When I had the idea (6 years back!) to start a Virtual Assistant Business, one of the first things I did was research what equipment I would need. Do you want to know what I found? Almost EVERY post I read mentioned ‘a comfortable chair‘ which:
A) Seems obscenely obvious and
B) is complete and utter baloney.
Hear me loud and clear: YOU DO NOT NEED A COMFORTABLE CHAIR TO BECOME A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT. I have worked on the couch…on the floor…outdoors…on a beach…from my bed…and yes – from an UNCOMFORTABLE chair (LOL). All kidding aside, I do have a desk and chair that I love and spend MOST of time at…but it’s not a necessary thing to worry yourself with when you’re starting up!
So what do you need to start a V.A. business? As a business owner, some start-up costs are likely. You will need to invest in the essentials. In my opinion those would be:
- A Kick-Ass Computer. You will be running your entire business online, using loads of different technologies, sharing and storing large files with many different clients,etc. If possible…you need some POWER in that machine. Invest in the best quality computer that you can afford. (And if you plan on being mobile…make sure it is a laptop!)
- A decent internet connection. High speed and reliable means you can work faster and uninterrupted.
- A website. Considering your website is basically your storefront…it’s your entire ‘place of business’ I would recommend you consider this an investment and start with a good quality site. Your website is the place where your clients are going to find you. You can get away with a simple landing page if this isn’t in your budget from day 1…but a website it something you will want to have sooner, rather than later. After all…an ‘online entrepreneur’ with no website makes no sense whatsoever.
- The legal essentials: Check the rules for wherever you live in the world but you will likely need such items as a business license, insurance, a business bank account and contracts in place before you can begin working with clients.
- A decent accounting system. You need a way to collect payment from clients, track your profits and expenses and keep good records for tax purposes. There are many different ways to do this but make sure you are keeping, filing and collecting everything you need from day 1.
- At least one marketable skill. A-ha! This is an important one that doesn’t often make the list of ‘Essential Virtual Assistant Equipment‘. There are a LOT of things you can invest in during the start-up phase of your business…but don’t forget that TRAINING and becoming an EXPERT in at least one, highly sought after skill is important. Remember to focus on the word ‘marketable’ skill. It should be something that clients are actively seeking help with! Sorry to be Debbie Downer…but often ‘proficient in Microsoft Office‘ isn’t enough.
So what DON’T you need? I have found that these are some areas where you can save your money (for now):
- Business Phone (oh hell yes I think you need a phone). However, A) most people already have a cell phone and B) You can get away with speaking to potential clients via Skype or Email most of the time. As your business grows, a dedicated business line might be important…but you can accomplish the same level of communication online.
- Business cards. In today’s world when we meet someone new we often just add them to our phones and exchange emails and social media accounts. Business cards can be handy at big networking events…but I wouldn’t consider them ESSENTIAL as a start-up item
- Printer and File Cabinet: Again…a printer is something you may want to purchase at some point. However, my own office is almost entirely paperless these days. All documents are created, signed, stored and filed electronically. So – yes – you need a secure way to do this and a backup system for your computer…but nope – you can get away without a computer or giant filing cabinet to store papers!
- Tape, Post-it Notes, Paper Clips, Highlighters…..you get the picture. What do you really need? Ummmm….a couple of pens and some paper? Sure, office supplies are really fun…but you likely don’t need EVERYTHING they sell in aisles 4-9 at your local business supply store.
- Too much software. After 6 years in business I can honestly say I own a LOT of software licenses. You will too. BUT: You don’t have to buy a million different programs before you even get started. As you grow your business you will learn what your clients need and what you need. Plus, technology will change infinitely from year to year. Buy as you go and on an as-needed basis.
Ready to start-up your own Virtual Assistant Business? Do your research…make lists of what supplies YOU will need. Then check it. Ask yourself item by item if that is a NECESSARY expense right now? You may be surprised.