December will mark one year since the idea of offering administration services over the internet sprung to my mind. Looking back, I would describe the thought as some kind of visionary moment, because having worked in corporate buildings with long commutes to work and forcing small talk in the elevator every morning with people I barely knew; working from the comfort of my home seemed like a pipe dream – no one could possibly be living that lifestyle AND being paid for it. After an obligatory Google search for ‘Online Administration Services’, I was shocked with what I found.
Freefalling into the wormhole
My Google search results gave me goose-bumps. I found a world where real people were living a lifestyle I wanted to live. They had ditched the morning commute, expensive city parking, overpriced coffees and overly demanding bosses. The traditional 9-5 was out the door, instead replaced with an amazing balance between raising their children and being a successful business owner. I resolved that I had to be a part of this movement.
Having almost reached the end of my maternity leave at the time, the thoughts of returning back to work and relying so heavily on childcare had been on my mind since before my son was born. So when I called my boss and quit my job, I felt I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I harnessed the petrified, yet determined energy and threw everything at my business whilst also attempting to raise a tiny human, and be somewhat of a single mother as my husband worked FIFO at a mine 10 hours away.
The 5 actions that changed my trajectory
Suddenly, I was the Boss. I was calling the shots and working how I wanted to work. My commute was a mere 10 steps from my bedroom, and my colleagues adored me (I’m their Mum & partner, I guess they have to adore me). But, after the early glow had worn off, it became tough. Leads were few and far between and potential clients expected me to compete with overseas VA service rates. I had a choice, to take the easy road and back out of this crazy situation or persevere and take control. Almost a year on, I am still here, and my business is thriving! I have an amazing team of VAs that assist with my workload, and I earn a full-time salary in part-time hours. How did I do it?
1. I defined me and my offering.
It was easy to get into the mindset of being everything for anyone, especially when the leads were few and far between. But time and time again I attracted the wrong leads who wanted to pay me peanuts lead me to seriously define who I am and what I want to be famous for. I love systems and processes, and I love working with allied health and wellness practitioners, so it was natural for me to gravitate to this sector and systematically get them more clients and maximise their profits.
2. I connected with a Coach
Going from an employee to a Boss requires a huge mindset change, a change that I wasn’t prepared for. In the depths of despair that I wasn’t making any ground, I connected with a Business Coach who put things into perspective and gave me helpful, practical tools and advice to supercharge my business.
3. I networked, heavily.
BNI’s, online forums and any other opportunity to chat about my business offering I was there. The effort, sick feelings and butterflies all paid off, because my business now operates on pure referrals.
4. I found a tribe
Suddenly without colleagues to talk to and bounce ideas off, and with only a baby to sympathise with my frustrations and cheer my wins, I found myself seeking a tribe of people that understood where I was at and where I was going. I found my place in a virtual assistant group and immediately felt at home amongst those that offered the most insightful advice, cheered loudly at my achievements and sent virtual hugs when I needed them.
5. I set up systems
I am a systems and procedures lover, so this part was easy for me, but for others, it may well fall to the bottom of the priority list. Being a VA, keeping both yourself and your clients organised and learning how to prioritise tasks, is a mammoth undertaking. When you only have one or two clients It might seem feasible to manually track your times, or require that your clients print and sign a hard copy contract, but it does get harder to manage as you grow. Three systems I implemented immediately were time-tracking software, electronic contracts, and appointment scheduling services.
I wish I had done this sooner.
Becoming a Virtual Assistant has given me the freedom to work on my terms. I wake up every day knowing that every effort I put in today benefits my family and my business – not a corporate CEO – and this mindset keeps my business thriving. It hasn’t been an easy road to success, but the connections you meet along the way, the work-life balance you control and the earning potential available are so satisfying that it makes everything worth it. You can change your life, just like I did.
And you can start today.
Latest posts by Karina Follent (see all)
- How I Quit My Corporate Job, Became A VA, and Changed My Life - March 5, 2019