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Naming your business

If you plan to be serious about your virtual assistant business, you will want to come up with a suitable name under which you will offer your services. Most people do this for tax purposes, or to maintain their personal privacy. With a business name, you can get an EIN from the government, so that you do not have to give out your social security number when it comes to filling out tax documents. Here are a few tips that will help you with naming your business.

Try not to be too generic. Sarah’s Virtual Assistant Company is a little too…blah, and to does not stand out in the crowd. You want something memorable so that clients can refer you to their business associates. This will also be handy when can remember your name to look you up on Google. Names that deal with your geographical location also a little too bland, especially when you will primarily offer your services on the Internet.

The name of your business should also be short and sweet. You would not want to run a business called My Little Business for Virtual Assistant Services. That is just way too long, and does nothing to give off an air of professionalism. The name should be 3-4 words, and not a full sentence. Also, make sure it is easy to pronounce and spell, or a customer could be turned off from using your services. Either that, or never remember your name!

Make sure you can get a domain name that is similar to your business name. You will want to a website where you can offer your services. The domain name should be the same, or as close as possible, so that others can easily find it. You may have to get creative and stay away from generic names because many domains have already been registered online.

Ten Jobs a Virtual Assistant Can Do

1. Make templates. A virtual assistant can create templates that help their client avoid spending time on repetitive tasks. If there is a particular type of email or letter the client frequently sends, a virtual assistant can set up a template letter so the client only needs to insert names and other personal information.

2. Transcribe voice mails. Listening to voice mail can be time-consuming. Most people need to know who called and why. Listening to voice mail can tie up your phone line and it’s easy to get interrupted and lose your place in the queue of messages. A virtual assistant can play the voice mails and type up transcripts, which take much less time to read.

3. Travel reservations. Virtual assistants can book travel arrangements for their clients. VAs can help with every detail of a business or personal trip such as finding cheap flights, arranging ground transportation, and booking hotels that meet certain qualifications. This frees up the client’s time to work on more specialized tasks.

4. Price comparisons. A VA might be asked to research products or services and write up price comparisons. Most clients in service or product-based businesses like to know what their competition is up to. A virtual assistant can seek out this information and summarize it.

5. Resolve complaints. A lot of business people don’t have time to deal with unhappy customers. A VA who has a diplomatic disposition can help placate unsatisfied customers and find a resolution everyone can live with.

6. Meeting setup. A virtual assistant can help with every aspect of setting up a meeting, from finding a location to coordinating dates and times with all of the attendees. The VA can also order refreshments and create handouts for the meeting.

7. Manage outsourcers. Many people who hire VAs also have several other people working for them. A virtual assistant can manage all of the outsourcers so that the client only has to deal with one person rather than each one individually.

8. Set appointments. A virtual assistant can set appointments for their client if they use a synchronized scheduling program so that the VA has access to the client’s schedule. Calling up contacts or even making a doctor’s appointment can entail a lot of back and forth so VAs are often asked to handle this task.

9. Create daily schedules. Some people are not skilled at time management. VAs can keep track of a client’s schedule and give them an overview of everything they have to do each day to help keep them on track.

10. Reminders. A virtual assistant can be a big help to forgetful or distracted clients. Some people work so hard that they lose track of time. A VA can call five minutes before an important appointment to make sure the client has not forgotten.

Should You Subcontract?

As a virtual assistant, you might find yourself debating whether or not to subcontract. When you work for yourself, your earnings are limited by the number of hours you are able to work. A person can only work so many hours per day so there may come a time when your only opportunity for growth comes from hiring others to help you complete your work.

One benefit to subcontracting is giving yourself more time to market yourself and your business. While someone else is doing time-consuming repetitive tasks for you, you can be working on marketing your business. This is simply a matter of finding someone who is willing to do the work for less money than your client is paying you. You may be able to outsource certain tasks such as data entry for much less money to someone who does not enjoy working directly with the client.

