Top 10 Tips for Becoming a VA

SVA put together 10 baby-steps to becoming a VA – a must-read for any aspiring assistants! Continue reading

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Virtual Assistant Fun: You have £500 to spend on your business…

This is a bit of fun… If I was to give you £500 to spend on your business, how would it get spent?  A lot will depend on what stage you are at with your business, so tell us how long you’ve been going too.

Things to consider: Upgrading your skills via a course, investing it in more networking, going to a VA conference, hiring in help for a few hours each month to free up your time for business planning…

So we might have:

  • Lisa – start up VA, would spend money on designing a cool logo, printing business cards and sorting a website.  Would allow her to launch her business without bootstrapping.
  • Caroline – seasoned VA, would book self into spa for “business planning session” LOL! (I’m joking – please don’t let the tax man be reading this!!)

Okay: So here’s your £500 – what do you do with it???!  The best response gets a little surprise! 

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VA Hero: Michelle Poole of VACT Yorkshire

Me Dec 2013 ColourEach year we approach some of the VA industry’s leading entrepreneurs to get the lowdown on how they operate… This week it’s Michelle Poole of VACT Yorkshire!

Name:     Michelle Poole

Business Name: VACT Yorkshire  and Virtual Hand

Located in: Wakefield, West Yorkshire

Explain a little bit about your business and how you came to run it?

I started my VA business when my current contract came to an end and I was struggling to find a new job as I had been looking into being a VA for about 9 months and the benefits were never matched by being an employee again. I found a part-time job so started my VA business and went full time 6 months later. As a trainer and coach when the opportunity arose to join VACT I jumped at it and now love training new VAs. It also gave me a funnel for my associate team as well as bringing more VAs into the area for other businesses to tap into.

What was your very first job?

Wallace Arnold Tours at the age of 16 – booking people on holidays in UK and abroad. Counter Clerk!

Favourite tipple?

Bacardi and Coke (although just found Prosecco, but only on special occasions!)

What made you want to get involved in the VA industry?

Spent a career as PA and EA and love the connection with ‘boss’ and now to work with business owners and help them to realise their dreams and make mine too – it’s exhilarating.

One gadget you could not live without?

iPhone – my life is on there!

Do you use VAs yourself, if so, where did you find them?

Yes, I work with a team of VAs to support both my clients and my own business – I trained them!

What’s your top tip for someone starting out as a VA?

Be realistic on your strengths and get help with the other bits. Don’t be afraid to ask and always, invest in yourself.

What’s your top tip for a VA wanting to expand their business or make more money?

Work with others and work together – don’t see other VAs as competition.

What’s the best thing about working in the VA industry?

The helpfulness and encouragement from everyone involved.

What’s the worst thing about being in the VA industry?

Educating businesses that we are a value-added service and not a luxury!

What do you see as the future of the industry? Any threats? What are we going to see more of and what will disappear?

I see teams of VAs will be getting together to support businesses so admin support will be outsourced – or even their admin support are finding they are working as a VA and will go self-employed so they get the benefits too.

The virtual world is growing but it may be that collaborators get together and work as a package for businesses – as they will prefer the package rather than outsourcing to many different people. VAs, HR, H&S, IT Support altogether – maybe?

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Non-sales-y sales

I am hoping to build up a VA business having worked within a PA and secretarial role for the past 14 years. I am excited about building up my business but really not looking forward to the whole marketing and “selling myself” side. I tried setting up a different type of home business a couple of years ago and failed because of this. From Leah – a new VA

Leah is not alone – this is a fairly common email for me to get… There are two issues here, and I’ll get right to the crux of the first one:

What would you do if I offered you a job – you would really get on with your boss, it had unlimited earnings, flexible hours, an office decorated to your own tastes… Sounds good, you’d bite my arm off in order to take it, yes?  BUT…. (and there’s always a BUT!)… It’s commission only. Continue reading

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Society of Virtual Assistants: August 2014 Newsletter

Hi there,Virtual PA-233

I received a troubling email over the weekend – some of you may have received this email from a new VA and therefore I wanted to set the record straight:

