Updated: Jul 6, 2021
Home based businesses are literally sprouting out of the woodwork, and there’s little wonder why. With the ongoing climate of uncertainty thanks to the ever-present threat of Covid-induced lockdowns which have become part of the very fabric of life here in Australia (and around the world), we’re seeing home-based work as more of a rule rather than an exception.
And with it comes a growing band of disenfranchised employees who are feeling the pressure (and newfound love of working from home), and are turning into work-from-anywhere entrepreneurs by utilising their business skills to establish highly profitable micro and small businesses.
One work-from-anywhere career that’s growing in leaps and bounds is that of the Virtual Assistant (VA). Nothing more than a blip on the business radar two years ago, the Australian Virtual Assistant Industry is seeing real growth thanks to the increased demand from (primarily) small businesses who understand the cost-saving opportunity of outsourcing their administrative requirements to skilled and qualified contractors.
But for those of you who are contemplating turning your administrative skills into a business, there’s much more to it than ‘being able to type’…. way more in fact!
Experience, Mindset and Environment; these are three critical elements you need to consider when assessing the pros and cons of starting up your own home-based Virtual Assistant business (or any business for that matter).
Experience: Without a doubt, your skills and experience are absolutely paramount to your success. If you lack adequate skill and experience in the services you plan on delivering, you are pretty much dead in the water before you even begin. My advice here is to spend some time figuring out what it is that you could do which would be valuable to a small business operator. There’s a long list of services that Virtual Assistants can provide, but honestly ask yourself “what can I do really, really well?”, and then do that!
When you first start, stay in your own lane… and by that I mean, build your credibility by providing services you are not just good at, but amazing at! The payoff that comes from sticking to what you do well is more often than not a client base who are there for the long haul, rather than the business equivalent of a fleeting one-night stand. If you feel compelled to try and provide the client with services outside your scope, then consider bringing in another VA who specialises in what you don’t… that’s a win-win for everyone (you included). At the end of the day, nobody can stop you from offering services you can’t deliver, but believe me, your clients will remember you for it and WON’T come back.
Mindset: One of the biggest challenges I see start-up VAs struggle with is developing what we refer to as an ‘Entrepreneurial Mindset’. From the current 2021 VA Industry Survey conducted by VA Institute of Australia, 70.51% of the respondents indicated they had 15+ years in traditional employment. With such a substantial amount of time spent in traditional employment, this could also be a key factor that adversely impacts these operators’ ability to switch from the ingrained ‘employee mindset’ to that of thinking like a business owner.
To counter this issue, we recommend investing time into business building activities such as networking with other like-minded business owners, as well as established and successful Virtual Assistants in order to embed a business mindset mentality that we know helps build a successful VA business. By surrounding themselves with successful Virtual and traditional business owners, new business entrepreneurs are able to learn how others deal successfully with the day-to-day operation of business, including navigating the natural ebbs and flows that all businesses will experience.
Environment: While fluffy slippers and a 5 second commute are a dream come true for many, working from home is definitely not for everyone. For some, there is simply no substitute for the traditional workplace environment, and the home-based office just doesn’t ‘do it’ for them because they find that they need the stimulation that only a bricks and mortar workplace can provide. For others, their home environment is not exactly conducive to running a business for reasons ranging from lack of space, poor internet reception, right through to noisy neighbours. This means that due consideration needs to be given to the environment when deciding if a home-based business is for you.
So, if the VA life is something that is calling to you, make sure you take stock of your Experience, Mindset and Environment early in the peace to ensure success!
About the Author:
Ingrid Bayer has been an Australian Virtual Assistant since 2008, and is the author of three books: Discover the Authentic VA Within: A Journey from EA to VA; Discover the Authentic VA Within: a Journey from Ordinary to Excellence, and; Futureproof Your Career.
Ingrid has gone on to establish VA Institute in 2017 where she trains, mentors and coaches start-up and established Virtual Assistants with programs focused on excellence, authenticity and industry sustainability.
In 2019, Ingrid established a jobleads network called Find a VA, and in 2021 she launched her highly successful Virtual Momentum membership program as a much needed resource for existing VAs to build and grow their businesses sustainably.
Ingrid also runs the VA Summit – a two day event held annually which is designed to educate, empower and engage Virtual Assistants who want to build highly successful VA businesses.