Have you made that big decision to become self-employed? Are you struggling with where to start? Having looked at the advice and guidance are you just feeling overwhelmed and lost?
Aspiring business owners make the important decision, then struggle with “where I’m at now” versus “where I want to be”. Moving to where you want to be my feel immense, or even out of reach.
So what’s holding you back? Do these questions sound familiar?
- How do you go about setting up a buiness?
- Do you need any budget?
- What equipment will I need?
- How do I go about getting clients?
- What services can I offer?
We get asked these same questions time and time again. With this in mind, we decided to create a booklet that provides all the answers for you. You can download a copy here.
We know it’s not easy
We understand setting up your own business is not easy, though the rewards make all the hard work worth it. Whatever stage of the journey you are at, whether you are still working full or part-time, or maybe like me you have been made redundant, our aim is to help as many people as possible. We understand you may only be able to work on your business whilst the kids are having a nap or when they are at school. We want to make this as easy as possible by sharing all the things we have learnt along the way. This way we can ensure we give you the best possible start.
How do I set-up my business?
It is important to note at the outset that there are two types of business set-up that you need to consider. Firstly, Sole traders who are one man/woman businesses. Secondly Limited Companies which give the impression you are a more established larger business, and you have ambitions to grow.
- Sole-Trader – the quickest and easiest to set-up. Sign up online via the .GOV website for tax self-assessment, National Insurance and VAT (ONLY for yearly turnover over £85K)
- Limited Company – the main bonus being that your business affairs are separate from your personal ones. Therefore, if your business gets into financial difficulty, you only lose money invested. Company Directors pay themselves a salary through payroll and top up with dividends (profit) from the business. Again, the process is simple to get you set-up via the .GOV website.
Have a look at both options in detail. After we suggest you have a conversation with an Accountant to make sure you get it right.
If you would like some further information you may want to read our BLOG “Company Set Up: limited company or sole trader? What’s right for my start-up?”
Once you have your business set-up, there are a few legalities to consider:
- Business Insurance – needs to be in place before you start operating in your business, though not before you start working with clients. You will need Public Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance to make sure you are fully covered. We would suggest using a broker like PolicyBee who has access to all the products each insurance company provides
- Information Commissioners Office (ICO) – an independent body set up to uphold information rights. You have a legal obligation to collect and store data in the right way for both you and your clients. There is a simple online assessment to confirm registration, take some time and consider if this applies to you
- Contracts – we recommend that you have a basic contract, this will portray a professional image to your clients as well as providing protection for you both.
What equipment will I need?
One of the positives of setting up a VA business is that you do not need a big budget. You don’t need to invest in lots of equipment and software upfront before you start to make any money.
Here are some of the things we would suggest you consider:
- PC/Laptop – the biggest investment when you start your online business, though if you already have one that is a bonus. If you aren’t quite as lucky and are having to purchase one then you may be thinking whether you need a Windows or an Apple MAC PC. At the outset I would suggest that you go with the one you are comfortable with, though as you build your client base you may need to use both.
- Cloud Back-up – it’s important to consider business continuity, so make sure at all times that your business can operate. A good discipline to have in place at the outset is to make sure that all your files on your PC are backed up so that you can access them if something happens to your PC
- Business Telephone – the easiest option would just be to use your existing mobile telephone number. Though we would like to flag its difficult managing business and personal calls outside of business hours. We suggest buying a dedicated business number that can be diverted accordingly, which can be to your mobile initially.
- Wi-Fi – in an environment that is now moving into the virtual world, good Wi-Fi is a business basic. Nothing is worse than being on a client Zoom call and you keep freezing or dropping out.
- Video Conference (VC) Software – enables you to stay connected with your clients and connections and the bonus is that they are free. A firm favourite is Zoom which has a free option account or Skype if you would prefer.
- Time-Tracking Software – it’s important that you can accurately record how long it takes to do things. There are many different options though we would suggest trying an app such as Toggl or Zoho Projects.
- Accounting Software – although it is not a necessity now. We are fast approaching a point where all businesses will need to use a system to manage their accounts. Although a monthly cost to the business, a system will really help you to understand sales, expenses and profit. Plus and added bonus it will save you time. We would suggest you look at XERO or Quickbooks.
The final point I would like to share is the importance of peer support. It is very lonely being self-employed, especially in the early days when you are not sure what you are doing. For me personally support was critical to my success.
I have for this reason created a Facebook Group the VA Society, which anyone can join and will provide you with:
- Accountability – for when you know what you need to do to but life gets in the way and so you stick to the things you are already doing. We will keep you accountable so that you get where you want to be faster
- Peer Support – peers at the same stage going through the same transition
- Knowledge – I will share what I have learnt and how it has worked for my business
- Live Sessions – I will deliver live training sessions and be available to answer your questions
Why don’t you come and join us?
Are you still unsure what's next?
If you are still feeling overwhelm and need some help or advice on setting up your business then we may be able to help you.
Book a call to discuss the help you need and get your business off to the greatest of starts.