How to Start a Virtual Assistant Business Today

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You’ve decided you want to start a virtual assistant business. Congrats! Starting a virtual assistant business was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Before I first started as a VA, I had a side hustle as a freelance writer while working my full-time job. A few of my clients started asking me for VA help too, and because I needed the money to pay off debt, I happily obliged. That’s how I was introduced to the virtual assistant world.

Although my introduction to becoming a VA came from freelance writing clients that I already had, I still had to learn the ropes of building a successful virtual assistant business.

If you’re starting from scratch, don’t worry! It’s just as easy to build a virtual assistant business from the ground up.

10 Steps To Start Your Virtual Assistant Business

Starting a virtual assistant business is actually fairly simple. Here are the steps to follow to start your virtual assistant business today.

1. Decide On Your Virtual Assistant Business Name

While you can keep this simple and just use your own name, some people want a catchy name and title for their new virtual assistant business.

If you go the route of catchy, just make sure it’s easy to pronounce and search for. You don’t want a name too long or too confusing, especially when you first start.

PS – You can always change your business name later. Don’t get too hung up here!

2. Decide On Your Services & Rates

What are you good at? Are there any specific services that you’d prefer to offer? When I first started, I offered social media services, blog management services, and even technical services.

As time went on, I narrowed down my offerings and also up-leveled my skills to include some services that may pay more, like project management.

When you first start, choose what you’re comfortable with. You can always change it later!

The same goes for setting your rates. I’ve seen many VAs start out charging $15-$20 per hour. Just remember that as a business owner, you have to cover your overhead, technology, taxes, and more. Make sure you add an extra $5-$10 an hour to help cover other necessities like these if you didn’t factor them into your rates already.

If you already took on a client and undercharged, here’s how you can raise your rates.

3. Make It All Legal

Depending on your state, county, and city, you may need a business license to run your virtual assistant business. Be sure to check with all three to see what you need or don’t need. Also, if you do decide to name your business differently from your own name, you’ll most likely need to fill out a DBA (doing business as) form as well.

While you’re figuring all of that out, it’s also the perfect time to decide how you want to structure your business. This step may be best decided with the help of a lawyer and CPA, because setting up the right business structure will help as far as legalities, taxes, and more.

4. Create A Business Plan

A business plan doesn’t have to be a long, boring document. Your business plan really only needs a few points, including the services you’ll provide, the contract you’ll give potential clients, how you’ll pay for your business, and what you can offer that sets you apart from other VAs.

5. Develop A Marketing Strategy

Will you use social media as a tool to gain new clients? Do you want to have a blog and email list? How will you market your business to get new clients?

These are questions you need to ask and answer so you can pitch yourself and your services a little easier.

6. Reach Out To Your Network

Once you’ve figured out the above steps, it’s time to reach out to your existing network! Even if they don’t fall within your virtual assistant business niche, they may need your help or know someone who does.

This is a great way to get your first client, and you don’t even have to step out of your comfort zone!

7. Advertise Your Virtual Assistant Business

If you don’t find a client from your network, or if you want to branch out, it’s time to advertise your services! Post on social media, write a blog post, create a YouTube video — whatever you need to do in order to gain a new client. Part of doing business is advertising what you have to offer.

Also, don’t forget to create a “Hire Me” page or even a portfolio of work that you’ve done, so people can message you or book a call to hire you.

8. Keep Your Clients

Even once you’ve found your first clients, or even once your business starts growing, it’s important to continue making your clients happy.

Finish your tasks on time, communicate, and go above and beyond for your clients. They’ll appreciate that you care about their businesses and companies, and will be more willing to continue working with you and refer you to others.

9. Ask For Referrals & Testimonials

Along with keeping your clients, you can ask for referrals and testimonials! Don’t be afraid of leveraging the work you’ve done for your current clients.

