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Setting up your own virtual assistant business is very exciting, but running your own successful business can be a huge leap from being employed. Most people considering taking this step have a solid background in providing administration support services so are more than competent at providing the services that potential clients will ask for. But in addition to working with clients, you need to have the skills required to establish and run your own business.

The most important, and often undervalued skill is the ability to attract, manage and retain clients. Without clients, your business does not exist.

As a virtual assistant running your own business, you will spend a significant amount of time marketing your services, attending networking events, conducting client consultations, creating marketing materials such as newsletters and blogs and dealing with prospects face to face, over the telephone and via email. The list of tasks you will perform in order to grow your business goes on and on. The remainder of your time you will spend working with clients, and this is the only time you will be able to invoice and be paid for. A far cry from being ‘employed’ where you are essentially paid for each hour you spend at your desk.

Of course, virtual assistant rates reflect this, which is why the ‘hourly rate’ often seems high when compared to a salary or temp hourly rate. But not everyone is adept, or indeed interested, in marketing their business, dealing with prospects or managing clients. If you are one of these people and are having second thoughts about setting up your own virtual assistant business for these reasons, another option to consider is becoming a Virtual Assistant Associate (VAA).

Virtual Assistant Associates (VAA’s) work in much the same way as a virtual assistant in that they are self employed and work from home. You are still responsible for your own tax, national insurance, business running costs, supplying your own equipment, etc. However, your clients are virtual assistants themselves who, rather than complete all their client work, pass on some or all of it to VAA’s. VAA’s are effectively being paid by the virtual assistant to complete their client work.

It is critical to understand that however much contact you have with the end client (the virtual assistants client), this client is not yours. They remain the client of the virtual assistant, contracted to their organisation and invoiced and managed them, and there are usually stiff penalties for trying to poach these clients in order to try to establish your own virtual assistant business. Never be tempted to go to these clients offering your services directly or try to undercut the virtual assistant that has introduced them to you. You will find yourself in court.

Having said that, if you would prefer to concentrate on completing work, rather than looking for clients, it is a great alternative to setting up your own virtual assistant business. The rates are obviously lower than you would expect as a fully fledged virtual assistant, but then again, you are not spending hours each week marketing your business in order to get clients. You can expect to be paid between 50% to 70% of the hourly rate being charged by the virtual assistant delegating the work to you, with the virtual assistant keeping the remainder.

At the UK Association of Virtual Assistants we provide to our Members a Directory of Virtual Assistant Associates called the Associate Bank. It is a Member’s only benefit, so is not visible to the public, but here you can showcase your experience and the services you can provide, to established virtual assistants looking to expand their business by using VAA’s.

There’s an annual fee of £24.95 to be listed, but this is a reclaimable business expense. To sign up click here to make your payment: VA Associate Bank Application.

You will then be taken to a page to add your details. If you are not automatically redirected to this page, please then check your email for further instructions and a link to include your details.