Starting your virtual assistant business while you’re still working full-time is actually a really smart idea.
You can build your business, get clear on your services, trial and error if you need to, secure a client base, and start making money all while you still have a secure income coming in each week or month.
The length of time that you build your VA business alongside your full-time gig is completely up to you. How many clients you want to work with, how many hours you want to dedicate to your new job, and how you communicate with your full-time job is always up to you.
The most important thing to make sure is that you’re not breaking any company policies by having another job, there are no non-compete clauses in your contract, and that you’re not breaking any tax laws by being both self-employed and employed.
Once you’re clear on the legalities of it, you can start to build your dream virtual assistant business.
Brainstorm what services you want to provide
When you’re first starting to think about your virtual assistant business, you need to think about what kind of services you want to provide.
Sure, you could just say that you’re a virtual assistant, but VAs are a dime a dozen. To succeed in this market, you need to specialize your services. Your services don’t have to be difficult or high-end, but potential clients are more likely to choose to work with you if you’re an expert in what you provide.
For example, if a client is looking for a virtual assistant to help them market their business on Pinterest, they’re going to look for someone who specifically offers this service, as opposed to someone who could do Pinterest Management.
If you’re not sure what kind of virtual assistant services you can or want to provide, check out these blog posts: 100+ Services You Can Provide as a Virtual Assistant and the Top 10 Most In-Demand Virtual Assistant Services Right Now.
Figure out who you want to work with
Once you’ve decided what services you want to provide, it’s important that you pick your niche. These are the type of businesses you want to work with.
Honestly, the more specific you can get with this the better. Because there are a lot of virtual assistants in the online business market, the clearer you get on who you want to work with and why might be the difference between getting your first client and not.
Say you’re specializing in content marketing assistance. Theoretically, you could market to every single business out there, but when you’re shouting your services out to everybody, you’re really marketing yourself to no one.
By determining what type of business you work with, you’ll start to become a recommended VA for yoga teachers, for example. You tailor the marketing experience, know where the best places to market for yoga teachers are, and really understand the language that the yoga community uses.
Build an online presence
Now it’s time to build your online presence.
You don’t need to go all in and start a website right away – unless you really want to. But at the very beginning of your new career, it’s unnecessary.
What you do need is some kind of profile on social media, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter. If you know where your target market spends the most time on, that’s the main platform you should build your presence on.
I personally believe that every online business should have a Facebook business page linked to your personal profile. When you’re interacting in Facebook groups, potential clients will check out your profile where they’ll be able to see that you have a virtual assistant business.
Join relevant Facebook groups in your niche
Join Facebook groups that are both targeted to virtual assistants, like mine, Next Level Virtual Assistants, and groups that are in your niche.
Spend time nurturing relationships, providing free advice, and asking relevant questions in these groups. But balance carefully with being overly pushy or salesy. You want to let potential clients know that you’re available for work without looking spammy.
The best way to do this is by making a name for yourself as someone who is helpful and good at what they do. That way, when someone needs a VA who specializes in what you do, they’ll think of you and seek you out.
You can apply these same principles to Instagram and Twitter by checking out relevant hashtags and by being active on LinkedIn.
Start advertising your services
By advertising your services, I’m not saying you should start sinking money into ads. Especially since, unless you’re a pro at it, you could actually lose a lot of money before you see any kind of return.
By simply letting people know that you’re now offering virtual assistant services, you start your advertising. Tell your Facebook friends and family, share your business page, ask these people to support you. Your current connections will be your first fans.
Talking about your business, asking your network to recommend you when they can, and even consider doing some small jobs in exchange for testimonials. I don’t advocate ever working completely for free, but when you’re first starting out, you can come to agreeable arrangements with people in your network.
People that you already know will often be your first clients. These early relationships will often last well into your new career and provide you with a lot of opportunities and recommendations along the way.
Set your business boundaries around your full-time job
The beautiful thing about virtual assistance is that you work on your own schedule, not someone else’s.
Set your boundaries early, before you even sign your first contract. Decide what hours and days you want to work on your own business, when you can’t work (for example, when you’re at your full-time job), and what days you’re going to take completely off – which you should 100% do because downtime is important! Especially when you’re working essentially two jobs.
When you’re onboarding your new clients, explain to them the hours that you work and when they can expect you to be communicative with them. It’s up to you whether you disclose that you’re also in full-time employment.
By setting these boundaries, you’re setting a standard for your clients. And as long as you’re honest and open with your communication, you shouldn’t run into any issues.
I highly recommend not biting off more than you can chew in the early days, you’ll want to get fixated on segmenting our your time into chunks. You’ll simply need to be more disciplined than a VA who is out of full-time employment. Using something like Google calendar, or even an old school wall calendar to block out your working times can work wonders – sticking to it is your only job. Remember that consistency builds results, and being your own boss requires self-motivation and determination – you’ll have to master this early on if you’re building while you wrap things up at your main job.
When should you leave your full-time job?
That’s a question you need to ask yourself.
You probably don’t want to leave your secure employment until you have a steady, regular, and sustainable income coming in from your new virtual assistant career.
Some virtual assistants don’t ever want to leave their full-time job, preferring to work on their VA job on the side indefinitely. There’s nothing wrong with that if that’s what works for you.
Other VAs want to build their business quickly so they can leave employment that brings them no happiness at all. If that works for you, you have some savings and can support yourself while you build your business, that’s an option for you.
Yet others will build their VA business confidently alongside their full-time job. They might drop their hours to part-time, as their VA client list grows, or leave altogether.
Ultimately, it’s your decision when and if you want to leave your full-time gig to go all-in on your new virtual assistant business. Whatever and however you decide to do it, I’d always recommend open and honest communication and to never burn a bridge behind you. You never know when you’ll need to refer back to your past networks.
Ready to go?
Pick up the free Beginner’s Guide to Virtual Assistance, sign up for the next 5 Day VA Challenge, or invest in yourself with my signature program, The VA Starter Kit, for everything you need to get your virtual assistant business off the ground, including access to the best and most supportive Facebook community around.