I blinked twice when I saw the minimum cost of starting a virtual assistant business on starter story.
According to starter story, it costs $7,466 minimum.
$7,466 is a lot of money for a Nigerian.
At the time of writing this, it is NGN 3,733,000
If I had over three million naira lying around in 2019, I wouldn’t have started my virtual assistant business.
I was already working as a Medical Laboratory scientist earning over 100k and still getting financial support from my parents.
My rent was paid by my parents and I got a steady supply of food stuff (sometimes cooked food).
I lived a stone throw from the hospital I worked, so I strolled to work on most days. So I spent most of my salary on roasted plantain (bole) and fish, data and fast food.
I was a baby girl and had no worries.
But When I started, I didn’t start from scratch.
I had two years blogging and digital marketing experience. And I knew how to save on tools and could do some things myself (like website creation and design). That saved cost.
So if you are considering starting a virtual assistant business in Nigeria you’re in luck.
This is one of the reasons I started focusing on helping new and aspiring virtual assistants in Nigeria become VAs.
Generic information doesn’t work in these streets. It is probably normal for a virtual assistant in the US or UK to spend that. But in Nigeria, it is not realistic. 90% of Nigerians do not spend that on their entire university education.
According to a report by the National Bureau of Statistics, 40% Nigerians earn about NGN137,430 ($274.86) per year.
Which is very true.
A lot of ad hoc staff at my PPA worked 8-4 for 5 days a week for NGN10,000 ($20) a month
That further brings it down to NGN120,000 ($240) a year.
And they dress up everyday to work early. Pay their way to and fro every day and still smile at people.
I’d be devastated, to say the least.
Thankfully, you don’t need $7,466 to start a virtual assistant business.
Or a full fleshed virtual assistant agency in Nigeria even if you buy laptops for a team of 5 and provide data.
The cost of starting a virtual assistant business in Nigeria is not even a quarter of that amount.
Or up to 10%
Depending on your skills and what you already have, you might need 1% of that amount or zero naira.
I started with zero naira.
Recommended: Step by step process to become a Virtual Assistant in Nigeria
Here’s How Much It Cost To Start A Virtual Assistant Business In Nigeria
Like I said earlier, your startup costs depend on your skills and what you already have. Most of the startup costs involve digital tools.
So, if you’re wondering exactly how much it cost to start your virtual assistant business in Nigeria pay attention.
First, let’s separate the most common expenses to two categories (compulsory and optional) so you know exactly what to expect.
Compulsory Expenses When You’re Starting Your Virtual Assistant Business
1. A Smart Phone
If you already have a smart phone, you can use it. If not, you need one immediately. You can get a good smart phone anywhere from NGN30,000. Even before you do anything, you need a smart phone. These days you can do everything from creating a free website to email marketing etc. All on your phone. If you provide a service like social media management or canva design, you can run your entire business from your smart phone.
You’ll be spending a lot of time online so you need good internet connection. As a virtual assistant in Nigeria, you already know how frustrating the network can be. It is important to choose the best service provider in your location. This is because when your internet service is down, it can make you lose business and slow down your turn around time for client work.
I spend about NGN15,000 to NGN20,000 on data every month. If I wasn’t a virtual assistant, I’d be spending a lot less. Depending on the VA services you provide, you might need a smaller or higher subscription.
You need a separate work email. It doesn’t matter if it is Gmail or a custom email address. You can use Gmail for free
4. Invoicing System
How will you send invoices and receive payments? Paystack and Flutterwave are easy options. You can create invoices in 5 minutes or less and get paid easily. You can even set it to charge your clients automatically until they cancel. The more recent option I found is invoice.ng, you can create and send up to 5 invoices for free. It integrates with PayPal and other payment gateways which is great for receiving international payments.
5. Power bank
As a Nigerian, you already know you can’t bank on NEPA. You need to get a good power bank from a reputable brand like Chuvis. This is will serve better than getting a power bank that might end up draining your phone to charge itself. I got my new age power bank 18 months ago and it is good. A good power bank costs anywhere from NGN5,000.
Optional Expenses to Start Your Virtual Assistant Business In Nigeria
In addition to the compulsory startup costs, you need the items below in the long run. I separated your startup costs this way because there are things you can implement over time and don’t need to cough up a lot of money upfront.
The things listed below are equally VERY important but they are just not an absolute MUST to start a VA business in Nigeria.
Depending on the service you provide, a laptop might be a compulsory expense. So if you don’t already have a laptop, you may need to get one. All your work will be done online and some of them can’t be done with a smart phone.
The potential cost of this can be NGN150,000 or more. My laptop cost NGN250,000 in 2017, and it was a birthday present I got even before I started my virtual assistant business.
Buying a laptop for your virtual assistant business is an investment. So I don’t recommend anything “fairly used” or “UK used”. You need a strong laptop that will serve you for several years.
Every virtual assistant business needs a website. But I understand that a lot of aspiring VAs in Nigeria don’t have the money for a website. So I offer helpful alternatives in my free email course for virtual assistants in Nigeria.
Although I recommend starting without a website, a website is very important in the long run. So you’d want to put it at the top of your to-do list once you start making any money.
There are two ways to get your virtual assistant website up and running in no time.
A functional virtual assistant website costs anywhere fromNGN50,000. I charge NGN50,000 for a basic VA website.
Do It Yourself:
If you have experience creating websites, you can setup your VA website. Here are some of the actual expenses associated with your website:
Domain: Usually this will run you anywhere between $5 and about $11. You can get it for next to nothing if you catch a special sale like on black Friday. I recommend namecheap
Hosting: This starts at $19/year. I use and recommend namecheap
SSL: A lot of hosting providers give this for free in the first year. It renews at $30 or more.
