The combination of being your own boss, working flexibly and with clients you enjoy doing work you love is a dream for many. For those who are highly organised and conscientious, setting up as a virtual assistant is a no brainer, but there really are some do’s and do not’s which you should know from the outset.
Enter Virginia King.
In my search for experts for ViewVo, I put out a number of requests on facebook for recommendations of who was awesome and brilliant as a VA and I had several people reply with Virginia’s name. I got in touch and a year later, Virginia is now an expert on the ViewVo platform offering insights and help to those who want advice on how to set up. I interviewed her and am summarising here some of the key points, but for those who’d like to see the longer interview, here is the you tube link
Virginia was Executive Assistant to a CEO and whilst she loved her job, found after taking time off for maternity leave she’d changed and the demands on her time to be in two places at once meant she felt she was compromising both her job and family life. So she set up as a VA and in her own words, ‘the highs always outweigh the lows’. She clearly loves what she does.
How do you structure your week?
Virginia tries to work 3 days a week on client work and 2 days on her own business admin. Client work tends to be a mixture of diary and project management along with other ad hoc work such as writing blog posts, making sales calls, taking minutes, organising travel. For the two days she spends on her own business, she engages in networking and business development activities as well as invoicing, blogging and managing her own diary.
What are the main highs and lows?
Virginia really enjoys the flexibility and control that come with being your own boss. If someone presents you with the brief to spend two weeks of making back to back sales calls, she has the power to say no – unless of course she wants to say yes! The main downsides to the work is the isolation, but as Virginia points out, for those who like a team and buzz of people around them, you can mitigate this to an extent with ensuring you get out to networking meetings and potentially working in a co-working space.
What are the main skills needed?
In the main, you need to be organised and self disciplined. When making the transition from working in a business as an employee to setting up your own VA business, you need to be mindful that you probably went into this work in the first place because you are a people pleaser! Learning to say no and having the integrity to say when you don’t know or understand a particular system and will need time to learn and get up to speed on things is key. It helps you manage expectations which is even more important when you don’t have the luxury of being in the same office as someone and having the ability to catch up regularly.
What may stop someone becoming a VA? Are there particular systems or qualifications needed?
Virginia indicates you do need to be familiar with the basics – the MS suite and google suite are a must and it helps if you know your way around a customer relationship management system (CRM) but says many of them are very similar, so if you know one, you can learn others fairly quickly. Other than that, there are no barriers as such, but Virginia does feel you need to have had a background in administration in order to be familiar with expectations – in order that you can manage them effectively!
What is the money like?
The industry average in the UK is £25 an hour but with a great reputation and when developing additional skills the sky is the limit. Virginia charges and works 3 days a week but knows others who do more and less, so it really is up to each person how much they want to earn.
When setting up on her own, she was told to allow 3 months to get established, but she would say this guidance was too lenient. It takes longer and it’s harder work to establish your business than a 3 month guideline would indicate. Virginia feels 6-12 months is more realistic.
You can read more about Virginia by looking at her profile here: https://www.viewvo.com/profile-virginia-king-485
If you are thinking of setting up, it really can pay huge dividends to speak to someone who has been there and done that. You can learn your own lessons – but you can also learn from someone else’s! A phone call with Virginia starts at £30 and if it helps, you can then meet with her and go through how she invoices, which systems she recommends, which business development activities work best, which networking events she goes to – and so much more.. We believe in facilitating meaningful and helpful connections and if the life of a VA is something you’ve considered, then learning from one of the best is not a bad way to start out 🙂