There’s a lot of information on the web about starting a virtual assistance practice and it’s quite easy to get sucked into the promise of working less hours for more money and taking time off whenever you feel like it.
Realistically, when you’re getting started, you may end up working more hours and having less time on your hands than you did when you were working for someone else. And, if you don’t get your pricing right, you could end up working for less too!
That’s not to say that working less hours for more money and taking time off when you want is a pipe dream. It can become true if you get it right. But there are a lot of factors to take into consideration which I won’t go into today.
What I can tell you with hindsight is that I fell into three major traps when I started up.
Firstly, I knew how much I needed to earn to survive, but that was about it. I didn’t sit down and look at the figures properly.
Secondly, I didn’t have a business plan, of any description. I didn’t think about either business or personal goals. All I knew was I didn’t have children so I knew I could work when I liked. I didn’t think about how I wanted my business to grow or indeed, what I wanted to specialise in.
The third trap was I continued to work in the same capacity as an employed PA.
HUGE mistake in fact… and I’ll tell you for why.
First, I set 9:00 – 5:00 workings hours. What? Why? The whole idea was to work the hours I wanted to work but I struggled to get out of that mindset, and at that time, I didn’t know how to structure my day differently. I did what I thought my clients wanted. The consequence of that was after a time, my clients expected me to be at my desk during those hours.
And there I was, chained to my desk, again…
The next thing was I didn’t consider my overheads (the running costs of the business).
“Yes, of course I can work for £10 per hour,” I said to my then clients. “I know, it is slightly more expensive than paying an employee, but you can use me as and when you need me.”
Whoa! OMG! It makes me cringe now.
I was actually earning LESS than an employee because what I hadn’t realised was there were costs that came out of my profit margin. For example, I charged £10 per hour (remember this was 20 years ago) and the overheads of doing the work came in at around anything between £2 - £5, costs such as phone calls, electricity, printer ink, paper etc and the extra time I threw in for free to make sure I did a great job. On top of that, there was still tax and national insurance to pay.
What I would say to you is this…
BEFORE you decide to quit your job and work for yourself, you need to sit down and properly work out some figures based on what you realistically can survive on and then, what you really want to earn.
Once you have done that and it looks feasible, I would strongly suggest that you think about what you want to achieve and how you’re going to get there.
And by achieve, I am not just talking about earning zillions so you can become a millionaire.
You need to think about yourself too. Your health is one of your most important assets you need to look after, because without you, you won’t have a business.
If you’re not sure where to start with the finance side of things, you can download a copy of my cheat sheet which shows you how to work out your figures. Download your copy from The Veteran VA Facebook group
For the planning side of things, I would strongly recommend the Daily Greatness Journal. I’ve found this so helpful in keeping me focused on what I need to do. I wish I had known about it when I first started my business. At the beginning of the journal there is a really useful blueprint to complete which help you get truly focused on where you want to be in the future.