Here are VACT Limited, we have trained and helped 1,000’s of VAs to each launch their own successful VA business over the past 16 or so years. Whether they come from a PA or secretarial background, are currently still working or have just been made redundant and want to start their own, work-from-home business, all new VAs have a host of questions they need answered – so I thought it would be a good opportunity to provide a recap on the most commonly asked questions and answers, in this week’s blog post.

What tools and equipment do I need to get started?

The great thing about starting your own VA business is you really don’t need much, to get up and running. This means your overheads will be very low and you’ll be making profit pretty much from your first client. The only things you need are:

  • A computer
  • A dedicated landline or mobile

If, however, you want to make life a bit easier for yourself, it’s also nice to have:

  • Skype or Zoom
  • Time tracking software
  • Accounting software
  • A file sharing program, such as Dropbox or Google Docs

What business model should I use?

There is no ‘should’ in this answer – it really depends on what suits you best. Your two main options are sole trader or limited company. It’s easier to set up as a sole trader – you just need to tell HM Revenue and Customs and sign up for self-assessment tax and National Insurance. A Limited Company, on the other hand, is more complicated – but it also means your business affairs are separate to your personal affairs – so you don’t have to worry about losing your personal assets if you get into debt, you only lose the money you’ve invested.  Check out this blog from Sally Farrant on which is right Sole Trader or Limited Company. 

The important thing to remember, is to thoroughly research both options, prior to making your final decision.

What insurance do I need?

Before you work with any client, you need to have insurance in place – not only to protect your business and reputation, but to also provide added piece of mind for your clients. You need to have both Professional Indemnity and Public Liability insurances in place, before you work with clients.    This guest blog from PolicyBee might help you work out what is right for your business:

We’re really pleased to have teamed up with professional insurance broker PolicyBee. And since that means 10% off your professional indemnity insurance, you’ll be pretty pleased too!  For a quick online quote visit, or call a jargon-busting adviser on 0345 222 5370.

We also have a few more guest blogs from PolicyBee so I would take a few minutes to catch up with those.

All people who collect and store data have to register with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), (unless they are exempt – take the online assessment to find out this applies to you).  There is a lot more involved now what with GDPR and you should definitely register for data protection and understand the specifics of looking after data.  It’s £40 per annum or £35 if paid by direct debit. when you go on their site to register they have an online test, depending how you answer the questions will be whether you need to register or not. I encourage you to register for the re-assurance to your clients you know how to handle data.

How much should I charge?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions new VAs have. The typical hourly rate is £25-£40 per hour for VAs who are undergoing the VA Mastery Course, however most VAs will have a sliding scale of charges depending on the way in which they sell their services; i.e. packages, retainers, prepay and/or charging hourly.  We cannot tell you what to charge, all I can share is the rates others within the VACT communities are charging.  You could check out the annual survey from the Society of Virtual Assistants to get a better understanding of the rates other VAs charge in your geographic area.  But there is no right or wrong answer here – it’s charge your worth. 

How do I find clients?

Clients are the lifeblood of any business, so it’s understandable that most new VAs want to know how to get more of them! Getting new clients in is all about building relationships. People only work with those they know, like and trust, so you need to focus on building on this, and that takes time.  Probably the number one question I get asked every day – how do I find clients?  We have 100’s of blogs on this subject but I would start with this one: How to get your first client as a Virtual Assistant.

There are different ways you can build relationships, however the most important thing to remember is don’t focus on selling and pushing!

Starting out as a new VA can seem huge; you still have basic questions that need answering, yet you also need to learn how to launch and grow your business. This is why we created our VA Momentum course. It starts from £499+VAT and you’ll receive everything you need to set up and launch, 6 modules AND you’ll get valuable feedback on your submitted modules, monthly training webinars, access to the past back catalogue of training online support, via our private (and active!) Facebook group. And it’s all CPD accredited by the CPD Standards Office.