I run my own business that offers virtual assistance for virtual assistants (VAs). Let me explain.
A VA is someone who provides small businesses and entrepreneurs with administrative, marketing and PA support on a flexible basis and lots of other things besides. VAs are a resource for those people who cannot employ a full time assistant but could perhaps benefit from an hour or two per week or per month to help them keep on top of tasks that get in the way of providing their essential products or services: the things that bring in an income and the part of their business that they really love. My light bulb moment for starting this came from the desire to invest in people and help others become successful at what they do. By setting up as a virtual assistant I can do that, I can provide my clients with the professional support they need so that they can focus on building and running their business.
So when did it all happen for me? At the age of 28 I found myself in a state of panic that I needed to do something with my life. I felt that things were not heading in the direction that I wanted them to, particularly with my career and for some reason the number ‘30’ on the horizon kicked me into action (five years later, and that number really wasn’t so scary after all). I spoke to other women around my age, lots of whom were friends, others were just in forums and chat rooms and I soon realised that I wasn’t alone in feeling a bit adrift.
Then came a failed relationship and another kick in the teeth, redundancy! I felt pretty darn low I have to admit. It took all my ‘umph’ to pick my chin up off the ground and start focusing on putting my life back together. I took on various temporary roles and contracts to keep the money coming in and at the same time wracked my brains as to what I could do to gain some control. What was I interested in? How could I turn an interest into a career? What would I enjoy?
One evening back in December 2010, I was scouring the internet for working from home opportunities. The unfamiliar term ‘Virtual Assistant’ cropped up. Intrigued by the concept and recognising that I had the skills that could make this title work for me, I felt inspired. Previously I had worked within the legal industry as a conveyance assistant and also on a few contracts as a PA. I took time to write down a list of my skills and I was pleased at just how much I had to offer. Tada! A business idea was born.
You’ll notice that I haven’t mentioned money yet. That is because my personal expenditure on the start-up was minimal. I had a computer, a printer, a mobile phone and pen and paper and I was away. The research involved speaking to other Virtual Assistants through LinkedIn and obtaining as much knowledge as I could from others. I have to say the VA industry is one of the most supportive and sharing industries I’ve ever been involved in. And by doing this I built relationships with other VAs, which in turn led on to my first job. It was a clear win-win.
Four years on I have a healthy business all of my own and to pay it forward I now promote health and wellbeing to others who are on the same entrepreneurial journey. Working in a “virtual world” it’s all too easy to put off the things that you should be doing to look after yourself because nobody sees you, right? It’s easy when one works in the virtual world to slip into bad eating habits, or not take regular breaks from the computer and fail to get out into the fresh air and do some exercise. So I’ve started a group on Facebook called Virtual Assistant Health & Wellbeing. I’ve had a really good response to it, and the members on there are an inspiration. Now I’m not just simply someone that works on everyday business tasks but am also supporting my clients by reminding them to look after their “Headquarters” i.e. themselves.