With COVID-19 lockdowns ending in many areas, executive and administrative assistants are questioning if they want to return to an office environment. Most professionals have always dreamt of leaving their corporate job and being their own boss. The pandemic has given these professionals a taste of working remotely which has prompted many of them to take the opportunity to launch their own VA business. The startup costs are low, and you can get up and running very quickly with just a desk, a computer, and an internet connection.
Here are our top three tips for setting out on your own entrepreneurial journey.
1. You don’t need a niche to launch your business – your niche will find you.
Many VAs have found a niche service or market that enables them to charge a premium for their services. If you haven’t identified your niche yet, don’t worry, your niche will find you! Launch your business as a generalist VA, this service is high in demand. Each client you work with will offer exposure to new industries, programs and skills. Not only can this be added to your experience and service offerings – but this is generally how a VA will find their niche.
Clients will ask you to take on projects that require new types of work you have never done before. Each new assignment will expand your skills. You will find that you are good at doing things you may never have considered before. When you enjoy the work and your clients enjoy the results, more work that requires your new skills will find its way to you. Finding your niche is not a pre-requisite; it’s something that happens naturally along the journey. If you want to begin exploring ideas, though, here’s a good place to start.
2. Get the right kind of workspace.
The freedom and flexibility to work from anywhere is one of the biggest benefits of being a VA. Many people who are leaving their corporate jobs to strike out on their own are drawn to the idea of being able to work remotely while they live their dream life in an RV or some exciting place they’ve always wanted to live.
If you’ve been working from home since COVID started, you already know that your dining room table is not a good place to work long-term. Whether you’re going to be mobile, moving, or staying put, you must have a dedicated workspace that supports healthy work habits, as well as your physical health. Keep that in mind if you are looking for a new place to accommodate your permanent work-from-home lifestyle.
3. Take advantage of the right professional development and networking opportunities.
Traditional networking is essential. The goal is to meet two kinds of people: those you would like to work with, and those who can introduce you to people you want to work with. Find out what groups your ideal client belongs to and what networking events they attend, and then go there. You don’t have to be sales-y. Just have a good elevator pitch and be ready with it when someone asks what you do. From there, conversations will flow and doors will begin to open up if you are in the right group of people.
Professional development and networking are also crucial components of building a successful virtual practice. Membership in a virtual assistants association can help you maximize your opportunities for both. Organizations like IVAA provide learning and networking opportunities that will help you develop the hard skills and soft skills needed for professional and personal growth. The knowledge you’ll gain and the camaraderie of being part of a professional community of peers will give you more confidence and help you make progress faster. You can even find new clients this way, since many VAs and freelancers hire subcontractors to help with their workload.
If you’re considering starting your own VA business, IVAA offers the opportunity to speak to successful VAs who have been where you are. Coffee Chat is free and open to anyone – you don’t have to be a member to join. You can chat with other VAs, share best practices, and get answers to your most pressing questions. Coffee Chat is hosted every Monday – the time alternates weekly at either 10:00 am Eastern or 5:00 pm Eastern. Click here to visit the IVAA calendar to register.