Make things happen by turning dreams into actions and using the best business productivity tools to get organized.

01. Introduction

7 Days?

That's right. In 7 days you should be able to run through this course and get everything you need to get your business started. Keep in mind, it might take more than 7 days, it might take less. It all depends on how much time and effort you put into this program. If you do one section per day (this is section 1/7 congrats you're on course for being on time) you'll be done in 7 days.

Here's how I suggest you make this work. Take an hour or two to work on the section you're in. Go through all the modules in each section and when you're done, don't just put your notes in a folder, get to work! Dedicate 3-5 hours every day on your business. Work on the modules, then do the work!

There are 7 sections and multiple modules in each section with action steps for you after every video and article. Remember that it doesn't matter how long it takes you to set everything up - only that you do each step and do it well. Your clients will thank you for it down the road.

 

Best of luck!

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02. Setting Up Your Business

Your Services

Deciding what services to offer can be one of the hardest parts of getting started for some people. Many virtual assistants start off with very specific tasks, such as bookkeeping, social media scheduling, editing blog posts, etc. However, it's really best to put your talents into different categories and offer 2-3 at a time.

For example, when I was getting started I had my own website, blog and social media. So I created a package called "content management" where I helped business owners schedule their content. Start out by making a massive list of what you can do - It'll be longer than you think. I recommend doing this step on sticky notes, or something movable, we'll be re-ordering them later.

Write everything down, no matter how small or irrelevant they may seem. Here's a piece of on of my coaching client's list, she ended up with 97 ideas total.

  • Researching online
  • Sewing with a machine
  • Image optimization for SEO
  • Keyword Research
  • Facebook Ad Campaigns

 

Just start writing down everything you know how to do. Even if you're not an expert. It's okay. You can always take a short ecourse before you offer the service officially. Once you have your list done, go through it and cross off (or throw out) anything you don't want to offer or anything you hate doing. Now we're going to put them into categories. Start looking for tasks that could be packaged together. Photo editing and Instagram post scheduling for example. Or blog post revisions and keyword research. Find talents that would compliment each other well. Some tasks might be able to go in multiple categories, which is great!

Now that you have your categories, you have your services planned out. You have tasks that you know you can do and you've packaged them nicely into packages that your clients can purchase together. If your services seem like they don't go together, you can also offer a sort of "a la carte" option. Just list everything you can do and let your clients build their own package. However, I recommend doing one or the other. If you give your clients too many choices it can be overwhelming and they won't buy. You want to guide people toward the package that will work best for their needs.

 

You have to understand what your offering and you have to communicate that with your clients. Most businesses could benefit from a virtual assistant, but most people don't know exactly what they need. It's your job to show them based on the skills you have. If you love social media, you might be a good website designer, or understand SEO, but you don't have to offer all three. KNOW what you're best off, and offer that.

There will be clients who love what you do and love your style, but they don't know exactly what they need. You need to understand your skills and offerings enough to tell them exactly what you can do for them and how it'll benefit them.

Here's an example:

Last year I had a referral come to me, she had been following my site for awhile and loved my tips and website. She had heard I offered VA services and she'd been feeling overwhelmed, so she needed help. I asked her what she needed help with, and her response was "everything". She was drowning in work and didn't know how to start getting back on track. I told her my specialty was in social media. I would help her build a social marketing plan, establish a library of content to pull from and then schedule weeks of social media posts ahead of time.

 

She didn't know it at the time, but social media was taking her between 3-6 hours every week. Not only that but she wasn't great at social media. She had no schedule, no plan, and no consistency. Her branding was not established on her accounts and her posts often were more personal than business related. After working with her for just 3 weeks, she was happy. She was posting blog posts again, taking on more clients and felt under control. I could've helped her in the same way if I was a content creator or a bookkeeper. Your job is to take some weight off their workload - it doesn't matter what weight that is, as long as you can hold your own.

This takes me to the second step in planning your services; what will your workflow look like. We'll dig more into this a bit later in the course, but you should have a rough idea in mind. Will you offer free video consultations? Are you offering your services locally and online? How do you want people to contact you? And how many clients can you take on at one time? Start thinking about these questions as we move through the next few modules.

ACTION STEP:

Grab your favorite notebook, login to Evernote or open your go-to software. Brain dump everything you know how to do. Don't worry about if it's marketable or how many people need the service, just write your ideas for 10 minutes. 

 

When the 10 minutes are up, find connections. Look at your list and start to build packages based on what you love to do and if you'd like to make money doing it. Build 2 packages and write out what's included. 


