How to Start a Virtual Assistant Business

Wouldn’t it be great if you could set your own hours, generate a great income and be able to do all of it remotely? Most people would trade their boring desk job for the freedom and flexibility to work from anywhere and many are now doing just that by launching a virtual assistant business. It’s a lucrative field that lets you utilize your skills and potential to help others while living a fulfilling life. Curious about how to start a virtual assistant business? Let’s dive into how you can get started in no time.

What Is a Virtual Assistant Business

Businesses and busy professionals hire assistants because they need help managing tasks. A virtual assistant does all of that but they’re not at an office or by the client’s side the entire day. Virtual assistants work remotely. You can be in an entirely different part of the world compared to your client, it’s just your work that needs to speak for itself, your location doesn’t matter.

The kind of work that you do as a virtual assistant will depend on the skills you have. It’s a customizable role so there’s more freedom for you to choose the route you want to take. For example, you can do everything from managing social media accounts for a company, providing customer service, overseeing project management to scheduling appointments for an influencer. Whatever you’re skilled at, you can set up an assistant business based on that.

What Are the Services Offered by Virtual Assistants

Virtual assistants can offer a wide range of services. It largely depends on the skills you have. What’s great is that you can increase your competitiveness in the marketplace by learning new skills. It’s not uncommon for most virtual assistants to start by providing basic services initially before they advance their skills to narrow the niche. A virtual assistant business will typically offer one or more of the following services:

General Admin Tasks 

You can offer assistant services for general administration tasks. These will include data entry, making reservations and appointments, managing the clients’ email and calendar, taking phone calls and messages, keeping track of bills, providing reminders, etc. This doesn’t require more than the basic computer and conversational skills. 

Digital Marketing

There’s a great demand for virtual assistants with digital marketing skills. As a social media manager, you’d be managing the community and updating the accounts, running Facebook marketing campaigns, launching campaigns on other platforms, and more. Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing on search engines is a lucrative field as well. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) virtual assistants remain highly sought after so it’s a great skill to leverage for expanding your virtual assistant business.

Specialized Skills

If you’re a freelancer with specialized skills and experience, this will prove to be a big asset for your VA business. This includes everything from web development and app development, project management, cybersecurity testing, recruitment, and accounting to bookkeeping.  

Why Start a Virtual Assistant Business

A virtual assistant business will provide you with the freedom to work on your terms. You choose who to work with, what to charge for your services, and where to work from. You’re not limited by location so your clients can come from anywhere in the world. It’s also a highly rewarding industry to be in. On average, a virtual assistant in the US is paid $23.95/hour, with those having specialized skills making even more.

11 Steps to Starting a Virtual Assistant Business

It may seem easy to start a virtual assistant business but let that make you impatient to begin. You need to do some due diligence when starting any new business. Don’t treat this any differently. The following steps will put you on the right path, giving your VA business a great shot at success.

Research the Market for Virtual Assistants

Start by researching the market for virtual assistants to identify trends and see where opportunities exist. Weigh your skills against the needs of potential customers so you can figure out how to best present your unique selling proposition. 

If you’re skilled in a rapidly evolving industry like digital marketing, evaluate the current technology and services so you can get a sense of how they will evolve down the road. Keep abreast of all changes in your industry so that you’re always able to provide the best possible service to your client base.

Establish Your Unique Selling Proposition

Remember, the clients are coming to you because they have a problem that needs to be solved. You need to tell them clearly how you can do that better than any of the countless other virtual assistants. That’s what your unique selling proposition is. It should be tailored to the needs of the market you’re targeting and needs to stand out from the crowd. 

For example, Facebook marketers are a dime a dozen, so why should a client choose your VA business over another? You should better highlight how your skills excel. All clients want the best return on ad spend (ROAS) so include details about previous campaigns you’ve run that have extracted the best performance from every dollar spent on ads.

Develop a Business Plan

Put together a solid business plan to position yourself for success. This key document will highlight the path your business needs to follow for growth. It will also include details on any potential pitfalls to avoid and what legal and regulatory obligations your business must comply with so that there can be smooth sailing.

