You do what, for a living? ‘I’m a Virtual Personal Assistant’. Yes, that’s right it really ‘is’ a job, it’s not a made up! When I tell people what I do for a living it often seems like a mythical job that most people can’t quite grasp the essence of….
I firmly believe that British industry and business is run on the back of solid administrative and secretarial support. We are the people who will get you where you need to be. We are the fixers, the unflappable force that crosses t’s and dot’s I’s.[plsc_pullquote align=”right”]”….When I tell people what I do for a living it often seems like a mythical job that most people can’t quite grasp the essence of….”[/plsc_pullquote]
But who are these army of people who are pushing the boundaries of traditional support to a new level? How do they manage to offer targeted, clever, streamlined and cost-effective support? And how do you get to join them? Here’s how my journey to becoming a Virtual Assistant played out.
The Corporate World
I cut my assistant teeth in in the M&A arm of a big bad investment bank; if ever there’s a place to hone your multi-tasking and organisation skills then this is the place to do it. That’s not to discredit other environments but for me the fast pace, the priority conflicts and the sheer volume of work ensured that my skill set was crafted to offer the best possible support.
Fast forward a few years and the return to work, post babies saw an investment banking position well out of my reach. There was no way I (personally) could commute, work 45hrs (plus) AND raise my children. I knew I couldn’t settle for a local part-time which offered me a much less diverse and dynamic position, so what were my other options?
Searching for a flexible role
Bizarrely around the same time I saw an advert in LinkedIn recruiting for Virtual Personal Assistants. A PA working from home? That would never work….would it? So with a whole lot scepticism, I applied. Within a few days I’d met Jane, the founder of Designated PA and my entire working life took on a whole new lease of life.
The Virtual PA
3 years later and I’m still here – working virtually. Dealing with clients from industries I’d never dreamed I’d deal with. Adding value to some of the most amazing, interesting and credible clients ever. Having minor brushes with Z list celebrities (but that’s another blog post). Working within part of a dynamic team of virtual PA’s. And still amazed that ‘this’ works! I’m having my cake and eating it!
Top Tips for entering the virtual world
- Always think of the cost to the client; if I estimate that a task will take me 4 hours but we could outsource that to someone else for less, offer that as a solution. Fundamentally the more money you can save your client the better your relationship will be and long-term you’ll get more repeat work.
- Don’t expect to be at full capacity straight away; it can be a slow burner, start small and build up to give yourself chance to adjust to a new way of working.
- Be realistic about your capacity; when you’re self-employed it’s far too easy to say ‘yes’ to everything and end up overwhelmed.
- Be clear with clients about your expectations; if you’re not going to respond to messages at 8pm, then be sure to communicate this. You might think it’s obvious but when you’re offering a flexible solution, people can misconstrue that concept.
- Have a dedicated workspace; not just a seat at your dining table! You don’t get to walk away from your office and go home – you are home so I can’t stress how important it is to carve out your workplace and to walk away from it!
- Make a financial provision for your pension and tax bill etc; no more sick pay, no more holiday pay BUT you can account for this and still not be out of pocket.
- Be prepared to learn; I’ve never had such a steep curve before, settling into a new job is always tricky but the new skills I’ve managed to pick up have been invaluable.
Author: Abi Ahern – PA at Designated PA