Interested in Becoming a Virtual Assistant? Four Currently Working VAs Share How They Started Their Businesses. (Part 1 of 2)

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I’m super excited to finally share this post with you all!  I’ve interviewed four VAs currently working in Australia, asking them questions about how they got started as a VA and the important things they think YOU need to know if you’re considering starting out as a VA yourself. They shared so much interesting information about their business ventures that I’ve had to split the post into two parts: here in Part 1 we hear from Deb Ricketts, founder of Versatile VA, and Angela Rogers of Global VA Solutions. In Part 2 (which I’ll post tomorrow), we hear from Jessica Harvey about her business Write Now – Virtual Assistance, and we also hear from Ingrid Bayer about her decade of experience as a VA in her business V-biz, and also about her transition to educator in the last three years, with her popular VA training business, VA Institute. These women were all very generous with their time and knowledge, and I hope you all enjoy reading this piece as much as I enjoyed preparing it!

Please note that all information and ideas expressed in this post are the opinions/ideas of the individuals specified, and not my own. These ladies rock, and the businesses they have built are impressive, to say the least, but (as with everything in life, unfortunately!) it’s important that you do your own research and verify any information you plan on relying on in setting up your own business venture. 

 

Deb Ricketts

Business: Versatile VA

Website: www.versatileva.com.au
Socials: www.facebook.com/1VersatileVA/

 

Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi! I’m Deb Ricketts. I’m a Sydneysider, and I’m happily married with two beautiful girls, Jess (8) & Abby (4), and three hairy, squeaky guinea pigs. I have a Bachelor of Legal & Justice Studies, and Bachelor of Laws. My career has been varied: working for large conglomerates through to small/medium organisations, in roles including associate project manager, supplier compliance, paralegal, grants writer, national contracts manager, to name a few. I have also held many administrative based roles.

 

Please tell us about your VA Business?

As the founder of Versatile VA, which I launched in July 2018, I’m passionate about supporting small to medium businesses within Australia who are experiencing the juggle to stay on top of it all. I offer a broad range of virtual assistant and specialist business support services, including:

  • Project management
  • Business administration
  • Content marketing
  • Grants writing
  • Paralegal or law office support
  • Social media support
  • Trades and services support

I began my VA journey 4 years ago after the birth of my youngest daughter, volunteering for a local charity as a virtual EA, and then sub-contracting as a side-gig, whilst working part-time. Since mid-2018 when Versatile VA was born, it became my sole focus. I currently provide approximately 20 hours of work in an average week. In December 2018 I engaged my first associate who is supporting two clients.

 

How did you get started as a VA?

I fell into being a VA in a rather unusual way, it was a near death experience not just for me but also for my unborn child and my mother simultaneously (a miraculous and long story) that led to my realization that life is short, precious, and that I needed to get the balance right. So, I volunteered virtually whilst my baby was young to give back to the universe. It seemed the universe gave back to me as I found my calling! To support myself, my family, and other business owners doing the juggle and needing the balance. I didn’t undertake specific VA training, but with broad experience in the corporate world to draw from, joining Facebook groups, watching what my contracted VA did, and upskilling online, I rose to the challenge.

 

What do you think are the most important things for a new VA wanting to set up their own business to know?

There are so many things to share with start-up VAs, but I will stick to just three.

1) Believe in yourself and do what you love.

2) Know that you are the boss and need to set firm boundaries, standards and pricing.

3) It is very easy to feel overwhelmed – especially starting out. Don’t give up, reach out to really supportive industry groups for ideas and support if you are stuck, take time for you and your family, ensure you retain balance, don’t chase the latest shiny object. It is so tempting to start 100 different projects at once… DON’T do it! 😊 Just choose one thing and focus on that, then complete it and move on to the next.

 

What’s one piece of advice you wish you’d been told when you were getting started?