Content Management System: WordPress.org is free and I use and recommend it. It is idiot proof.
Theme: A theme is what gives the aesthetic part of your website. Depending on your budget you can get a free virtual assistant theme. There are lots of premium virtual assistant theme ranging from $15 to $350.
Page Builder: Getting a theme is not enough. You need page builders like Elementor and thrive architect to customize your pages and build awesome landing pages. I use and recommend both elementor and thrive architect.
Elementor starts at $49/year (I use the free version of elementor)
I got thrive architect when it was still a stand alone product. Now you have to spend $19/month for thrive suite (which is thrive architect plus many other useful plugins).
You can get a MiFi or router to connect to multiple devices. I work with my phone and laptop at the same time so I got an airtel 4G pocket MiFi for NGN12,000 in 2019 (it is now NGN9,999 and comes with 25Gb data). It helps me keep my data costs minimal because I only have to do one subscription. I can connect with up to 10 devices.
You need one if you live in an area with inconsistent power supply. Even if you have consistent power supply, it is wise to have a standby generator for when NEPA disappoints and you have a deadline. The cost of generators has hit an all-time high since the pandemic. A basic tiger generator (aka I pass my neighbor) starts at NGN45,000
5. Virtual Assistant Training Costs
I started my business without taking any training. So it is not a compulsory thing. Howbeit, I would have paid to learn if I found a coach for Nigerian VAs. Because I could not afford to pay NGN 400,000 and upwards (when you convert to naira) for training.
That said, training can be in a variety of ways, memberships, masterminds, coaching, e-courses, ebooks etc.
You can get a lot of free and affordable information to help you start your virtual assistant business in Nigeria online. I have provided
- A lot of blog posts on this website
- My free email course to help you start.
- The perfect amount of motivation, entertainment and strategies to grow for people who subscribe to receive my weekly emails (you can join here for free).
However, if you have a little money to invest and want to shorten the learning curve, avoid trial and error, costly mistakes, and grow faster, then training is a MUST.
Some simple and affordable ways you can get training are through
One thing that training does is that is gives you step by step info. Consuming information online can lead to information overload very fast. A lot of aspiring virtual assistants never implement and enter into analysis paralysis mode. I highly recommend training if you can afford it. It will help you grow faster.
6. Business Name/ Company Registration
You absolutely need to have this on your to-do list if you want to go far. You don’t want to build a business online and find out your competitor has registered your business and prohibits you from using the name all your clients you know by.
I recommend registering a company instead of a business name. It’s more cost effective. Registering a business name costs anywhere from NGN20,000 while a company costs anywhere from NGN70,000
7. Templates For Contracts, Getting Client, Getting paid Etc.
Templates have been a business saver for many virtual assistants. There’s just about a template for everything. You can get contract templates for virtual assistants in Nigeria, instead of hiring a lawyer every time you have a new client.
8. Email service provider
Building an email list is a very important part of any digital business. An email service provider like sendfox is the BEST option for virtual assistants in Nigeria. It currently cost only $49 for a lifetime plan of 5,000 contacts (which is a steal and you should take advantage of before the price increases!). Other email service providers take up to $25 every single month
9. Cloud storage
You need a secure place to store your important documents and google drive and drop box offer free versions. Both options store your info “in the cloud” which keeps your info secure and safe.
10. Booking system:
You need to get on discovery calls to close potential clients. A booking system will eliminate the back and forth emails to sync schedules. I use and highly recommend tidycal. It is very easy to use and very affordable. It cost only $19 for the lifetime plan. Calendly costs $8 every single month. Both tidycal and calendly have free versions for when you’re bootstrapping.
11. Social media management tools
You’re going to need some tools for things like scheduling, hashtag research, fancy texts, graphics etc. Scheduling tools like preview and planoly are free to start with paid upgrade that range from $29/month to up to $100. The free version of canva is great for graphics.
12. Project management tools:
13. Time trackers:
You already know you need a time tracker if you bill hourly. Although I do not bill hourly, I use and recommend toogl just to see how much time it takes me to complete tasks. There are other time trackers that also have free versions you can start with.
14. Office Space Expenses
This depends on if you are building a one person business or an agency. You can set an office space in the spare room in your home or rent out a space. Costs to consider are rent, utilities, equipment, furniture etc.
Rent depends on your location. For an average space in a developing area in Port Harcourt you’ll be considering at least NGN200,000 for a single room. Sometimes without a toilet. Things like NEPA bill depends on if you are using pre-paid or flat rate, and the cost of equipment and furniture depends on the quality and quantity you need.
Depending on your budget, a workspace like kowork located in Port Harcourt and Lagos might be what you need. They provide furniture, stand-by generator etc. Their prices start at NGN10,000 and go up to NGN150,000 per month (which is very affordable). If you decide to start a full blown agency, there’ll still be room for you and your staff and you won’t have to worry about setting up a space, cleaning and all the tax (and tout) platforms that disturb businesses all the time.
What Is Total Cost of Starting a Virtual Assistant Business In Nigeria
- Minimum cost of starting a virtual assistant business in Nigeria= NGN 0.00
- Maximum cost of starting a virtual assistant business in Nigeria= NGN 3,000,000
- Average cost of starting a virtual assistant business in Nigeria= NGN 550,000
The total cost to start a virtual assistant business in Nigeria ranges from FREE to NGN3,000,000. It depends on a variety of factors like the digital assets you already have, the skills you have, the service(s) you want to provide and how big you want to start.
Bottom line is that you don’t need a lot of money to start your VA business in Nigeria. If you ask me how to prioritize to minimize the upfront cost of starting your virtual assistant business in Nigeria, I’d say:
Do all the compulsory things first. Then choose the recommendations in the optional category according to your budget.
I hope you found this post useful and actually take action to start your own virtual assistant business