It was September 2010. My son was just turning one, and returning to work after maternity leave was looming. With a baby at home, I did NOT want to return to working full-time. I was on the road as a territory sales manager working 60+ hours a week. So I quit. Yup. Just like that.
Fast-forward to 2014. Those last four years consisted of various secretarial jobs, network marketing failures, frustration, lots of tears and boredom. Working full-time outside the home was not working for our family. We needed the extra income, but our home also needed one of the parents to have a flexible schedule. That person was me.
As fate would have it, while working my network marketing business, I happened to meet a Virtual Assistant...and I was intrigued. Poor lady! I must have asked her a million questions and she was gracious enough to share her knowledge and experience with me. The next day, while having a coffee with a friend, I mentioned the lady I had met. I looked her in the eye and said, I'm going to do that! I'm going to be a Virtual Assistant! She looked at me, smiled and said, and I'm going to hire you! Just like that my VA business was born.
Now, before you get all excited, you must know a couple of things:
- I was suffering from undiagnosed (at the time) post-partum depression; and
- I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into.
I picked a business name, called for a business license, bought a domain name and called myself a Virtual Assistant. I went out there with my VA guns blazing and clients were coming at me quickly.
Please believe that I had good intentions. I have YEARS administrative experience and sales under my belt, I am extremely computer literate and I can type the like the dickens, but I was CLUELESS about the VA world. I had absolutely no idea how to actually work virtually. I had no idea about accessing computers remotely, I didn't know what Aweber, Infusionsoft or WordPress was. I didn't know about Teamwork, MailChimp and Quickbooks. I was completely and utterly unprepared... and it showed. I didn't know what I didn't know.
My first year in business was a nightmare. Mistakes were plenty, embarrassment was a constant, and I lost a number of clients (awkward). It was also during this time that I was (finally) officially diagnosed with Depression & Anxiety. By a stroke of luck, I found some amazing mentors and colleagues.
So, I took a number of steps back and focused on my mental health and learning about being the best VA I could be. Now, finally on medication, I could actually focus and concentrate! Woo hoo! This in itself was a game changer for me and my business. I joined VA groups and forums, I asked questions, I took workshops and courses, and I learned from the best of the best... and I am still learning.
I also hired a fantastic business coach to hold me accountable. There's no point in being great at what you do if you don't know how to market yourself or know your numbers. I'm in this business because I love what I do, but I also want to make money and leverage my own time.
I can now confidently call myself a Virtual Assistant and I am truly proud of the quality of work I produce. I have amazing friends, clients, colleagues and mentors in various sectors and my business is steadily growing.
Never stop learning, never stop growing and never be afraid to ask for help. You'll be amazed at where it will lead you.
What hurdles did you have to overcome when becoming a virtual assistant? Share with us in the comments below!
Michelle S. Callipari is a Virtual Assistant and owner of MSC Business Solutions. Her joy is found in spending time with her family, reading, traveling, listening to music, and walking around her beautiful town of Strathroy, Ontario. Keep up with Michelle by following her on Facebook , LinkedIn and Twitter!
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