Monday, March 8, 2010

What I’ve Learned (So Far) About Starting A VA Business


Nothing is done fast! Ideas have to be well thought out and researched. A business name and entity has to be chosen. Colors, designs, email addresses and the like have to be decided upon. Licenses have to be purchased and fees have to be paid. Marketing and printing can take weeks or months to complete. More research needs to be done. Contacts and relationships have to be built and nurtured, and social media sites have to be opened and maintained. Then you need to continue reading and studying, researching, connecting, marketing and learning. A fellow VA just shared this quote with me: “Patience is not a sprint—it’s a marathon!" Well said. I also love this old Dutch proverb, “A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains.” So, be patient as you build your business and hold on to that handful of patience. It will come.


My mother always encouraged me to read, and sometimes it would annoy me to hear her reminders. But, as always, she was right. There is so much information with so many accessible resources to tap that now there is no excuse NOT to do your homework. Get as much information on your selected business interests as you can. Read books, get on the Internet, and talk to other people in your field. There are numerous checklists for business start-ups. Check out
SCORE for small business mentoring and training and the SBA for planning and financial assistance. There is a wealth of information out there. Look for it and READ!


Of course you can be very resourceful and frugal with your money to make it work harder for you, but be ready to make an initial investment into your business. The most obvious expenses would include your equipment and supplies. You have to have somewhere to work and if you’re a VA you have to have a computer. You will need a phone and probably some way to fax information as well as software to perform all the great projects you will get from your new clients. Check with your local government agencies because many require business licenses or other fees to operate. You may also need to meet with an attorney and an accountant. And, of course, there is marketing. Don’t scrimp too much on your marketing budget although you may not feel this is all that important. You will get a more positive response if you present a professional image as opposed to the “homemade” look. You are a professional—look like one.


I have heard this over and over in my pursuit of opening my business. You MUST get your name and face out there so people will know who you are and what you do. Join your Chamber of Commerce and attend their meetings—maybe get on one of their committees. Participate in a group of networking professionals in your area. Volunteer your services to local charities and maybe even sponsor sports teams or events according to your budget. And most importantly, get involved with online social media. After you set up your personal profile, set up a business fan page on Facebook. And actively post interesting content to Twitter and LinkedIn. There are many, many more social networking venues, but these seem to be the most well-known and used. Keep them current.

As I continue my quest to start and grow a successful Virtual Assistant business, I will post more findings. Until then, keep reading. . .