Getting Started

Which entity is best?

There are several different legal structures from which you can choose to set up your business. These are the sole proprietorship , the partnership , the LLC, and the corporation. Each has its own particular advantages and disadvantages, depending on your situation.

Bernard Kamoroff states is his book, Small Time Operator , “ There are over 20 million small businesses in this country, and most of them are sole proprietorships.” In researching for this book, I found that many VAs set up their business as a sole proprietorship . I believe that’s because it’s the easiest to set up and also the easiest to keep records for. With a sole proprietorship, you simply start doing business. This allows you the opportunity to make the decisions, run the business, keep the profits, and requires less legal requirements. As long as you run an honest business, keep good records, and pay your taxes, most VAs should be fine as a sole proprietorship. However, this is one business decision each individual VA should make for their VA business. In addition to the information provided here, go online to the message boards, attend chats, and talk with others. It will just provide the added confidence you might need to make the right choice.

Choosing a business name

Choosing a name for your business is an important business decision. Just think, every letter that goes out, every card that will be printed, every piece of letterhead that you utilize, will bear that name. Will it adequately describe you and your business?

The business name you choose should be able to enhance your business image. Your name needs to clearly express what services you provide and not limit you if you choose to expand the business into other areas, which can hold you back from achieving your full potential in those areas.

You want your clients to remember your name easily and be able to repeat your name to their clients. You get not only repeat business, but word-of-mouth as well. If your name is troublesome to remember or too unprofessional, chances are people won’t remember it. Some suggest that you might want to consider avoiding names that will begin with “The” or “An” if you plan to advertise in the Yellow Pages . Your name will then be put in an unspecific category “The” instead of the name of your company. I’ve found that this isn’t that big of a problem, but something you should at least take into consideration.

When deciding on a name, think about the impression you are leaving with your clients, “Would you want to do business with that company?” Also, it’s very important to think of the professional image you create.

Here are some additional tips:

  • What best describes you and your business?
  • What name is consistent with your business, yet allows for growth?
  • What name isn’t too cutesy or trendy?
  • What name is simple and easy to remember?
  • What name reflects the professional image you are seeking?
  • What name doesn’t limit your services if you plan to expand into other areas?

If you plan to have an Internet presence, which we know you do! You will want to check available domain names. We recommend not having a name too similar to another. What if that company develops a bad reputation on the Internet? You don’t want your name to get associated with it unnecessarily.

If you are planning to do advertising in the Yellow Pages , it is best to have a name that begins with one of the first letters of the alphabet. If you chose a name starting with “Virtual Assistant,” for instance, you would be listed near the end of the category. This is a definite disadvantage. Most people start at the “A’s” and work their way down. However, this isn’t to say it has to be an “A.” Just keep this in mind.

You don’t want to have the same name as another virtual assistant practice in your area. To prevent this, search your local phone book under Secretarial Services, Typing Services, and Word Processing Services to see if another company presently has this name. This won’t guarantee that no one else has registered under that name, but you eliminate the obvious ones. Also, call directory assistance in your area and the surrounding areas and see if this name is in use. You can then do a records check with the Department of State, Division of Corporations, Fictitious Names Department or the County Clerk .

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