•The virtual assistant industry is in a constant state of change and active growth.
• In just under a year of being in this space, I’ve seen so many virtual assistants like myself pivot their businesses.
You know how people say, “Do it scared. Do it knowing that you won’t know everything. Do it even though you don’t feel ready...”? Yeah. I started scared, clueless and really very unprepared. In fact, my business was nowhere in my life-plan!
Before I started “Virtually by Elma”, I was living and working in the UK as a consultant Acoustic Engineer, which I absolutely loved and wanted to grow in through and through until I became a Chartered Engineer. That’s how I pictured my ‘ideal’ life. However, Covid-19 (and the universe by extension) had other plans for me altogether. I was made redundant just as the effects of Covid-19 began to tear through the UK’s economy and almost immediately, I made the decision to travel to Kenya before countries closed their borders. So that was me, moving back to Kenya without a plan but really just hoping the pandemic would last a couple of months and then I’d return to the UK with my valid residence permit and re-enter the workforce - lakini Covid ni nani!?
Fast-forward to June/July, I’d taken enough time out ‘grieving’ the loss of what was my ‘ideal life’ and now I had this increasingly heightened urge to create an income stream for myself. Savings could only last so long and I did not want to move back into my (very loving) parents’ home, plus it was going to be almost impossible to get an acoustic engineering job in Kenya. So I got onto Google and searched, and searched, and searched in a bid to find creative ways to generate income working online using my transferable skills. That’s how Virtually by Elma was born!
The virtual assistant industry is in a constant state of change and active growth. In just under a year of being in this space, I’ve seen so many virtual assistants like myself pivot their businesses and experience growth in leaps and bounds because the VA space enables and encourages business owners to find what works best for them and just run with it! Another amazing thing is that you don’t need any specialist college or a university degree to work in the VA space, as your technical and transferable skills can easily be turned into a paid-for service and with constant up-skilling, you can become a renowned expert in your niche of choice. That said, there’s a lot of curiosity around what a VA is and how to start a VA business, what VAs do, how VAs can help you/your business, and how to decide whether a VA is actually what you/your business needs.
First off, a virtual assistant is essentially an umbrella term that describes an independent contractor who provides remote generalist (basic admin services like email management, scheduling support, creation of reports, etc) or specialist (business systems and automation management, social media management, accounting, web design, podcast management, etc) support and services to either an individual or a business. Essentially, the graphic designer your business hires now and then to create amazing marketing material could well be a virtual assistant - they work remotely AND they provide specialist services for your business. With that in mind, I think it’s safe to say that if you’ve been reading up to this point, the ‘what is a VA/what does a VA do’ questions should be pretty much answered for you!
To help you determine whether a VA is right for you/your business, here are some questions you need to answer:
- Do you want to scale your business but you just don’t have all the skills required to realise your dream?
- Is your business growing (in size) but you’re somehow unable to increase your profits because nothing is systemised and nothing is automated?
- Are you missing out on vital opportunities for your business because you spend more time working on non-income-generating things in your business such as admin and operations?
- Are you burning out because you can barely take significant time out of your business without things crashing and burning?
These are just some of the questions that have resulted in most (if not all) of my clients hiring my services and the services of pretty much all the VAs across the world. There’s a lot of power in delegation and systemisation when it comes to business growth and success!
For anyone reading this who thinks, “Right. I think I have everything it takes to offer XYZ services as a virtual assistant”, the key to starting your business is to do it scared, do it knowing that you won’t know everything and do it even though you don’t feel ready. The most common question I get after ‘how do I price my services’ is ‘how do I get paying clients for my business, and the answer to this is pretty simple: sell the problem your services will solve and your services will sell themselves. There’s a lot of benefit in providing unquestionable value, especially for businesses like VA businesses that use social media as their digital storefront.
A simple search on Instagram will show hundreds of VA businesses but what sets the ‘booked-out. profitable, successful businesses apart from the rest is the VALUE they provide to their audience. So, while the other admin, systems, and logistics are essential to have for your business to run seamlessly, remember to have branding and marketing strategies to work together to help you sell your solutions and grow your client base. Finally, as you start your business, remember that YOU ARE NOT A DISCOUNT SERVICE! Price your services and solutions with confidence, knowing that your ideal client and target market won’t hesitate to pay your price as long as they can see the VALUE you’ll be bringing to their life/business.
Starting my VA business gave me a new kind of boldness - it showed me just how strong, brave, and determined I am when I put my efforts and energy into something that I believe in. I wish the same for you - you who have been sitting on that business idea, and you who know your business needs more support than you can provide. Make a decision, create a plan and then MOVE to actualise your plan. There’s so much dynamism, adaptability, creativity and growth to experience in the VA space, both as a VA and as a business owner hiring VA services but the experience will only begin when you start that VA business or hire that VA you’ve been stalking on social media for your business!
Remember: Do it scared. Do it knowing that you won’t know everything. Do it even though you don’t feel ready!
Elma is a multi-passionate woman - an engineer by profession and now a virtual assistant working with equally multi-passionate women to help them streamline their business processes and systems so they can save time and focus on income-generating activities in their businesses. She uses her engineering background and professional experience paired with her quick learning and love for all things tech to work with her clients and transform their businesses! To get in touch, reach out via Instagram (@virtuallybyelma) or drop her an email ([email protected]).