Setting Up a Virtual Assistant Business

Setting Up a Virtual Assistant Business

Setting up a Virtual Assistant Business:
What You Need to Know

It’s overwhelming isn’t it?

All the information on the web about setting up a virtual assistant business.

There are pages and pages of it!

It can be overwhelming and confusing.

It’s hard to know what to do first or where to start.

I remember what it was like when I started out way back in 2009.

I found tons of helpful information.

But the problem was… it was not a complete system or process.

I had to try and put all the information together myself and hope I had it right.

Sometimes I did and sometimes I didn’t.

It took lots of trial and error AND time to figure out what I needed and in what order.

To help you avoid the same mistakes that I made, I thought I would share my system.

I’m creating a series of blog posts on how to set up a virtual assistant business.

Everything you need to know laid out in a simple, step-by-step system. (Something I wish I had when I first started).

In this first blog post, I’ll be sharing an overview of the steps & processes you need to get your VA business up and running.

So, let’s get started.

First, you need a plan.

A plan for how and when you’re going to do the work needed to make it happen.

Second, you need to know what it takes.

It takes hard work to set up and launch a VA business.

You can do it in 5 days, 14 days or 90 days, if you have a system.

The timeline is up to you.

And, you need to have skills that clients want.

Just like in the job world, it’s all about the skills and expertise you have.

You need to look at your current skill set and how you can use it to your advantage.

You don’t need any special Certification to be successful.

And, third you need to take action.

You need to implement your key business systems.

These systems are the foundation of your business.

Without them, your business is on shaky ground.

And… a business is a system.

Here are the 4 key business systems you need to implement:
  • Business
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Delivery

We will be diving into each one of these key systems, along with planning and understanding what it takes to set up a Virtual Assistant business in this blog series.

For the next blog post, we are focusing on creating a plan for how and when you’re going to do the work needed to get your VA business off the ground. You can read it by clicking here.

Do you have plan for setting up a Virtual Assistant Business?

I’d love to know if you do!

Feel free to post below and let me know what action you’re taking today to set up your VA biz.

All comments + questions are welcome.

If you know someone who might benefit from this information, please share. You can use the share buttons below the post.

Here are a few related blog posts that might be of interest:

  1. Virtual Assistant Certifications + Why You Don’t Need One
  2. VA Coaching & Training 101 + What You Need To Watch Out For
  3. Virtual Assistant Systems + What You Need To Know
  4. Virtual Assistant Business Plan + What You Need In Your Plan

Oh… and each week I host an Open Mic Session in my VA Tips & Tricks Facebook Group where I deep dive specific topics & answer your questions, be sure to join us for the next one – it’s FREE! Go to http://bit.ly/vatipstricks.

Thanks for reading – Susan

Don’t forget to leave a comment if you found this information useful – I’d love to hear from you!

How To Create Your Virtual Assistant Packages

How To Create Your Virtual Assistant Packages

Creating Your Virtual Assistant Packages:
what you need to know

By offering Virtual Assistant packages you are paid for your expertise and NOT your time.

First let’s start with the differences between a retainer and a package.

Do you know the difference?

One of the things that drives me crazy about the VA Industry is there are no standard definitions and terms. And… coming from both the IT and Project Management worlds, I love standards.

I see the use of retainers and packages being mixed and I believe it starts to cause some confusion, especially for those new to the industry.

So… Since I get asked frequently, “What’s the difference between a retainer and a package?” I decided to do a blog post all about it.

Here are my definitions for retainers and packages – the same ones I used in my business.

Retainers:

  • Are buckets of hours.
  • Are billed prior to the work being started.
  • Can be used for any tasks (they’re getting a blended rate… keep reading for more on this.)
  • Must track your time.
  • Has an expiration date.
  • The client pays for your time.

A Retainer is a pre-paid bucket of hours that can be used for any tasks your clients need. The client dictates what the hours are used for and are paying for your time vs. your expertise.

Retainers are normally billed at the beginning of the month and have an expiration date of anywhere from 30 to 90 days from invoice date.

Time is tracked on all the tasks completed against the retainer and the client is given a report showing how the hours were used.

Well… sometimes clients may question why it took so long to complete a specific task when they see your monthly report (especially if you do a number of different things for them).

It’s because they:

  • Don’t understand how long it takes to do a specific task.
  • Don’t know all the steps involved.
  • Are looking at the time involved instead of the expertise.
  • Bought your time not your expertise.

