I understand that wanting to work from home is a massive pull, wanting to be there for the children is life-changing, but being a VA just might not be the direction you need to be heading.
‘I’m thinking of doing some VA work so I can make a bit of extra cash’
‘I’m going to start doing some VA work while I also build this other business that I am more in love with’
‘I need to make some easy money, thinking of being a VA’
‘I want to stay at home with the kids, so shall I be a VA?’
I could say yes to all of them, but first consider this, if you’ve worked in accountancy roles for 10 years would you one day wake up and decide you’re going to immediately start being a divorce solicitor to make some quick easy money because you helped your neighbour two doors down with their messy break-up? No, not unless you’ve got a law degree, so it suprises me when people think they can become a successful business owner without relevant skills or enjoyment of the services they’ll be offering.
Sadly, being a VA isn’t something just anyone can slip into and make a bit of quick extra cash.
When you see a job advertised online or in a recruitment agency window it will come with the caveats ‘essential’ and ‘desirable’. If you’ve not got the essential you’re probably not going to get past handing over a CV – being a Virtual Assistant is still a job, but oh boy is it so much more too – by that I mean not only do you need proven skills and experience to complete the services you offer you also need to have:
- Tenacity – what if someone wants just a little bit off your hourly rate? Can you say no? If you drop your hourly rate, you have to work more hours to make up the money!
- Time – running a business of any kind, any shape or size is not something you can do in-between anything. In time, you will be able to dictate when you work and for how long, but for the first 12-24 months you’ll be too busy building clientele and a reputation as well as every other aspect that comes with being a successful business owner. If you can’t commit time, you’ll not be earning anything near enough to sustain a lifestyle.
- Organisational skills – I’m sure you’ve got exceptional organisational skills, but you’re not only going to have to organise your clients, and your home, you’re now also going to have to organise your own admin, bookkeeping, keep up with latest HMRC data, legal data and much more – and no, Google can’t provide all the answers.
- Management skills – you’ve got to manage and prioritise your own time, as well as manage the expectations of your clients, can you juggle all that?
- Research abilities – there’s no longer an IT department to call when Outlook has a menopausal moment, you’ve got to sort it all out or pay someone to. Factors and expenses like this need to be considered.
- Support – is your family supporting you? Do you have reliable childcare? Do you have someone to help with the aspects of running a business that you’ve not yet dealt with, like difficult clients, non-paying clients or those dreaded IT problems? My printer hasn’t worked for 48 hours – I’ve no idea what’s wrong with it, but luckily the other half is an IT expert, so the problem will be resolved for free, quickly. It’d be expensive if I had to seek external support.
- Space – if you’re going to earn anything near enough to live on, pay tax and NI, software licences – I could go on – then you’ll need to be putting in a few more than a couple of hours in the evening, or at weekends. Clients will be paying you at least £25 an hour, they will have expectations and deadlines. They’re putting their business in your hands.
As I say in my book:
‘Posting kids and animal photos on Instagram daily does not make anyone a social media manager and winging it is not something you should do. It’s very real that you could ruin a client’s reputation by making mistakes, whether it’s online, by email or a bookkeeping error.’
And, perhaps most importantly you’ll need a real desire to succeed. Your heart and soul needs to be in everything you do in life to enable you to enjoy it, and we all know that if we don’t particularly enjoy something we don’t do it well, or we quickly lose interest.
There are a plethora of successful virtual assistants making their business their lives, they love every working moment, they’re exceptional at what they do – being a VA is for them.
Take some time to have a Power Hour with me and we’ll talk about whether this is your thing, or whether you need to consider another option because I promise – there will be something out there you love, that you’re going to be amazing at.