You’ve made the decision. You have organizational skills, you want to work from home, and you’re ready to start a virtual assistant business.
Let me be the first to say congratulations!
You’ve picked a wonderful journey. Every day, more and more businesses are being created online and they’re desperate for help. As a virtual assistant you’ll be the first mate, keeping their systems operational and functioning.
Trust me when I say, as a virtual assistant, you’re a lifeline to people across the world.
Even if you’re working a full time job, building a virtual assistant business is an awesome and rewarding side hustle you can start, until it grows into a full time gig.
You can easily make enough money to work from home, while actually enjoying the time with your family and friends.
You get the chance to meet some REALLY interesting people along the way. In fact, most of your time will be spent with high level executives or entrepreneurs.
There are countless stories I’ve heard of personal assistants and virtual assistants who have spent so much of their time around these hyper successful people, that they themselves create successful companies.
If this interests you, then keep reading because I’m going to go deep into you can start a virtual assistant business right now in your spare time and make $2,000/month in 60 days!
Why You Should Consider Starting A Virtual Assistant Business
There’s an amazing Harvard Business Review article which I want to point you to if you have any doubts about becoming a virtual assistant (which is really just an executive assistant, but online).
“At very senior levels, the return on investment from a skilled assistant can be substantial. Consider a senior executive whose total compensation package is $1 million annually, who works with an assistant who earns $80,000.
For the organization to break even, the assistant must make the executive 8% more productive than he or she would be working solo—for instance, the assistant needs to save the executive roughly five hours in a 60-hour workweek. In reality, good assistants save their bosses much more than that. They ensure that meetings begin on time with prep material delivered in advance.
They optimize travel schedules and enable remote decision making, keeping projects on track. And they filter the distractions that can turn a manager into a reactive type who spends all day answering e-mail instead of a leader who proactively sets the organization’s agenda. As Robert Pozen writes in this issue: A top-notch assistant “is crucial to being productive.”
So in short…
You’re a boss.
This should also help you justify charging for your services. Because in the end, you need to ensure your client gets a good ROI from your services.
Which then leads us into the next section.
I did a quick search on Upwork to see what the average is for a virtual assistant based in the U.S.
Here’s what I found:
From my research it appears the average hourly rate is about $25 per hour for these virtual assistants on Upwork.
If you were to do a standard 40 hour work week for your clients, you’re looking at about $1,000/week in income.
Let’s say you do only part time (since you’re building a side hustle after all!) and you put in only 20 hours per week for 1 or 2 clients. That comes out to $500/week or $2,000/month in extra income for only about 80 hours of work a month.
That’s serious cash for getting the chance to learn new skills, run your own business, and provide a value add service to high level executives and entrepreneurs.
Is A Virtual Assistant Business Profitable?
Very much so actually.
The only costs you’ll incur when getting started is purchasing computer equipment and an internet connection. If you live in the U.S. you most likely already have this at your disposal.
If you have a computer and are able to get online reliably, you’re already ahead of most people.
In fact, a virtual assistant business is one where you’re trading your time for money. The only “real” cost you’re going to incur is a time cost for the time you spend working for clients.
This means you’re running a legitimate service based business where you’re acting as a consultant for these entrepreneurs and other business owners.
How Much Does It Cost To Start A Virtual Assistant Business?
Basically nothing if you already have a computer and internet connection like mentioned above.
You don’t necessarily need any certifications or skills to get started. Although you do need the following skills in order to be successful:
- Amazing organization skills
- Project management
- Time management
- Strong communication skills (both written and oral)
- Excellent typing skills
- CRM knowledge
As I mentioned, you don’t need a college degree (which are quickly becoming worthless in this digital age) or certifications to get started. They’re just not necessary because in the end, your client is looking for one thing…
For you to solve their problem.
If you can solve their problem, then you’ll get hired quickly.
So, in regards to cost, the only thing you’ll need to spend on is education, which hopefully you already do!
How To Start A Virtual Assistant Business (Step By Step)
This is where the rubber hits the road, so to speak.