Services to Offer

You need to consider how good your skills are when deciding which services to offer. For example, if you’ve never made an app before, it wouldn’t be good to offer app development services initially. You can always expand the business later on and hire professionals to increase the number of services offered. It’s also a good idea to learn or improve your understanding of skills to make yourself more competitive in the market.

Target Clients

Your target market will be based on the services you’re offering. For example, if you’re offering SEO services, you’ll need to find businesses that want to work on their search engine optimization. They may require technical SEO help or may just be looking to improve rankings through content marketing. Whichever area you excel in, structure your services based on the needs of the target market you’ve determined. 

Financial Forecast

Starting a virtual assistant business can cost between $500 – $2000 or more, depending on the type of services you’re offering. For example, for general admin tasks, you probably won’t need more than a decent enough computer and an internet connection. 

However, if you’re a freelance video editor, you’ll need to invest in a more powerful computer capable of handling that workload. There may also be additional costs for time tracking software, bookkeeping software, hosting for your website, social media campaigns, etc. 

Pricing Structure

Virtual assistants typically charge hourly or offer pricing packages. You can choose to bill the client at an hourly rate and use time-tracking software for transparency. A pricing package can be offered, whereby you commit to providing the client with a specific deliverable for a fixed fee. For example, as an SEO professional, you can provide a preliminary SEO audit for $500.

Your biggest consideration when pricing services is to check what your competitors are charging. Don’t be tempted to go too low to undercut them as that gives the impression that your work may be of inferior quality. Be comparatively competitive and focus more on the USP for winning over clients. 

Marketing Strategy

Once the target market has been determined, utilize the different marketing channels to put your business in front of them. This can be done through ads on social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, YouTube videos that provide helpful tips and industry insights, pay-per-click marketing on Google, etc. Focus on building an email list so that you can run email marketing campaigns as well to bring in more leads.

Name of Business

Your business needs a unique name. It should be catchy just enough to capture the potential client’s attention. This will be your unique identity in the crowded virtual assistant market. The name is the first thing that most people will notice so it’s important that it just doesn’t blend in with the rest. 

Choose Your Business Structure

Setting up a business requires you to choose the most appropriate business structure. These are the most commonly used structures. It’s possible to start with one and then convert to another entity down the road.  

Sole Proprietorship

This is the simplest business entity. It’s quick and easy to set up with minimal paperwork requirements. This is an unincorporated entity where the owner and the business won’t have any separation. Its simplicity is the biggest advantage, however, the disadvantage is that the owner takes on personal liability for all obligations of the business.

General Partnership

This entity functions much in the same way as sole proprietorships with a similarly minimal setup and paperwork process. It’s a way for two or more people to join together and run a business. The disadvantage is similar as well since all partners remain personally exposed to the business liabilities. 

Limited Partnership

The only major difference in the limited partnership is that two or more partners will choose a managing partner to run the business. All other partners don’t have any control over the management. It’s the managing partner that takes on unlimited liability whereas the other partners only have liability limited up to the amount they’ve invested. 

Limited Liability Company

This business structure offers the simplicity of a sole proprietorship or partnership with enhanced liability protection for personal assets. A Limited Liability Company (LLC) has fewer paperwork requirements and can choose its taxation structure. Owners can manage the LLC themselves or have a designated manager. While owners’ personal assets remain protected, they remain responsible for paying self-employment taxes on their share of the profits.


Corporations are separate legal entities from the owners and effectively have the same rights and responsibilities as an individual, such as the ability to own assets, sue or be sued, enter into contracts, and more. Owners have the maximum liability protection. Corporations have easier access to capital as well since they can issue stocks and bonds to raise money. However, corporations are more expensive to set up and have strict reporting and regulatory obligations they must meet. 

Acquire the Necessary Skills and Equipment

Skills alone aren’t enough to get your virtual assistant business off the ground. Spend some time to brush up on your project management and customer service style, since you’ll need effective client management to succeed. Keep refreshing your technical skills as well so that your services remain competitive. 

