If you visit Business Link http://www.businesslink.gov.uk there is great advice about choosing a name.
Here are three considerations:
Is it catchy?
Try to think of a name that is easy to remember, some ‘catchy’ names include Nu-type, AssistU, etc. My advice is to ask your family and friends about your choice to get a different perspective on your name choice.
In addition it should also be easy to spell, say and write.
Does it reflect the business you are in and the type of person you are?
Advice that I ignored was to actually put my service in my name e.g. Chris’s Virtual Assistance. I went for Help on Tap and then chose www.hotva.co.uk for my domain name.
Decide what image you would like to project and whether your advertising, documentation, and stationery will be effective with this name as its ‘banner’.
Is it legal?
It is important that the name you choose is not unlawful and does not contain certain words and descriptions that are restricted.
If you are based in the UK there are restrictions named under the Business Names Act 1985 including such names as English, Group, Trust, Royal, etc. You will need to check these out.
You must also ensure the name you have chosen doesn’t already exist.
Here’s a fun name generating tool that may give you name ideas http://www.companynamegenerator.com/. You need to add some keywords that describe your business and it will generate some suggestions. Some will be unusable but may give you part of your business name.
Good Luck with choosing your name.
You have decided that you want to go ahead with your dream of working from home, the next step is to perform some research for business start up assistance in your area.
I checked the internet before I started up my business and found a local company that provided a business course. At the end of the course I had to produce a business plan and I then received a start up grant. The course included marketing your business and accounting. These are invaluable for your business.
If you are based in the UK contact business link and they should be able to tell you of any start up grants in your area:
Sources of online information include:
What Should You Charge?
I found it really difficult to decide on a rate to charge for my services. There are a number of different structures you can use. I researched a number of Virtual Assistant sites before I decided on my pricing.
From my research there seemed to be a consensus that you should not charge less than £18 per hour. I have set my lowest rate for administration and typing at £20 per hour. I decided that services I provide, that use my advanced skills, should be charged at a higher rate. You will need to factor in your experience and geography when deciding on your rates.
It is vital that you NEVER UNDER-SELL yourself. I have on occasions offered a reduction for certain clients who give me a lot of work. On reflection I would not do this again.
Charge per Assignment
On occasion you may receive a one-off assignment such as typing up a project for a student and it may be best to quote a price for the assignment. You may want to quote per 1000 words. This way they will know up front what the charge will be.
A retainer package is when a client signs up for a certain number of hours per month. You can offer a reduction in the hourly rate. You will need to set up a retainer agreement.
You will also need to compile a list for such tasks as printing, laminating, sending faxes etc.
The next post will look at choosing a name for your business.
If you read my previous post you should know whether you have the necessary skills to become a Virtual Assistant. The next step is to ensure you have the equipment to perform the job. I suggest you only buy software and equipment as you need them.
I started out with just a laptop and broadband internet connection.
This is the minimum that you require. It is your personal choice whether you decide to use a PC or a laptop.
I decided to buy a good printer soon after I started and I decided on an all-in-one printer. It is a printer/scanner/photocopier/fax and is great for printing photos. Unfortunately this printer is no longer for sale.
You can buy a really good printer for less than $100. Check out Amazon for some great Printer Bargains
During my time as a Virtual Assistant I have never had to send or receive faxes. So what are the options if you have to:
An Electronic Fax
Electronic faxes allow you to send and receive faxes via your PC or mobile.
RingCentral offer a fax service and are currently offering 30% Off RingCentral Fax for the first 3 Months.
You can buy a stand alone fax or a fax integrated into a phone or printer. If you only have one phone line then your phone would be engaged when your fax is being used. You can have a separate line for a fax which you will have to pay for. Check out the Fax Machines on Amazon
It is advisable to shred your clients’ confidential business documents and I consider a shredder a must for your business.
Check out the Shredders on Amazon.
Some VAs may only use basic software such as Microsoft Office to perform their tasks.
