- Ronica on Twitter
- Episode 52
- Google Voice
- Facebook Post
- Article About Being Sick
I strongly encourage you to give your dream a try. #vatip Gotta Tweet!
You can work your corporate job and get started as a #virtualassistant. #vatipGotta Tweet!
Don’t stress about having business cards printed. #vatip Gotta Tweet!
Hi and welcome to episode number 59. I want to give a quick shout out to Ronica. Thank you so much for the question you asked on episode number 52. She asked her question in the comments and I am going to answer that question in today’s episode.
Ronica’s comment was “I would definitely like to hear your thoughts on expenses that you have to start taking on when transitioning from a corporate employee to a VA business owner. The points you made about expenses that you can give up really got me started thinking.” So, Ronica, I am going to answer that question.
As I as going through making notes about this episode I went back and thought about when I was working in Corporate America and what happens the first day you get to work. Besides the orientation and all that good stuff, what do they do? Well, you have a place to sit, hopefully. Although, that may not always be the case if they’re not very organized. But let’s say they’re super organized. You have a desk. You have a phone. You have a computer.
They may point you to where the closet is for all of the office supplies. I had a job like that where they pointed us to the office supplies. That office supply closet was heaven to me because Staples is one of my favorite stores. I love pens and paper and all kinds of stuff. Anyway, they’ll point you to the office supply area where you can get everything that you need. There’s obviously the Internet there so they’ve already got WiFi. They have everything.
Now, let’s transition that to home. What does that look like for your VA business at home? Here are the things I jotted down:
- Software/Apps/Web Hosting/Email System
- Health Insurance
- Training Courses
- Gym Membership
- Networking/Social Activities
- Office Supplies
*The equipment in front of me right now, I’m looking at a tripod that I use to do videos with my phone, and I’m speaking in a microphone, and I totally forgot the name of this microphone, but anyway, microphone for my podcast.
That is the bulk of it. Let’s talk about each of these items.
WiFi – most likely you have WiFi in your home. When you start doing an online business, you need fast Internet. When you’re just using it to do things on Facebook on your phone, or a little Instagram, Snapchat, here and there on your phone, you don’t have to have super fast Internet connection. But once you have an online business, you want it to be fast. You want it to be when you click that button, boom, it’s just happening and you’re not even having to wait a long time for it to go to the next thing.
Fast Internet speed – you may have to increase the plan that you have at home, and you might not have to. You might already have super fast, but you want to check. You want the fastest that the company will offer in your area.
Cellphone – the cellphone is not to take client calls. You want to a different system to take your calls. There is an app. I use a mix. I’ve used Skype and Google Voice. There’s also an app called Convoi, which is on the iPhone. I don’t know if they have an Android version or not. I’m all Apple as far as things like that go. This allows you to have a different phone number for your business that you can be able to take calls from your cellphone. So you’ll be able to do a mix of things.
Computer – you want to have the best computer. Your client does not want to hear that your computer is not working, your computer is slow, your computer is broken. Remember, you got into the business because you wanted to provide a service as a virtual assistant.
It’s like going to the hairstylist and she says, “Oh, I am so sorry, our water got cut off today so we’re doing shampoos a whole different way today because we don’t have water.” You know, I came to you for a professional service with the anticipation that you’d have everything that you need.
You need a good computer. I use a Mac laptop. The reason why I use a laptop over a desktop is that I can’t sit in the same place day after day after day after day. I have an office, but I actually move around my house. Because if I have to stay in that office in that one space day after day after day, week after week, month after month, I mean, I just can’t think like that.
So I will be in my office for some time. Maybe that will last two weeks, and then I’ll end up down in the dining room and then that’ll be a couple of weeks. Now, I just go to the sofa and then I’m back upstairs. I’m all over, so a laptop is the best thing. Plus, on the go, you want to be able to take your business on the go. You don’t want to be stuck to a desk. You were stuck at your desk at your office at your job. So for your VA business, you want it to be portable, take it wherever.
At some point, I do want to have a desktop computer to hold larger files like videos and graphics and things like that as I’m doing more. But a lot of stuff is all done in apps now and you really don’t need that. Anyway, whatever your choice is on that, but either way you need a really, really, really good computer.
