Here are some things you need to consider before you decide to start a business. We in no way want to discourage you from following your dream. However, we want you to be aware of these considerations, make sure they are not a problem, or if there is a problem, it’s one that you can deal with and have the solution for prior to that starting date.
Even though your pay rate might be higher if you work at home, which it definitely should be, you won’t have paid benefits, a pension plan, sick days, paid holidays, and other traditional employee perks. You will also be responsible for your own taxes. Let’s examine some of these.
Taxes. You will be responsible for your own taxes. It’s important to be able to put money aside regularly for this. At some point, you will probably need to be paying quarterly taxes. You need to be disciplined to doing this. Many fall into this trap. You will be receiving a check for the work done. If you continually spend that full amount, come tax-time, you won’t have the money put aside that you will need to pay your taxes and then your wonderful business becomes an overnight nightmare.
Insurance. For many you don’t need to worry about insurance, as you will be covered under your spouse’s plan. However, if this is not the case, then it is a consideration that you want to address prior to starting your business. I know many insurance plans for a couple and one child can run $500.00 to $600.00 a month. That is a major expense. We go more into detail later on in this book. However, for this chapter, this is another consideration.
Time. You have to be disciplined. Many find it hard to leave work when it is only a few feet away or right down the hall. Most of the time, you can still hear the phone ringing and the tendency is to go look and see whose calling. What if you didn’t finish something? Can you let it go and enjoy dinner with the family? These are things you want to address. You’ll find that those “just a few minutes” add up. Soon you’re spending the night in your office and your family is feeling neglected.
Family Support. Your decision to be self-employed is something that you should discuss in detail with all family members, not just your spouse, as it does affect everyone. Naturally, more time should be spent with your spouse. Don’t get defensive. Keep in mind that although this is your dream come true; to them this is a paycheck that isn’t coming in, a different lifestyle than they are accustomed to, and perhaps sacrifices that they aren’t ready to make. If you go into this as a team, your chances of success are all the greater.
Are you VA Material?
With the right motivation, most CAN succeed (especially with the help of Virtual Assistant – The Series) However, if you’re of the opinion that, “Well, I own a computer, I have access to the Internet, and I own a few software programs with a printer—I can be a virtual assistant, everyone else is doing it,” then you have to question the motivation for becoming a VA.
The dream of owning your own business and the freedom that comes along with it can sometimes cloud the reality that we might not be choosing the right business to start. Now is the time to do some real soul-searching and determine if becoming a VA is really what you want to do in life. A better way to look at it is to ask yourself, “If money were no object, am I choosing a career that allows me to do what I love to do?” Further, when you choose to start your own business it should not be considered a hobby. Yes, you might start part-time, but the commitment and desire for being a long-term viable business is highly important. If you don’t take your business seriously, how can you expect others to do the same?
The virtual assistant industry is rapidly expanding and the desire to become a virtual assistant is fast becoming reality for a great many people. For this, we are thrilled. But, how many of those businesses are still around after six months, a year, or even two years? Did those who didn’t make it take their business seriously? Did they constantly improve their skills, seek the proper training, and partake in the necessary networking opportunities? We have to remember that other professionals rely on us to help their business grow. Are you ready for that responsibility?
Not only do you need to have the skills to handle the services you will offer, but you must also have what it takes to be an entrepreneur. Let’s first take a look at the characteristics of an entrepreneur:
- Do you have a desire to achieve?
- Are you willing to take risks?
- Do you possess self-confidence?
- Do you have a “passion for the business?”
- Can you accept challenges?
- Do you strive to be the best?
Next, consider the following personal traits
- Are you a self-starter?
- Do you like to work with dynamic people?
- Are you confident about your ability to get the job done?
- Are you creative?
- Can you adapt to rapid change?
- Do you have good problem-solving skills?
- Can you set goals and follow them to completion?
- Can you handle multiple tasks at one time?
- Can you anticipate the needs of others?
- Are you a leader?
- Can you learn from your past mistakes?
- Can you work through problems and not dwell on them?
How did you do? Now would be a good time to ask yourself what additional positive traits you have and how you can best put them to use.
Here are some things you might ask yourself when you’re contemplating whether or not to start a VA practice:
- Are you a good time manager? The impact of those two words will amaze you. Talk to any virtual assistant in business today and they will tell you just what an impact it can have on your business. You have to know how to manage your time. DEADLINES!! INTERRUPTIONS!! FAMILY CRISES!! SHOPPING!!! (Only kidding, just wanted to see if you were listening!) It’s crucial to have your day planned out in advance. You need to be the type of person who can do this.
- Do you have excellent typing and proofing skills? This is very important to your business. You are your business; therefore, you want to do your absolute best in ensuring that all documents are as close to perfection as possible. That includes correspondence with potential or existing clients, as well as your VA associates. Don’t feel that you need to be a super fast typist – that’s not necessary. The main key is to be a good typist and a good proofreader. Your speed will increase with time.
- Do you already know several people who could utilize your services? Many VAs are fortunate to already know clients who want to utilize their services. It can be past employers, friends or acquaintances at church. This is definitely an added plus because you then have money coming in immediately.
- Are you capable of making a great income and will stop at nothing to make it happen? I always knew when I was working at my secretarial positions that I should be making more than I was, and I wanted to make more. However, in the typical secretarial jobs you were lucky to get a $1.00 to $2.00 raise a year. I loved it when I was finally able to tell people that I was making $30.00/hr. Now that’s what I’m worth. How about you? With your skills and experience, how much do you think you’re worth?
- Do you enjoy helping people? What a wonderful feeling it is to help other businesses succeed. I have always targeted new businesses and in doing so I am able to see them grow and become great successes. My experience enables me to help develop their business image in a positive manner.
Naturally, the more skills you have, the better off you are. However, keep in mind that you can customize your business to fit your individual skills. The good thing about owning your own VA business is you get to choose your clients. What clients could best use your particular skills?
If you are re-entering the workforce after an extended leave, you might find that a few of your skills are a little rusty, but you still excel in other areas. Start off by offering only those services you excel in while you catch up on those rusty skills, and learn some new ones.
You may find that your skills are right but you’re just not sure how to approach the virtual assistant industry without the proper training. There are a great number of training resources dedicated to becoming a virtual assistant. We recommend Virtual Assistance U. More on Training…