Pricing

Here it is, the question I'm asked most often by my clients. "How much should I charge for this"? It's a tough question. You don't want to ask for too little and end up broke and hating the work, but if you ask too much you won't get any clients. It's a fragile and tough decision, right? Wrong. Your pricing doesn't matter as much as you think it does. In fact, your pricing doesn't really matter at all (to an extent).

Before you get mad and write me a strongly worded email, hear me out. If you offer social media management services for $3 an hour, you're going to get a bunch of clients and have plenty of work. You might not have the best work because you're so busy, but your clients are only paying $3 so they're not expecting top-notch services.

 

If you offer those same services for $100 an hour, you might only get one or two clients and you'll have to spend a lot of time advertising, but that's all you'll need to pay the bills. And you'll be able to focus your time into those two clients and give them 100% of your effort.

What you want to price your services at isn't that hard. You just have to decide what kind of VA you want to be and how much time you want to spend looking for new clients. If you price your services at $10 or less an hour, you'll be able to find work relatively easy. You can list your services on sites like upwork and fiverr as well. However, you'll need to work more to make good money. You'll probably be taking on smaller project that can be done in a day or two and then move on.

If you offer your services between $10 and $50 an hour, you'll need to find a niche to market yourself in. Web designers, photographers, small local restaurants. You'll need to spend a couple hours a month advertising yourself and making sure your sales page is attractive and lead-driven. However, you'll make some decent money and be able to take on a few clients at a time for longer projects. You'll probably have repeat buyers and you can develop solid relationships with them to help word-of-mouth referrals.

 

You can offer services over $50 an hour and work with only a couple companies that are larger. You'll most likely have long-term contracts with the same couple clients. You'll also need to position yourself as an expert VA and make sure your site is extremely professional to target larger businesses. You'll most likely need to APPLY to jobs and convince people why you're the best candidate, rather than having businesses stumble across your site.

None of these options are better or worst than the others. It all depends on what kind of services you want to offer. Just pick a number y'all. Keep in mind that it looks more professional to raise your prices every year, than to drop your prices when no one is interested. So don't be afraid of starting a little low and working your way up.

If you're still not sure, start at $15 and hour. Boom. Done. Move on to the next step ;)

ACTION STEP:

Price those two packages you wrote down in the last module. Pick a range if you're not sure about the pricing. Choose an hourly rate if it's an on-going package (ex. Social media management or content writer) and choose a base price for one-time projects (ex. website design or social media setup process).


Your Website

There are hundreds of videos, ecourses and professional website designers to help you with this step so I'm not going to spend 4 hours here explaining how to build a website. You're going to become a virtual assistant, you need to learn how to be resourceful and figure things out for yourself. However, I do want to give you some suggestions and resources to help you build a professional looking website without spending thousands of dollars.

 

The first tip might make some of you mad - don't build your site on Blogger or Wordpress.com or any other "free website builder". You're a business. People are going to pay you for your services, you need to PAY for your website. Even if it's just a one-paged landing screen with a "contact me" button. It'll look better with your own branding, your own domain name, and your own words.

I HIGHLY recommend Squarespace. Especially if you're not a web designer, Squarespace is just so easy to use and so easy to make professional. Plus, Megan Minns has an entire free ecourse dedicated to this.

 

Second tip - White space is your friend. Virtual assistants help business owners feel less overwhelmed and stressed. Your site design needs to communicate that. A clean and well-organized site reflects how you can organize their tasks. A white background looks much more professional than a navy blue one, or fuchsia. Pick colors and fonts that are simple and easy to read. You shouldn't have more than 2 fonts on your site (maybe 3 if you have quite a bit of blog content or pages).

 

Third tip - Keep the focus on your services. Your homepage should tell people where to go and what to do on your site. Great examples of this are Lauren's site, Kelsey and (not to toot my own horn too much), my own site. The common denominator, all of these sites have a homepage that draws you to pick your adventure (blog, shop or services in most cases). If you want visitors to go to your services page, but a big-ass button for it on the homepage.

 

Fourth tip - Keep it simple. You don't need all the bells and whistles to have a great site. Something as simple as a landing page with your info will work. Here's an example page I made using Squarespace cover pages to give you an idea.

Create some way for clients to (a) understand what you do and how it'll benefit them, (b) how much you charge and what they can budget for, and (c) how to get in contact with you.

If you decide to go with Squarespace, I have tutorial videos on the program as well.