Ask them if they’d be willing to put a testimonial on your site or social media. Record a video of them stating all that you’ve helped with. And ask them to refer you to people in their network if they’re happy with the work you do.

Because of the hard work I’ve done and the value I’ve provided my clients, I haven’t had to look for new clients in years. All of my clients come via referrals, and it’s all because I wasn’t afraid to ask questions and do the work.

10. Use The Right Tools

As I’ve progressed with my business, I’ve also realized the importance of having the right tools at my disposal.

On my “must-have list” is an accounting tool, like FreshBooks. I also use Asana as my task management system, so I never forget anything that I need to do.

Investing in working with a coach, or taking a course can also speed up your business growth and help you grow your revenue faster. I know I could’ve avoided a lot of newbie mistakes if I had gotten help when I first started out. That’s why I created my course, $10K VA to help other people start their own VA businesses too!

The Pros of Starting a Virtual Assistant Business

There are so many great benefits and pros of starting a virtual assistant business. Here are just a few of my favorites.

You Can Start for Free

It’s affordable, and can even be free, to start a virtual assistant business.

You don’t need any special equipment, you don’t need a college degree, and you don’t need a picture-perfect, spacious office.

Virtual Assistants Don’t Need a Specific Degree

Your VA business can focus on the skills you already possess.

There are so many different types of VAs, and no VA offers the exact same services.

Admin, research, and general management VA services are the easiest to break into, but you can offer whatever skills you’re already best at. You don’t necessarily need to go back to college/school (or go to school at all) to become a virtual assistant.

Although there are virtual assistant programs available at some colleges these days, they aren’t really necessary. You can learn everything you need to know with on the job experience. Or if you need a helping hand, check out my self-paced, online course $10K VA.

Virtual Assistants Have Flexible Schedules

As a virtual assistant, you set your own schedule for when you work on your tasks.

When I first started, I worked on my VA business before and after my 9-to-5. Then I added weekends as my workload grew. After I first quit my job, I worked on my business just as if it was a full-time job, Monday – Friday 8 am – 5 pm.

In your virtual assistant business, you can work on it whenever you want, whether it’s part-time or full-time.

Virtual Assistants Are Location Independent

You can work from home, or the coffee shop, or while traveling. It doesn’t matter where you work when you have your own virtual assistant business, as long as your work gets done.

Keep in mind though that you will need a strong internet connection to accomplish most of your tasks as a VA.

Virtual Assistants Set Their Own Rates

As a freelance VA, you set your own rates for how much you want to charge for your work. You can charge as much as you want as long as you can find clients who are willing to pay you.

Plus, you can raise your rates at any time. No more waiting for an annual review to get a raise.

Virtual Assistants Get Paid to Learn

You can grow your skills (oftentimes for free) because clients may pay you to learn something that can help their business. Other times, you may decide to take a course or buy a product that teaches you a new skill so you can charge more for your services. As a VA, you’re always learning, and sometimes you get paid to do it!

If you enroll in the Lifetime level of my course, $10K VA, you get access to on-going trainings to help you learn new skills, tools, and services. It’s like continuing education for virtual assistants!

The Cons of Starting a Virtual Assistant Business

While there are definitely more pros than cons when it comes to starting a virtual assistant business, I am writing this in full transparency.

Many of the cons listed below can be solved easily, but others may take some time and effort to get used to. Here are the few cons that I’ve found of being a virtual assistant.

It May Be Hard to Find Your First Client

Getting your first client can be somewhat difficult if you don’t have an online network to reach out to (such as a group of bloggers you’ve already become friends with). This is also true if you’re an introvert or don’t like cold pitching.

Luckily, hard doesn’t mean impossible! It often only takes one client to get the ball rolling. After you’ve gotten your first client, getting your second, third, and more will be much easier.

If you enroll in the Lifetime level of my course, $10K VA, you can find your first, second, third, etc. clients from the leads I share with my students. Easy, peasy!

