Start Up Success: Virtual Assistant

Start Up Success: Virtual Assistant

Start Up Success: Virtual Assistant

By Sadie Marie McClelland

Before my very first Facebook Live on the Recruit for Spouses private members forum next week, I wanted to offer some initial information and inspiration on how to set yourself up as a VA. 

Firstly (and what is probably the question I get asked most) What is a VA? 

 My response is normally a VA is whatever you want it to be, that’s the joy of being a self-employed Virtual Assistant. 

Ok ok…  let’s be honest you can’t just sit around wearing a unicorn costume and call yourself a VA but the term VA covers anything from Business administration support to helping people manage their private lives.

And whilst I mention VA, let’s be clear on the shorthand Lingo. A VA is a virtual assistant, an PA is a Personal or Private Assistant and finally an EA is for Executive Assistant. All different, all offer different services, however all have the same skillset and mostly all can now be done in the luxury of wearing your PJ’s, eating jaffa cakes in the comfort of your own home as a VA (never done that, honest) 

What services should I offer? 

Below are the services I offer to clients, uou can use this list as a base to work from or work towards. If you have experience in something, that you know would be a popular service – Make sure it’s on your list! 

Never offer a service to a client that you aren’t comfortable with or you just don’t want to do. Of course, that doesn’t stop a client from asking you to do something that isn’t on the list. If it’s something you don’t have a lot of experience in be honest and tell them. If you feel comfortable that the task isn’t too far out of your comfort zone, express that you are thankful for the opportunity and would be happy to try. 

I’ve sectioned services into sub-sections, you’ll also notice my niche, which I’ll talk more about on the Facebook live and how to highlight yours. 

Private PA 

  • Management of Estate
  • Event planning
  • Wedding Planning (This is my niche, the experience that makes me different) 
  • Assisting in Gift Buying
  • Local & International Travel Co-Ordination
  • Lifestyle Management

Business Assistance 

  • Diary Management
  • Email Management
  • Scheduling Client Calls & Meetings
  • Project Co-Ordination
  • Event management and planning
  • Research
  • Competitor Research
  • Business Forecasting
  • Staff Management
  • Staff reports
  • CRM Client Relationship Management
  • Document production
  • General Admin

Digital PA 

  • Social Media Management
  • Website Management
  • Blog Management 
  • Email Marketing
  • App Management

Your first client 

My first official VA Client came from Recruit for Spouses, the rest of my clients came from social media. 

I get asked if I advertise to gain clients and I have to say for VA’s, networking and being interactive online will more likely produce clients over traditional advertisement, which can be costly. 

RFS have some fantastic work from home options. I’d make sure the first thing I’d do is to get a CV or Portfolio CV uploaded onto their website Here  

Keeping yourself organised & motivated 


The hardest part about working from home is working in the most productive and efficient way that you can. Time IS money! 

Every Sunday I set some time aside in the evening to run through my weeks diary and get a few bits and bobs ready, so I don’t feel overwhelmed. 

Then every evening during the working week, I give myself 15 minuets at my desk to run through the next days schedule. My diary is my WORLD! I personally like to use a physical diary, it’s a nice break away from all things digital and I section parts of the page for each of my client’s tasks or reminders – use whatever you feel comfortable with. 

I’m also in total LOVE with Suzy Olivier’s Facebook Live’s on the RfS private members forum, as I’m a true believer in using words in a positive and powerful way. Any of my previous work colleagues will tell you about my daily quotes I’d write up on my board of Inspiration. I must also admit I’m a postcard slogan obsessive that should really have stocks in Paperchase! Whatever inspires you to be the best you, make sure that’s in your workspace! 

And without sounding like some crazy nut, I also have a Bonsai Tree called Bonsai-Jim who I talk to, I class him as my work colleague! 

Things you MUST have and things that are nice to haves 

 Laptop or computer – Goes without saying a must have, don’t think you’ll be able to work from a ipad or your phone, you really cant. You need something that will cope with your workload. I use a computer, but I’ve been through 2 laptops already this year because they don’t work fast enough for my workflow. I also have a spare laptop which is kept as back up if my computer decides to crash.  

Internet access – Make sure you have a good internet speed that isn’t temperamental. Its also good to keep a list the local café’s or shared workspaces that offer wifi access in case of an emergency if yours decided to crash! If you wanted you could invest in a dongle. 

BACK UP – Note the capital letters, back up is so, so, so very important. Not only do I have a physical back up drive, I put all my client work on their dedicated google drive folder or icloud, whichever the client prefers. Not only is this a safe space to store work should the worst happen to your laptop, it gives your client access to all the work you’ve done for them. 

Stationery – Notebooks, folders, pens, sticky notes. When it comes to stationery the list can be endless and all are nice to haves. My one tip would be find a way of working that keeps you on track! I’m old school and buy A4 exercise books, like the ones we had at school. I keep one for each client, they are a cheap and easy way to store all physical notes that you can go back on should you need to. 

The not so fun stuff 

Being self employed is a fantastic way to control your income and allow you to work in a flexible way. It does come with the joyous task of registering yourself as self-employed. Make sure you keep good financial records of invoicing and payments and you need to tell HMRC within 3 months of starting your business that you are now Self Employed as you’ll need your own Tax Code. For more information please visit their website Here 

Contracts, terms and conditions and if you’re a VA more commonly NDA’s 

There are a GAZILLION self employed contracts available online, most are free to download. When you are happy with your contract read it carefully and seek legal advice if you are unsure.  Also a key point to note: if you only have one client and depend on that money coming in, make sure you put in an amazing cancellation clause such as 1-2months notice of terminating your contract. 

I normally advice my clients start a 2week trial period with me. Work that into your contract so you both have a ‘get out’ if after 2 weeks if you just don’t click. 

NDA’s – If you’ve worked with high profiled clients, such as celebrities, wealthy individuals or well-known brands before you’ll know that signing an non-disclosure agreement is common practice. It is also very common in the VA business, as we are sometimes dealing with the nitty gritty of people’s lives. If you’re signing one, make sure you stick to your agreement. To use one of my favourite Naval sayings “Loose lips, sink ships” 

My last tip would be investing in understanding your client/ clients you wish to have. Research and take time to understand their world, it’s what will make you a successful VA

I have much more ready for the Facebook Live at 1pm on Friday Nov 9th, if you have any questions be sure to comment and I’ll do my best to answer them! 

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