorous reminder. So helpful!

    • Reese says:

      You made me laugh, Faith!Thanks for your comment! How does one have 1.5 clients by the way? LOL! It reminds me of how Americans have 1.3 children per family. Love it.

  5. Adriana says:

    That was AMAZING! I really need to sit and answer those questions and stop filtering waiting for clients! Your artcles are great but this just hit the spot. TY 🙂

  6. Brenda Pace says:

    What an inspiration, Reese. I wish it was that easy. I am trying to get mine going while trying to manage family and a full-time job outside of my home. I know it will happen eventually but I’m impatient. 🙂

    Brenda

    • Reese says:

      Brenda, good things come to those who wait! I don’t know if anyone has ever told you that building a business can be done quickly. It can’t. Like you, I had a family and when I first started as a VA I was also working a full-time job. You absolutely can take steps to make your VA biz a reality. Small steps every day.

  7. Leslie says:

    Thanks for the article, Reese. I’m looking for SOME way to replace what I’m making now so that I can quit my current job as soon as possible! This may sound stupid, but I really don’t know what skills to offer or who would need what I can do. It’s difficult when what I do doesn’t seem hard and that it’s something anyone can do. Is it worth getting certification in software such as MS Office, QuickBooks, Evernote, etc.?

  8. C Simpson says:

    Awesome sauce! You know when you keep thinking I need a sign and then the sign flashes like neon in front of you? This article was my neon! Thank you!

  9. Denise says:

    I know my skills, I know who much I need to make. What market needs a virtual assistant the most?

    • Reese says:

      Instead of asking which market needs a virtual assistant the most, ask yourself, which market would make the most sense for you to target? Look at your experience. There are far too many “markets” that need a VA so I could say ALL of them but that wouldn’t help you, would it?

  10. N O'Rourke says:

    Great article. I’m struggling to get off the ground. My background is in an administrative assistance and travel with some event planning. My goal would be to offer administrative assistance to travel agents (not sure how to go about it) and virtual event planning. Can you help?

    • Reese says:

      Thank you! If you want to target travel agents you need to start hanging out online (and offline) where travel agents are. Start conversations with them and ask them what they are struggling with in their business. I love asking questions like “if you could have the perfect solution for support in your business, what would that look like?

  11. Jana says:

    I sooooo needed this today. Thank you and terrific reminders.

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Choosing A Niche For Your Virtual Assistant Business

  I’ve talked before about how the best way to grow your business is by choosing a niche. And yet many VAs still worry that by choosing to focus on just one target market, they’ll be closing the door on lots of potential clients. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, it’s a fact these days thatContinue Reading

22 Responses to Choosing A Niche For Your Virtual Assistant Business

  1. Lacy says:

    I love this! I worked for a VA company for a year and have been a sole proprietor for a week, and I know I am most interested in working with creatives and nonprofits. I’m glad to hear that narrowing my target client pool is NOT crazy!

  2. Caroline says:

    This is why I am not sure about going forward with being a Virtual Assistant. I would like to work with wedding planners – strictly doing their administrative tasks. Providing administrative/logistics support for meetings and conferences is my favorite task, but I have not receive good feedback for wedding planners, nor have I seen other VAs doing this. I honestly cannot think of another industry I am even remotely interested in.

    • Reese says:

      So if you’re interested in wedding planners, go with it! There are some VAs in this space. It’s a good niche to be in!

  3. Amy Hall says:

    Hi Reese,

    Thanks so much for the link love! I agree that you have to have a niche. A highly targeted niche is what’s made my business so successful.

    And I get work outside my niche all the time. I’ve niched my business but I don’t work only in my niche.

    The niche is your marketing sweet spot … speak to your niche, but you’ll have other business come in also. 🙂

    • Reese says:

      You’re welcome, Amy! I always remember you as being my go-to VA for all things MailChimp. I’m not surprised you’re doing so well and that you not only work in your niche. It’s your niche that brings clients to you, but it’s YOU and all of the awesome services you provide that keep them coming back for more.

  4. Michael says:

    Excellent article and advice on “how to” to choose a niche! Thanks for the insight!

  5. Christine says:

    Very interesting article. Quite enlightening. I will definitely follow your advice. Thank you Reese!

  6. Vera says:

    I’m preparing documents for my website that I want to launch in the near future. You just convinced me I heading in the right direction.

    • Vera says:

      I’ve been working on documents I want to use on the website I’ll be launching in the near future. You just convinced me, that I’m heading in the right direction.

  7. Sheryl says:

    OK…I needed to see this. Reese, you know I needed to see this 🙂 For 6 1/2 years I’ve thrown the dart and let it land where it may. And over just the past week or so, I’m realizing it’s not working. But I’m afraid to let go of the dartboard method. Even though I know it’s false, I still feel I can reach more potential clients if I’m a generalist. That’s just wrong, and I need to get myself out of that mindset, and I’m working on it. It’s not easy. But blogs like this help a lot. If we had a specific pain in a certain area of our body, would we prefer to see a generalist physician or a specialist? This is the approach that I need to embrace. Lots of work to do, but I’m ready. And PS – if any VA out there feels they need a coach that understands the profession, look no further than Reese. She “gets it” and she’s not afraid to tell it.

  8. I recently narrowed down my niche and I was surprised with out much easier everything is! My business has a purpose and when my ideal client finds me, they know that I’m exactly what they’re looking for. It’s also much easier to create content and info-products when you know who your target audience is.

    Great pose, Reese! Tons of great info here 🙂

  9. Kim B says:

    Hi Reese,

    Once again you are spot on! I have a vast skill set and I’m still struggling to find the perfect niche. I’m ALL over the place with client’s, like you they are from all aspects. I need help and guidance, I’ve been at this game for over 2 years, it’s time for me to fly!

    Seriously stuck,

    KBK

  10. Terry Green says:

    Great article Reese! Niching is very important if you want to establish yourself as an expert or the “go-to” person in your industry. I learned by experience that being very specific in your target market and/or the types of services you provide (niching) doesn’t reduce your number of prospective clients, but increases not only the quantity but quality. Doing what you do best and enjoy doing the most for the clients you enjoy working with the most can only bring more value and benefit to your business!

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