I’m a VA – how did this happen?
It’s my desk. It’s my computer. And it’s my creative juices which are flowing, to the benefit of my company and my clients.
That’s what I was looking for when I decided to become a Virtual Assistant.
I knew I had talent with computers. Everywhere I worked I was the one that staff called when they needed help with computer problems, document formatting and creating last minute designs and files. While I worked in my job, it was these ‘mini-emergencies’ which I enjoyed most. Satisfying and interesting, assisting other people with achieving their vision was what I found myself enjoying more and more.
After some planning and discussions with people close to me, I decided to set up my own Virtual Assistance business.
I didn’t quit my job – starting my own business took time, some money, and plenty of dedication and vision.
I maintained my regular job, and as my business started to take off, I was lucky enough to be able to reduce my hours at that job, and dedicate more time to the growth of my fledgling business.
My first clients – and the lessons learnt.
I called my partner after I spoke to my first client – I was that excited.
It was a resume job, and the client emailed through their employment history in basic format for me to ‘jazz up’. A few hours later, he arrived to pick it up, and happily handed me my first payment – $35!
After spending money setting up a basic office at home, this was far from the amount of money I would need to make it all worthwhile, but hey, it was my first payment as a self-employed Virtual Assistant! I was thrilled!
That first job gave me confidence to promote myself even more. Soon I had my second client. He needed some design work done and a website created. It was wonderful to see the projects come to life and our designs displayed at a Melbourne based Parent, Child and Baby Expo.
But this job was much more complex than my first job, and required many dedicated hours – not all of them spent simply achieving the jobs we set out to do, but many hours spent fixing errors from mistakes that were invaluable for the growth of the business.
I have since learnt that almost all clients will teach me something new. They all challenge me, and the best clients are the ones who challenge me in new and interesting ways. Mind you, the less pleasant lessons are just as important, but a little less easy to appreciate on the day!
For example, I learnt from a very confronting email, a few jobs down the track, that opening a single document in 2 different versions of Microsoft Word can present with amazingly different page set-ups. This client had provided me with an electronic document of approximately 700 pages of which I was to format. Formatting was one thing I was very good at so I took to it with some gusto. I sent it back to the owner who opened the document and found it to be all over the place, or as she said a few days later: ‘a dog’s dinner’.
She spent the weekend changing it all back to how she wanted it to look, and then sent an email of complaint.
On receiving the email, I immediately realised that the programs must have been different versions. But the error and time wasted had already been done. The client had spent the weekend stressed – the complete opposite situation to what she had attempted to achieve by utilising my services.
I was able to repair the damage to the document, but I felt terrible and it was a blow to my confidence. Nevertheless, the lesson learned was worth it. Never again will I transfer documents without knowing exactly what programs and versions the client is using. PDFs are a great way to show how the document should look, so the client can compare and bring any variance to our attention immediately. Knowing everything about how the document will be viewed at the other end is extremely important. Lesson Learned!
To be continued…