Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Only to a Virtual Assistant

This can only happen to a Virtual Assistant. I provide live phone answering for a company and a gentleman just called me and asked to speak to someone. I asked him for his name and he said "Mr. _____. I'm calling from upstairs." Well I just had to giggle because he's not calling from upstairs! Otherwise he would be calling from my kitchen or bedroom!

After I got back on the line to tell him that the person he was looking for wasn't available he told me that he would just drop the paper work off to him personally. He then said, "Okay! I'll see you in a few minutes." Again, I had to giggle.

It truly is a gift to be able to work at home and it makes me smile! It makes me feel good that people assume I'm in an office working just like them. To me it validates that I'm doing a good job and Virtual Assistants are just as professional as anyone else out there!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Starting Your Virtual Assistance Business Week #2

I hope everyone did their homework and is ready for the next installment on "How to Start Your Virtual Assistance Business." By now you know more about yourself and what you think you can provide your clients, the services you can provide, the space and equipment you will need to use.

You now need to decide how you are going to run your business. Are you going to be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a corporation or a limited liability corporation (LLC). There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these. Take some time to research each of these entities before you make your decision. Of course, feel free to talk to other Virtual Assistants and ask them how they run their business and why they came to that decision. Every Virtual Assistant figures this out for themselves on an individual basis.

Think of what your Virtual Assistance business is about...now jot down some ideas of names for your business. Make it catchy and make sure it's the name that you want to keep. You are going to put this name everywhere (on business cards, letter heads, websites) and if you decide that you no longer want to use this name, it's not going to be easy to switch. You will have a paper and Internet trail of your old business name.

Once you have decided on what you are going to name your business, you need to do some research and find out if that name is already taken by another business. If it is, it's in your best interest to find a new name for many reasons. One reason is because the other business most likely already owns that domain name too. This means you will not be able to build a business website with this name. Some different ways to research a business name before you secure it is to look that name up in your local phone book under "secretarial services" or "administrative services" and make sure that it isn't already taken in your state, call 411 or your directory assistance and ask for that name and of course, Google it!

Also, since you will most likely be using your business name in your domain name for your website, it won't hurt you to take a look at http://instantdomainsearch.com/ to see if that name is already taken by another website. If not and you have some spare change, go ahead and buy that domain name asap! Even if you're not ready to build your website yet, at least no one else will be able to purchase it in the meantime. And it's also in your best interests to buy the .com, .net, and .org extensions for your domain also. Just because your website is www.johnjonesva.com doesn't mean that the other John Jones can't own www.johnjonesva.net. You don't want to leave any holes for people to take your company's individuality away!

Okay, you have your business name now and you know what kind of business entity you are going to run. Next, you need to register your business with your state or county and obtain a license. This is usually a simple process with one or two forms to fill out. There is also a small fee usually associated with registering your business. In the state of Maryland I had to contact the Department of Assessments and Taxation to register my trade name and it cost me $25.00. Every state and/or county is different. So, take a look at your state and city or county websites and you should be able to find the information you need on how to register your business.

Your homework for the next week:

1.) How are you going to run your business? What is your business entity going to be?

2.) What is your business name going to be? Now research that name up one side and down the other! Take a look at domains and purchase one in your business name if available.

3.) Find out how to register your name in your state, county and/or city.

Until next time! Please leave me comments and let me know how you are doing!