And… for some reason time seems to be worth more than expertise. It’s a perception.

Now, retainers are great if you only do one type of work for a client (using only one expertise).

But… If you’re doing more than one thing then you’re getting paid one flat rate for doing multiple types of work that could include several different types of expertise. This is known as a blended rate.

I know I don’t want to be paid the same rate I would charge for data entry if I were setting up campaigns in Infusionsoft. They require vastly different skills.

Infusionsoft is a beast and takes time to master… data entry is fairly simple and almost anyone can do it.

So… if you’re doing a variety of skills for clients and only charging them one rate, say $40 an hour, you’re leaving money on the table.

Sure you could charge different hourly rates for different skills but that’s a nightmare to track and manage.

A much easier way is to offer packages based on the expertise provided. This takes the time element out of it and clients have a much better understanding of what they’re getting for their money.

So, if you’re still reading, I’m guessing you’re interested in learning more about packages.

Let’s talk packages!

Virtual Assistant Packages:

  • Deliver a specific set of items or deliverables.
  • Have a fixed price.
  • Have a specific deadline.
  • Don’t require you to track your time.
  • Are invoiced 50% up front and 50% on delivery (or you could invoice for the whole package upfront – your business so it’s your choice).
  • The client pays for your expertise.

A Package is a set of deliverables (tasks) based on an expertise such as creating a WordPress website, implementing 1ShoppingCart, or sending out a monthly e-zine. Clients are paying you for a specific expertise.

Packages are billed either all up front or 50% prior to the start and then the remaining 50% on delivery.

They are for a fixed price and have a specific deadline.

Clients understand exactly what they’re getting and what they’re paying for.

Virtual Assistant Packages are based on expertise.

For some reason there is a perception that people who charge by the hour get paid less than those that work with packages. I believe it’s because time seems less valuable than a specific expertise (even though we all know time is extremely valuable). Again… it’s a perception.

The beauty of packages is you can define them by your expertise AND control exactly what is included. If you have several different types of expertise, you can offer several different packages showcasing each and every one.

Voila… You now have multiple income streams!

Keep in mind you can package anything as long as you quantify all the pieces.

What do I mean?

Let’s say you want to create a package for email management.

You’d want to quantify the number of emails you would respond to in a specific amount of time.

For example…

  • Up to 50 emails per day for $25.00 (example rate).
  • Up to 100 emails a week for $75.00 (example rate).
  • Up to 1,000 emails per month for $150.00 (example rate).

You may have noticed that I said “up to” instead of just a number. It just makes it easier if you only do say 40 in a week, it all works out in the averages.

Here’s another example…

  • Say you create a package for monthly blog posts.
  • Up to 4 blog posts per month (content provided by client):
  • Proofing of each post
  • Adding up to 2 images provided by client
  • Adding up to 5 keywords provided by client
  • Scheduling each post
  • Sharing on 3 social media platforms using Buffer App
  • Package Price is $300.00.

Your clients understand what they’re getting and for how much. It’s clear what expertise they’re paying for.

It’s very important to be as detailed as possible when putting together your packages. You don’t want any grey areas.

Oh and… You can’t package something you’ve never done before. You need to know all the tasks involved and how long it takes to complete it.

It’s essential for pricing and delivering your packages.

So…what about package pricing?

First… you need to know:

  • All the tasks involved in the package.
  • How long it takes to complete the package.

That’s why I mentioned you couldn’t package something you’ve never done.

Second, pricing is an art and a science.

It’s not about taking your hourly rate and multiplying it by the time it takes to complete the package. This is what many people teach.

The problem with that method is most Virtual Assistants don’t charge enough and it’s not about time, it’s about delivering expertise and value.

I can’t tell you what to charge… that’s why I say it’s an art and a science.

But… you can start with the hourly rate x amount of time and then add 25% to it.

For example – $30 x 45 hours = $1,350 + 25% = $1,687.50

Why 25%… it’s a place to start to add the value and expertise your package delivers.

But… you have to believe you’re worth and what you’re charging which is a whole different conversation.

Before you can put a price on any package you need to know how much you need to earn. That is the baseline number you should be starting with.

I used both retainers and packages in my business. Remember, your business – your choice. Do what works best for you and your clients.

Are you ready to create your Virtual Assistant Packages?

