I can’t believe that I have been running my VA business for over 8 years now. It has been a massive journey of learning and empowerment for me. I feel blessed that I have been able to work my business around my family, school drop-offs and pickups, the endless sporting commitments, school holidays and of course to still be able to earn more than a full-time income with the flexibility of a laptop lifestyle.
I originally started my Virtual Assistant business as a bookkeeper. At the time, there were some legality changes in Australia for contract bookkeeping and of course, further study would have been needed. I had just finished and paid out for the wrong course, spent $2,000 in advertising my new business which resulted in only one new client. So, I had a decision to make, do further study, do something else, or go back to work.
Luckily enough, I went to a Mum’s morning tea through my oldest son’s school (then 7 years old), and I got talking to a Mum and explained about the bookkeeping situation and the dilemma of whether to do the study and extra hours or what to do. She asked me about my Secretarial, Admin and PA background and asked; why don’t you go into business offering those services and what you love best? I asked, ‘Is there a market for that?’ and her response was ‘Yes definitely, I have been in business for 6 months and I am working full time. Let me introduce you to a couple of networks and my mentor.’
I went home, had a look at the website and signed up on the spot. It included everything that I needed to get my business going plus I could pay weekly for:
- Website URL and website creation course
- Marketing course
- Mentoring and Support
- Plus a whole lot more.
And after just spending an exorbitant amount in advertising in the wrong place, I knew that this was the perfect investment to learn those things that would put my business in good stead for years to come.
From there it took me a little while to find my feet. I had three young boys at the time who were 7, not quite 3 and 18 months old (the younger two are only 16 months apart), so my life was hectic and filled with a school run and toddler taming, along with trying to build a business. In those early days, I only had lunchtimes if the younger boys slept and after 7:30pm at night once they were all in bed.
It was hard building a business on those timings but definitely possible. Plus, I was motivated and dedicated -
... and frankly I couldn’t afford to go back to work as the childcare fees were crazy, especially times 3 children.
As my business grew, so did the childcare by one day a week for the two youngest children, and up to 3 days per week until they went to school. Eight years on I now have a 15 year old, 10 year old and 9 year old, and I can say that they’ve never been in after-school care or school holiday care. We regularly have their friends over during school holidays plus the boys all enjoy sporting activities most afternoons each week. I also love that I can still be there for them and earn more than a full-time income on essentially a very flexible schedule.
In those early days, I set basic goals. I remember my first goal being to earn $400 dollars in a month and setting tasks around what I had to do to achieve that. My mantra was ‘make this work or go back to work’ and ‘it is all up to me’. I had to get my services together and write them as benefits to attract a potential client and I found this the hardest thing to do. But once I worked out my target market which was quite tough in the early days, it was much easier to sell my services because I knew what appealed to them.
Eight years on, I still love what I do. I love the business, and the clients I work with are amazing and inspiring. I love that if I get bored, I can change my services or do some further study to offer different services. My clients love this too and it means that they’re staying ahead of new trends as well. They love that I am innovative and nothing is too hard to do or achieve.
I have been working with my longest running client for 7 years and I believe that the longevity is due to going above and beyond for my clients, along with adding value to their business. At the end of the day, I’m in this for the long haul!
Learn more about Susan and her business here!