For years, I’ve run SVA as a sideline to my own VA business… I don’t charge for the time I spend on it, it saves fees in terms of different bank accounts/accountants/CRMs etc. However it’s become clear that in order to access some of the funding we’re entitled to, we need a more formal basis.
We’ve been working on this behind the scenes for a while, and I’d like to thank in particular BTO who generously advised on a pro bono basis in support of the project.
Many other VA organisations work as limited companies, but I wanted to be open about how the money we generate is being used and ensure that my motivations for doing this aren’t based around creating a commercial entity which could be sold or manipulated for profit. SVA has never been run on that basis, it has always been about working together to improve the VA industry in the UK, so it was important to me that the legal entity reflected that.
Community Interest Companies (CICs) are:
- Designed to give back to the community it serves.
- Regulated annually by the CIC authority to check we are complying with our community obligations.
- Any profits generated must be reinvested into the business, they can’t be taken as dividends.
- The business cannot be sold as a commercial venture for profit to the owners, the money would go to the CIC and be retained in the business.
- If the company winds up, any profits are distributed to a nominated charity, ours is Princes Trust who help young people start businesses.
Who will SVA Virtual Assistants CIC help?
I’m delighted to announce that the CIC authority approved our application on 21 April, and we’ve committed to help:
- UK based virtual assistants who offer freelance admin services.
- Clients considering hiring a virtual assistant.
- People considering entering the virtual assistant industry in the UK.
- Organisations wishing to find information on the UK VA industry.
What activities will SVA Virtual Assistants CIC be committed to?
- Conducting surveys on the VA industry – Annual industry survey providing impartial data on the UK VA industry. This will be used by a variety of government bodies and external organisations (e.g. FSB, HMRC, Business Gateway, Small Business Commissioner etc.)
- Providing impartial advice and support to aspiring, existing and established virtual assistants in the UK to improve standards – Setting standards of best practice within the UK VA industry, freely distributing these so clients and VAs know what they should be doing. Encouraging engagement within the industry by offering free listings and directories for VAs.
- Supporting #CollaborationNotCompetition ethos – As a concept, we believe that working together we achieve more for the industry than as individual businesses, both in terms of building our own companies and as an industry as a whole. Having a not for profit organisation to facilitate this removes the politics of people engaging with an individual commercial business.
Our nominated charity is Princes Trust who help young people set up businesses in the UK and helped me start my business back in 2004.
What does this mean on a practical basis?
Not a lot – you may notice the name at the bottom of the emails change a bit. We will continue to ask for feedback and put out open access calls for specific issues such as data protection, training, standards etc. so that everyone can take part. This is basically formalising how SVA has always been run… However, any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org