There are actually VAs who prefer to do subcontracting work with another VA because they are uncomfortable dealing directly with a client. You can continue to control the customer service end of your business and work on maintaining relationships with clients.

Another benefit of subcontracting as a virtual assistant is that it enables you to offer services to your clients that you don’t know very much about. Perhaps you find that many clients request accounting services and your math skills are abysmal. By paying someone else to take care of this aspect of the job, you can get more clients and offer a broader range of services.

There are a few downsides to subcontracting. Many people find that those willing to do the work for less money have skills that match their low price. This isn’t always true but it can be very time-consuming to wade through the pool of hopefuls to find the standouts. Subcontracting usually requires a bit of trial and error so you’ll need some patience. Offer subcontractors a trial period so you can gauge the quality of their work as well as their reliability.

You also need to pay attention to legalities when hiring a subcontractor. It’s a good idea to have your subcontractor sign a contract that outlines the work to be done and compensation. A confidentiality agreement is vital to protect any sensitive data that you might share with the subcontractor. You might also want to specify that the subcontractor may not contact the client directly for any reason. Sometimes there is no way to conceal your client’s identity and you don’t want your subcontractor to steal your client from you.

Subcontracting can help you bring your VA business to the next level as long as you exercise a bit of caution and good judgment.

Components of a Good VA Contract

A good contract is a vital part of working as a virtual assistant. This is the best way to outline the details of the job and avoid misunderstandings. A contract lists what is expected from both parties during the working arrangement and how compensation will be handled. Do not agree to work for anyone without first signing a contract.

A good VA contract should set out all of the terms for the task in question. Be sure to list explicitly what work is expected to be completed and the exact dates the work should be finished if it is a one-time job.

Any type of deposit should be clearly laid out in the contract. The type of work should also be stipulated whether it be one-off, hourly, or recurring projects. If the virtual assistant is expected to incur expenses on the client’s behalf, the compensation for these expenses should be described.

A fully detailed list of the work involved in the project should be included. There can also be language to allow for the duties to evolve as needed but the minimum expectations should be clearly stipulated.

Compensation should be laid out in no uncertain terms. The hourly rate or project rate should be stated in addition to when the money is due. The method of payment agreed upon should also be included. If there is a retainer agreement, the contract should state the number of hours or tasks per month that both parties agree on.

Many virtual assistant contracts also include a nondisclosure agreement. This is a confidentiality agreement that serves to ensure that the VA will not share any sensitive data or trade secrets with anyone else for any reason. Virtual assistants often have access to private information such as credit card numbers or business contacts. This not only protects the client but also the VA.

A good contract protects both the virtual assistant and the client from any disputes. Contracts are legally binding and give both parties the confidence that the job will be conducted in a predefined manner.

How and Why to Issue a Press Release for Your New VA Business

When you are establishing a virtual assistant business, you are going to have to market yourself if you want to attract the best clients. One excellent way to accomplish this goal is by issuing a press release for your new VA business. This is a great way to draw attention to your fledgling business as well as demonstrate your skills and professionalism.

Issuing a press release for your new VA business puts all of your information out there for the world to see. Press releases have a way of getting distributed to places you would have never thought to look for business.

A press release should open with the words “For immediate release”. This should be followed by your complete contact information including name, email address, phone number, and website address. If the press release is being sent via email, this information can go at the bottom and be sure to make the link to your website clickable.

Choose a title that will grab the attention of your readers. A bit of keyword research is a good idea when composing your title. Next you should write the city and state where you are located. This is important if you want local feeds to pick up your press release.

The opening paragraph will determine if your audience will continue to read the rest of the release so be sure it is well-written and engaging. You may want to hire a writer with press release experience to help you with this process. Try to avoid simply listing information about yourself. Make it interesting and try to find a good angle.

The closing paragraph should include a call to action such as urging readers to visit your website or to hire you outright. Before you send your press release out, be sure to proofread it several times. It’s a good idea to ask a friend to check it over as well. Once you are confident you have a well-written piece without any errors, you should submit your press release to various newswires.