Location: Basingstoke, Hampshire
I became interested in the virtual assistant industry after becoming very dissatisfied in my job at the time. My husband and I were out for a Christmas lunch in December 2009 with some friends and they inspired me to look into being my own boss, offering PA services remotely from home. They explained they knew of someone having a similar business that was very successful: I did some research and decided to look further into the possibility of setting up my own business. I had the full support of my husband: I still do!Before setting up my own business I had been employed as a PA for over 15 years working within various business environments. My last job was a PA to a headmistress of an independent school. I had been there for six years before deciding to leave.
The biggest challenge I faced in setting up: was believing in myself. My confidence had been chipped and I had come from a very unhappy place in my working life.
I had given notice in January 2010 to my employer who required me to work until middle of July. Although this amount of notice period was not very constructive as far as our relationship was concerned it did allow me to put everything thing in place and to do lots of research in advance of starting up.
I found information on the industry by trawling the internet, researching other PAs (VAs) and viewing their websites. Talking to other business men and women who were successful at what they did so that I could fully understand what was required of me to make it a success. In speaking to other business men and women I also learnt about the pitfalls. I registered to attend Business Link courses to help me set-up. Started to network before I went ‘live’ with my business (I went live on 19th July 2010 and I started networking in January 2010). Networking I believe is very important: there are people within all networking groups willing to share their knowledge, experience and offer support.
My top tips for a newbie PA (VA) are: to be patient, to be yourself (people buy people). You need to consider your image and how you present yourself: your branding is not just your logo. I think it is important not to play at the idea of being a PA (VA): if you want to be taken seriously you need to work very hard at it. You need to market yourself in a way others are not. Keep networking even when you are busy. There are so many tips but these are just a few.