It depends on how well you want to get yourself set up. Over my years of running one of Australia’s most prominent, and most popular VA networks, I’ve seen VAs in both situations.
Some are still working, or have savings (or redundancy packages) that have funded their startup business. Others are struggling by and still manage to get off the ground.
Today I want to run through if it’s possible to build a Virtual Assistant business on little or no income.
Like everything in the world, you get what you pay for
Before we get into the rundown of the possible costs of building a VA business, I wanted to say that yes, you could do many of these things yourself, and do it free (if not reasonably cheaply).
But the issue sometimes with free is that it looks cheap and nasty and may not serve in the best interests of your business. You don’t want to come off as an amateur.
For example, if you’ve got a website that looks cheap and doesn’t function, people will notice. And in today’s online world, it’s the tech side like this that people will pay attention to. So, while it’s suitable for a start-out, I’d always look to upgrade your online presence when you can afford to.
As you’re building your business and you’re not as busy, you can do all the business bits you’d outsource later on:
- Social media profile creation and posting
- Copywriting and blogging
- Processes, procedures and streamlining
- And so on
But, as with everything, just because you can, doesn’t always necessarily mean you should – especially if you’re not trained in these areas. When you’re starting, it’s easy to be in the mindset that you need to do it all – a Jill (or Jack) of all trades so to speak.
And that’s fine while you’re building a business. But I guarantee that when you invest in outsourcing these business parts to others, you’ll get bigger rewards.
If you are starting with no income, please don’t copy others.
It’s sad to have to point this out, but if you’re starting on no budget, please don’t think it’s ok to copy someone else.
This is NEVER ok, and in an industry like ours, you will be found out.
I’ve seen it too often – an established VA has paid for work to be completed by an expert, only to have a newer VA feel they can copy the work and take it as their own. It’s not cool, and it’s only showing why you shouldn’t be operating a business.
Not only is it morally wrong, but it’s the best way for you to ruin your business chances before you begin.
So, if you can’t afford to be pay people, make sure you’re doing the work for yourself and not blindly copying others who may have invested money into looking so good online.
The costs of setting up a Virtual Assistant business
There are some unavoidable costs when you’re setting up a VA business:
- Business registration
- Trademarks (if you decide to do this)
- Domain name purchase and website hosting
- Website building (even if doing it yourself as you’ll have templates, plugins etc.)
- Office equipment (desk, chair, computer, laptop, headset etc.)
- Software purchases (Microsoft Office etc.)
- Electricity use, mobile phone and internet usage
And then there are some ‘nice-to-have’ add ons that you may consider:
- Professional branding, including logo creation
- Website design that includes SEO elements
- Copywriting for your new website
- Marketing using a social media manager, online ads expert etc.
- Online software programs such as CRMs, accounting software etc.
- Joining the best VA network around (Virtually Yours) and getting access to jobleads
So, if you look at a list like this, you can see that you will need some money to start a Virtual Assistant business.
But the beauty of a VA business is, once you’re up and running and making money, you’ll find very low overheads.
Ways you can find startup Virtual Assistant business funds
If you’re serious about starting a VA business, there are ways you can get going. Start by checking your local councils to see if they’re offering small business startup grants. You won’t need a massive amount of funds to get going, but you’ll need to cover the basics.
Others have found allowances through job agencies and Centrelink.
You could also start small. See what you can spare in your budget each week, start from the very first step (registering a business name) and work forwards. Baby steps are totally acceptable.
Some other VAs have found their family members are willing to invest in them, helping them with a small loan until they get up and running.
But it’s through running the Virtually Yours network, that I’ve seen some of the best, most generous offers between members. A few of the more established members remember what it’s like to start.
They are now travelling along well (with enough paying clients), that they help out other members at a fraction of the cost of their usual service pricing.
BUT, don’t expect this from members, or from those you haven’t taken the time to get to know.
Remember, business building is also about relationship building. Please get to know others in your networks, and they’re likely to be more helpful.
Running a Virtual Assistant business is not a hobby
To build a successful VA business, I believe you need to take it 100% seriously from the start. Don’t be a scrooge as it won’t work. You will need to have some funds to invest in your business.
And this goes for any business. Startup capital is always needed, especially for an online, virtual business. I mean, you can’t run an online business without an online presence!
In the words of Sir Richard Branson, ‘A big business starts small’.
So just start. Save some money if you must, then start.
If you’d like to join the Virtually Yours network, you can find out more about our membership options online, or give our team a call on 03 9432 6408.
This post was written by Rosie Shilo, founder of Virtually Yours.