If you have a set of skills and wish to put them to good use, be your own limit when it comes to earning money and work whenever and wherever you want, then starting a virtual assistant business is a door that leads to those benefits and MORE!
A VA business is certainly one of the most affordable businesses to start.
You don’t have to have a degree or go through special training to be a Virtual Assistant, and it requires a minimal cost to set up.
However, for your VA business venture to be successful and profitable, you need to treat it like a proper business.
Yes, you can probably open an UpWork or a Fiverr account and start trying to market your skills, but you’d be limiting your potential to make money.
To attract your ideal clients, your business image and how you operate need to be irresistibly attractive.
Well, that’s why I’m here.
In this post, I show you simple steps you can take to open your VA business. The STRONG way. ALL from the comfort of your own home!
This post is written based on my experience in successfully setting up a VA business.
There is some stuff I didn’t implement early on, like creating a proper onboarding and invoicing system before launching, but I included it to give you a better head start, and with better confidence.
Because I try to include the essentials you need to start your VA business, this post is not designed to be finished in one sitting. Feel free to bookmark it or pin it for later.
Grab your coffee and let’s get started!
What services can you offer as a Virtual Assistant?
Having a specialty or industry knowledge will give you an upper hand, but you can start even when you don’t have much experience.
The beauty of being a VA is that you can start trading your skills and explore your passions at the same time.
You may start your journey offering admin work, but down the line, you may find yourself enjoying doing web design for boutique businesses, or writing recipe content for food bloggers.
Here are some examples of services you can offer as a VA:
37 services you can offer as a Virtual Assistant
- Customer service
- Contract drafting and management
- Email management
- Files organisations
- Excel data entry
- Data analysing
- Data storytelling
- Social media management
- Social media marketing
- Social media content creation
- Website creation
- Website design
- Website maintenance
- Website content development
- Blog post writing
- Email marketing
- Email funnels
- SEO content writing
- SEO keyword research
- Market research
- Topic research
- Video editing
- Caption writing
- Canva design assistance
- Logo design
- Lead generation
- Amazon FBA
- E-commerce management
- Product listing
- Shopify setup
What do you need to start a Virtual Assistant business?
Starting out as a VA, all you need are two things you probably already use every day:
Your laptop needs to be reliable and fast, and so does your internet. Having a laptop that doesn’t take ages to load will save you tons of time (and time is money). You also don’t want a client meeting to be affected by a poor internet connection.
Do you need an office to start a VA business?
Not everyone has the luxury of having a spare room in their house to turn into an office, but it’d be favourable if you can create a dedicated working space in a quiet part of your house (plus good sunlight).
Consider investing in
- The right-sized desk for you
- Comfortable and inviting desk chair
- Shelving units to store paperwork and files (plus plants)
Because you’d be working from home, having a dedicated working space will make you more productive and help you balance between work and personal life.
How to start a Virtual Assistant business in 8 steps
The process of starting your VA business doesn’t have to be stressful.
Don’t be pressured to rush through the steps. Take a day or two if you have to for each step (some may take longer).
The most important thing is that you stay consistent throughout the process.
Try to dedicate at least 20 minutes per day to making your way through the list. If you get stuck, feel free to reach out to me. I’ll try to help the best I can.
#1 Pick your niche and the services you’ll offer
Because the VA industry is getting saturated, it’ll be a struggle to stand out and get noticed by potential clients IF you dive in as a ‘general’ Virtual Assistant who offers their services to ‘all businesses’.
The best way is for you to niche down and target a particular group of businesses.
It might take a while for you to land on the perfect niche for your VA business, but it’s important that you don’t completely ignore this early on. We’ll get more into this in a bit.
Choosing services to offer
Think about your previous job roles and industry experience. What were your daily tasks like? What skills do people often come to you for?
To get started on choosing the skills to trade, list tradable skills you have into three categories:
- Basic: you know how to do it, but are not necessarily good at it.
