If you like taking care of details and are extremely organised, starting a personal assistant business might be a good career move for you. Personal assistants should be personable, detail-oriented and reliable. If these qualities describe you, follow the steps below to start your own profitable personal assistant business.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Funds for advertising
- Funds for start-up costs
- A computer with Internet access
Determine what types of services you'll offer to your clients. Personal assistants can take many forms. Some assistants handle a select few tasks, such as shopping and scheduling appointments, while others lean more toward the professional side of things, handling general office tasks for busy professionals. Still others prefer to generalise rather than specialise, and they perform a wide range of services for different clients.
Select a name for your business. The easiest way to operate is to use your given name, or at least your last name with a description of your services. Examples are Smith Personal Assistant Services or Smith Organizational Consulting. You can get creative with how you describe your business, but as long as your business name is the same as your given name or your last name with a descriptor, you won't have to file a form with your state for a fictitious name. If you prefer, you can select a different type of name, such as Savvy Assistants, and simply file the extra form and pay a small fee.
Consult an attorney to decide the best legal structure for your business. Because you'll be handling sensitive information and possibly transporting other people in your vehicle, it's wise to select a business entity that protects your personal assets from litigation in the event that an unhappy client pursues legal action against you. A professional business attorney will be able to recommend the best structure for your business.
Have your attorney handle the details of setting up your business, and consult an accountant for advice on handling your business finances. You'll want to set up a separate business account and keep your business finances separate from your personal finances, otherwise you'll lose the legal protection provided by your legal business entity.
Have a professional web site and logo designed. The Internet is often the first place people look to investigate a company they're considering doing business with, so you'll want to have a professional presence. The web is also a great place to refer your potential clients to when they ask what type of services you offer. You should also get business cards and brochures designed, so that you can hand out an appealing visual piece of marketing collateral when you're networking with potential clients.
Start networking and marketing yourself. If you've chosen to target a particular niche, such as working only with attorneys, for example, you can start by sending out a mailer or cold-calling attorneys in your area. Join your local Chamber of Commerce and become a member of several committees. Let all your friends, relatives and business contacts know that you're now in business for yourself, and give them several business cards to hand out to their contacts.
If you have the funds, try some traditional advertising mediums. You can place ads in your local newspaper, trade journals specific to your target clients, radio or television. These advertising methods can get expensive, and are usually only effective if you are able to maintain consistency. Your best way to get new clients is to become visible in your community and market yourself, but other advertising will help boost your recognition and your image if you can afford it.
Tips and warnings
- Be consistent with your rates. Set a fee schedule in advance, but don't publish it on your web site or in your brochure. Reserve handing out your rate sheet until you know you have a client who is interested. This will eliminate clients shopping around based solely on price, and you'll have an opportunity to make a great impression before they decide to look for a cheaper assistant.
- You're bound to encounter some difficult clients from time to time. Before working with your first client, prepare policies and procedures about how you will handle situations that may arise. Be consistent, and let your clients know your policies before you work with them. You'll be able to avoid being taken advantage of in most cases, and you'll have a plan for handling situations that do arise.
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