How many hours do I need to work as a VA?

I had a common question ping into my inbox this week, and thought it was worthwhile writing a little post on it…

How many hours do I need to work in my new Virtual Assistant business each week?

I get variations on this all the time, and I actually have a pretty hard line view:

You need 20+ hours/week including some during a traditional 9-5 Mon-Fri working week.

Hang on… I can literally see you reaching for the Comments box at the bottom of the article, itching to tell me how you only work 10 hours a week and earn gazillions of pounds…  But hear me out…

Why do I need to work traditional hours?  Isn’t that the whole point about being a VA, not being tied to my desk?

I know some people will prefer to work outside of traditional hours – you’re a night owl, no one is bugging you with phone calls or interruptions, the kids are in bed asleep.  That’s great.  But occasionally you’ll need to do stuff in normal working hours.  Things like going to the bank, sending mail outs at the post office, and speaking to clients working traditional hours.  Because even if you want to work kooky hours, your clients will generally work a normal Mon-Fri 9-5 and expect a timeous response to any queries that they have.  You need a period of time each week to do that kind of adminis-trivia without it being a chore to plot into your diary.

I have to work 20 hours a week?  You must be kidding – I know someone who only works 10 hours and she earns £40k a year!

Feel free to disagree with me on this, but remember I’m talking about newbie VAs, not those with established client lists.  We all know of VAs who maybe only work 10 hours a week and earn a decent amount!

So why do new VAs have to work longer hours?  Well, simply put, in the early days unless you start to see results fast, you aren’t going to be motivated to continue plugging away at your business.  It’s a bit like being on a never-ending diet where you don’t lose any weight – depressing isn’t it? So motivation is one BIG reason to make sure you put in the hours whilst your enthusiasm is high.

Secondly, as a VA outsourcer and a client, I know that if my VAs don’t have a reasonable amount of availability each week, it’s unlikely that they will be able to complete work within a reasonable deadline – if you only work a few hours each week, the chances of your availability coinciding with my need to outsource work gets really teeny!

Finally, the early days of setting up your business will always take more effort as you hone business practices, get your website live, set up bank accounts etc.  You need time to think about these things as well as to work for clients – not all your hours will be billable, but every one of them is important.

To give you an idea of the actual hours that real VAs work – here’s the results of the UK VA Survey (which can be purchased from http://www.societyofvirtualassistants.co.uk/va-products/ for £25 – bargain!!!).  We’ve also included the number of hours our SuperVAs work (defined as those who earn a replacement PA salary of £20k+).  As you can see, most are working full time hours and none are working under 10 hours a week…

Hours

0-10

11-20

21-30

31-40

40+

% VAs who work these hours

11%

21%

27%

21%

20%

SuperVAs

0%

10%

16%

29%

45%

For more insider info on how real UK VAs work, get the UK VA Survey here:

http://www.societyofvirtualassistants.co.uk/va-products/

About Caroline

Co-founder of Society Of Virtual Assistants and owner of Virtually Sorted. Caroline lives in Glasgow and enjoys the virtual lifestyle allowing her the flexibility to wear jeans to the office every day! In 2014 Caroline was shortlisted as in the UK's Top 10 Digital/Tech Bloggers at the UK Blog Awards. Not bad for a non-techie!
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2 Responses to How many hours do I need to work as a VA?

  1. As a marketing virtual assistant I do a lot of social media and blogging for my clients and unless I’m super organised at setting timed Tweets, Facebook updates etc then it’s essential I’m working 9-5 to catch peak web traffic. That’s fine by me, the client gets only what they pay for, my work timer goes off when I grab a cuppa or use the ladies room and I get to work in my PJ’s until the afternoon! Looking forward to a 40k salary someday too…

  2. I’m with Hannah in my response.

    I’ve actually said to friends and family that I work more hours now than I ever did while employed… and 40k salary! I wish….. well not yet by a long chalk.

    I’m a general VA, but tend to do a lot of social media work for my clients, and to offer that as a service I also have to plan the SM posts on behalf of my clients. It’s just not a case of posting “Hello everyone, here’s a pic of my breakfast” and scheduling it via HootSuite. A lot of time and preparation goes into it. I wouldn’t have many clients if that’s all I did.

    When I factor in my work, the ‘unpaid’ work that goes on when running your own business I would say I work in the 40+ hours bracket.

    I didn’t become a VA to get rich quick or work only a few hours a week. I started my business because I love what I do for a job and didn’t want to be employed by anyone anymore.

    I have regular loyal clients who appreciate the work I do for them, enough money in the bank to pay my bills and eat and an excellent sense of achievement at the end of the day…… when I finish with client work and start my own :)

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