Ready to join the 2,500 strong army of active Virtual Assistants currently embracing freelance freedom in the UK?
If you’ve recently made the decision to become a Virtual Assistant, or you’re thinking about whether it’s the right choice for you and your family, you probably have A LOT of questions about what to do next. That’s perfectly normal. Leaving your 9-5 is a big decision so you want to make sure you have the right foundations in place before you dive in.
Here’s my guide on how to become a Virtual Assistant in the UK:
1) Decide if you want to operate as a sole trader or a limited company
Deciding how to run your business is a personal choice as both have advantages and disadvantages. The main differences are as follows:
As a SOLE TRADER you’ll be personally liable for any debts you run up in the course of running your business. This could potentially put your own assets at risk, such as your home or car.
On the plus side, setting up as a sole trader is straight forward. All you need to do is register for tax self-assessment and file a tax return each year. Any income you generate is taxed at the same rate as income tax.
If you decide to operate as a PRIVATE LIMITED COMPANY your business and personal finances stay separate, which protects your home and any other assets if you run into debt. You may also be able to benefit from lower tax rates because you pay corporation tax rather than income tax on your earnings.
If you operate as a Private Limited Company your business and personal finances stay separate
However, setting up a private limited company takes a bit MORE WORK. You’ll need to incorporate your company at Companies House, and provide details of directors, shareholders and your corporate structure. You’ll also need to file annual accounts and a company tax return.
For a more detailed explanation of the benefits of setting up as a sole trader or private limited company Byte Start has a great blog on the subject.
2) Make sure you have necessary insurance cover in place
Before you start working with any clients you’ll need to have insurance in place to cover you in case of any LEGAL OR COMPENSATION CLAIMS made against you. Hopefully this type of thing will never happen but it’s important to be protected just in case.
Many clients will INSIST that you have insurance before they’ll agree to work with you. So it’s a good idea to be ahead of the game and have your insurance certificates at the ready if they ask to see them.
Most Virtual Assistants have the following insurance policies:
Professional Indemnity insurance (a absolute must!)
Public Liability insurance
Cyber or data insurance
3) Check that you comply with GDPR and register with the Information Commissioners Office
In 2018 the government updated its Data Protection guidelines and added in a requirement to register with the Information Commissioners Office if you handle data in your business.
You might not think that Virtual Assistants handle data, as such, however if you keep any client CONTACT DETAILS you need to be compliant with new data protection rules.
New data protection rules require you to register with the Information Commissioner's Office
This requires you to pay an annual fee to the ICO of around £40 and to register details about the kind of data you handle.
The process is very straight forward and will only take a few minutes but it’s important to make sure you comply, in order to avoid any complaints or fines. For more information about the ICO and Data Protection, visit the ICO website.
4. Sort out a reliable internet connection and suitable IT hardware
As a Virtual Assistant you’ll be reliant on a stable internet connection and reliable IT equipment so that you can get your work to your clients. Downtime or system problems could reflect badly on your ability to deliver for your clients so GOOD IT INFRASTRUCTURE is key.
You’ll want to make sure that your internet service provider has a good track record and strong customer support in case of any issues.
It’s also a good idea to have a BACK-UP PLAN in place in the event of an outage. Some clients might insist that you have back-up procedures recorded so it’s worth drafting something in advance to reassure them.
5. Create a marketing plan
Once you have all of the foundations and legal bits and pieces in place you’ll want to think about how you’re going to find your first clients.
It might feel overwhelming knowing where to find your first clients, so having a strategy to guide you will help keep you on the right track. It’s important to stay consistent with your marketing and know that it takes time to attract your ideal client.
Know that it takes time to attract your ideal client
Here are some things to consider in your marketing plan:
Who is your Ideal Client?
- What differentiates you from other Virtual Assistants?
What marketing material will you use?
What’s your marketing budget?
Your marketing strategy might contain some or all of the following elements:
A website and blog
Social media marketing (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest etc)
In person networking
PR – press and media coverage
Printed marketing material (Flyers, brochures, business cards)
It might feel like a lot of work to get yourself up and running, but getting the FOUNDATIONS right will be the key to building a successful business.
Once you have the ‘boring’ bits in place you can move on to the fun stuff like marketing, branding and getting in front of your ideal client.
Knowing HOW to become a Virtual Assistant is half the battle – so now all that remains is for you to take some action!
Make sure you come back for my next blog where I’ll be discussing what you NEED in order to set up your Virtual Assistant business.
If you enjoyed the blog, make sure to download our FREE PDF GUIDE - Fearless Marketing for Virtual Assistants
If you want to learn more about how to build a successful Virtual Assistant business around your family here are some of my favourite LEARNING RESOURCES!