M. L. Childs — Getting the Home Office Ready for Virtual Assistant Greatness

COVID-19 has brought many negatives, but there are a few positives that this disease has created. One thing that it has created is plenty of opportunities. It used to be unheard of for most people to work from home. However, with the advent of COVID, this is gradually becoming the norm.

This disease has opened up possibilities for Administrative and Executive Administrative Assistants. Many companies, particularly small businesses, don’t have the budgets to hire such personnel, but they still desperately need such personnel on staff. As a result, EAs and AAs are becoming Virtual Assistants now more than ever.

You already have the skills that you need to make it as a VA:  answering phones, light bookkeeping, creating agendas, taking minutes, setting up Zoom conferences, booking flights, and the like.  You acquired these skills as an Administrative Assistant or an Executive Assistant.  Now, all you have to do is become an independent contractor for your own VA business, outsourcing yourself to clients who could use your organization skills to keep their business running smoothly, especially during these difficult times.

So how do you get started? Here are 11 ways to get yourself ready to be a VA contractor.

Decide on a Business Name

If you are going to do VA work as a side hustle or even as a full-scale business, you should decide on a name for it. I was always told that you should always pick a  name based on two things: 1) You shouldn’t choose a name based on where you are at in the business creation process but based on where you plan to be in the future, and 2) try to pick a name that doesn’t include your name so that the business can be easily sellable if it gets huge.

Get an EIN Number

You have to keep in mind that you are no longer an employee in the traditional sense once you delve into this terrain.  You are now an independent contractor, or you can even classify yourself as an entrepreneur.  As such, you can start to develop yourself as a business entity.  One crucial way to declare your independence and distinguish yourself as truly an independent contractor or entrepreneur is to get an employer identification number through the IRS.

Incorporate

If you are serious about this business that you are developing, another way to be distinctive is to incorporate it.  When you acquire and use an EIN, you are automatically a sole-proprietor.  However, this may not provide as much protection as you need.  Many opt to form LLC’s or an S-Corp or C-Corp.  You will have to consider all options and decide which one works best for your company. 

Prepare Your Home Office Space

Although you may not be receiving clients or guests in your home, you still want to have your office space prepared for your office needs.  Even if you have no other options than your kitchen table as your office space in your home, it should be neat and organized.  You should also make sure that you have all the equipment you need, including a printer or a shredder.

Get Accounting Software

Once you step into the world of business ownership, you no longer have to think like an employee.  Sure, you outsource your VA skills to CEOs and other leaders so you are still their subordinate; however, you do not work for their company.  Therefore, you are a business leader, also.  This switch from employee to self-employed comes with tax breaks.  To make sure that you get props as a business owner around tax time, make sure that you keep your accounts in order as some of the things you purchase or do throughout the year can be a tax deduction.  The best way to keep track of this is through accounting software. 

Obtain a Locked File Cabinet and Safe

Besides keeping your information documented in accounting software, it is also a good idea to keep hard copies of receipts and other important documents.  It’s best to get a locked file cabinet to keep client information, business information, and tax information within it.  But for even more of a safety precaution, it’s good to have a fireproof safe too, just in case you have important documents that you want to keep safe in the event of a flood or a fire. Records like this include your tax ID number, social security cards, and intellectual property that belong to your company. 

Create Files on Your Computer For Future Clients

Besides preparing hard files for your clients, it is also a good idea to prepare your desktop to accommodate your clients.  Instead of just saving information on your computer randomly, consider organizing your computer files so that each client has a folder of their own with various other folders inside them that includes the work you are doing for them.  It may also be a good idea to password-protect specific files for the client if they are very confidential.  Another thing to do is bookmark your client’s website and other regularly used websites associated with that client to access those items when working on the client’s tasks. 

Create Proposal and Contract Templates

Before diving deep into getting clients, make sure that your paperwork is prepared.  You always want to appear professional to your clients no matter how unprofessional, or unorganized they may be.  This will instill in them a sense that they can trust you to handle their work virtually and that you will keep their information confidential and safe. 

Acquire Software For Business Purposes

Different clients use different business software.  You should acquire some of this software or be ready to purchase this software if the client needs you to have it.  Some standard software to have in a VA role are as follows:  Google Suite, Microsoft Office, Zoom, Calendarly, Asana, Trello, QuickBooks, WordPress, and a host of other business software.   As you add these apps to your computer, make sure that your computer can handle these additions because some apps take up much memory.  You may need to get more memory or even upgrade to another computer to ensure that you can use all of the programs that your client needs you to have.

Create Marketing Material To Attract Clients

You need to make sure that you let people know that you are offering your VA services.  The best way to do this is to create marketing ads for your company.  You can make simple ads in apps like Canva; however, if you doubt your design skills, hire a designer to create appealing ads for your company.  You always want to give off a professional vibe, and if you use ads, they should be as professional as can be. 

Proactively Search For Quality Clients

Now that you have your arsenal ready, it’s time to seek clients. You want to pursue the best clients you can; however, it may be a bit shaky when you first get started. You may have to start with clients who are just as new to this as you are to begin to build trust. Be patient and get referrals. Also, ask clients if they can leave positive reviews on your website or other sites such as Yelp or Google so that you can attract new clients based on word-of-mouth marketing.

Ok. Not only is your home office ready for greatness, but you are prepared for excellence. Now go out there and develop your clientele.

What have been your experiences developing a VA business? Share your experiences in the comments section. Follow this blog for more helpful hints like this. Also, don’t forget to

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