Feel free to post below and let me know what action your taking today to create your service packages.

I’d love to here from you.

All comments + questions are welcome.

If you know someone who might benefit from this information, please share. You can use the share buttons below the post.

HERE ARE A FEW RELATED BLOG POSTS THAT MIGHT BE OF INTEREST:

  1. 5 Ways To Get Clients For Your VA Biz
  2. What Do I Charge For My Services 
  3. Tips On Managing Your Time

Oh… and each week I host an Open Mic Session in my VA Tips & Tricks Facebook Group where I deep dive specific topics & answer your questions, be sure to join us for the next one – it’s FREE! Go to http://bit.ly/vatipstricks.

Thanks for reading – Susan

Don’t forget to leave a comment if you found this information useful – I’d love to hear from you!

7 Tips to Grow Your Online Following AKA List!

7 Tips to Grow Your Online Following AKA List!

Tips To Grow Your List

Did you know that most Virtual Assistants (really ALL Solopreneurs) do not spend enough time generating leads + building a quality list?

It is crucial to spend time DAILY marketing your business to grow your list!

What’s a list?

It’s a list of both clients + prospects that are interested in you and your business.

Did you know that it’s easier to drive prospects to a “Free Offer” than drive them directly to a sale.  

Do you have a free offer on your website? Something showcases your expertise and solves a problem for your target?

If not – it’s time!!  

Almost ALL of your marketing efforts to any prospective client should be to get them on your list, and what better way than to have a Fabulous Free Offer!

Why is your “list” so important you ask?  

It’s simple….your list provides:

  • Future long-term income
  • Life & health for your business
  • Prospects the benefit of getting to know, like & trust you

No list…no pipeline!! – No pipeline…no future business!!

If you don’t have a list – it’s time to get started.  Here are 7 tips to help you start and grow your online following:

  1. Free Offer – Create a fabulous free offer that shares your expertise and passion.  Most importantly give them a taste of what you offer and leave them wanting more.
  2. Teleseminar/Telesummit/Webinar – Hold a monthly teleseminar or webinar and post it on social media, forums and anywhere else your ideal client hangs out.  This is a great way to build your list quickly!
  3. Blogging – Blog at least once a week and share your blog on social media, forums and anywhere else your ideal client hangs out!
  4. Social Media – Join Linked In and Facebook Groups and start a conversation, share your expertise, give advice, offer support.
  5. Speaking – Stand up and be heard!  Find a local club or networking group and volunteer to speak at one of their events.  This is a great way to build credibility and your list!
  6. Live Events – Go to live events such as networking meetings, seminars and conferences.  Be bold and get yourself noticed.  Participate!
  7. Testimonials – Give testimonials for your clients and include your name and a link to your website!

Take time each day to market yourself and grow your online following. Start NOW.

Block out at least 15 minutes a day on your calendar and before you know it you’ll have a list of growing fans!

Have a “freebie” is the first step in your Sales Funnel.

Make it a great one!

What do you think?

Feel free to post below and let me know what action your taking today to start growing your list.

I’d love to here from you.

All comments + questions are welcome.

If you know someone who might benefit from this information, please share. You can use the share buttons below the post.

HERE ARE A FEW RELATED BLOG POSTS THAT MIGHT BE OF INTEREST:

  1. Sales Funnels + The What & Why
  2. Are They Aware + Does Your Target Know You Exist
  3. 5 Awesome Ideas For Your Freebie
  4. Don’t Call Yourself a “VA”

Oh… and each week I host an Open Mic Session in my VA Tips & Tricks Facebook Group where I deep dive specific topics & answer your questions, be sure to join us for the next one – it’s FREE! Go to http://bit.ly/vatipstricks.

Thanks for reading – Susan

Don’t forget to leave a comment if you found this information useful – I’d love to hear from you!

5 Awesome Ideas For Your Freebie

5 Awesome Ideas For Your Freebie

Here Are Some Ideas For Your Freebie

Virtual Assistants often ask me, “Do I really need to have a Free Offer aka Lead Magnet on my website“?

And, my answer is always the same, “Yes you do“.

Why?

Because you need a method to attract prospects.

Yes, even a Virtual Assistant business needs a sales pipeline!

Then the next question comes… “Well, what should I create“?

The whole idea of having to create something scares many people – I know it did me when I first started out.