Here’s the step by step guide for getting your start as a virtual assistant. My goal is to provide you with both the high level, and some nitty gritty details you’ll need to pay attention to when getting started.
I’ve broken it down the best I can based on my own experience, and by connecting with professional virtual assistants who have given me pointers and help.
Step 1: Build A Business Plan (But Not What You Think…)
Look, normally I’m one to say, “Dive head first and take action, plan it out later.” because that typically works.
I don’t know about you, but every time I see a “how to” business article they always list generic info like:
- Create an executive summary
- Purchase an LLC
- Get business cards
- Lease an office
- Blah, blah, blah
Useless info that always makes my face look like this:
You don’t need to do all that “admin” work to get started. However, there is massive value to planning, but only if you do it correctly.
Because you don’t even know if you actually “like” doing virtual assistant work yet (who knows maybe you’ll hate it and want to do freelance writing instead).
You won’t know this until you get client number 1 and determine if it’s something you want to continue pursuing. Once you’re at that point, then you can get the admin stuff out of the way (which is important for tax purposes by the way!).
So, what does the quick and dirty of planning look like?
With a SWOT analysis!
What is SWOT?
- Strengths – what makes you unique to the competition? Are you able to charge lower prices? Offer better quality? Work faster? Why would a client choose you?
- Weaknesses – what are your weaknesses? Are you inexperienced? New to the market? Bad at managing money or employees? Try to understand your blind spots.
- Opportunities – Where is your blue ocean? Where can you take market share and grab a foothold? Are you able to travel to clients? Is competition only servicing restaurants and not salons?
- Threats – Where can competitors beat you and take market share? Can they outspend you on advertising? Say dirty and nasty things about your character and workmanship? What threats can you think of that will stop you from expanding?
By doing this you’re gaining vital insight into your own strengths and weaknesses as a person. It will help you understand if you want to focus on being a general virtual assistant, or if you can specialize in a certain area because of your background knowledge.
For example, here’s a detailed list of in demand virtual assistant services you can specialize in:
- Customer Support
- Virtual Office Administration
- Project Management
- Internet Research
- Financial Management
- Lead Generation
- Blog / Website Management
- Manage Editorial Calendar
- Copywriting & Editing
- Document Preparation
- Audio / Video Production
- Graphic Design
- Social Media Marketing
- Internet Marketing Support
- Manage email lists and email marketing campaigns
- Manage affiliate marketing campaigns
- Research keywords and optimize content for the Search Engines
- Track website analytics
- Virtual Events Management
- Technology Support
- Manage CRM (Customer Relationship Management) databases
Hopefully this provides a little clarity on your planning.
If you’ve completed this, you’ll be better prepared to enter the market with a splash, and start making money QUICKLY!
Step 2: Learn The Basics
Awesome – so you’ve done your SWOT analysis and you have a better understanding of your strengths and where you can potentially specialize.
Now it’s time to learn the basics.
For this, I highly recommend Youtube and other introductory courses online. With these online courses and training you’ll learn the following:
- Getting Started – mindset training, setting boundaries, and other beginner information
- Foundational Work – who is your target audience, your primary service offering, setting your rates, and nailing your unique selling proposition
- Find Clients – knowing where clients are hanging out and strategies for getting clients
- Selling – learning how to sell your skills and beat the competition and get hired
- Managing Clients – building relationships with clients so they trust you, handling mistakes, setting boundaries (again), and firing clients (which you’ll need to do from time to time)
As you can see, there’s a lot of information you’ll need to learn.
However, don’t get tied up in this step. There’s absolutely no way you’ll be “fully” informed to be read to make the leap. Often all you need to know is just enough to get started, and then you’ll learn on the job as you go.
That’s my motto at least.
There is another option though if you really want to scale your virtual assistant business quickly.
There are a couple paid courses that you don’t “necessarily” need, but that can be immensely helpful with getting started.
Here’s a little secret most people won’t tell you about these courses, and why the students are so “successful” from the jump. Most of these virtual assistant coaches are pros at lead generation for their own virtual assistant business, and they can’t handle the new business, so they’ll throw you leads and potential clients after you complete their courses.