Of course, I’m going to recommend Mac because they are topnotch. When I had a regular PC laptop, I would change it like very two to three years. The Macs go a little longer. They may go a lot longer. The one I have, I’ve had it, I think, two years now. I’m not sure how long, but I’m going to take it all the way to the end. I even have another Mac that I need to take to the Apple Store to get checked on, but I just haven’t done it.
Software/Apps/Web Hosting/Email Marketing – think about this category as the software that you’ll need to run your VA business. Initially, you want to have email. If you have a website, you’re going to need web hosting. You’re going to need either to set that up yourself or pay someone to design your website, so you’re going to need that. You don’t necessarily need it on day one, but you want to make sure you’ve got an email address that’s not Gmail or Yahoo to use for clients. I’ve got several Gmail accounts. But for clients, they’re emailing with the @VirtualHiredHand.com.
My advice when it comes to that is you can register a domain and use email, yes, and just kind of have it waiting until you’re ready. But your client may take your domain name that’s a part of your email and check to see if you have a website. Have you ever done that before? I have. I check email addresses because I’m looking to learn more about the person. So if all I have is an email and it’s a domain name email like I have for @VirtualHiredHand.com, I’m going to the website to see if it exists, and when it doesn’t I’m like, aw. It’s like, oh, hmm, no website. So that is an expense.
You want to have a website even if it’s one page to get you started.
Software – let’s think about the software that you’ll need, and this is for day one, but just knowing that that will grow. You will need more. Right now, to communicate with my team, we use Asana, and Asana is free. That’s spelled A-s-a-n-a, and we’ll make sure there’s a link for you as always in our show notes. But this is how we communicate instead of having email. It’s easy to have a nice flow of conversation instead of depending on nested emails like you have in Gmail or other places like that.
I’m one, I like to be able to check when things are completed for my own personal tasks, so it’s perfect for that. There’s also an app for your phone, so a lot of times I’m answering things in Asana on my phone. That is good to have. Again, that system is free.
What other initial apps? If you don’t have an Upwork account, that’s not an app but more of a system, you want to make sure you’ve got an Upwork account. I may be jumping ahead. I’ll put that with memberships.
Let’s go backwards and keep up with the software. Email is big. Your website is big because it’s pretty much tied to your email and you really want a client to be able to – if they see that address and they go to that website, you don’t want them to get the standard GoDaddy message, basically saying it’s registered but it’s not hosted anywhere. You don’t want that.
I can’t think of any initial apps. There may be some. More than likely you’re already on Social Media, at least Facebook, Twitter, maybe LinkedIn, so you want to be on those. I still don’t use LinkedIn as much as I should. I just don’t like LinkedIn. I’m just going to say it. Oh, I don’t like LinkedIn. It’s just still stuffy to me. Let’s move on – added things that you would pay for.
Health Insurance – now you’re responsible for your own health insurance. My last corporate job, I was a contractor and the health insurance they offered was very expensive, so I was responsible for my health insurance then as a contractor. You will have to pay for your own health insurance. That is an expense and now it’s not something you can do without. It is required. It’s one of those things that I’m like, oh, but we’ve got to have health insurance.
Taxes – now you’re responsible for your own taxes. I don’t do my own taxes. I go to a professional for that. I’m not interested in learning tax laws and changes and all that, so I go to a professional that loves that kind of stuff. I’ve been working with them since, oh, gosh, it’s been a while, maybe four or five years.
So find your good CPA to help you with taxes because you will have to pay those. Right out of the gate, if you don’t have any clients, there’s no taxes to pay on so you don’t have to stress about it. It’s nothing to stress over. Just know that now you’ll be responsible for that.
It’s so funny, my family is still trying to wrap their brain around what I do, and my mom didn’t realize that I have to pay taxes and that means also Social Security and Medicare and whatever else that’s funky on your W2s that you don’t know what it is, but you’ve got to do it because it’s part of taxes. You still have to do that when you have your own business. It’s just that now you’re responsible for it.
