Start Your Own Home Based Business
Dianna looks at the first steps of starting your own home-based business
by: Diana Ennen
So many today want to start their own business and fortunately businesses are constantly looking for our assistance. One home based business I recommend is starting a word processing or virtual assisting business. It can make a great work-at-home career and the potential just keeps getting better and better. You will now find many famous authors, actors, businesses, and even political candidates beaming about how a virtual assistant is a must have for business success. In fact, in many books now, some are citing that having a virtual assistant is one of your most important keys to success.
Getting started is easy. Fortunately, itís not expensive either. First of all you need a complete plan of action set out in advance. This ensures that you don't leave any vital steps unaddressed and will have a solid plan of action to succeed. You donít need anything technical, just how you plan to operate your business including advertising methods, pricing, business hours, equipment and supplies needed, goals, etc.
You want to clearly define your business. There are so many different areas you can go into as a home based word processor or virtual assistant so you need to decide with your skills and your experience what is the best for you. For example, do you want to do strictly word processing or do you want to do marketing too. How about transcription? I highly recommend considering that. Most businesses today do dictate their work and now virtual assistants can transcribe dictation from anywhere in the world. Youíd be amazed how easy it is to learn too. If youíd like additional information on digital transcription, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org I have a whole chapter Iíd be glad to share with you on it as well as a free booklet on obtaining clients.
Now, that you have your business plan you need to decide on the name of your business. One thing you need to make sure of is that you can legally have that name. Often Iíve seen word processors start their business and just grab a name and call it their own. That doesnít work well when someone else has already chosen that name, registered it, perhaps trademarked it, and has been using it for years. First check and make sure that no one already has it, then test it out. Is it easy to pronounce when you answer the phone? Does it sell you well? Does it limit you? Five years from now will you still feel proud of that name? Try it out on friends and ask their honest feedback. Also, go to the various boards and mention it too. For such an important decision itís worth the effort.
To operate a business you are required by law to have the appropriate licenses. This is your permit to do business locally. It's a simple procedure that doesn't require a considerable amount of time. Contact your city and county officials under occupational licenses for complete details or go online. Most VAs start out initially as a sole proprietorship and then might change later into either an LLC or S Corporation.
Now it's time to set up your bookkeeping. You will want to keep track of all your income and expenses. Save all receipts and pay all your expenses out of your business checking account. A software program such as Quickbooks is ideal for our type of business. Not only does it allow you to keep accurate records, but it also enables you to track exactly where the most money is coming from. This enables you to target your marketing efforts more in that area.
Now you must decide how much to charge. Don't undercharge your services. The Virtual Assisting Industry is a very proud bunch and we want our clients and others to know that when you hire us, you are getting a professional and one capable of making your business better. Clients will pay well for making their business succeed. Determine what is being charged in your area, but also take into account what you are bringing to the table. When you offer specialty services such as web design or say expert proofing or publicity, you can charge more.
It is also important to have an impressive marketing piece. Your brochures, letterhead, flyers, business cards, etc., should look sensational. I personally love VistaPrints at VistaPrints.com. I can afford to get matching business cards, mailing labels, magnets, and even postcards cheap. This makes me look more professional as I have everything the same layout and because itís so reasonable, I even have different styles for different clients.
Now you need to get those clients. The key to successful marketing is to tell clients what benefits they will receive by answering their main question, "What's in it for me?" Keep in mind, you're not selling your services, you're selling the benefits of your services. What can you offer them that would make their business run more successfully? An example of this would be accurate dependable service done on an ďas neededĒ basis.
One of the most important things is to get a professional website. This will enable you not only to get clients through your SEO efforts, but also to show your clients your services and everything about your business. Look around at other word processing or virtual assisting websites and get some tips. Donít copy-just get ideas. You can see mine at http://www.virtualwordpublishing.com, http://www.Publicity-VA.com and http://www.VA-TheSeries.com.
Also, get listed on the various directories and with the various VA forums. We have one on www.Publicity-VA.com, but also I highly recommend going to www.VANetworking.com. Itís one of the top VA forums around.
Now that youíve got the clients, you need to keep them. The best way to do this is to always provide them with more than they ask for. Go the extra mile on all assignments. Let them know that you value their business and are eager to help them succeed.
Wasnít that easy? If youíd like additional information on starting a business, e-mail me or stop by my website at http://www.virtualwordpublishing.com. I have free information available, such as a sample chapter of Virtual Assistant the Series, and marketing letters to send to clients, and also excellent books that can help you succeed quickly.