The business of being a virtual assistant

A popular industry to be in at the moment, women are the driving force behind it. With low start up costs and the potential for making a profit, a full-time virtual assistant can look at making £27,000 annually.

Start up

If you're already connected to a phone line and the internet, you're almost there to starting your own virtual assistant business. To be taken seriously you'll need your own website which you can purchase for as little as £5.00 per month.

Business cards are a must for networking and getting your name out there.

In addition to having your own pc and internet connection you'll also need equipment such as a phone, usb foot pedal, microsoft office and Express Scribe software. Your skills are key to your business and will help you to specialise in a niche area.

Rates

Rates vary widely within the industry and can go from £20-£60 per hour depending upon the level of expertise offered.

Hours Worked

Working from home gives you the flexibility of using your own time during the day. Bear in mind that you'll have to build your client list before you start working 30 hours per week.

New Prospects

The virtual assistant industry is still growing so you may need to explain more clearly to clients what it is that you do. Competition is high so you'll always be kept on your toes.

Don't be afraid of going out there and finding new business.

Clients hire virtual assistants to save money, so it's a win win situation.

Website Creation

A website can be set and run at a very low cost these days. One of the best webhosts is Hostgator. You can use a free download of Wordpress when you register your account with Hostgator. Wordpress has thousands of templates at your fingertips. It also allows plugins such as Paypal and Send This File. Both important for any Virtual Assistant business.

The Advantages of Using Wordpress

You can choose from a number of free Wordpress themes, that you can customise at no charge.

Accessible

An easy to use system, that anyone can use. If you can setup a Facebook account or send emails, Wordpress offers an easy to use control panel for non-techies.

DIY

Wordpress is in charge of any errors, so you won't need a computer programmer to fix your errors.

Easy Access from Around the World

Even if you live on Tahiti you can access Wordpress, providing your registered as a user.

SEO

You can optimize your search engine results with Wordpress, helping you to be ranked higher on Google.

Domain Name

Purchasing your website address or domain name is recommended and can be purchased for as little as $12 a year. I highly recommend Fasthosts. It pays to shop around if you have a specific name in mind.

Tools and Software

Express Scribe

You can download the free version or purchase the Pro edition of Express Scribe for only $29.99 (£19.22) of. I use the Pro edition because it supports more file formats. The easiest way to control Express Scribe is with a control foot pedal. I recommend the USB Infinity Digital Foot Pedal.

Hot Keys

If you choose to offer audio transcription using Hot Keys can be time consuming and inefficient.

By hitting the wrong key, example F4, this will be speed up your recording by 150% making it too fast to listen to, all of this adds extra time to your job.

Foot Pedal

The foot pedal gives you the freedom with your hands, increasing your productivity.

You can change the settings of your pedal depending on which part of the pedal you want to use to rewind or fast forward.

Send This File

When you accept audio and document files email is not an option. Often files won't turn up because there is too much data going through. I recommend using Send This File. You have a number of options to choose from including purchasing from as little as $4.95 (£3.31) per month.

Services

Audio Transcription

If you're an experienced audio typist, then you can use this skill to offer business and personal clients alike. The industry standard is four hours for every one hour of clearly spoken audio. Skills needed include proofreading and formatting a document, along with understanding what is spoken. Check out my post on the tools and software required for audio transcription.

Copy Typing

Every typist learns by copy typing. So why not include that in your business. Always make sure that you state clearly that you'll only accept work that is legible and easy to read.

Proofreading

A skill you use on a daily basis if your a typist.

Payment Methods

Your website is now setup but you have set up a payment system for your client's to pay you.

You must also remember to keep you personal accounts separate from your business's by setting up a separate business account.

With a little bit of research these are my three recommendations:

Bank Transfer

This method is free, and only requires you putting your business account sort code, account number and name on your website.

Paypal button

If you've ever used to eBay to sell anything, you'll already have a Paypal account. If not, all you to do is open a business account with Paypal and attach your business bank account.

Paypal invoicing

Paypal also include an invoicing service.

Any payment service run by another company will set small charges per transaction. It's worth taking this into consideration when your deciding how much to charge your clients.

Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping is an important part of running any business large or small. Keeping accurate records will keep the taxman from your door, and show you how you stand financially.

Why do you need to keep records?

Records are important for: 1.Monthly takings. 2.By law all businesses are required to keep records for tax returns. 3.Your bank manager, tax man and anyone investing in your company needs to know how your company stands.

Some simple tips to follow:

  • Keep a simple record of your earnings and expenditure
  • Make record keeping a regular habit
  • Keep all of your paperwork or computer records safe
  • Give each invoice a unique number
  • Keep all petty cash receipts •Monitor your taxable turnover
  • Always check your bank statements

If what you've earned in a month is more than what you owe, your business is solvent and can continue trading. If your insolvent you need to ask some important questions. Things like, can you take on more staff?

Employee vs Virtual Assistant

 
Employee
Virtual Assistant
Hourly Rate
£10.00
£18.00
Pension @ 30%
£3.00
None
Overheads @ 60%
£6.00
None
Total Effective Rate of Pay
£19.00
£18.00
Hours Per year
2,080 hrs
480 hrs
Total annual Labour Cost
£39,520.00
£8,640.00
You Save
£30, 880.00 per year
 

Getting your virtual assistant business off the ground won't be easy. Taking that extra time at the beginning and doing the ground work will set you up for a long and successful career, with flexibility of time and being your own boss.

Learn more about starting your business here

So go on take the plunge!

© 2013 Helen Bolam

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