ACTION STEP:

Create a website or take a look at the one you already have. Your site should list your 2 service packages, give a description of what's included, list your prices (transparency will help your business grow) and add a "contact me" form or button. 

 

This can be done for VERY CHEAP. Use a free weebly site and a domain name from GoDaddy ($1/month). Or invest a little more for a Squarespace Cover Page ($5/month) and a Google Domain ($12/year). You don't need to hire a $2000 website designer and pay $200/year for a new site. Start small and let your business build so you can invest with the money you make.


Your Social Media

I could talk about this section for HOURS. Literally. I have an entire ecourse dedicated to automating your social media strategy. But for your sake and mine, we'll keep this nice and simple.

You need to pick 2-3 social networks to establish yourself on. Get a Buffer or Hootsuite account and schedule out some of your blog posts, relevant content in your industry or "quick tips". If you need some help scheduling social media posts, check out this blog post.

Social media, especially Facebook, is one of the best places to find clients. We'll get more into this later on, but essentially you need to get a social presence going as early as you can. Join Facebook groups in your industry, participate in twitter chats, follow a crap ton of people in your niche.

Start growing your accounts. If you're looking to get hired to help people with social media or content, you need to show off what you can do. If you tell your customers you can get them from 10 to 5000 Instagram followers, you better have at least that many on your own account. Show your customers you can walk the walk by getting your business well established.

As you post content to social media, always ask yourself these questions before hitting "publish":

  • Does this content fit my brand
  • Is this content helpful or entertaining
  • If this was the only content a potential client saw, would they hire me

If the answer is no to any of those questions, don't post it. Every tweet, image or blog post you share should relate to your brand and help your audience in some way. If you keep that the focus of your social media and blog, your audience will grow.

 

ACTION STEP:

Create social media profiles on 2-3 networks under your business name (or convert your current accounts to match). Make sure the SAME EXACT name is open all all networks. Reserve them early. Add colors and images that match your website. Someone who visits your twitter account should recognize you when they follow you on Instagram. Use the same profile photo and same bio for all your accounts.

03. Tools & Apps

Asana

Asana is a project management tool and one of my favorites for working with clients. It can get a little complicated, so I thought video would be best for this section.

ACTION STEP:

Create an Asana account and start playing around in there. If you haven't already, consider investing $5/monthly to get a custom email domain from Google. This way, you'll have a company work space that can be shared with your team or clients.


17Hats

17Hats is a great tool for virtual assistants because it helps solopreneurs manage their clients. 17Hats allows you to manage leads, clients, projects, contracts, invoices and quotes all within one interface. I am a huge fan of their software. When you first join, setting up your account can take a couple of hours. If you choose to use all the tools available to you, it'll take awhile to get in place, but once it's setup, it'll save you hours of work every week.

If you plan to have more than 2 clients at once, this is one of the first investments (besides your website and domain) that I'd recommend making.

If you choose to use 17Hats, check out the 17Hats Bundle which is a course dedicated to teaching you how to get set up in the software. If you're interested in using it, sign up for a free trial here and then access the ecourse here.

 

ACTION STEP:

Sign up for a free 14-Day trial and get to know the system. See if it's a good fit for your needs. If you're intrigued, check out the 17Hats ecourse or at the very least, read this blog post.


Streak CRM

If you use Gmail, Streak is a fantastic tool that adds a pipeline/workflow right in with your emails. You can add email threads to a workflow and move it through various steps. You can add notes, tasks, other team members and use columns to add additional information. It sounds (and looks) overwhelming but it's actually an extremely simple tool to use.

ACTION STEP:

Download Streak CRM if you're in Gmail. Make a workflow for your client emails. Lead > Client > Past Client so you can move emails through your system.


Slack

This is one of my favorite tools for working with clients. For those of you that don't know what slack is: According to the Slack website, "A messaging app for teams". Simple, right? And it really is that easy. With a few questions and an email, you can create your own slack team. If you get a lot of emails per day, or you just hate email, slack allows you to keep in communication with everyone without the clutter. I wrote a whole blog post about how I use it for my blog, but what you probably didn't know is that I use it for my clients too.

Think of slack as an optimized, beautiful and fun chat room. We'll dig into the feature more in a bit, but the basic idea of slack is to eliminate back-and-forth emails. Slack makes it easier to plan, meet, chat and share ideas. The reason I started using slack was because I disliked facebook groups. The search functions are awful and they're not easy to monitor or customize. The features are very simple but very limited. Slack was how I created a community without Facebook.