It’s a “hidden” bonus most of the good courses will do for you.
If you learn the above, you’ll be ready for your next stepping stone which is getting your first client.
Step 3: Get Client Number 1
Once you have the basics down, you know your price rates, and you’ve got the equipment, it’s time to get your first client!
This is going to be the hardest step.
You’re going to put yourself out there, and there’s a good chance you’ll be rejected after your first attempts.
DO NOT GIVE UP
Getting client number 1 is hard, yes, but certainly not impossible. Follow this plan and you’ll be well on your way to getting your first client, and testimonials.
Start With Upwork
If you’re in the U.S. (and even if you’re outside the U.S. too) you will do well to start with Upwork for your first round of clients.
Pro Tip: Move away from Upwork ASAP once you get testimonials and have a decent book of business. You’re going to lose about 20% to the “Upwork Tax” if you continue to use them.
The reason why I choose Upwork is because it’s the most beginner friendly. I’ve even written a complete review of Upwork if you’re interested in learning more.
The strategy to win as a new Upwork member is to undercut your competition because after all, you are inexperienced and you’re still learning.
Clients go to Upwork for cheap work. By undercutting you’ll be able to get at least your first client where you’ll get paid to learn.
Send out a proposal where you focus on writing in the second person, talking about the clients problems, and how you can effectively solve them.
That’s the long and short of writing super successful proposals for work.
Once you land the client, you need to provide stellar work for them. Upwork has a review process and their algorithm can be particularly harsh on newbies. Provide a stellar job, get a high quality review, and then start to raise your prices as you build authority on the platform.
That’s the way I did it, and that’s the way the successful freelancers all got started.
Step 4: Build A Lead Generation System
If you’ve made it to this step, it means you’ve not only landed your first client, but probably a couple of clients!
Now you can start to scale your side hustle and move away from Upwork to building your own lead generation system.
Now you have a new problem. How do you plan to get the word out and capture more of the market?
There are 2 main strategies to market, and attract new clients:
Both are beneficial, and at some point you’ll do both, but pick one to start.
Personally, online is the method I prefer. People are continually moving online for their shopping, browsing, and socializing.
Soon people are going to be engulfed in virtual reality.
Why not go where the people are?
Here are the main strategies for online marketing:
- Facebook Advertising
- Google Advertising (Display & PPC)
- Search Engine Optimization (basically blogging)
The main strategies for offline include:
- Word of Mouth
- Door to Door Sales
Because you’re going to be virtual, offline strategies might not make sense for you. However, it’s helpful to understand them a little more in depth if you want to build a local presence!
Step 5: Scale With Processes
Ahh, my favorite part about online businesses. Scaling them!
Not many people talk about this, because it’s typically incredibly hard to do. But at this point you need to seriously sit down and ask yourself: “Do I want to continue doing this just as a side hustle, or build a legitimate business and scale?”
There’s no correct answer I can give you, because I don’t know your situation. Maybe you’re perfectly content with 20 hours a week and making an extra $2k/month because it gives you more freedom to spend with family.
However, if you do decide it’s time to scale, then you need to immediately start creating business systems, standard operating procedures, and hiring new employees.
Where you’ll find the biggest point of failure is working IN your business, not ON your business as an entrepreneur.
Don’t make this mistake. It’s an important distinction which will help you focus on building systems to scale. If you’re interested, read the E-Myth by Michael Gerber.
Create processes employees can follow, and you’ll create a consistent outcome your clients can expect, which eventually will mean you can transition yourself out of the business entirely while it runs!
Now THAT’S thinking smart!
Executive Summary: How To Start A Virtual Assistant Business
Hopefully this article has provided some insight into creating your very own side hustle, or legit business.
Becoming a virtual assistant is a fantastic starting point if you’re new to making money online. You’ll get access to incredibly smart people, you’ll learn a bunch of skills, and you’ll get paid to work from home.
Seems like a win-win-win in my opinion.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out or leave a comment!