Freelance VAs Don’t Get Employee Benefits

As virtual assistant, you are typically working as a freelancer or independent contractor. (Unless you work for a virtual assistant agency, in which case this may differ!)

Since you’re a contractor and not an employee, you don’t get health insurance, sick leave or other paid days off, or any other employee type benefits.

This means you have to calculate self-paid benefits into your rate when you are charging for your work.

Related Post: Virtual Assistant Salary: How Much Can You Earn as a VA?

Freelance VAs Have to Pay Their Own Taxes

Since you don’t technically have an employer (since you work on a contract basis with your VA clients), there’s no money being withheld from your paycheck for taxes.

This means you have to set aside money and pay your own taxes. This can be a con if you’ve never budgeted for paying taxes on your own before.

You also have to remember to send in your own quarterly tax payments if they are needed.

While I personally don’t mind budgeting for and paying my taxes, I still hate all the organization, paperwork, and tracking that comes with being self-employed.

It can be exhausting getting everything together since you should keep track of all income and expenses for your business so you can claim all of the deductions possible come tax time.

Related Post: The Ultimate Guide to Filing Self Employment Taxes

Working Online May Get Lonely

If you’re an extrovert (like me!) working from home by yourself may get old. I like getting out and meeting people, but there have been many times where I have been stuck in my seat the whole day because of my work.

But I try to combat this by making time for Zoom calls with business friends, my team, my clients, and more. Plus I also plan social activities with friends and family outside of work.

Another great way to combat this is to find a mastermind group to join. Masterminds are groups of like-minded business owners who are on similar pathways with their businesses. They can be used for bouncing around business ideas, asking for feedback, and more.

If you enroll in any level of my course, $10K VA, you will be automatically included in a students-only mastermind group that can help you combat lonliness and grow your business!

Summary

So there you have it, the simple steps you need to take in order to start a virtual assistant business. It will take work, but it doesn’t have to be complicated!

How to Start a Virtual Assistant Business Today
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63 Comments

  • Really great stuff here. Thank you for sharing your journey into the VA world. It’s something I’d love to pursue down the road, but right now I only have time for freelance writing while I’m home full-time with my youngsters. So, keep posting and I’ll keep reading!

    Reply
    • Thanks Laura! Yeah, I really feel like combining my writing and VA helped me “reach the next level” with my business. Whenever you have more time, it’s definitely something to consider pursuing.

      Reply
  • I think I would be interested in VA services when I decide it would be better to leave my full-time job. Right now I wouldn’t have the time to dedicate but it certainly sounds like a good way to diversify income if or when I freelance full-time. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

    Reply
    • You are so welcome! Being a VA does take some time, but once you’ve gotten some good experience, it can be a lucrative way to make money.

      Reply
  • This is a very good article that I feel people who want to get into this business can benefit from. I like articles that tell me exactly what I should or need to do — it’s so much more helpful then just being vague about it all. Thank you!

    Reply
  • The article was so informative.I have outsourced lot of my business works to my virtual personal assistant in India who has helped me in lot my activities like email management, SEO etc. It is very effective.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your feedback. Hiring virtual assistants can keep business costs down which I think is why more and more businesses are turning to them to do many tasks.

      Reply
  • How to get paid on hourly basis? I can’t afford basecamp or any other time tracking software right now which usually required monthly setup fee. What to do?

    Reply
    • You can track your time manually with a spreadsheet. That’s actually how some of my clients prefer me to keep track. It’s kind of on the honors system since there’s no actually timer or anything watching what you do though.

      Reply
  • Thanks Kayla, for your quick reply. One more question burning my head after seeing your course “$10k VA”. I am wondering how many clients do I need to earn $10k per month. Because I observe some VA companies’ pricing model. I have found two types of model: hourly and task-based. Hourly model is quite impressive, but how many clients may willing to get me paid 8 hours a day, 30 days per month? And for the task-based model, I saw some companies are charging only $50 for 15 tasks for a month. 15 tasks! That’s a lot! So I am wondering how many clients will order more task in a single month so I can reach the goal of $10k?
    So, I am confused is it really possible to earn $10k per month and if it’s possible, then how many clients do I need in a single month to achieve the goal? Please discuss it further, I am really looking to start my own VA business seriously.