I’m a chronic over-thinker (anyone else have this problem) so, I ended up researching too much (another problem of mine – love to do research), and ended up overwhelmed and confused.

Does it really have to be this hard to create something, I thought.

Turns out, I was making it much harder than it needed to be. Once I stopped thinking about it, I realized I just needed a simple way to share my expertise.

The beauty of a freebie, is in it’s simplicity.

It doesn’t have to be hard to create or share.

It can be simple, even just a one page checklist.

Remember… it’s all about the VALUE.

What can you show, teach or give that will give your potential subscribers incredible value?

What to Create?

Create a freebie that showcases your expertise to your Target Market.

What is one of their biggest issues or pain points?

Not sure, ask them.

Do a survey and share it with your clients.

Don’t have any clients, find your Target Market online and ask them to fill out a simple survey.

Then take action on the results. How can you solve it? Pick a topic and get started.

Here are 5 awesome ideas for creating a freebie.

Simply, take your topic and create one of these items. Go with what suits you. Don’t be afraid to share your brilliance!

  1. A Simple Checklist – people love checklists! Take your topic and create a one page checklist on how to use it or why it’s important.
  2. An Infographic – perfect for those of us who are visual. Take your topic and create a graphic or flow chart of the steps in a process or instructions. You can even compare items.
  3. A Video or Audio Series – great for teaching and how to’s. You could break down the steps into individual videos or audios of “how to’s”. Deliver them over a series of days or weeks via an Auto-Responder or Sequence.
  4. A Resource List – similar to a checklist but this gives a list of handy tools, short cuts, etc. What tools does your Target Industry use or need to know more about?
  5. A How To Ebook, Guide or PDF – expand your simple checklist into a “How To” Ebook, PDF or Guide. These are also great for expanding on your expertise and the solutions you provide.

Remember, your Freebie isn’t about you – it’s about what you do for your clients.

The problems you solve, the solutions you provide, the transformation that happens to your client’s business when they work with you.

Oh, and a quick note. You’ll need to have an Email Marketing program to capture the names of the people who sign up. Mail Chimp or Mad Mimi are two great options when just starting out. But, you’ll need to create your Freebie first.

Do you have a Freebie?

Please add a link in the Comments below to share it!

Feel free to post below and let me know what action your taking today to create your awesome freebie.

I’d love to hear from you!

All comments + questions are welcome.

If you know someone who might benefit from this information, please share. You can use the share buttons below the post.

HERE ARE A FEW RELATED BLOG POSTS THAT MIGHT BE OF INTEREST:

  1. Sales Funnels – The What + Why
  2. How Is Your Focus
  3. Tips To Build Your List

Oh… and each week I host an Open Mic Session in my VA Tips & Tricks Facebook Group where I deep dive specific topics & answer your questions, be sure to join us for the next one – it’s FREE! Go to http://bit.ly/vatipstricks.

Thanks for reading – Susan

Don’t forget to leave a comment if you found this information useful – I’d love to hear from you!

Do You Have A Trusted Partner™

Do You Have A Trusted Partner™

You Need a Trusted Partner

If you are a solo Virtual Assistant, having a trusted partner or partners is a must.

So, what is a Trusted Partner™?

A trusted partner is someone who can step into your business and essentially be you when you want or need to take time away from your business.

Why do you need one?

What happens when you get sick or have an emergency and need to be out of the office for more than a day or two? Your clients may have tasks or deadlines that need to be handled. Do you have someone who can step in and assist your clients?

I remember when I got a nasty bug that laid me up for a week. I was worried about the looming deadlines and my client’s needs. I actually lost a client during that time because she had a product launch and I was unavailable. She needed someone to help her so, she found another Virtual Assistant to fill in and complete the tasks.

After I got back to work, I decided I needed to find a partner who could step in and handle my business when I was unavailable.

And the Trusted Partner™ was born!

Where do you find one?

I reached out to a few colleagues that I had worked with in the past and asked them if they would be interested in being each others “Trusted Partner™“. These were Virtual Assistants that I had worked with on a team or who had done sub-contractor work for me.

The most important thing is to find someone you know and trust who has similar skills to you. That way they can handle any of the tasks that may come their way.

How do you use them?

Once you’ve found your partners, be sure to let your client’s know about them and how you are using them in your business.

I introduced my “Trusted Partners™” to my clients and explained how the entire process worked. My “Trusted Partners™” were only for filling in for me when I was unavailable for extended periods of time (3 days or more) – not for any other reason.