You’ll also need equipment that’s capable enough to support what you need to do. Acquire the right computer, and have a reliable and fast internet connection as well as other office essentials such as a printer and scanner. You may also want to keep a separate phone number that’s for clients only.

Set Up a Virtual Office

Since you’re offering services online, your virtual office needs to be pristine. This is where your clients will find you and get in touch. Create an exceptional website that highlights the services in which you excel and provides details about pricing. Establish a presence on leading social media networks to expand your client base. 

This is also the part where you figure out how you’re going to take payment, whether through an online POS or bank transfer. Develop a system for managing your tasks and clients, invest in good bookkeeping software for business finances, and other tools that can help simplify your office operations.

Register Your Business and Obtain Licenses and Permits 

Depending on the type of business structure you’ve chosen, you may be required to register it. For example, LLCs need to be registered with the secretary of state where they’re based. Businesses also need to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Some locations may also require small business owners to obtain licenses and permits, so it’s best to search for any prevailing regulations in your area before starting. 

Open a Business Bank Account

A business bank account will keep your personal and business finances separate. Come tax season, this will make your life much easier. It will also give you full visibility into the financial position of your business, thus equipping you with vital information to make the necessary business decisions.

Head over to any bank as most offer business bank accounts. You’ll be asked to provide business formation documents and personal identity documents. Business bank accounts are typically opened right away and the banks may also offer you additional services such as business credit cards and merchant accounts.

Develop a Network of Contacts

A good network of contacts will help your business unlock its true potential. Network with people in the industry to share knowledge. Learn from their experiences and talk about yours to build lasting relationships. This will also increase the chances of referral work coming your way. Other virtual assistants may also encourage you to pursue new opportunities and markets and offer collaborations and partnerships to grow collectively. 

Hire and Train Your Team

Once you start growing your business, you may want to think about hiring more people so that you can expand the services you offer. This way, even if you don’t have specific skills, you can still provide those services by hiring people who have the required skills. 

Reach out to skilled and talented freelancers to ask if they would be happy to join your team. You can also teach new freelancers the skills and provide them with the experience they need to get started. 

Market Your Virtual Assistant Business

Establish yourself as an authority in the market you’re targeting. Promote your business extensively through your website and social media networks, particularly through Facebook and LinkedIn groups. Attend networking groups to build relationships with other people in the industry. This raises your profile and helps establish you as a trusted name in the industry.

Your Virtual Assistant Business Has Limitless Growth Potential

You can continue to expand your virtual assistant business by hiring more employees and increasing the number of services offered. Your ability to service clients will only be limited by the amount of work you’re able to take on. So scale it up effectively to realize that growth potential. 

With so much money coming in and going out, you’ll need a bookkeeping service that’s accurate, effective, and easy to use. doola Bookkeeping checks those boxes. It’s a powerful solution for income and expense tracking as well as for monitoring trends so that you’re fully in control of your business finances.


How do I get VA clients?

You can get Virtual Assistant clients by promoting the services you offer online, either through your website or social media profiles. You can also join groups online where clients search for freelancers. There are third-party platforms available for freelancers as well.

What is the most in-demand virtual assistant?

Social media managers, executive assistants, affiliate managers, copywriting, sales and marketing, and app and web development virtual assistants are some of the most in-demand, though other skill sets are also witnessing higher demand now.

How much does it cost to start a virtual assistant business?

The costs will vary depending on the service you’re going to offer, but typically the cost will be between $500 – $2,000 as most virtual assistants will require a good laptop and a reliable internet connection. 

What do clients look for in a virtual assistant?

Clients look for skills and experience in a virtual assistant, in addition to good communication skills and punctuality, as they want their VAs to deliver on the deadlines that they have agreed upon.

How do beginners start virtual assistants?

Beginners can start a virtual assistant business by improving their skills and setting up their online presence to let people know about what services they’re providing. Gradually, they will be able to bring in clients so that they’re eventually able to expand the business.

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