On a VA forum the other day I read a question from a new member there, wanting to know how to get started and if she had to get any licenses or permits or anything? She is located in Los Angeles. This is my answer to her:
Members here are from many countries so the answer to your question might not be as straightforward unless someone in your region is able to answer. What I can tell you that is really important, is that you find a local accountant who deals with small business. They’ll be able to guide you with respect to starting up a business and any tax laws, etc for your locality. You could try Googling business start-ups in Los Angeles to see what comes up.
Apart from that, the other things you need to do are: Ensure you have a reliable computer and printer. Make sure your desk and chair are ergonomically set up and that you are comfortable sitting there, as you will spend many, many hours there. Ensure you have legal copies of all the software you intend to use for your clients. You can claim the cost of these and all other aspects of running your business on your tax.
Do your homework to work out what you should be charging your clients. If you look for ‘Nina Feldman’ online you’ll find she has a worksheet for working out rates that are right for you. When you speak to your first client you need to be able to give them a quote with confidence. Some jobs you do may require an hourly rate, others a project rate, really depends on what you plan to provide as a service.
Locate local business networking groups and go along and meet other business owners. You’ll learn a great deal from them about running a business locally, but also meet lots of potential clients. Networking shouldn’t be left for just online.
I’ve been doing this for 20 years in March and still enjoy, very much, the interactions online and working with clients and doing a variety of things. On that note, don’t start off with too many service offerings. You’ll get yourself and your clients confused. Start off with 2 or 3 and build up from there. Best you are very good at a small number of things rather than average on a lot of things.
And most of all enjoy! If you hang around the VA forums you’ll learn a lot from their members.
For those who join the “A Clayton’s Secretary” VA Directory, they are sent in the mail a getting started pack with a booklet filled with information, including a formula for working out rates that are right for you, irrespective of where you live. I currently have a promotion on for 20 new Virtual Assistants to join at just $50AUD with membership ending 30th June 2014. Thereafter they’ll be eligible for renewal at the regular rate. Why 20? Because I’ve been in business 20 years in March. Be quick as those 20 positions won’t last long!