QUESTION ON Starting a Secretarial Service
I have been a legal secretary for 18 years. I have an excellent reputation in the industry and have a very well paying job. I am thinking of starting up a service out of my home. I’m hoping you can give me some advice on how to contact potential clients. I was thinking of creating my own web page and putting advertisements in the local papers, contacting business and government offices in my community first. I plan to continue with my 9-5 at least initially. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. –
One strong point of a secretarial and office support business is the wide range of services that you can provide. Services of this kind of business can include any of the following:
- Resume writing and career consultation
- Word processing
- Editing and proofreading
- Business writing
- Preparing spreadsheets and presentation materials
- Bookkeeping and billing
- Database and contact management
- Desktop publishing, graphic design, multimedia presentations
- Office management and organizing consultation
- Web site design
- Internet research
- Social media marketing
- Article marketing
- Answering service
A secretarial business can also be called a virtual assistant business, where you offer various secretarial services online and remotely. Nowadays, an increasing number of clients need help in managing and answering their emails. There are also a number of clients who need help in building and developing their social media presence. Your first step should be to determine what kind of services you will focus on for your secretarial business.
The possible markets you can tap for this business include the following:
- Brand new businesses with no support staff. Most of these will also be small businesses and self-employed individuals that may need some help on as-needed business.
- Other small business entrepreneurs have little time or desire to do their own administrative work, and your service will be of great help to them.
- Small and medium businesses experiencing difficulty in hiring full-time staff. Despite the good economy, attracting good employees is a major problem of most small businesses. Labor market is still tight nowadays, that even established firms are continuously looking for temporary help to do administrative tasks.
- Students, either college or graduate students, oftentimes need help for their research. Your organizing and research skills can come in handy for this segment.
If you want to target traveling businesspersons, contact hotels about offering your services to their guests. A lot of business travelers need office support of all kinds when they are on the road. This can be a good market for your business if you are living in a major urban area or city that can attract a lot of business travelers.
Marketing Your Secretarial Business
Your quality of work and ability to meet deadlines are two of the most important factors you need to succeed in this business. Your plans to market your business are definitely a step in the right direction. Here are some other suggestions:
1. Create a website
Your plan of creating your own web page is a smart first step for your business. Websites are a must-have tool to market any business. It is your online brochure that works 24/7 with a worldwide reach.
Your website needs to show the services that you offer, how potential customers can work with you. You also need to give potential customers a peak into who you are and why they should choose you over your competitors. Give them reasons to trust you and be confident in choosing you using signals such as testimonials as well as other showcases of your professionalism and the quality of your work.
2. Word of Mouth
Word of mouth is the best form of marketing your secretarial and office support business. Capitalize on your good reputation in the industry (and even your present employment) to find clients for your business.
Your present job is a fertile ground for meeting prospective clients’ sources of referrals. Join any professional organization in your field, if you have not done so already.
There are also many opportunities online for networking. Create social media accounts showcasing your business and actively participate on Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites.
4. Join Freelance Sites
More and more people are looking for help in freelance sites such as Elance.com, Odesk.com, and others. On Elance, for example, some of the jobs related to a secretarial business include building contact lists based on websites, Quickbooks secretary, receive and follow-up on telephone calls with rates ranging from less than $10/hour to fixed rates of as much as $5,000. If you are going to use freelance sites, be sure to read the tips from the article How to Succeed on Elance.
5. Job Boards and Listings
Network with virtual assistant forums and use job boards specifically for virtual assistants as those can be fertile grounds to find potential clients and businesses. Craigslist can also be a good source of potential customers for your business.
6. New Businesses
Get a listing of new businesses in your area and send out information about your business to them. Some local business newspapers provide a listing of new businesses within the locality. You can either send a direct mail, business postcards, or half-sheet cards with a listing of your services. Then follow up mailings with phone call.
7. Contact similar businesses.
While some will refuse to cooperate (much less talk with you!), there is something to be gained from building strategic alliances with competitors. You can work together on some accounts, particularly businesses that they cannot handle because of work overload. There can also provide you with leads on accounts that they do not cover but falls within your expertise. Present to them a win-win situation, and chances are they will agree to your proposal.
Advertise your services in local publications within 50 miles of your home. You can place ads in your church bulletin, country newspaper, chamber of commerce bulletins, university newspapers and related clubs. If you wish to concentrate on providing legal support, advertise in any legal publications in your area.
9. Online Marketing
Marketing your business on the Web is a smart move. Make sure that you get listed in search engines, particularly your directories focusing on your city or locality. Be prepared to devote considerable time in developing and promoting your web site. Consider adding a blog or some other type of content that will keep your site constantly fresh, which both users and search engines love.
10. Online Directories.
Yellow Pages advertising is still a very effective way to get your secretarial business noticed — especially its online component. Usage of the hard printed Yellow Pages books have significantly dropped in recent years, but their online versions are growing. Get your business listed in as many targeted and top online directories. Consider using Google My Business, and get listed in Google Maps if you want clients to come to your place of business.
For more ideas on how to market your secretarial services, read the article How to Market a Service Business.
Nach M Maravilla
Recommended Resources on How To Start a Secretarial Service
- How to Start a Home-Based Secretarial Services Business
- How to Start a Successful Home Business (Money America’s Financial Advisor)
- A Service Provider’s Guide to Starting a Unique Business Networking Group
- Typing from Home – Set up your own typing from home service
Article originally published in June 2001. Updated February 24, 2012
Category: Q & A