This career was not one I had aspired to, but one that seems to be a better and better fit the longer I do it.
I started my working career being an estimator/project manager with a commercial glass company, but had to give it up once my husband and I decided to have kids and me becoming a stay at home mom. (You can’t do construction on a part time basis.) I took over my mother-in-law’s job as an Administrative Assistant with my congregation’s sisterhood a few hours a week while my kids were in nursery school. I ended up doing this for 12 years. Once the recession hit, I took a second job doing the same thing for a youth group in my area. During this time, I had a website/blog called Tidbitz4U.com and I was teaching myself html codes, trying to jazz up the free website site I was using. Flash forward 2 years, I left both of those jobs and acquired a position as full time Office Manager for an IT company. I taught myself Quickbooks, loved who I worked with but I hated the hours. I left this job but I still had all the skills!
I was talking to a cousin at a family function and she needed some administrative help, linking her Facebook, Website, LinkedIn, etc. She asked how much I charged, and I said $17/hours since that was what I was making at my last job, but for her, since she was family, I was going to do it for free. My brother was the one who told me since I have all the skills of an admin, I should do this as a business, being a Virtual Assistant.
I had 3 major elements that helped me be successful in this business of being a Virtual Assistant
- My brother talked to me about pricing myself where people will value what I do, not to cheap where it doesn’t appear that I don’t know what I’m doing and not too high. He explained I am providing a valuable service and people will pay. My next client I quoted $25/hour and was surprised how easily they said yes.
- I also started learning about the power of networking. Just getting out in groups, explaining what I do and how I could help them. This is completely out of my comfort zone, but I have built my 2 year business from word of mouth only!
- I have a girlfriend who is a wonderful business women. She has built and sold 2 successful businesses. She sat me down and we explored everything that I was doing for other people and what I charged. She explained to me that someone who can set up and do Quickbooks was so valuable to the small business professional who is just trying to build their business and whose books are usually a mess. She said that the time I spend should be time that I am making the most money. She told me what I could charge and I nearly fell off my chair. And new clients are paying it without blinking. So for me, most of my virtual work has ended up doing bookkeeping.
As for now, I am still trying to fill up my week. My goal is to work 20 hours a week until my youngest goes away to school next year. I am still learning; mistakes I have made about billing and being “penny wise and pound foolish” when it comes to some charges I will have to absorb eventually in lieu of getting paid on a timely basis. However, I have surrounded myself with people who know more then me in areas I am not strong in and this has helped me tremendously.
I hope this helps. My website is www.leaveittolaynie.com.