Be sure to add the exact process for working with your “Trusted Partners™” to your business policies document and discuss it with your clients. This way they are clear on how and when to use them. Also, add your Trusted Partners™ contact information and skills to your business policies document.

Having a Trusted Partner™ gives your clients peace of mind knowing they have someone they can reach out to if they need anything while you are unavailable. It makes a huge difference between keeping and losing clients.

Here is a quick checklist to help you get started finding your Trusted Partners™!

Trusted Partner™ Checklist

  1.  Reach out to people you trust. These can be people you have worked with on a team, met on social media or were in a course together. I recommend finding two or more.
  2. Be sure they have similar skills as you. Remember, they are going to be stepping into your business and acting as you while you are unavailable. This means that they need to understand how you run your business.
  3. Decide on whether or not you are going to pay your partners. Sometimes we paid each other, other times we just bartered for each other’s services. This is something you need to work out together. And, be sure to get it all in writing!
  4. Work with your trusted partners to create the process you use when an emergency happens and you have to be out of the office.
  5. Train your trusted partners in how you work with clients and the tools that you use (great time to have an operations manual). 
  6. Add the trusted partner process to your business policies document and share it with your clients.
  7. Make an introduction to your clients and make sure they understand the process for working with your trusted partners.

When was the last time you truly unplugged from your business? I’d love to know.

Do you have a Trusted Partner™?

I’d love to know!

All comments + questions are welcome.

Feel free to post below and let me know what action you’re taking today to find a Trusted Partner for your business.

If you know someone who might benefit from this information, please share. You can use the share buttons below the post.

HERE ARE A FEW RELATED BLOG POSTS THAT MIGHT BE OF INTEREST:

  1. Getting Organized
  2. Changing Your Employee Mindset
  3. Start Working With Clients

Oh… and each week I host an Open Mic Session in my VA Tips & Tricks Facebook Group where I deep dive specific topics & answer your questions, be sure to join us for the next one – it’s FREE! Go to http://bit.ly/vatipstricks.

Thanks for reading – Susan

Don’t forget to leave a comment if you found this information useful – I’d love to hear from you!

Stay Focused when Life Gets in the Way

Stay Focused when Life Gets in the Way

Staying Focused

I don’t know about you, but the first quarter of 2018 has been a challenge for me.

Why?

Because life got in the way of my business.

Has this happened to you?

Between a lingering illness and family issues my first quarter goals went unachieved and are now second quarter goals.

I have to admit I was angry, disappointed and discouraged… but I know it’s all part of the journey on the path to achieving my dreams.

It’s easy to get discouraged when you look at everything you planned to do and got ZERO accomplished, and you have to keep pushing out your deadlines. Not fun!

But… it’s important to stay the course. Every step forward is a step closer to your dreams.

So, you may have a mis-step or even a back step but don’t let it stop you. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back on the horse. For only you can make your dreams a reality.

Stop letting life get in the way. Try a few of these helpful tips:

  1. Look at how far you’ve already come. You wouldn’t have made it this far if you let life stop you.
  2. If you have a Success Jar, read what you’ve accomplished. If you don’t have one – create one. Here is a blog post all about them.
  3. Stop beating yourself up because you’re not where you “should” be yet.
  4. Don’t compare yourself to others or where they are in their journey. They have their path and you have yours.
  5. Never stop trying. You’re not alone in your struggle – everyone has to deal with distractions.
  6. Your thoughts determine how you feel. If you think you’re overwhelmed, you will feel it. Work on changing your thoughts.
  7. Ask yourself “What’s the alternative?” In other words, what will I do if I stop trying? Will I achieve my dreams? As Jiminy Cricket said “Let your conscience be your guide.”
  8. Unplug for a day or two. Sometimes getting away from it all is the best cure.
  9. And remember… you’re important; without you there is no business. Take care of you!

How do you handle life’s hiccups?

I’d love to here your comments. Please take a moment to leave me a comment and share your thoughts.

Please share if you know someone who might benefit from this information. The share buttons are below the post.

Oh… and each week I host an Open Mic Session in my VA Tips & Tricks Facebook Group where I deep dive specific topics & answer your questions, be sure to join us for the next one – http://bit.ly/vatipstricks

Thanks for reading!

Enjoy your day – Susan

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