I wrote down electricity, heat, and gas, and this is why: you already have that at the house, but if you go full-time with your VA business, now you’re home all day. So where things were turned off while you were at work, like lights are off, air conditioning is off, in the winter the heat is off – you may have it comfortable, but nobody’s there to be warmed up or cooled off or whatever, so you may experience a slight increase because now you are there all day. That’s something to expect.
It’s not terrifying or anything, but it’s just something to think about because now you’re going to be using electricity all day. In the summer months, you will have the air on. I have tried not to turn the air on, because sometimes I’m just really into the work and I’m hot but I’m not thinking about it. But then all of a sudden you’re like, oh, my gosh, it’s hot in here. You know, you’ve got to turn the air on. Those are some things you may not think about, once you’re full-time.
Equipment – we talked about equipment already. Initially, your only equipment might just be the things that go with your computer. That will grow just depending on what services you provide and as more technology comes out. I didn’t always have a microphone. I didn’t always have a tripod. You work with what you’ve got to get going, and it’s not a necessity.
Training Courses – now that you are a virtual assistant business owner, you want to start investing in some training. Whatever that training is, whether it’s online or offline or what have you. Where your company may have provided ongoing training courses and education for you as part of your benefits, now that’s something that you want to make sure that you’re doing for yourself, that you’re staying on top of things.
Associations/Memberships – there may be some associations and memberships that you want to be a part of. Upwork is one membership you want to make sure that you have. That is an initial way to get some clients. It’s also the best way to research what people are looking for and how they’re phrasing things.
I have talked about that a lot and I’m going to do a whole other separate episode on that about Upwork. Some people turn their nose up at it like, “Oh, no,” dah, dah, dah. “You won’t get the rate that you want on those kinds of websites.” But here’s the deal: it is the best way to get started. I’m not saying you’ve got to live on Upwork. You know, you don’t have to be there forever, but it’s a way to get your foot in the industry to experience what it’s like without totally committing yourself.
I’m going to do a whole other separate episode on that. But that’s something that gets under my skin when people do that. Because you’re on Upwork doesn’t exclude you from all the other opportunities, whether online or offline, in how you get clients. It’s an added addition to it, and if you’re one that has been around people or heard people kind of downplay what it is, they haven’t done it. They have not experienced it.
You all know I got started on Elance. Maybe you don’t know. Maybe this is your first time listening to the podcast. But Upwork was Elance, and that’s how I got started. I never would have explored being a virtual assistant if it wasn’t for that website, because they laid it out for me in that the clients are here. This is what they’re saying that they need. This is how you submit your information and let them know you exist.
Otherwise, I wouldn’t have known. I would have been talking to family and friends, and depending on your circle, that may be a good thing or a bad thing. They may not be able to help you. All right. I’m going to jump off of that. That will be for another episode. I’m going to write it down for a later episode, because people just don’t get it.
But anyway, you may want to join your local Chamber of Commerce. Depending on what niche you’re serving, they may have organizations and things like that that you want to join as well. That may be something down the road that you look into, that having a corporate job you didn’t even have to think about.
Gym Membership – gym membership may have been one of your benefits on your job. Whether it was or not, you want to have some type of exercise as part of your business format, whether it be tapes that you buy or getting out of the house to actually get in the gym.
If you are a full-time virtual assistant, you’re doing your business full-time, you don’t have anything else, your primary income, you’re in the house a lot or you’re sitting a lot. Wherever you’re sitting, Starbucks, Panera, it doesn’t matter, the library, wherever. You’re sitting a lot, and you’re by yourself a lot. So you need to do something to get the body moving and to be social, and having a gym membership is a great way to do that.
Anyway, that’s why I have it on the list because it is an expense that you may not have even thought about. I worked somewhere once; the office in the building, at the bottom of the building there was a gym already so you didn’t have to think about the gym membership. It was there in the building, which was pretty cool.
Networking/Social Activities – I think I said that with part of memberships and associations, but there may be networking events in your area that you want to participate in, and there may be a fee or not. They may just have you pay for your meal or whatever the case may be, so factor that in. Those are things that you wouldn’t have paid for because you’re working a corporate job.
