We set up your own business as a virtual assistant, one of the first things you have to decide, is what services are you are going to offer. Like most businesses, this can be one of the fun aspects of starting from scratch and being your boss. However, at some point, you’re going to need to earn money, and this is when your creative skills are going to have to come to the forefront.
When I started as a virtual assistant in 2005, I was determined only to do the jobs that I wanted to do. I’d worked in the corporate arena for many years. I knew the majority of office tasks that businesses would need. I also knew the tasks that I didn’t particularly enjoy doing. It was therefore easy not to offer those tasks.
Nevertheless one of my first clients asked if I would undertake telephone answering for him. Having no income coming at att at this time, I jumped at the task. It is only with hindsight that we can look back upon the tasks that we do and decide whether they are good or bad. The decision to answer his phone calls directed the way myPA operated ever since.
My client wanted me to answer the telephone for his business when he couldn’t. That meant I had to be in the office from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. On the whole, for a small business that sounds like a good idea. I am at my desk, growing my business and earning money. However, offering a telephone answering service that only pays when you answer the telephone is hugely limiting. I found that I was sitting in my office and the phone only rang once a day. That meant that I was in the position to invoice for one telephone call. If I charged £250 per call that would be fantastic and I earnt £250 that day. However, the majority of telephone answering fees are circa £1 per call. That meant I was sitting at my desk all day waiting for a telephone call and earnt £1.
As a result of this contract, I had to find other work, that would mean I earnt an income while I stayed at my desk, nine till five. This meant that I answered more telephones calls for additional people. I was, therefore, making my desk job financially viable. However, as a small business, I need to go out and network and earn more money. That meant I had to employ staff. Employing staff means paying national insurance, holiday pay, sick pay and now pensions. All these increases in outgoings meant that they had to earn more incoming. It then becomes a vicious circle. I employed staff to answer a phone when I wasn’t there which meant I had to go out and earn more money to pay the salaries of the staff I was employing so that I could go out
What services should a Virtual Assistant offer? Those that you enjoy and are good at. Those that will give you a good return for your hard work and are profitable.
I’m not saying that answering telephones is a bad service to offer, but you do need to make sure you have the infrastructure in place to make sure that the service becomes financially viable for you. Selecting the services, you offer as a virtual assistant is vitally important. You need to understand the ramifications of their services. Having said that, if the infrastructure is in place and you offer a time-consuming service that requires additional staff and you make a decent profit than the service is of benefit you and your business.
When setting up your virtual PA business always remember that the first client is your business. The services you offer hax to be rewarding to you and your business emotionally, financially and suit your skill set.