I’ve been working as a self-employed Virtual Assistant, an Executive Virtual PA, for very nearly ten years now. I setup my business in the UK, but then made the decision to come to Spain in Autumn 2017.
As long as I have a good internet connection, I can work from anywhere so took advantage of the fact I had a portable career. The beach is out though 😉 From experience I now know that it’s difficult to work whilst sitting in direct sunlight as it’s impossible to see the laptop screen!
My clients were aware I was going on holiday, but I didn’t inform them in advance that I wouldn’t be returning to the UK as I wanted to avoid their potential panic & demonstrate I could provide uninterrupted support away from my UK home office. Of-course they were all fine & did find it amusing that I’d gone on holiday & never returned ‘home’.
Spain is permanently home now, at the moment in Oliva, Valencia. It’s great to choose the hours I work in-front of my PC, then be able to enjoy all that life on the Costa Blanca has to offer.
So what is a Virtual Assistant?
These days it’s actually the term used for the intelligent voice recognition & natural language understanding services such as Alexa, Siri, Cortana & Google Assistant…
However, the phrase provided by US based VANetworking.com is generally accepted as a good description: “A Virtual Assistant (VA) is a highly-skilled, independent professional who remotely provides administrative, technical and/or creative business support services”.
Therefore Virtual Assistant is an all-encompassing term for an individual who works remotely, usually freelance, not only providing admin & secretarial services, but also copy writing, social media management, email marketing, bookkeeping, graphic design, website management, online marketing, business development, project management, customer support, call handling, product launches, event support etc etc.
There’s just so much that can be undertaken online & remotely these days.
Who can be a Virtual Assistant?
Anyone with the above experience, or skills of their own to offer.
Anyone with an entrepreneurial mindset, good motivation, a flexible attitude, willingness to learn & drive to succeed.
How do you become a Virtual Assistant?
Research what others are doing & learn from them. Follow online conversations, join forums & Facebook groups.
Examine the necessities of starting a business & being self-employed & which structure is the best for your circumstances. I transferred from being a sole-trader in the UK, to becoming an Autonomo in Spain.
When you’re fully legal, look for clients!
Check out Koffeeklatch for contracts & agreements: https://www.koffeeklatch.co.uk/
Lawyer Susanne Dibble has excellent resources & legal templates: https://suzannedibble.com/
How do you find clients?
Networking – in-person & online. Be visible online. Setup a good Linkedin profile as a priority – much more essential than having a website.
Referrals – from people you already know, or you have worked with. Inform your existing contacts of what you are doing & ask if they know anyone who may require assistance.
Some VAs have teams of Associates – instead of finding your own clients, you apply to become an associate & assist the lead VA when they have more work than they can handle alone. You may find these opportunities via dedicated VA community Facebook groups.
Teleworking – on occasion employed VA opportunities arise, usually with VA agencies, but be very cautious of scams. If an opportunity seems too good to be true, it likely is!
Virtual Assistant Training
There are VA specific training providers & a number of courses available which will provide the basics you need to start out in your new venture. Here are some excellent options that I’m aware-of, all with very different styles & delivery, so something to suit everyone. Many also run free 5-day challenges for aspiring VAs so sign-up for newsletters follow on social media:
VACT (Virtual Assistant Coaching & Training Company). Amanda Johnson is a very well established & respected UK VA trainer: https://www.vact.co.uk/
The VA Handbook. Jo Munro is a very popular UK trainer with a different communication style to Amanda at VACT: https://www.thevahandbook.com/
Virtual Miss Friday. Michelle Dale, a Brit long-term settled in Egypt, has a number of different courses at all levels: https://www.virtualmissfriday.com/
VA Academy. Alexandra Parry used to operate a VA Agency & now trains & mentors VAs: https://www.thevaacademy.co.uk/
DNK (Digital Nomad Kit). Originally from the UK, Hannah Dixon is a true digital nomad & provides training: https://digitalnomadkit.com/
The VA Lifeline. Reece Ben Yaacov is based in Israel, has been coaching & mentoring VAs for years & just launched an online training course: https://www.reesebenyaacov.com/
Amy-Rose Gould is a VA mentor in the UK has an online training course: https://www.amyrosegould.com/
There are a number of VA forums which spring to mind:
UK Society of Virtual Assistants (SVA) is the go-to organisation in the UK: https://www.societyofvirtualassistants.co.uk/
VA Networking is US-based & very big there: https://www.vanetworking.com/
Facebook is the best place for VA groups & the trainers mentioned above will have groups. I’m unsure which are public so haven’t mentioned them here, just search in Facebook or on Google.
I look forward to e-meeting you online somewhere someday.