Being a VA affords me a wonderful working life and I know many want that life too. Why should we, when employees, just word for the weekends – 2 days a week every week to be ourselves, to relax, to enjoy our hard earned money? Work shouldn’t be stressful! But how do you even start to be a self employed virtual assistant?
I’ve listed some key traits along with a brief example of skills you need to be a Virtual Assistant.
Organised – This is fundamental. You not only need to juggle your clients’ work, but a whole host of new stuff of your own too, like bookkeeping, social media interaction, marketing, your own admin, etc.
Time – Being a virtual assistant is not a side hustle to enable you to make a quick extra few pound or to do something while the baby naps – running a business is hard so you’ll need time every day to grow it, network (whether online or face to face), do the client work, etc…
Confident – You’ll be asked for discounts and clients will overstep boundaries by texting on a bank holiday or a Sunday evening – you need to stop that if it’s not behaviour you welcome – you’re an equal business owner, so you’ll need to be confident enough to say ‘This is family time, please email me and I’ll get back to you on when I am back in the office on XXX‘.
Hard-skinned – You’ll get knocked back. People will not reply to your introductory emails, they’ll be rude about your hourly rate or they’ll choose someone else over you. Dust yourself off, it’s unlikely it’s anything you’re doing, move on to the next potential client.
Honest – This is so important in all aspects of your business. If you can’t do a task, meet a deadline, be accountable when the client wants you to be, then say so. It’s unlikely you’re going to lose them, and if you do then that’s better than stressing yourself out, agreeing to do something you can’t and risking your reputation.
Accountable – You will make mistakes, you will misunderstand instructions, you will get things wrong. Own them, admit when things go wrong, explain how you’re going to ensure it doesn’t happen again and move on.
Risk taker – You’re going to have to step outside your comfort zone from time to time to get yourself known – whether that be posting on social media regularly, attending networking events, talking to business owners on the phone, asking for payment, etc. It’s scary, but hell is it all worth it. You’ll have been a risk taker in many ways throughout your life. Maybe it was buying your first car, your first home, deciding to care for another human being or animal, so you can definitely do this!
Up-to-date – You’ll be so amazed at how much you learn as a business owner, things you would never have learnt as an employee. Like building a website, or using online software you’ve not yet heard of. Being a business owner is so much different to working for a company where the only training you have is ‘how to lift a box properly‘ or ‘how to exit a building when the bugger’s on fire‘.
IT savvy – There’s no longer going to be an IT department to sort out your lost emails, your Outlook that will only open in safe mode or recover all your bookmarks when they mysteriously ‘disappear’. You are now responsible for all those user errors and worse still, the non-user errors!
Passionate – Okay, this one is even more fundamental than being organised, or maybe they’re equal? But running this business needs to be primarily for you so that every day is a joy. If you’re doing it just cus it’s not going to excite you enough and those Sunday blues will creep back in.
This list is by no means exhaustive but it’s a good start.