Slack is great for personal use too:

  • I get the weather sent to me every morning.
  • I get notifications when a client pays a bill.
  • I receive updates on my favorite sports teams.
  • New Instagram images that I'm tagged in are sent to me.
  • Emails that are automatically starred for me in Gmail are also sent to Slack.
  • Tasks completed by my VA in Asana are pushed to Slack.
  • Daily reminders such as reading my bible study, working out, checking in with coaching clients and walking the puppy are sent to me.
  • Feedly posts I tag as "Research" are sent to Slack

These and MANY, MANY more uses are all done using a website called If This Then That, or IFTTT.

The ONLY apps on my phone that actually send a notification or sound are phone calls, text messages, and slack. Everything else is muted. This way only the most important things in my life can interrupt my work day. Using slack, I also have "offline" hours set, so I only get push notifications between 9am and 4pm. After 4, my phone is silent.

 

ACTION STEP:

Sign up for a slack account and read this guide to get started. Complete your profile and make a private channel for yourself to set up some IFTTT automations or write notes to yourself. Also install the app to your phone and/or desktop.


Time Trackers

If you're working on projects at an hourly rate, a good time tracker is a necessity. 17Hats has a built-in tracker you can use. If you're not using 17Hats you can try out MyHours. Check out the videos below for quick tips on how to use both.

ACTION STEP:

Find a timer you'll use for your work. Bookmark it on your browser and commit to using it every time.


Google Hangouts

Google hangouts is an easy and quick way to meet with clients using voice or video. It's fairly simple to use, but let's walk through it really quick.

ACTION STEP:

Set up a hangout chat with a friend or yourself! Make sure you know how to set up your webcam and mic. Play with the toolbar and read up on some of the ways you can use hangouts.

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04. Preparing a workflow

Why you need workflows

Workflows are important for your business. I did a 30-minute scope of this idea, you can watch the replay to get a better idea of how to use workflows.

ACTION STEP:

Outline your client workflow. How are they going to contact you? How do they sign contracts? How do you communicate during the project? How do they know how much time you've used? How can they work with you in the future? Try using something like Evernote or Real Time Board to map out the steps.


Client OnBoarding

There are a ton of different ways to handle client on-boarding. What you need to decide is how you will make the transition from a lead to a paying client.


Meetings & Emails

Decide how you will communicate with your clients and leads. Do you want to meet with them before signing contracts? Are you going to have weekly meetings? Make a decision and make that clear on your website and contract.


Financials

Open a business bank account (or at least one separate from your personal bank) personally, I love Capital One. Decide what accounting system to use (Wave Accounting, Freshbooks or Quickbooks). Decide how to invoice clients (17Hats, Stripe, Paypal or your accounting system).


Working Together

Decide what project management system you'll use and familiarize yourself with it. Here are some top picks:


Wrapping Up

 Create a questionnaire to collect testimonials from your future clients. Collect past testimonials and save them in a file for future use. Add a couple testimonials to your website for added value.

05. Contracts & documents

Canned Emails


WHEN A CLIENT MISSES A MEETING

Hi FIRST NAME OF CLIENT 

I hope you got my reminder emails leading up to the meeting today - if not please let me know. Our meeting was set for MEETING TIME, but I never heard back from you.

I understand life gets in the way, if you'd like to reschedule a time to chat, please pick a date from my calendar: YOUR CALENDAR LINK HERE

If you've decided my services aren't a good fit, no problem! If you have any questions or problems connecting please let me know! Otherwise, have a great afternoon.

YOUR NAME HERE


WHEN A LEAD EMAILS YOU FOR MORE INFORMATION

Hey, CLIENTS FIRST NAME

I'm so glad you found me and are interested in my services. I'd love to see if we'd work well together and give you some more info on my training packages so I can give you a more accurate quote.

I attached some more info on what I can do, contracts and pricing to give you an idea of how I can help. Take a look at it and then please schedule a meeting with me by going to YOUR CALENDAR LINK.

If you have any questions, let me know.

 

I look forward to working with you,

 

YOUR NAME HERE


WHEN A CLIENT IS LATE ON PAYMENT

First warning

Hi FIRST NAME OF CLIENT,

Your invoice was due 2 days ago. I understand life gets busy and it's easy to forget, so I wanted to send you a quick reminder. Please pay the invoice within the day, otherwise, I'll have to start charging you for a late fee as well (per our contract). Please let me know if you have any questions,

YOUR NAME HERE

 

Second Warning

Hi FIRST NAME OF CLIENT,

Your invoice was due 4 days ago. Unfortunately, I have to start adding an additional late fee to your invoice. Every day it is late I'll be adding 5% of your total. Please pay the invoice as soon as possible. If there is an emergency or some reason you have been late, let me know so we can pause this invoice and find a solution.