- Intermediate: you’re good at it but not very confident yet, and there’s a lot of room for improvement.
- Advanced: you have years of experience with this set of skills, and are confident in achieving good to outstanding results.
To start making money as soon as possible in your VA business, you want to focus on your intermediate and advanced skills.
If you enjoy doing them as well, that’s perfect. If not so much, think about services you would enjoy doing and start creating a plan to upskill in those services on the side.
After all, you want a business that not only makes you money but also enjoy doing.
Picking the perfect niche for your Virtual Assistant business
Your niche could look something like this:
I provide website setup, design, and maintenance services to female real estate agents in the UK.
What services will you provide, and to who you’re providing them? That’s your niche.
For more on this, consider reading Hootsuites’ article on finding your target market:
What Is a Target Market (And How to Find Yours in 2023)
Congratulations, you’ve made it through the first step!
At this stage, you’ve
- Chosen which skills you want to offer as a VA
- Defined your target market
#2 Choose a name for your business
Now that you have an idea of what your target market is and what services to offer, it’s time to brainstorm and pick a name for your VA business.
When choosing your business name, you want a name that:
- Is not already taken (Google it)
- Is not too long
- Easy to spell, and remember
- Has domain availability (preferably in .com)
I chose Koi because it shares my initial and I was rather fond of koi fish. My first choice was Koi Creative, but a company with that name already exists.
I tried different combinations of koi + nouns, and then asked my family and friends which one they like most. After confirming its availability in domains and social media, I settled with Koi Assist.
You can use any part of your name and combine it with a noun or adjective that reflects on what you do. Here’s an example:
Brown + Solutions
Kamila + Support
I like the use of a personal name or something that shares a connection to you. It creates a personal feel to it, and your potential clients might easily connect with it.
Another way to go about it is to choose a name surrounding your niche + noun/adjective:
Realtor + Web + Support
Foodie + Assistance
It’s good to think carefully about your business name, but don’t dwell on it too much. Here are actionable steps you can follow to choose a good name for your VA business:
- Jolt down all your name ideas
- Choose five you like best
- Ask your family and friends to pick 2-3 in the order they like best
- Ask them what they like about it
- Check domain and social media availability
- List 3-5 reasons why you like the name
- Confirm your choice and move on to the next step
Whatever name you come up with, keep in that you can always rebrand and change it in the future.
#3 Write a business plan
Having a business without a plan is like traveling to a new destination without a map. Your business plan will serve you like a map to reach your business goals.
It doesn’t have to be 4-5 pages long. And as you get more idea on which direction you want to take your VA business you can always change it and add on to it.
In the beginning, your business plan could include
- Business Summary. A summary of what your services are and whose problems are you solving.
- Marketing. A marketing plan on how you plan on marketing your business. Look into your target demographics. What social media platforms do they use, and where do they look to solve their problems?
- Finances. How much money do you need to start (web hosting, laptop, etc.), what is the monthly/yearly operating expenses, how much profit do you expect to generate, etc.?
As you progress through your business journey and have more knowledge through research and experience, you will be able to recreate a more elaborate business plan. And sip coffee while feeling good about it.
For this step, you can create a Google doc where you can write down your VA business plan. Consider revisiting it every month, see what changed since last updating it, and make sure you’re on the right track.
If you’re interested in seeing how I did mine, let me know in the comments. With enough interest, I’m happy to create a template you can use.
#4 Register your VA business
I’ll admit that I didn’t do this step until I launched my business online and onboarded a few clients. Because I wasn’t in the UK at the time of registering, having a limited company worked better for me.
Even if you plan on doing this a bit later, it’s worth considering now whether you want to register your business as a sole trader or as a limited company.
After registering my business as a limited company, I could do things like open a Wise business bank account (I couldn’t open an account in the country where I was currently staying). This made it easier to move bigger funds, and accept international payments.
