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

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Here’s Part 2, guys! As I detailed in Part 1 yesterday, 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. Here in Part 2, 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 VA training business, VA Institute. I really 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. 

 

Jessica Harvey

Business: Write Now – Virtual Assistance

Website: www.writenowva.com
Socials: Instagram: @writenowva
Facebook: @writenowva

 

Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m married with three kids, aged seven and under. I love getting out for long walks around the lake, and I enjoy up-cycling home decor for fun. I studied journalism at university, but truly, I haven’t had a career before becoming a VA.

 

Please tell us about your VA Business?

I started Write Now – Virtual Assistance in September last year, so I’ve been running it for just over 6 months now. So far, I’ve only served Australian clients, but I’m definitely open to international clients, if we’re a good fit!

I do my VA work part-time around being a mum, managing our home, and other volunteer work. My work load varies from week to week, but on average it would be around 8 hours. I love that I have the flexibility to increase my hours as I so desire!

I currently offer basic administrative tasks, editing and proofreading, content writing and creation, email newsletter writing, and social media management. My passion is supporting writers, bloggers, and editors.

 

How did you get started as a VA?

I started my Virtual Assistant business off the back of 6 years as a stay at home mum and using my writing skills on a volunteer basis. Before I had kids, I completed my bachelor’s degree in journalism and spent a couple of years working as a receptionist. I loved providing administrative support for the business, and I’ve always loved writing and all things creative, so becoming a VA seemed like a natural choice!

I read The Bootstrap VA, which is a very practical guide to getting started, and I completed the course Social Side Hustle, to get across the social media management side of things. And apart from that I try to learn new things as I go – we live in the information age, and there is really no limit to what you can learn if you know how to look for the information!

 

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

I’m fairly new myself, but I think the most important things someone just starting out should know are to be honest and humble about your skills. There’s nothing wrong with learning something new if a client asks for something you’ve never done before, but be honest about it. Let them make an informed decision about whether to hire you. And remember that your clients are people too. Treat them like royalty. Serve them well and make that human connection.

 

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

There are a lot of VAs out there, so be yourself, be excellent, and remember that people are hiring YOU, not just a generic service provider.

 

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?

This is hard because I did only start recently, but I think I’d do a little more market research into my ideal client and their needs before launching in. But, by the same token, sometimes you need to give it a go before you can narrow down your ideal client demographic.

 

Ingrid Bayer

Businesses: V-biz, VA Institute

Websites: V-biz: v-biz.com.au
VA Institute: www.vainstitute.com.au
Facebook: www.facebook.com/vainstituteaustralia/

 

Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m in my mid-50s with a long history in admin – starting in legal secretarial and then moving to the entertainment industry, then returning to legal before starting my own VA business over 10 years ago.  I’ve been very happily married for 30 years, have two amazingly talented children, two absolutely delightful granddaughters who have brought us more joy than I could ever imagine, and two very spoilt cats!

 

Please tell us about your VA Businesses?

I’ve been a VA since 2008, initially starting my business as a side-gig on the weekends and evenings.  I soon realized it was going to be more than that, and within 3 months had stepped into it full-time.  I had a ridiculous business name when I started (My Online VA Service) which I soon realized was just too much of a mouthful and changed it to V-Biz.  I provided administrative support/op’s management to Australian-based small businesses, working the equivalent of full-time hours (and beyond, in the early days).  In the last three years, I have moved into the VA training space under the banner of my new business VA Institute, delivering startup programs to aspiring VAs to help them set up properly and professionally (as I saw this was something that was lacking in the industry).  Up until six months ago, I was still doing approximately 80% VA support / 20% VA training, however, I have now transitioned to 95% training and 5% VA support due to the rapid growth of VA Institute.

 

How did you get started as a VA?

I was fortunate to have already established a business with my husband (a photography studio), as well as growing up in an entrepreneurial family, so I was well-versed in the art of business-building.  My skills came from my formal secretarial training and extensive background in admin-based careers; primarily legal secretarial and the heady world of the entertainment industry – which I absolutely adored! I literally stumbled upon the idea of becoming a VA.  I met a wonderful mentor, Liz Parker, who founded 121 Temps (an Australian VA Network), and she helped me get started.  I am forever grateful to her for her kindness and assistance.  I really have never looked back!

 

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

A Virtual Assistant is not a JOB, it’s a business that you build.  Just like any other business, you need to find work, and learn how to attract clients.  To do that, you need to be credible and professional.  I see so many new VAs start without thinking it through, and then floundering.  Start simply, and offer services you are very good at. Do them well, wow the client, and you’ll start to reap the reward of word of mouth referrals.

 

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

Trust your gut!  Honestly, the amount of times I wished I had, and it ended in tears, has made me really learn to trust my inner voice…

 

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 have loved the journey… it’s been an amazing ride, a wonderful adventure!  The one thing I’d do differently is really make sure that I looked after my physical/mental well-being from the get-go.  It’s something I do now, but in the beginning I was so focused on building my business that it got shoved under the carpet, and I gained a whole lot of weight and became unwell.  I have turned that around now with a lot of hard work, but I wish that I’d been kinder to myself in that way.  I do see many other new VAs falling into that trap too…  It may sound trivial, but by taking care of us, we are also creating a sustainable business that serves our clients well into the future!

 

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Well, that’s it for this post. I’ve really enjoyed bringing you the stories and experiences of these four terrific women, and I owe them (along with the many other excellent VAs who expressed interest in being featured in this piece) a huge thank-you for their willingness to participate and share their experience with us.

Happy business-building,

Cate XX

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