How to start a Virtual Assistant Business – Set your VA business vision and keep it alive.
Wondering how to start a Virtual Assistant Business? Or have a business up and running but want to make sure it’s successful and long-lasting?
What’s the plan for your business over the next 12 months? What’s your 3-year plan? Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time? Though I know that some of the ultra-organised and highly analytical VAs reading this may have their goals, turnover projections and KPIs mapped out for the next 5 years, I know that doesn’t come easy to everyone.
For some, there is no time to think about the future as you spend every waking hour completing customer work to ensure that the bills can be paid ‘today’. Planning for the future and investing some time in your own business may seem a little ‘frivolous’ when there are billable hours to be worked, but it’s not – it is so important to take some time out and make plans for the future, preparing yourself and your business for every eventuality so that you have tools and structures in place to protect you, come rain or shine.
1.) Set out some Goals – Make yourself a cup of tea, block out an hour in your schedule and sit down and think about your business. Switch off social media and email notifications if you can, and focus entirely on your business. What is the amount of income you need in order to pay all your bills? What is the amount of income you need to make in order to live comfortably? What is the amount of income that you could reasonably bring in on your own before you’d need to take on an Associate to support you? Once you’ve got these figures written down, plot your current business turnover and take-home against these figures. If you’re somewhere between ‘paying your bills’ and ‘comfortable’, what steps could you take to get closer to the ‘comfortable’ target? If you’re reaching maximum capacity and are beginning to struggle to maintain the amount of work that is coming in, what would need to happen for you to be comfortable taking on a skilled and trusted associate to support your business?
Figures are easy to understand. If there is a shortfall, it can easily be translated into a requirement for ‘1 x customer at X hours per month’, or a ‘X% increase to existing fees’ based on your knowledge and experience, etc. This approach to business targets for the next 3, 6 or 12 months can make it much easier to see exactly what needs to change in order for you to reach your goal.
As with all goals, just make sure that they are ‘SMART’ – that is, Sustainable, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and that you have given yourself an appropriate Timescale to work with. This should help you stay on top of your goals and be able to track and measure your success more easily.
2.) Protect your income – It’s not easy to think ‘what if?’ when it comes to your health and wellbeing, but it is important. Everyone has bills that need to be paid on a monthly basis, so it’s important to think about how you could make these payments in the event of a poor turnover month or ill-health making it impossible to work. Having a financial savings ‘buffer’ to cover a few months’ worth of bills is a good idea, as is considering income protection insurance and making regular pension contributions. Having a team of trusted associates who could manage your business for you in the event of your absence could also be really useful, as could setting up a passive income generation aspect to your business.
3.) Protect your business – Comprehensive business insurance is a definite for any VA business, protecting you from hardware and/or software failure, cyber attacks, and looking after the wellbeing of any customers who come to you or your office for training or support, etc. Appropriate insurance can also help with any potential legal fees that may arise if a customer is looking for compensation for something that has gone wrong ‘on your watch’. In addition to insurance, making sure that you are registered with any appropriate legislative bodies (such as the Information Commissioner’s Office, or with HMRC if you need to be ‘Anti-Money Laundering’ certified) based on the work that you carry out and the data you hold is another important part of any professional and responsible VA business. Without these important business features in place, you are severely limiting the longevity of your VA business.
4.) Protect your customers – Protecting your customers, just like your business, requires that you have sufficient insurance and business processes in place to look after you, your business, any staff or associates, and your customers. You can build on this by ensuring that you have appropriate contracts and agreements in place with associates and customers, ensuring that responsibilities and relationship boundaries are clearly outlined from the start of any working relationship. We can highly recommend KoffeeKlatch if you are looking for Terms of Business documents or Associate Agreements.
5.) Review and Repeat – All of the ideas above aren’t fixed as soon as you’ve addressed them once – goals, income protection, and business and customer protection all need to be reviewed on a regular basis (ideally several times a year) to ensure that they are still sufficient for your needs. With GDPR looming on the horizon like a great grey storm cloud, it’s also really important to make sure that you address the implications of this new legislation on your business and for your customers before May 2018, when it comes into force. Again, KoffeeKlatch have an amazing group for VAs which guides you through how to be prepared and ready for GDPR which you can join HERE.
If you have met your goals in 3 or 6 months, that’s great! Review them and set new SMART goals for the next quarter. If you haven’t, that’s not a problem – try to pinpoint why they haven’t been achieved; no new customer to fill your £X monthly shortfall? Why not try to network or take on some associate work? A missed goal isn’t a failure, it’s just a chance to aim for that target again – what do they say? “Shoot for the moon and even if you miss, you’ll end up amongst the stars” … Okay, not reaching your financial goals might not be quite so poetic, but if you’ve made a concerted effort to implement positive changes to your business in order to reach those goals, it’s not been that bad!
So, hopefully that is helpful! What’s your VA Business vision? We’d love to hear from you!