For this step, you want to consider which route to take and decide what will work best for you. You can read here which is the best route for you to take: sole trader or limited company.
#5 Invest in software and tools for your VA business
Most of the software you need to start your VA business is free. The only things that you need to pay in the beginning are:
- Website domain and hosting
- Email hosting
Having a website and paid email hosting will create a professional image for your business. It also shows potential clients that you’re serious. You can read my article here on why you should have a website as a service provider.
Besides the website and professional-looking email, you want to look into software tools that will help with your workflow and help you deliver quality services efficiently.
Here are some tools you’d need for your VA business:
- A time tracking tool to help you track your work hours (I use Toggl)
- Cloud storage to store all your work and important documents (Google Drive)
- Creating quality graphics for social media and marketing (Canva)
- Proofreading tool (Grammarly)
#6 Set up efficient ‘behind the scenes’ system
I made the mistake of launching my VA business without having any proper systems in place. So when I did get my first client, I was scurrying around trying to figure out how to onboard them properly, and what terms of service I should include in the contract.
So, don’t be like me and avoid this mistake altogether!
Be the cool VA and take the time to set up:
- Client onboarding system that includes a form and a welcome pack
- A contract template to cover your business and yourself
- Invoicing system to help you keep track of invoices and chase late payments
- Bookkeeping system to track all your income and expenses (as you’re just starting you can do it all on excel)
Each of the systems I just mentioned deserves a blog post of their own.
Consider joining my mailing list to get notified when they’re out!
#7 Finding Virtual Assistant clients
Remember your target market? Focus on platforms where they like to hang out.
Don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to promote your new VA business on every social media channel. Focus on one or two and do well in them. In my case, I chose LinkedIn and Instagram.
Also, don’t forget your existing network!
Your existing network includes your past colleagues, clients, friends, and family. That’s actually the best place to start, especially if you’re blessed with a supportive circle.
The majority of my clients are from my existing networks.
I promoted my new business on my personal Instagram account, and soon after a friend of a friend became a client. A few months later the family of that client also became a client.
What if you don’t really have much of a network?
Here are some methods to promote your Virtual Assistant business:
- Writing and sending email pitches to potential clients
- Going to networking events (don’t forget your business cards)
- Promoting your expertise through content marketing (YouTube, podcast, or blog)
Usually once you get yourself a few clients and you do your utmost best to provide them with the best service and client experience, you don’t have to worry about spending too much time promoting your business beyond that.
Your clients will do the promoting for you, and recommend your services to their network.
#8 Set goals and upskill
As you promote your business, don’t sit idly waiting for clients.
While not completely forgetting to continue promoting your business, take this time to focus on improving your skills. See what gaps you can fill in your business and polish your systems.
Never stay stagnant. Always improve and strive to be better than you were yesterday. Set professional goals and upskill by
- Taking online courses
- Read entrepreneurial books
- Practicing new and existing skills
Common questions about starting a Virtual Assistant business
Is a Virtual Assistant business profitable?
Yes, a Virtual Assistant business can be very profitable. As long as you’re consistent and have the willingness to learn and grow, you can be a successful VA with high paying clients.
Once you are experienced and mastered your trade, you can become a coach to other aspiring VAs and freelancers and sell courses and digital products.
How much does it cost to start a Virtual Assistant business?
It highly depends on what you have when you start. The main two things you need are a reliable laptop and high-speed internet.
Assuming you already have those then you only need to pay for website hosting and a professional email provider to operate, which costs as little as around £200.
If you need a new laptop, it’ll cost around £450 for an average good laptop. If your services include graphic designing and video editing then you might want to splurge a little more. As those tasks require software that takes up a lot of RAM space.
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I truly hope that you’re able to benefit from this post. If there’s anything that I missed, or something that you want me to elaborate more on please let me know in the comments, or send me a DM.
If you have anyone you know who wants to start a Virtual Assistant business and doesn’t know where to start, feel free to send them this article!
Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you around 🙂