Elayne Whitfield, BA, MVA ~ VA Industry ExpertSubscribe Now

What You Need To Get Started As A VA

How to Get Started as a VAOne of the great things about being a VA is that it’s easy to get started. You really don’t need much to be able to launch a successful business. That being said, there are some things you’ll want to take inventory of to make sure you’re completely ready to open for business

Office Equipment

You’re a virtual assistant which means you’ll need the necessary equipment for working online.

This means a:

  • Computer
  • Backup storage or system – you can backup files online so an external drive isn’t necessary.
  • Copier/scanner/fax
  • Reliable Internet connection
  • Desk and chair
  • File cabinet/file system
  • Telephone and related equipment like a headset so you can talk hands free

You likely already have much of this equipment but if not, you won’t need to spend a fortune to get it. Take a look at flea markets and online resale sites for furniture. If you don’t have a computer, most experts recommend buying the best you can afford. Your business will be based almost entirely on your computer so you don’t want to cut any corners when getting one.

Business Equipment

You’re going to want a few basics to help you market and manage your business. These include but are not limited to:

  • Business Plan – This is essential. It should include:
    • Budget
    • Goals
    • Marketing strategy
    • Operations
    • Policies and procedures
    • And anything else you can think of
  • Website and/or blog
  • Social networking profiles
  • Email account for business
  • Telephone number for business
  • Invoicing system
  • Bookkeeping software
  • Content management system or delivery system. How will you deliver client work to them?
  • Services agreement/Work for hire agreement
  • Personal insurance: health, dental, life etc. When you’re self-employed, insurance is your responsibility.
  • Bank account for business
  • Organization tools:
    • Calendar
    • Notebooks
    • Whatever helps you get and stay organized
  • Business services software such as transcription software if you plan on offering that

Again, you may have much of this already and most won’t cost very much if you don’t. You can however spend a lot on software, so be careful. Only buy what you really need to get started.

Personal Equipment

Now that your home office is set and you have a solid business plan, what else do you need to get started?

  • Enthusiasm
  • Motivation
  • Positive Mindset
  • Administrative skills
  • Marketing knowledge (Information is easy to find online or in marketing books)

Not bad, right? If you already have a computer you can likely start your VA business for just a few hundred dollars. Many have started with nothing at all and gone on to be hugely successful VAs. Make a checklist. Create a plan. Realize the success you desire.

The Key to Continual Growth and Expansion

The key to continual growth and expansionIf you want your business to be successful in the long term it is important to continually strive to grow your customer base and expand incoming revenue. If you’re not growing and expanding, you’re stagnating or moving backwards. There are many ways in which you can experience continuous growth and expansion in your business, as well as in your life.

Here are just a few:

Start a Joint Venture Partnership

Although it may be out of your comfort zone, get out there and work on a project with someone who you might normally see as a competitor. If you know someone who promotes complementary products and/or services to yours, get on board with them to promote something jointly. The more often you participate in JVs, the more markets you will be exposed to.

Create More Products or Services

Diversifying your offerings can help you expand and grow in many ways. For example, if you currently run an online course on how to do something, you can expand to offer one-on-one coaching services to delve even deeper into that expertise. This does not require any new skills on your part and it can bring in more money for you.

Outsource More

A fast and simple way to grow your business is to take on more clients. Of course you’re only one person, so you might need to outsource some of your work to others to ensure that you can accommodate this added workload.

Teach What You Know to Others

If you have a specific skill that you can share with others to help them become successful like you, don’t keep it to yourself. You may see this as a way of helping your competition but in fact it is a way to set you apart from them. You’ll not only get more customers but you’ll also be seen as an expert in your field.

Write a Book

If you already have knowledge for something specific the best way to establish your expertise is to write a book on that topic. Then going forward, you can use the book to promote your other products and services. You’ll earn extra money from the book and from the added promotional opportunities the book exposes you to.

Get on the Speaking Circuit

Once you have a book, a course, and a coaching program, you can easily get out and begin to speak about your expertise at various events. Through paid speaking engagements you can get the word out about your business to even more people and solidify yourself as an expert.

Be Consistent and Persistent

If your business is already growing and expanding don’t just sit back and relax; it is important to keep doing what you’re doing. At the end of the day, dedication, consistency, and persistence will pay off for every business model.

Network More Efficiently

Networking is essential for any business to expand. Take a look at how you go about networking and who you’re networking with. Make sure to network strategically with potential joint venture partners, potential customers, as well as colleagues. Especially at events, there will often be limited time to network so make sure you spend it wisely.

Growing in the right direction requires self-awareness and a vision for what you want to accomplish in the future. Occasionally assess your goals and where you are at to ensure that you are on track to be where you want. If you’re succeeding, keep on doing what you’re doing. If you’re behind, it’s okay; you just need to adjust.

