“ShouId I buy into a VA franchise?”
I get contacted a lot of aspiring Virtual Assistants and regularly get asked for my advice and to share my experiences of the challenges and rewards of setting up with my own business.
One question I am often asked is whether I would recommend someone to start up their own business from scratch, or buying into a VA franchise – I chose not to buy into a franchise but I did look into it at the beginning, so thought I would share my though processes on the subject.
Buying a Virtual Assistant Franchise
Clearly there are advantages of buying into a franchise, mainly that you would be buying a ‘business in a box’ with a business model, templates, strategies, on-tap advice and ways of working all nailed for you. Hopefully, the franchise owner established themselves as a name in the industry and has lots of regular clients – in fact so many that they decided to grow their successful business model further by starting a franchise. Buying a franchise will save you all the time and effort that it takes to research and build your own reputation and get on with bringing in clients and earning, right? Maybe not.
Unless the franchise owner is going to sell you a bulging client list along with their brand, you are still going to have to work to bring in your own clients and build your own relationships. Yes, you may benefit from any national marketing that they do, and there may be a website or marketing ‘in a box’ that you can use, but this will not answer all your prayers. However, it may be a good option for you if you don’t want to spend time setting everything up from scratch though and you want the groundwork in place quickly and get up and running.
Starting your own Virtual Assistant Business
The franchise route is one I decided not to go down, one of the main reasons being that I wanted my business to have my stamp on it. I wanted to be able to do things my way. I did contact a franchise owner when I first started out, to explore the options around franchising – I called, left a message and got no reply. I emailed, got an out of office saying someone else was covering and never got a reply. That was it for me. If that franchisee could not have the courtesy to return my messages then I didn’t want to work with them and help grow their brand! I’m sure that there are a lot of great franchise owners out there, don’t get me wrong, what I’m saying is make sure you try and speak to several and don’t put all your eggs in one basket too early on.
It’s really tough finding clients, but as it’s my business I understand it’s all down to me to get the results I need. There have been a few other business opportunities that I have been approached about along the way but I felt that there were enough distractions already when working from home and I needed to focus 100% on my business and ensure that if for any reason I don’t succeed, that I can’t lay the blame at anyone else’s door.
I felt that with a franchise, it could be easy to rely on the brand to get you business and be lulled into a false sense of security. People buy people and unless it’s a really strong, established brand, clients are buying you, so why put your money in someone else’s pocket?
So what would my advice be?
There is a wealth of information out there on starting your VA business, with some fabulous VA trainers* and coaches who offer 1:1 training, webinars, and business coaching and can guide you every step of the way. A lot of this advice is also free so there is no excuse not to do your research and make an informed decision on what will work best for you. Speak to VA’s who have used the franchise model and those who have not and determine how much flexibility and input you want. There are some great VA forums on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google + and we are a very supportive community.
“Do your research and make up your own mind”
As for me, I have no regrets at doing it myself. Whilst it’s a lot of hard work, it is rewarding and really worth it – but the decision is yours so do your research and do what is right for you.
Have you started a VA business through the franchise route? Do you offer a franchise opportunity? Please share your experiences to help those new VAs at the start of their amazing VA journeys.