If you can’t afford Microsoft Office a free alternative is Open Office. There will be a learning curve getting to grips with the software. There is the ability to save the documents into a Word format.
The next post will look at what rates you should charge.
This post will outline the skills a Virtual Assistant will require. It will also discuss the types of work I have performed for my clients.
To become a VA you will need to have a good knowledge of Microsoft Word, at the very least. You should also be willing to learn new skills so you can offer more specialised services.
You can learn a lot from other VAs and I gained so much from www.vanetworking.com. It is definitely worth joining as there is a free membership and around 13,000 VA members. If you experience software problems the VAs are always willing to help out if they can.
Obviously, the more skills you have the more work a client will be able to give you.
The types of tasks that I have performed as a VA have been extremely varied and have included:
- Producing business forms
- Copy typing
- Typing up flip charts
- Audio Transcription
- Database (Excel) cleansing
- Inputting into Excel Spreadsheets
- Laminating business forms
- Creating course documentation
- Producing PDFs
- Proofreading websites
- Joining documents together into PDFs
- Creating certificates for courses
- Inputting of expenditure
- Quickbooks inputting
- WordPress blog set up
- Website design and creation
- Form creation using Adobe Acrobat
- Formatting and rewording technical CVs
- Producing interview support documents
- Taking notes in interviews
- They only pay for the time that they use.
- They do not have to pay any employee benefits such as holiday pay, sick pay and pensions.
- They do not have to buy or lease new equipment.
- They have no employee responsibility.
- They do not have any training costs.
- They gain access to expertise they may not have in their business.
- They can utilise the time saved to generate more sales.
- They have total flexibility.
- They will not need to find desk space etc.
- Sofware consultant
- NHS consultant
- Dog walking/boarding company
- Professional golfer
- Personal Coach
- Social club
- Property Management company
- Childrens’ Book Author
- Leadership Development consultant
- Online childrens’ guide website
- Audio Typing for students and businesses
The above list requires a lot of skills. You don’t have to have all these skills. You can start off by just offering admin or typing services.
It is recommended that you should have at least 5 years admin or secretarial experience.
If you look closely at the list above, you can see that there are quite a few services that I have provided that don’t require specialised skills.
Good communication skills are a great bonus. You will need to go to networking events in order to build up relationships and being able to communicate effectively will help you to obtain more work.
The next post will discuss the equipment that a Virtual Assistant will need.
This post is going to take a look at the role of a Virtual Assistant (VA) and what types of clients you could have.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
A Virtual Assistant is an independent contractor that offers services that are traditionally provided by PAs or secretaries. The difference is that Virtual Assistants are based in their own office and provide the services remotely. The benefits to a business are vast and include:
The majority of VAs work from home. For some potential clients working virtually can be a difficult concept for them to grasp. You will need to be able to communicate to these people how you will provide your services without the face to face contact.
For others, the concept is easy. I have a client who uses my services on an adhoc basis. I have never met her. She came across my website and used my contact page to receive a quote from me. We have only ever spoken briefly on the phone but the rest of the time we have communicated via email. This is my ideal client.
I also had a client who wanted me to visit her house and perform admin tasks. As I had only just started my business, I agreed. Although, we did work together for around 9 months, I knew I had made a mistake. She had a number of pets in the house that would distract us from our work. Plus there were other distractions that meant we could not be as focused as possible. We are no longer working together.
There are going to be clients that you work with that may not be your perfect match. You will have to make difficult decisions such as terminating your working relationship.
Why would a Business use a Virtual Assistant?
VAs are thriving in these current economic times because they save businesses money. It’s much cheaper to use a VA than a ‘normal’ employee.
Check out the post that compares the cost of a full time employee vs a virtual assistant to see the cost savings to a business.
Who can a Virtual Assistant work with?
A Virtual Assistant is ideal for small and growing businesses, entrepreneurs, online marketers and consultants. My clients have been so varied and have included:
How varied a list is that?
The next post will cover skill sets and the types of tasks you may be asked to perform.