    Reply
    • The thing is, I didn’t start out the first month making $10K. It does take time to build up to that. The point is that it can be done with hard work and dedication. As for the number of clients you need it depends on what you are doing for them and what they are paying. Experience also plays a part in that as well. Remember, it is possible to start part time on the side, while working a full time job, and build your income before attempting to turn it into full time work to replace that full time job. That’s what I did and it worked well for me.

      Reply
  • I am a VA for a company but I would like to start working for myself, as my current hourly rate is between $9-12 an hour. There are definitely services that i am not skilled enough to do, so I’m not sure what to charge and how to even start. At some point, making a full time income would be ideal. Any tips?

    Reply
    • I suggest taking what you’ve learned and pitching to people yourself. You could probably start between $15-$20 since you have experience. Also, start taking courses and classes to learn more and build up your portfolio!

      Reply
  • I am glad I stumbled upon this post! I am making the switch to the virtual administrative world, but I am confused as to where to start! I have the skills, the blog, and the motivation, but I am still struggling to get something started! I will dig a little further into you website!

    Reply
    • Good luck! And you can always start with deciding what you want to do, how much you need to earn from that, and then start pitching people you’d want to work with. You’d be surprised to know what a great cold pitch can do for you!

      Reply
  • Hi Kayla,

    I am from QLD Australia, looking to start out.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts here, some great tips!

    I have a real estate background and believe my experience will transfer well into the VA field!

    Cheers
    Kimberly

    Reply
    • Hi Kimberly! That’s awesome, so glad you’ll be joining us in the field. Good luck!

      Reply
  • Hello Kayla,

    I’m looking to start my own VA . Your story is so inspiring..I want to get started can you show me the steps to moving forward.

    Reply
    • Hi Tina! I have a few blog posts on my website that shows you how to get started, as well as my all-inclusive course $10K VA. Feel free to check it out here: https://tenkva.com/. Good luck! 🙂

      Reply
  • Hi, I work as a VA now, UK based, with a full stable of clients in diverse businesses. There’s so much work out there and feel I could expand but there’s not enough hours in the week. I’m not sure how to grow my business when clients hire and trust me. Am I being greedy? Have been thinking about a student or part timer. Any guidance appreciated!

    Reply
    • Hi Ruth! I would see if you could hire an intern or yes, even a student. You could bring them on board as a subcontractor, that way, you can expand your business, but not do it all yourself. You could also look at setting up a VA agency!

      Reply
    • Hi Ruth, just thinking about getting into the VA business, initially looking at part time to fit around my school hours job. Did you decide to take on someone part time as a kind of subcontractor? Just wondering if this worked for you and if it’s worth me looking into it? Any advice would be much appreciated, I am also UK based (in Scotland) thanks Claire

      Reply
      • I’ve had subcontractors and it worked well, but of course, make sure you check your local and national laws!

        Reply
  • I really liked this article very helpful! Is there anyway of contacting you to be able to ask a couple questions personally? I really would like to try this job but have questions on how to get started.

    Reply
    • Hi! Yes, you can fill out the form on my coaching page, and I’ll get back to you!

      Reply
  • Hi Kayla,
    I tried to contact you via your coaching page as you advised someone else, but am not in business yet and do not have a URL so it would not send the message. Is there another way to contact you? Does your business model work outside of the states?

    Reply
    • Hey Christine, Yes it does! Email my team on the contact page and we’ll see what we can do to help!

      Reply
  • Thank you so much for your experience and posts its a real help to me since im starting my own VA business your information was very interesting and intricate.

