Does a new VA business need a lot of startup capital to get started?
Starting a new VA business will inevitably lead to the owner having lots of questions. For many looking to start a Virtual Assistant business, one of the top questions is how much start up capital is really needed?
It’s understandable that any startup business will worry about those initial costs. However, it needn’t be an issue for a new VA – here’s why.
You probably already have the essential equipment needed
Making the decision to work from home will invariably mean you need to invest in some office equipment. For a basic setup, that means you’ll need computer equipment and somewhere for it to be situated.
The good news on this however, is most of us already have the essentials in place. If you already have a mobile phone, a computer/laptop with internet access, and a printer – you have all the office equipment you need to start your new VA business!
You don’t have to go out and buy a dedicated work laptop and an expensive business-level internet package. There’s no need to have a separate work-only mobile or landline phone number for your new VA business. There’s going to be some little tweaks you need to make with how you may currently work (using secure passwords to lock your screen when not in use), along with some apps and/or programs you’ll need to install (such as LastPass for secure passwords storage and Dropbox for file storage), in order to make your existing equipment more secure and work-friendly, but that’s it!
As for having somewhere to situate it, you do ideally need a dedicated work area for yourself. However, this doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy a lot of office furniture, before you can get started. You can start with what you have, even if it’s just the kitchen table and storage boxes for your files and stationery. I’d suggest, that you look to get yourself a decent chair and a desk that’s the right height for you, as soon as you can though, so you can set yourself up a dedicated work space.
Your own website
This is one thing I do recommend you pay for, if you want to have a professional website of your own. To make this happen, you’ll need to buy your domain name (your website address, such as ‘yourname.co.uk’) and pay for hosting (the company that hosts your website ‘space’ online). Then it’s simply a case of using a platform that enables you to build your own website (such as the incredibly popular WordPress platform).
The good news is, these things aren’t expensive. You can buy your domain name from 123-reg for £10-12 a year. Hosting prices can vary enormously, depending on who you go with and the type of services they offer. Prices can vary, but you’re looking at under £10 a month.123-reg for example, offers hosting from £3.49 a month. Wix.com is another option – but you’d need to go for one of their premium paid-for plans, to enable you to use your own website URL.
A quick note on WordPress and Wix – Both Wix and WordPress offer free platforms for website, however I don’t recommend using them. Why? This is about having your own professional website. When you use a free platform, your site is hosted by them, on their sites – so your domain name will look amateur, as it will have their name as part of your website URL (such as ‘yourname.wordpress.com’). Therefore, if you’re looking to use WordPress, you need to go to WordPress.org, NOT WordPress.com!
Training and support
In my experience, the VAs that are well supported and trained during this startup period, get off to the best possible start. This isn’t about spending thousands on training – it’s about getting supported at a price you can realistically afford. For some, that may mean joining a network of VAs, so they can glean advice and help from others on the same journey.
All sole business owners need advice and support, when starting out. This ensures they’re off to the best possible start and avoid the most common pitfalls. This is why I offer various different training options on my website, all designed to give you support at a price you can afford. This includes my Start your own VA business webinar, which is one of the free training options I have for you, or my monthly group support option, the VA Help Desk, which is affordably priced at £37.50 a month.There’s also different options for my training courses – designed to train you to become an awesome VA – with DIY study options (such as the VA Mastery Course) and One-to-One training available.
Other cost you need to factor in
Finally, there are some other ancillary costs you’ll need to budget for. These include business cards and networking costs, as well as registration with the ICO (this is approximately £40 a year and is part of the GDPR requirements you’ll need to fulfil as a VA), insurances and having a set of contracts.
Obviously, your networking costs will vary, depending on the type of networking you choose to do. If you only network online, this is often free. Networking in person is often done through organised free and paid events, such as those run by local businesses and organisations like the Federation of Small Business. Before you commit to joining any networking event on a regular basis, I’d recommend you go along to a couple as a guest, to get a feel for them and see if a) they’re worth the fee and b) they have your target audience attending. Remember you need to network where your ideal clients network, not necessarily where you feel most comfortable!
Starting your own VA business doesn’t have to involve a lot of startup capital. In fact, I would recommend you keep your costs as low as possible, by keeping to what is necessary and within budget. Necessity is of course, driven by the niche you’re in. VAs in particular, need supporting during their startup phase, as the role they provide is varied and their customer base, broad. They also need to network, as not only will it help you find new clients, it will also enable you to meet and connect with other VAs – something that will help you build that crucial support network of your own and help you expand your business, further down the line.