Periodically new VAs post help! messages to VA forums looking for this item, or that or advice on how to do something. The advice part is ok but there are some things that they really need to do for themselves, for example researching how much they should charge, or setting up certain templates for regular use with clients. One of the things they really need to work on themselves, and not get a copy from someone else, is their business plan. I really believe they need to find a generic business plan (there are lots available on the web) and then work with that. They could try http://www.bplans.com/ for example.
- Every VA business is going to look different depending on their skills, experience, their planned targeted audience, the hours they want to work, what they want to achieve. I don’t believe anyone’s VA business looks like another’s, unlike franchises which are built to the same formula, because we all bring something different to it and can do vastly different things with our businesses.
- In developing a business plan of their own from scratch it helps the new VA to define what they want to do with their business and where they want to go – taking on a plan that someone else has already done may mean they might not read through it properly, or they may adopt something that isn’t appropriate for them, or even their geographic location.
- Developing one from scratch also means the VA needs to do research to find out what the market is like in their vicinity, what would be suitable for them to charge as rates, any council or county rulings that are effective where they live and so on.
- It will also assist the VA to really think about what it is they want to do, offer and be.
When I started almost 12 years ago there was no internet and I had to make phone calls and talk to people and ask questions. I bought a software template for a business plan and then worked through each section on my own – sometimes having to guess things, sometimes have to do some research or speak to my accountant. But what it did do was give me ownership of my business and helped me define what I wanted to do – before I did that I wasn’t even really sure, other than wanting to run my own business.
May I say that my business today looks vastly different to what I thought it would 12 years ago and it would be hard to really project that far ahead as to what you want your business to look like. But revisiting your business plan annually, and redefining it, is part of the growth process for your business. KMT