    Reply
  • i am looking for a virtual assistant position.
    i finished college with mastery in English and writing.

    anyone please help me find home-based job. Thanks

    Reply
    • I suggest starting with Google and finding articles that talk about virtual assisting. You can also join a program or course that teaches you how to be a VA (like my course $10K VA) and start pitching yourself to brands/entrepreneurs you admire.

      Reply
      • Hi Eunice, check out my course, $10K VA! I think it would be a great fit for you if you’re looking to become a virtual assistant!

        Reply
  • Thanks for the great post. Looking at the competition we have now, do you think $5/hr is a good price to charge? Nowadays there are so many companies that are offering these services at a very cheaper rate. And the clients also can be seen as more interested in these cheap companies.

    Reply
    • It’s not about how much you charge, but what value you offer. Sure, some people will only pay that much, but you can find clients that will pay way more.

      Reply
      • Hi Kayla! I recently earned my Virtual Assistant Certificate, but the next steps seem overwhelming. I purchased a laptop for whenever I decide to start up. I live with my parents and pay part of the rent, is having Insurance absolutely necessary for just a laptop, do you think?

        Reply
        • What do you mean? Insurance for your business or on your laptop? I typically recommend both, just in case.

          Reply
  • Hi Kayla,

    Your course is just what I’ve been searching for.

    However, I am in a problematic situation at the moment. My father passed away last month. I am now my sick, elderly mother’s nurse 24/7.

    I have a BA in English Literature and Speech and experience as a high level administrative assistant (in an office.)

    My problem is I have not kept up with current software. I have not used a pc for 10 years, just Android phone, and need to learn Windows 10 and Word, and perhaps Excel which will takes time, if not money that I do not have.

    I have been doing creative writing, my first love.

    If I sign up for your course now, will it expire before I am ready to begin it?

    I regret sounding tragic, but none of us has total control of our lives.

    I am happy for your success.

    Pamela

    Reply
  • Hello,
    I am really good at Excel and Word. Creating documents and spreadsheets. I know how to do payroll and book keeping. What would be my best go to client?

    Reply
  • I’m a PA with over 20 years experience and am looking to become a virtual PA.
    Your article is very informative and answers a lot of the questions I’ve had in this regard and provides very good tips on how to get started. Thank you also for being transparent in relation to the pros and cons of this type of work .

    Reply
  • Hi Kayla,
    I’m looking to start my VA business from Canada, will your 10k VA course help me? Thanks!

    Reply
  • I found this article to be very helpful. Would you have any other suggestions for someone who is interested in starting their own business as a virtual assistant? I do have a full time job but I’m hoping to earn additional income and start my own business.

    Reply
  • Great info! Thanks for being transparent. On #7, WHERE do I post the:
    1. blog and
    2. “Hire Me” page?

    Reply
    • You can use WordPress to start a blog and have your hire me page in the blog itself.

      Reply
  • Kayla, I know there is not a direct amount or easy answer but I have a question. Due to CO-VID19, like many other people, I need to pursue a new career. I have been in business development in gas and oil and that industry has been very up and down and 15 years later, I have decided I have had enough. I wanted to do this a few years ago, but didn’t. In your opinion, with what is going on in the world right now, could one make a good living doing this? I would think it would be the perfect time because of what is going on but I would like your opinion.
    Great information by the way!

    Reply
    • Yes, you can. I’ve actually gotten more job leads than ever, and many of my $10K VA students are booking more clients too. Business doesn’t stop, it just changes, and right now, being online is better than ever.

      Reply
  • Kayla, thank you so much. This is just what I need. My problem now is how to do this and how to market myself whilst on full time job? Thinking of issues of conflict of interest stated in my contract.

    Reply
    • There shouldn’t be a conflict unless you plan on being a direct competitor to your full-time job. Besides that, you can market yourself online via a website or social media, and I highly recommend a more “professional” email!

      Reply

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