Self Sabotage – How to Recognize & Overcome it

Self sabotage – how to recognize and overcome itAre you your own worst enemy? As hard as it may be to realize, maybe the reason you aren't achieving the success that you want is because of self-sabotaging behaviour. The good thing about this however, is that you are the person who can fix it, the only person who can fix it!  It’s important to identify what you’re doing to yourself and then turn it around.

Playing the Waiting Game

If you find yourself saying, “I’ll do that once xyz happens” you should stop it right now. You may have always done this and not even realized it was a bad habit. “Once I lose weight I’ll go hiking.” “When I finish this client’s work I’ll write that book I've always wanted to.” “When I do x then I’ll do y.” It all makes sense but it’s just another one of putting things on the backburner indefinitely. If you don’t take action now, nothing will happen.

You Hang Around the Wrong People

Yes, even as an adult you can choose the wrong group of people to be friends with. If you often find yourself at odds with your friends’ values and life goals, or you find yourself apologizing for other people’s behaviour, then you’re likely just making excuses to avoid the inevitable conclusion. You've outgrown your friends and they are holding you back.

Saying: “I’ll never ….”

Fill in the blank with what you’ll never say, do or feel. Much of life’s success starts with your state of mind. If you don’t believe you’re business will grow or you’ll never lose that extra weight, you likely won’t. You have to envision the success you want to achieve to make it happen. If all you see is negative, that’s all you’ll get.

“I Don’t Want to Do It Alone”

Ultimately, you have to work for yourself. If you wait around for everyone to be on the same page as you, you may miss out on a great opportunity. Whether it’s starting a business, seeing a movie, or trying a new restaurant, don’t be afraid of doing anything by yourself.

Thinking You’re Not “As Smart As….”

In reality, someone out there is always going to be smarter, prettier, or better than you. By saying that you’re not something, you’re just putting yourself in a box that you will have a hard time getting out of. Forget about who you think you are, and do what it is that you want to do. There’s no need to hold yourself back worrying about perfection.

You Hide Your Feelings

When someone asks you a question about your feelings, it is important to not simply say “I’m fine” and leave it at that – especially when you are not fine. If you avoid negative feelings like this you can actually get stuck in a certain mindset. This is true whether it’s about work or something personal. You have to acknowledge things before they will change.

“My Client Needs Me”

Everyone is replaceable. If you find that you’re working with someone just because you think they need you, even when the relationship is not working for you, you’re really wasting your time. A client who is not compatible with you will drop you the moment they find someone they’re compatible with. Don’t do anyone any favours unless it is in your best interest and you really want to.

You Lack a Support System

Support can come in a variety of forms, from human support to electronic support. If you set up a good system to help you stick to your schedule (whether it’s for work or fun) and get help when you need it, you will be a lot more successful and a lot less stressed about time management.

Being self-aware enough to notice self-sabotaging behaviour will go far in helping you reduce it. Give some thought to how you’re running your life so that you can kick self-sabotaging behaviour to the curb.

VAClassroom's 2013 Social Media Program

Recently, our friends at VAClassroom.com did a survey and asked their audience the following question:

"What was the ONE service in 2012 that you received the MOST requests for and generated the MOST income from?

Well, if this question was asked a couple years ago, the number 1 answer for VAs would likely have been "General Administration" type work. Well the landscape has changed and the VA space is more specialized than ever before.

Guess what the #1 most hotly requested service of 2012 was???

Social Media Marketing Services

Yes, Social Media Services has passed General Administration as the most requested service by businesses today!

And this is not going to change anytime soon...

According to the 2012 Annual Report put out by Social Media Examiner, the outsourcing of Social Media Services has doubled in the past 2 years with no end in sight.

So, if you are looking to build your income and increase your client opportunities here in 2013, then I would highly recommend you check out VAClassroom's brand new Social Media Marketing Specialist 2013 Program!

VAClassroom has always been the leader in Social Media Training for Virtual Professionals and has helped so many VA’s build an awesome income as a Social Media Specialist.

This exciting new program offers...

- Five weeks of top-notch live Social Media Training Sessions with Social Media Expert, Craig Cannings
- Membership in a Private Facebook Group
- Practical Social Media Checklists and Action Guides
- Two Group coaching calls where you will be able to ask all your burning "Social Media" questions
- A Social Media Tutorial Library which features easy-to-follow demos of the SM tools and tactics not covered in the live sessions
- Unlimited Access to video recordings and resources

Plus, registration in this new program will also include full access to the advanced "Facebook Page Creation Blueprint" program.

So, if you are looking to sharpen your Social Media skills either for your own business or for the work you do with clients, then I would take action and enroll in VAClassroom's exciting new program!

Check out all the details here:  www.cvac.ca/socialmedia