How to get started as a Virtual Assistant
I fell into being a VA by accident - and for ages I didn’t know that was what I was!
Before kids, I worked in management, in the retail sector - and it was great in terms of what I learned and the variety, but the hours and shifts were miserable and exhausting. It was when I had my children that living life became more important, and I resigned.
I accidentally found a job working as a PR executive - it was on a self-employed basis, three days a week, at the client’s premises, paying £9 an hour (are you spotting the red flags yet?). I did that for nearly five years, eventually earning the grand sum of £10 an hour and working as a PR account manager.
In that time I also supported the business with contracting, new business development, website development, content creation, reporting, small claims, recruiting, HR - basically everything a business manager needs to do! I was a key part of the business and yet never once thought maybe I was worth more than £10 per hour. Life, baby loss, maternity leave, and work had reduced my confidence to nothing.
Despite being self-employed, I had to ask for permission to change shifts, attend sports days, nativities etc, and I felt so guilty if one of the kids was off sick and I couldn’t work. I didn’t realise what being self-employed really meant.
However, I was good at the work, and the various tasks I took responsibility for left me multi-skilled, so when COVID hit and I lost that job, it was an easy decision to offer my VA skills to the PR industry (however it wasn’t an easy transition, but that’s another story! Let me know if you want me to tell it…)
The thought of freeing myself entirely, becoming properly self-employed and really having some choice, was exhilarating. Scary beyond all measure, but the excitement won out. Traditional employment wasn’t an option for me.
Fast forward through lots of challenges and ups & downs, and I became a fully booked VA earning £35ph, then an OBM to female online service providers. I was choosing my own clients, setting my availability and rates, expanding my team, and hitting consistent £3k months working 20-25 hours a week.
My confidence still grows daily, and I look back and can’t believe the person I used to be. Family (and LASIK 🤓) aside, it’s the best thing i've ever done.
That is the power of becoming a VA.
But, what is a VA?
Simply put, a Virtual Assistant (or VA) is a freelance, (usually) remote administrator who can help with various business tasks such as financial support, inbox management, social media management, call handling, and many, many other things.
A VA might choose to specialise in a particular programme, industry, or service, which is why you might have seen social media VAs, book-keeping VAs, general admin VAs, as well as others.
As a VA, you are also a business owner (should you be a sole trader or limited company? Check out this blog for some advice), which means you choose your own rates, you choose your own availability, and you choose your services.
It is very different from being an employee, and can take time and support to make the mental shift. To find out more about setting those boundaries as a VA, read this blog.
What are the benefits of becoming a VA?
The benefits of becoming a VA are countless:
No more commute so you save money and time, plus, y’know, it’s green!
Choose your own hours - really - so you can work around your children, your pets, your sleep patterns, your hobbies, your preferences, your travel
Only offer services which you love
Only working with clients who you love!
Work where you like - want to spend summer in Portugal? Go for it!
Scope to grow if you want to
Amazing community of fellow VAs and OBMs
Confidence in yourself and your abilities growing
Amazing right? This doesn’t mean it will all be smooth sailing. Deciding to set up your own business is a big decision that will require a lot of devotion and commitment from you in order to succeed. You may be asking yourself: will I get clients? Will I have a consistent income? Do I know enough about running a business?
I asked myself all those questions and more, so believe me when I say that I understand the fear and limiting beliefs that starting a business brings.
What services do Virtual Assistants offer?
What you might decide to offer as a VA depends on your chosen zone of genius, interests and previous experience. Check out my blog post to explore the many different services you can offer as a VA here.
What sort of clients will work with a Virtual Assistant?
More than you might think! All sorts of people, from business owners to busy parents.
One of the VAs I was coaching once told me she wasn’t going to aim her services at sole traders as she felt they weren’t big enough to outsource any work. That’s true for some, but in my experience, sole traders are the most likely to use a Virtual Assistant! That’s because they aren’t usually set up for employees, have been doing it all themselves but have got to the point where they can’t or don’t want to do that any more.
I’ve supported VAs who work with parents who want some life management - buying gifts, booking holidays etc, VAs who work with sole traders from a huge mix of industries, and VAs who work with small limited companies. They might be the first person their client has outsourced to, or joining a team of 10. Really, there is no limit on who that client might be.
What are the benefits to business owners in using a Virtual Assistant?
The list is a big one! There are many benefits in using a Virtual Assistant, which go a long way to explaining why a business owner might choose to pay VA rates (£27 per hour average) rather than an employee minimum wage.
No payment of tax or national insurance
No pension contributions
No sick or holiday pay
No equipment or office costs
No need for HR
No long contracts
They only pay for the time worked - not for loo breaks!
Working with a VA is surprisingly affordable for most business owners, and in our current gig economy, is still growing in popularity.
Can I become a Virtual Assistant while I’m still employed?
Yes, you can!
I recommend checking your contract and having a chat with your manager / HR to ensure there is no conflict of interest.
Is it harder? In some ways, definitely. You’ll probably have to work some evenings and weekends until you are established, be really strong with your boundaries, and when it comes time to take that leap and leave your job, it can be very scary. But the benefits are that you’ll have a secure income while you build your Virtual Assistant business.
Some potential clients will need their VA to be available during the day, but there are plenty who won’t mind when you do the work, so it doesn’t have to limit you at all. It's a great way to get clear on your schedule from the start, and only work with clients who respect that.
How do I get started?
You take a big running jump and dive right in!
I do have a rather wonderful plan for you to follow - the same one which got me to hit my first £5k month and consistent £3k months - it’s super easy to read, easy to implement, and it’s FREE!
You can download the Ten-Step Plan to Becoming A Virtual Assistant here.
What do I need in place before I start?
Before you launch your business, there are a few things that are a ‘must’ do, including:
Making sure you have a working laptop or computer
Getting legally compliant with contract, insurance, and GDPR
Choosing your business name and logo. This is the really fun part!
Setting your rates and services
This blog outlines all of the costs involved to set up - and it’s not as much as you might think!
Are you ready to take the leap?
There can be all sorts of barriers when you decide you want to become a Virtual Assistant.
You might find yourself doubting your skills, lacking confidence, worrying about how to talk to potential clients, confused about which marketing channels to use - all of this is totally common and can be overcome.
The truth is, you might never be fully ready, but that’s not a reason to hold back. Take the leap - messy action is better than no action, and baby steps are better than standing still.
Plus, there is loads of support out there, whether that’s from other Virtual Assistants, mentors, coaches, or fellow women in business.
I provide a lot of free tips over on my Instagram and within the amazing community of my free Facebook group The Business-Savvy VA. This is a hugely supportive community and a safe space to ask questions, rant, share successes, and make connections. Many of the group members have joined right at the start of their VA journey, and with the support of the group have been able to build their business, leave employment, increase their confidence (along with their rates and freedom), and really start living the dream!
Remember, if something inside you has brought you here, listen to it. You deserve a job you love and a life of freedom and fun.
If you are still feeling unsure about where to begin, then book a free strategy call with me and we can talk through your next steps.