When someone tells you they are a Virtual Assistant, what are your first thoughts? Do you imagine someone curled up in their pyjamas, in front of the TV, with a laptop on their knee, doing a bit of typing and making a few phone calls?
Now, don’t get me wrong – you absolutely CAN do this as a Virtual Assistant and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it – but, don’t be under the illusion that it’s just a case of doing a bit of admin and Bob’s your uncle – it’s so much MORE than that.
Running Your Own Virtual Assistant Business is Amazing
It really is, and it comes with so many benefits, like:-
- Setting your own schedule
- Fitting your work around your family
- Not having to answer to anyone
- Choosing the type of work you want to do and being able to do what lights you up.
- Building a network of amazing clients and friends.
But, it’s also:-
- Having or learning the skills to run a business and to think like a business person, rather than an employee.
- Ensuring you are legally compliant with the correct documentation and paperwork in place.
- Lonely at times.
- Being able to juggle multiple clients’ needs and deadlines.
- Learning to set boundaries
- Showing up every single day on social media to build relationships with your audience.
- Learning how to set your prices so you aren’t under-selling yourself.
- Being disciplined and not getting distracted by housework or other tasks you think you should be doing because you are at home.
- Getting family and friends to understand that, yes, you might be at home, but you are working.
- Being able to say no.
Please don’t think I’m trying to put you off here. I’m being realistic and I know all of this because I’ve been running my business for 2 and a half years and I am still learning some of this stuff. Hell, I still struggle with some of it – saying no is something I’m working on and it’s not easy!
Please Don’t Undersell Yourself
I get that in the beginning, you need to get clients. You’d happily take on anyone who needs you. It can be tempting to offer discounts or lower rates to get people on board. YOU ARE WORTH MORE – don’t do it! Because you will end up attracting the wrong kind of clients and might end up wishing you were back in employment. Plus, if you start charging too low, it’s harder to then put your prices up.
I can’t stress enough the importance of really nailing down who your idea client is. Dig deep and think about who it is you want to work for, what work lights you up and where your skill set lies. If you know WHO you are aiming for, it makes your marketing so much easier. This is the mistake I made in the beginning – I was selling to anyone and everyone and it didn’t work.
The Importance of Making Connections
I get quite a few enquiries about starting up as a Virtual Assistant and one of the things I always recommend is joining some of the amazing FB communities there are out there. There are loads of VA groups and not only are they amazingly supportive, you can find work through them too. Believe me, no question is ever too stupid and there are people at all stages of their journey, so you can bet there will be people in there thinking exactly the same things as you, but may have been too scared to ask. This amazing sense of community is also hugely helpful when you are having one of those ‘why the hell am I doing this’ kind of days – because you will have lots of those !!
One of my favourite sites for info and resources are:-
And here are a few ideas for some fab Facebook groups:-
- The VA Hub by the Association of Professional Virtual Assistants
- The Virtual Assistant Community
- This Girl Means Business – not VA specific, but an amazing community of small business owners, offering lots of advice and support
- VA Pro: Associate Network for Virtual Assistants
Once you’ve decided who your ideal client is, you need to think about where they hang out and what social media platforms they use and show up there, every single day.
There’s no point posting once or twice a week, you need to be seen and you need to be engaging with your audience daily, building connections and relationships. Someone may not need your help right now, but you want them to remember you when they do. Plus – you will make some amazing friends!
It’s important to make time to work ON your business as well as IN it – something you will probably tell your clients all the time!
Protect Your Time and Energy
This is a biggie and it’s been one of the biggest learning curves for me. It goes hand in hand with being able to say no.
Every client’s work is a priority to them, of course it is. You need to ensure that you can prioritise when you might have 3 or 4 clients all asking for their work to be done at the same time. It’s also important to be able to say no if you really don’t have the capacity. You will only end up rushing it, doing a half-ass job and possibly not get any more work from them.
I totally get it, you want to be an amazing Virtual Assistant, churning out top quality work, meeting every demand that’s made of you, never letting anyone down and generally being superwoman. BUT, as I’ve learned to my peril, you can’t be everything to everyone and if you set yourself impossibly high standards, you are setting yourself up for failure. That’s why setting your boundaries is extremely important and should be done with the client at the very beginning.
Make sure your working hours are in your T&C’s and stick to them. If you state you don’t work weekends and then respond to client’s emails on a weekend – you are then setting that expectation and it’s hard to go back once you’ve done it.
Yes, it IS Hard, but….
It’s amazing and you will learn so much about yourself along your Virtual Assistant journey. No, you won’t get things right the first time, you will make mistakes and will continue to make mistakes, but you will find a way that works for you so that you can run your business in exactly the way that works for you.
The most important thing is to go into it with your eyes wide open and do lots of research. If you think it’s going to be an easy ride to start with, then you will be in for a shock.
I’ve had times when I’ve sat here in tears because I don’t know where my next client is coming from – and I’m never under any illusion that I may be in that position again. I’ve taken it personally when a contract has ended with a client, but that is the nature of VA work. A client may need you for a week, a month, or for a one-off project, but one thing I will say is that I have learned something new from every single client, in terms of both skills and about myself and that is one of the most rewarding things for me.
That feeling when you help your client achieve their goals and know that you’ve played a part in that is priceless.