I always love hearing from my readers and followers and one thing that seems to come up almost daily is people wondering how I got started with my Virtual Assistant business. So drum rolll….. I am going to share all about it today and if you are thinking about starting a Virtual Assistant business yourself then I will give you a few tips along the way. Sound good?
* Just a quick heads up that some of the links included below are affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase through my link, I will make a small commission, I really appreciate you supporting me, friend!
A little bit of Background
So for those of you who don’t know much about me, let me lay some background down. I have a Bachelors in Agriculture Business and a Masters in International Human Resources Management. Right after earning my Bachelors, I moved to Wisconsin to work for an Agriculture based company in the Human Resources department.
I stayed there for a few years and while I loved the people I worked with, I wasn’t sold on being in HR. However, by this time, I was already earning my Masters degree in HR so I figured that I would just keep it going. At the same point, I relocated to Germany to follow my heart.
When I arrived in Germany jobless, I quickly realized that finding a job in HR was going to be difficult because I wasn’t fluent in German. So, I ended up finding a job at an International School working as the Executive Assistant to the Director. This was a pretty big change for me because when I was working in the US, I was on the Leadership team and making lots of decisions, and now I was in a total support role for someone heading the leadership team. And while I wasn’t sure I would like this role reversal, I ended up loving it.
I truly enjoyed being the “behind the scenes” person who was there to take care of issues and assist in making my boss’s life easier. The only downside to the job? I was driving about 1.5 hours each way. That amounts to over 15 hours spent in the car each week. It was just a bit too much (ok, not a bit… way too much).
How it all Began
For fun, I had started working with a wedding blog to write content for them and I was loving it. It was so much fun and I truly enjoyed the work. I had also grown a pretty big following on my Instagram account (find me here!) Once I started having people reach out to me to help with social media and writing their blogs, I saw an opportunity.
At this point, I hadn’t really ever even heard of a virtual assistant and I wasn’t entirely sure what they did. However, I started looking into it more, and I was immediately hooked. It sounded like the perfect opportunity for me to be able to work from home (or anywhere in the world) while doing something that I really enjoyed.
Naming my Business
In order to get my business started, I knew that I needed to set up a website and get my ducks in a row before taking on my first client. I also needed to select a name, which for me was pretty easy because I wanted to self-brand, meaning that I named my business after me. Take some time here to really determine a great business name. Make sure to do your research to see if any other business is using that name and if a domain for the name is available.
This is also the time where you will need to try and determine a niche. This can be difficult in the beginning if you aren’t really sure what direction you want to go in. I was already involved in the creative industry and knew that I wanted to stay there with a focus on social media. In order to determine your niche, you will need to do some research to see where you best see yourself fitting in. And don’t worry, if you decide a few months from now that your niche isn’t for you, it doesn’t mean that you are stuck there forever.
Setting up a Website
With my name ready, I needed a website. I actually made a huge mistake here and signed up for wordpress.com. I thought that this was the way to easily get a website in place, however, after having to spend money with wordpress.com to get a custom domain, I started looking into websites more and realized that I should have signed up with wordpress.org (seriously, why do they need to have the same name- so confusing!) And in order to get everything transferred over to wordpress.org, I had to find my own hosting service.
Right away, I went with Bluehost. This was my big mistake #2. They were the WORST to deal with and I will never recommend them to anyone. Everything was so difficult and no one wanted to help me figure anything out. Again, I lost money because I couldn’t get a refund from Bluehost. I then signed up with SiteGround and let me tell you, they are simply amazing! Every time I have an issue, they are so quick to help me out and they don’t ever make me feel stupid (although I know some of my questions are a bit ridiculous!)
Now that I had a hosting company and an account set up with wordpress.ORG, I was on my way. I purchased a website template off of Creative Market for around $70 and worked to customize it myself. This was a huge learning curve (and still is) but a lot of what I learned teaching myself has come in handy with my clients now. So while I totally recommend having a web designer create a website for you, sometimes at the beginning, that expense just isn’t rational and if that is the case, work on doing your own. It might surprise you what you learn.
Once I had my website set up, I started to join Facebook groups that were related to my niche (Creative Entrepreneurs). And I quickly found lots of people searching for a Virtual Assistant. I reached out to the people who seemed to fit my skill set and my idea of an ideal client. Then, quickly began to take on clients. My original plan had been to work on my new business part-time but after only three months, I had enough clients to replace my full-time income and so I quit my full-time job.
Now, this was a leap of faith. A terrifying leap of faith. Most people had no idea what it was that I was going to be doing, and I am pretty sure some people still think that I just hang out at home all day watching Netflix. However, I knew deep down that this was my calling and I was going to do everything possible to make it work. Now, if you are reading this and you think that working from home sounds so nice, and you want to give being a Virtual Assistant a try… let’s get something straight right now.
It is not all sunshine and rainbows. It can be really hard. I sometimes find myself working until all hours of the night and then some. Getting a business going take lots of hard work and perseverance. Which means that if this is just something you maybe want to do, don’t do it until you are sure that you will put in the long hours, deal with the tears, handle challenging clients and work on building a business. It isn’t for the faint of heart. But if you are willing to put in the work, it is damn worth it.
Getting Systems in Place
Sorry to get a bit off topic, back to where I was. After I took my Virtual Assistant business full-time, I was able to start implementing better systems. The first one I made an investment in was Dubsado a client management system. I also highly, highly recommend them as they are super helpful (I am all about that customer service) and their program works perfectly in my business. I can manage invoices, send contracts to be signed, track new leads and much more!
Enrolling in Courses
At the same time, I started to enroll in lots of courses. Now, this was sort of a double edge sword. I was like a cat attracted to anything shiny. Seriously. Every time I heard about a new course, I just had to have it. And while I learned a lot from the majority of these courses, there were some that weren’t worth my time or money (and these are still sitting only half finished). My tip for you here is to get a game plan on what courses you will buy (instead of doing what I did and buying every new “shiny” course I found). Make sure that the course has great reviews (feel free to ask around in Facebook groups) and make sure that it will teach you skills that make sense for your niche.
Creating a Plan
A few months into my business, I purchased the Daily Greatness Business Planner. I really wish that I would have gotten this at the very beginning of my journey to help me plan everything out. It is so simple to use and I am in LOVE with mine. Find out more about the planner through the blog post I wrote on it here.
To review, here is a general idea of where to begin to start a Virtual Assistant Business. Now, please realize that there is a different path that everyone can take, and there is a TON of things that need to be done in between, these are essentially just the bigger ones.
- Decide on a name and a niche
- Get signed up for a wordpress.ORG account and find a host. I recommend SiteGround!
- Either hire a web designer or DIY your website. I recommend checking out Creative Market if you are going to DIY. And if you are searching for a web designer, Grace and Vine Studios is amazing! Of course, at this stage, you will also need to develop a logo and branding. Make sure you give this some serious thought! See my most recent branding here.
- Start searching for clients through Facebook Groups. Here are some great groups that I have found.
- Get a client management system in place. I recommend Dubsado!
- Continue learning new skills, relevant to your niche.
Want to go even more in depth? I am talking about a detailed, step-by-step guide on exactly how to go from Start to SOLD OUT! Click here to check out my course just for new VA’s, with hours of video training, workbooks, done for you copy and more!