SVA is funded via donations which pays for hosting, admin, research, SEO, and web development.  The donation is voluntary and over the years we have added many, many members for free, as well as receiving generous support from many VAs.  We do not (nor have we ever) charged for VA listings on the website.  There are several reasons for this:

  • Firstly because any directory charging for listings would not have the impartiality needed to remove VAs who are not delivering on their promises.
  • Secondly because the listings we have are not as good as I would like them to be – this is something we are working on in the background, and something I would love to be able to fix permanently by investing more money in.  However, I just don’t have the money or technical skill to do it alone.
  • Thirdly because SVA was founded by VAs coming together and helping one another, and that is the ethos I would like to prevail – if you are only joining to get a web listing, there are 100 other sites offering that (who don’t of course have the same SEO authority as SVA has due to its varied content and longstanding status).  Joining just for the listing dilutes the collective power of the VAs and is not something I ever wanted to encourage.

I find the VA industry is one of the most welcoming and open I’ve ever encountered – it makes it a special place to work (even if I don’t get to see you in person very often!).  It would be a shame to lose that ethos, I hope it won’t come to that.

Caroline Continue reading

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IYOTSA 2014: Leadership skills for the Secretary/Admin Assistant

As part of the International Year of the Secretary/Assistant 2014, participating organisations are developing themes for their members in order to raise awareness of Secretaries and Assistants throughout the world… This month is:

Leadership skills for the Secretary/Admin Assistant

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. – John Quincy Adams Continue reading

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How not to get work as a newbie virtual assistant

An awkward email was received in my inbox today – awkward for a few reasons:

  1. It wasn’t addressed to me but to another VA
  2. It was clearly a mass mailout untailored to my business and touting for work with a skill which I don’t offer to my clients and wouldn’t be interested in offering
  3. It had spelling mistakes in it
  4. It was from a home email address

What does this tell me about the VA? Continue reading

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Non Sales-y Sales for Virtual Assistants

“We’re virtual assistants – not Del Boy and Rodney down the high street”

“I don’t want to come across as being pushy or annoying”

“My aim is to build a small business not an empire, why do I need to know about sales?”

Just a few of the comments I’ve had over the years about why people don’t want to follow up on their marketing leads… This always strikes me as odd – a bit like climbing halfway up the mountain only to go back down again without seeing the top. Continue reading

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The home office

From outside

From outside

Back in 2011, I made a fairly radical departure from my working life… Up until that point, I’d been a fairly unusual virtual assistant because I worked from an office which was just round the corner from my little flat.

When we moved to a much bigger house which needed rather a lot of work doing to it, having me on site to project manage was not only possible but also sensible too.  So I built my own little organisational corner here.

Three years on, what’s worked and what did I change from my original plan?

Continue reading

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Society of Virtual Assistants Newsletter: July 2014

Hi there,Virtual PA-233

My inbox seems to be overflowing at the moment – I apologise if I’ve been a bit tardy getting back to anyone!  I had a really good newbie question about researching the VA industry.  I published my response because it was so relevant to so many VAs starting out.

And I’ve been attempting to be a bit more organised with my wardrobe… Now anyone who knows me, knows that I usually look like something the cat dragged in, but this Project333 seems to work.

And we had a really good response to changing our SVA Premier subscription so it forms more of a course and a guide around the site… For more info on what’s included, click here.

Angela Dawson and I are also wondering if there are more established VAs out there who would like to band together?

Finally congratulations to Lyndsey Gilchrist, my co-founder of SVA, who had her third little boy this week! Mum and Baby Lewis are doing well!

Caroline Continue reading

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IYOTSA 2014: The role of technology for success – FREEBIE!

As part of the International Year of the Secretary/Assistant 2014, participating organisations are developing themes for their members in order to raise awareness of Secretaries and Assistants throughout the world… This month is:

The role of technology for success

I believe that not much happens of any significance when we’re in our comfort zone.
- Bob Parsons Continue reading

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