YOUR NAME HERE

 

Final Warning

Hi FIRST NAME OF CLIENT,

It has now been 7 days since your invoice was due. You have one week to pay the invoice before I send it to a collection agency. I'd really rather not reach this step, so please get in touch with me as soon as possible if there is a legitimate reason you have not yet paid the total.

YOUR NAME HERE


ACTION STEP:

Create your own canned emails that fit your packages. Save them in a file or add them to your gmail account (Go to your Gmail settings, the "lab" tab and enable canned messages).

 

Contracts

Contracts are what will keep you safe when working with online companies. If you fail to meet your deadlines or your client fails to pay an invoice, your contract will cover both parties. Contract templates can be found with a simple Google search, but keep in mind these items that should always be covered in a contract:

  • Hours of work (When are you available for phone calls or answer emails?)
  • Meetings and expected forms of communication (How will your client be expected to send you work or tasks, what forms of communication will be used, how often will meetings take place and where?)
  • Payment Information (How often do you send invoices, how will you track hours, when is the invoice due, what happens when payments are late)
  • Non-disclosure agreement (This promises you won't share your client's info with 3rd parties)
  • Terms and termination (How long is the contract valid, can it be terminated by either party and what happens if it is)
  • Relationship of parties (State that you are NOT an employee, but a contract worker)
  • Work Product Ownership (Graphics, writing and other work you do will be owned by your client, not you, meaning you can't sue your client for using the graphics you made for them)
  • Liability (You are not responsible for loss, damages or delay in client work due to circumstances beyond your control)

Most importantly, the contract should be signed by both you and your client. 

ACTION STEP:

Write a contract. Talk to friends, comment on this page, tweak and perfect the contract as you learn more and develop your system.

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06. Finding Clients

Testimonials

90% of my virtual assistant clients found me through word of mouth. Most business owners have friends and a community surrounding them, and when they're happy with your services, they tend to share your name with their friends. Testimonials is one of the most powerful ways to establish yourself in your niche, and you don't need a ton of experience to get them. Start off with some of your business friends. If they know what you do and how good you are, more than likely, they'd be happy to give you a testimonial for your services page. Ask friends, ask all your current clients and ask past clients.

Even if you didn't work as a VA specifically, testimonials from past jobs can be used! I used testimonials from my website design clients on my services page when I started offering coaching. Even though I didn't coach them, they spoke to my skills in organization, project management and timeliness, all skills that transfer to a coaching job as well.

When you're setting up your services page, sprinkle 2-3 testimonials on the page so that your audience feels confident that you know what you're doing.

CTION STEP:

Ask 3 people you've worked with to give you a testimonial.


Local

I've only ever worked with one local client as a virtual assistant. I met her through our community church. However, many of the tactics you use to grow your business online can be used in local areas as well. Hang out in your local coffee shop, carry business cards with you, attend business events in your city and show up at job fairs. Getting yourself out and in front of potential clients is the best way to meet them. Make sure you've written and perfected the answer to the question "What do you do?"

Here was my answer: I work as a virtual assistant to small business owners. I help them grow their social media accounts and manage their social campaigns.

Many of you won't work locally, but it's a great way to earn extra money if you live in a fairly large city. Regardless, you should invest in some business cards. Moo is my favorite site for this because they're high quality and affordable.


Online

When I first started working as a virtual assistant, I found most of my clients in Facebook groups. Groups like Savvy Business Owners, Shelancers, and Squarespace for Bloggers & Creatives gave me access to thousands of people looking for answers. I spent 15-20 minutes per day in the groups, answering questions I knew the answers to, sharing relevant blog posts and establishing myself as a business guru. When someone posted that they were looking for a VA or Social media manager or assistant, I shared my services page, email and a short message on what I could do for them.

Because I was active in the group, my face was recognized and I often got leads in that way. After awhile members in the group would tag me in job opportunities they thought I would fit well in, because I had helped them in the past. Establish yourself as an expert in something and let others help you find opportunities.

Here are some great Facebook groups you can join:

I don't recommend joining 20 groups - I'd recommend checking out a few and picking one or two that you really love, then putting more time and effort into those. Don't spread yourself too thin!

07. Additional Resources

 

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