It was after being made redundant from an Education Project Officer role that I heard about working as a Virtual Assistant (VA). Knowing that setting up my own business wasn’t something I could move straight into, I secured a position as PA to two Directors at a National Charity.
I spent time researching and working ‘behind the scenes’ on my business and met up with a local VA who offered me some part-time work.
After 18 months I launched my own VA business, Indigo Eleven.
Over the last year we’ve built up our client base and work for between 4-8 clients each month. Our target market is SMEs. Like most VAs we offer ‘pay as you go’ and monthly retainer packages.
We assist clients by handling their financial work, providing internet research, organising meetings and a range of other administrative tasks. We offer project management and more specialist services including Accountancy and Graphic/Web design.
The most rewarding part of our job is when the client can see the difference you’re making to their business.
I enjoy the flexibility of being self-employed. However, one of the things that was more difficult to adapt to has been going from a team to working on my own. I’ve overcome this by making sure I have plenty of reasons to get out of the office.
Networking events provide the perfect opportunity to meet new business prospects. In time, your networking contacts and clients will start to feel like colleagues.
When you meet a client, arrange to meet them in a public place and use this time to stay on and work after your meeting, a change of scenery is really uplifting!
Training is another key area, when working as a VA it’s amazing what people ask you to help them with, so the more skills you have the better. If you’d like some additional support the new VA Diploma is now available from Pitman Training.
There are lots of conferences and events for VAs; I can highly recommend the annual Office show in London for a great day out.
When setting up as a VA you’ll need to establish your target market and research pricing plans. It’s also a good idea to find out whether other VAs are in the area. If so; introduce yourself and let them know about the services you offer. It may be that you provide something that they don’t or they might be in a position to offer you work.
Try and find yourself a business mentor who you can talk with and share ideas. When I was researching the industry I found a number of really helpful organisations who support VA start-ups:
The UK Association of Virtual Assistants
The VA Coaching & Training Company
VA Success Group
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my blog post, it really is a truly satisfying experience running your own business and working as a VA gives you a varied, exciting and rewarding career.
Louise Richman is a Virtual Assistant and proud owner of Indigo Eleven; a small Virtual PA business based in Cambridgeshire.