Advertising – how are you marketing yourself? How are you letting people know you exist? Paid advertising is something that should be on the list of the things that you’ll have to pay for, whether it be Facebook ads. That’s like the bulk of paid advertising these days is the Facebook ads, and just getting yourself in front of the right people. That may require you to attend live events. That’s a great way to meet some clients is to get out and go to some of these different conferences and meet people. That is going to be an expense that we all have and didn’t have before with our corporate jobs.
Printing – now, if you’re doing a lot of printing, maybe you’re having business cards or brochures and flyers. I wrote down printing. Okay, let’s talk about this. A while back I was doing mentoring and brochures came up. Don’t let something like that hold you up from letting people know what you do. Your website is a great asset for you to point people to, and it is not a brochure. You want to have it to be a living portion of your business, meaning you’re adding things to it, adding blog posts, adding information.
When you are out doing networking, they’re always like, oh, bring a stack of cards. That means people are going to be shoving cards in your face and you may not even be interested in what they’re offering. But you want business cards, so I’ve got printing on here.
Somebody wants business cards, they need business cards, if I had to give you a business card right now I don’t even know where my Virtual Hired Hand business cards are, and I’ve had all different kinds of designs and styles over the years. Right now, today, as I sit here talking to you, I don’t where those cards are. They’re somewhere in a box. Okay, and don’t stress about the business cards, but that’s on here as an expense.
Office Supplies – talked about that wonderful office supply closet, so you’re going to now need some of that – papers, pens, whatever cute things that you like to have around you in your office, post-its, all that good stuff. Now, that’s on you, and you want good stuff. Yes, dollar store has post-its, but if you’ve ever bought post-its from the dollar store, you know they don’t stick good. So get you some good office supplies because this is your business and you want to have good things around you that work and they’re not cheap. [Laughs]
Okay, that is a list to get you started in what the expenses would be for having your own virtual assistant business, and that transition from corporate to VA business owner. Everything on this list you may not need day one. You know what you need on the first day. Go with that and build from there.
Don’t let this list scare you off.
Hopefully, I didn’t have anything on this list that was scary for you, that’s keeping you from getting started. Remember, you can work your corporate job and get started as a VA. You can do it both together. I recommend it. I don’t recommend you jump out and quit your job, because that is scary if you don’t have any clients lined up. Then you feel the extra pressure.
If you have been listening to my podcast for a while, you’ve listened to three episodes – let me not even say a while. Let me give you a number. If you’ve listened to three episodes and you’re still wondering, still deciding about whether or not you want to be a virtual assistant, the fact that you continue to come back and listen to the podcast is an indication that you may be, or maybe you just like hanging out with me and hearing me talk. I don’t know.
But if that is your desire and your dream, I strongly encourage you to go ahead and get in the water. Give it a try.
Recently, I posted on my Facebook page about a friend asking me if I ever get tired of working from home and I did not understand what she was asking me. What? Then she clarified that, “Oh, do you ever want to work in an office?” The last time I tried to work in an office, I got sick, physically sick for months, and the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.
I had written a blog post about that a few years back, but I’ll tell you if I can find it I’ll link it up. But I physically got sick and I had never been sick in my whole life. I’m not talking about the flu or a cold or anything like that. I mean sick where I had to have MRI, CAT scan, spinal tap. They had no idea what was wrong with me.
I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I had a lot of different things all at once, and I had never had it before – Bell’s Palsy, vertigo, migraines. I was walking like an 80-year-old woman. I was talking like a sickly 80-year-old woman, because there are some spry 80 year olds so let me pull back, a sickly 80-year-old woman.
Anyway, to be asked do I think about going back into an office, no, I don’t. I will fight for my business and for my freedom, and to have flexibility to be with my family. I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. That’s have a home-based business and that’s to share the message. It’s like to ring the bell loud to let other people know it’s possible.
Yes, people will pay you to create PowerPoint presentations. Yes, people will pay you to put information for them into an Excel spreadsheet. Yes, people will pay you to format their blog post. Yes, people will pay you to transcribe their audios. Yes, people will pay you to create those fun graphics you see on social media. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
Thanks so much for tuning in. If you like what you heard, stay tuned. We’ll be back. Tell me what’s going on with you. Come on over the Facebook page: facebook.com/tiffanyparsonbiz, or if you prefer a little shorter message, come on over to Twitter: @tiffanydparson.
See you next time!