Your Successful VA Business: Why 2021 is Your Year
Explore the possibility of becoming a virtual assistant. Here are the how-tos of starting a virtual assistant business with minimal risk and maximum support.
Remote and virtual work will continue to thrive in Australia’s post-pandemic workforce, making virtual assistants (VAs) increasingly valuable. Take advantage of this time to explore the possibility of starting your own virtual assistant business.
Becoming a VA in 2021 is a smart move for those looking to transition into a flexible, fulfilling, self-determined career. As remote work grows due to the circumstances, VA services will be in demand now more than ever.
An honest look into starting your VA business with Lauren Davidson
Starting your VA business doesn’t have to demand all your time or hefty startup costs.
A great way to enter the industry as a new VA is with a side hustle to your regular day-to-day job or other responsibilities. You can get a good feel of what it’s like to be your own boss and work from home, and test out whether this career is a good fit for you.
This is how Lauren Davidson, owner of Virtual Team Australia, started her now full-time VA business.
Lauren started with the VA Institute’s help after deciding to shift from her long-term role of executive assistant of 13 years. By receiving structured training, and assistance with the logistical details of her online business, Lauren developed the confidence in her skills to launch her VA business as a side project to her full-time job. After only a year in the virtual business space, Lauren transitioned into a full-time VA business owner.
“I came across the VA Institute training. I trained with Ingrid over two full days. Two sessions. And got all the backend sorted for my virtual assistant business. And here I am a year down the track.”
— Lauren Davidson, Owner of Virtual Team Australia
Creating your brand
As a VA, you are your brand. Your personality, skills and ability to sell your services make up your potential to attract clients. Establishing your business plan, identity and mission are critical when starting a successful virtual assistant business.
Some questions to ask yourself include:
Your business’ digital presence is one of the first building blocks of a successful VA business.
The VA Institute focuses on helping its students set up their business’ digital presence to ensure they walk away ready to start servicing clients straight away. Whether it be for administrative duties or even bookkeeping, the more people who find your business’ site, the more chance you’ll generate potential client leads.
Lauren found VA Institute’s focus on her website’s backend creation allowed her to tailor the front end — this helped draw attention to her business and land her first client.
“I spent a lot of time trying to really have the right content on my website that I thought would be attractive to clients. And I’ve been really successful, and my first client was actually through my website.”
— Lauren Davidson
Soft-launching and the importance of word of mouth
How you choose to initially launch your business is dependent on your business goal. Are you looking to do this full-time from the get-go? Or, are you starting out as a side-business? How much money are you willing to invest in marketing?
Many VA businesses, like Lauren’s, choose to adopt a ‘soft launch’ approach. It’s budget-friendly, low-risk and allows you to tailor your business operations accordingly.
A soft launch relies heavily on your networking and communication skills. Key people to help you spread the news of your new business include:
Lauren focused on these core groups of contacts to naturally build a broader network of connections.
“I had all my family and friends around and told them all about the business I was launching. Did a big email out to all my networks. And because I’ve noticed in the last year that to grow a VA business, referrals are your best source.”
A soft launch’s main objective is building your business’s most valuable marketing strategy — word of mouth.
In this competitive market, more and more people turn to their friends and families’ opinions when trying to choose a product or service provider. Personal referrals build trust and confidence in your business’ capabilities, leading to more new clients.
“You can do all the social media, and you can do all the emails, but word of mouth is so important.”
Landing your first client
It’s not possible to provide a timeline on when you’ll land your first client. But it’s important to remember that it takes time. Be patient. You’re building confidence in your own skills, and you’re still figuring out how much time you can dedicate to this new venture.
If you’re starting part-time, don’t be intimidated by how long it may take to land your first client. For Lauren, running her business as a side hustle saw her wait three months before landing her first client.
“I was working full-time at the same time as launching this VA business. But it took me about three months.”
Choosing to continue to work full-time while starting your VA business means some sacrifice. Not every client that approaches you in the first few months will fit your capabilities and schedule. According to Lauren, honesty is the best policy for building transparency with potential clients to ensure they fit her business mission.
“From the get-go, I’m very open and transparent with all my clients… I think just having confidence in my skill set and being so open with my clients… I think they’re really appreciative of that.”
Some actionable steps to follow to start generating leads include:
Go full-time and make money
Deciding to take your VA business full-time is a big, exciting step. However, when you choose to do this is entirely dependent on when you feel comfortable — you take on the project management role when you move to full-time business owner.
Some questions to ask yourself to help evaluate your business’ readiness for this next step are:
“Some of us do it quicker than others. And that’s not right or wrong.”
— Ingrid Bayer, CEO/Trainer, Coach and Mentor at VA Institute
Building your side business to a full-time job, however, comes with sacrifice. While juggling multiple commitments, your working days become longer and may disrupt your weekends.
“There’s been times that I am working at 5 am in the morning, before work and sometimes until 12 o’clock at night. But I have loved it. I really loved it. The flexibility is awesome.”
— Lauren Davidson
Saying this, the personal and professional fulfilment you receive from building your business to this point is worth the sacrifice.
“The pros just outweighed the cons for me.”
“I know for a fact that as soon as you step into your business 100% of the time, that’s where you start to get the momentum because when that’s your focus, you’re definitely speaking into it, and you’re moving into something that’s right for you.”
— Ingrid Bayer, CEO/Trainer, Coach and Mentor at VA Institute
The VA industry in 2021 and beyond
As life slowly takes a turn for a new normal after the year 2020, Australia’s post-COVID workforce will look a little different. A traditional workplace is no longer a viable option for many industries, leading to many business owners looking to outsource services when they need more help, but not another body on location.
Businesses worldwide are catching on to the economic benefits of outsourcing certain skills to VAs. According to the Intuit Future of Small Business Report 2020, the global workforce will increasingly move from “full-time to free-agent employment”.
Why? Because it’s cheaper.
Building teams of contingent workers help minimise the labour costs of businesses. After the global economic disruption caused by COVID-19, many companies are looking to minimise operating costs for the foreseeable future.
In some cases, hiring a VA can save corporations up to 78% in operating costs compared to hiring a full-time in-house employee. This is because remote workers, like VAs, only charge hourly rates for the time they’re productive.
Productivity is another reason companies are choosing to outsource. According to the Small Business BPO Survey 2019 by Clutch, increased efficiency in business operations is one of the main reasons corporations choose to outsource to freelancers. This productivity in VAs may come from their higher professional satisfaction levels compared to their full-time counterparts.
The McKinsley Global Institute states that 97% of contractors are happier than full-time workers. Working remotely can leave you with more time for your loved ones and hobbies, providing a better lifestyle balance — much needed after the year that was 2020.
Becoming a VA in 2021 could be just the thing to kick you back into gear and get you excited for your career again. Getting started doesn’t have to be daunting or hard with the right guidance and help.
The VA Institute can help you build confidence in your skills and business structure, all the while helping you set up the nitty-gritty details of your business. Remember, 2021 is your year.
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