There is no industry standard (yet) for what we do. There are a LOT of different approaches, and no one way is right. Find the systems, processes, and marketing approaches which resonate with you.

 

Looking back with the knowledge and experience you have now, is there anything you’d do differently if you were starting out all over again?

The learning process will forever continue! But if I were to start out again, and I could do something differently I would spend more time writing my business plan, in order to have a clearer vision starting out, and listen to and respect opinions, but realize they’re just opinions.

 

Angela Rogers

Business: Global VA Solutions

Website: www.globalvasolutions.com 
Socials:  www.facebook.com/globalvasolutions/
www.instagram.com/global_va_solutions/
www.linkedin.com/company/global-va-solutions/

 

Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

I have a nearly 20-year career history in administrative based roles – PA/EA, reception, administrator & team lead. For the nine years prior to starting my VA business I was doing FIFO (fly in fly out), which had me away from home a lot. I missed out on celebrating birthdays, weddings, and even a few Christmases. I am single with no children as my passion is travel and volunteering, and a lot of countries I travel to aren’t safe for children, and to be completely honest, I am not done with that part of my life yet.

 

Please tell us about your VA Business?

I own Global VA Solutions. I am based on the Gold Coast in QLD and my current clients are all in Australia (Brisbane, Gold Coast, & Tasmania so far), however I do submit proposals for international clients if I feel my expertise aligns with what they are looking for.

I have been in business for 10 weeks now (after thinking about it for over a year). It happened quite quickly, two clients signed in my first two weeks, but then it slowed down and I signed my third client just yesterday, so weeks 3-10 were quite hard and I did wonder if it was all worth it and had a lot of limiting beliefs, as it is my main job and income earner now. I was averaging around 10 hours per week, however my 3rd client has brought an extra 10 hours per week, so sitting around 20 hours now (at least I can continue knowing my bills are covered now, as savings only last so long).

My services include: Social Media, Email Marketing, General Admin, Executive and Personal Assistance

 

How did you get started as a VA?

I was lucky enough to have had an extensive background in administrative based roles, so I felt the move to becoming a VA was a perfect idea, but there is a big difference between doing work as an employee and doing it as a business owner. There were many 15-hour days, and a big learning curve around accounting, marketing, social media, and what software and platforms to use. I relied heavily on VA Facebook groups and watching free webinars/trainings, as I didn’t have the money to spend on courses.

 

What do you think are the most important things for a new VA wanting to set up their own business to know?

It’s not as easy as it looks! I know it’s an enticing option to be able to work from home, choosing your hours and clients, but it is a long road to success (and making money). I would say unless you have enough savings behind you, start your VA business as a side gig while you are still working and then slowly transition. Learn from others doing it really well, and take in every free training course and webinar you can. Join all the VA Facebook groups and ask questions, even ask if someone wouldn’t mind being a mentor or accountability partner for you.

 

What’s one piece of advice you wish you’d been told when you were getting started?

Create a schedule! it’s a lot easier to stay on track if you are working to a schedule. Owning your own business, especially in the beginning, can be a novelty – starting work when you want, taking breaks when you want, coffee and lunch dates on weekdays, but you can easily fall into unproductive habits and lose track of time and what you need to accomplish. Even though you work for yourself, make sure you create a schedule, and stick to it.

 

Looking back with the knowledge and experience you have now, is there anything you’d do differently if you were starting out all over again?

I think being relatively new to the VA game I still have a lot of learning and knowledge to gain, and there will probably be things that come up that I wish I did differently, but for right now, I am happy learning my way through this new opportunity I have created for myself 😊

Actually, one thing, it is so easy to get caught up doing work for your clients, that you forget that you still have to work on your business too! Make sure you schedule time to work ON your biz every week!

 

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Well, that’s it for Part 1, I hope you enjoyed it! Keep an eye out for Part 2 tomorrow, where Jessica Harvey and Ingrid Bayer share their experiences.

 

Happy business-building,

Cate XX

 

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