Laptop LifestyleI can’t believe that I have been running my Virtual Assistant business for over eight years now.  It has been a massive journey of empowerment and learning.  I feel blessed that I have been able to work my business around my family, school drop offs and pickups, the endless sporting commitments, school holidays and of course to still be able to earn more than a full-time income with the flexibility of a laptop lifestyle.

I originally started my Virtual Assistant business as a bookkeeper.  At the time, there were some legality changes in Australia for contract bookkeeping and of course further study would have been needed.  I had just finished and had paid for the wrong course, spent $2,000 in advertising my new business which resulted in only one new client at 3 hours per month which certainly didn’t cover costs.  So, I had a decision to make, do further study, do something else or go back to work.

These decisions are made when you least expect it. I went to a Mothers morning tea through my oldest son’s school (then 7 years old), I got talking to a Mum and explained about the bookkeeping situation and the dilemma of whether to do the study and extra hours or did I even like bookkeeping after all.  She asked me about my Secretarial, Admin and PA background and asked me why I didn’t go into business offering those services and what I loved best.  I asked, ‘Is there a market for that?’ and her response was ‘Yes definitely, I have been in business for 6 months and I am working full time, let me introduce you to a Liz Parker at 121 Temps.’

I went home, had a look at the 121 Temps website and signed up on the spot for the Premium Membership, it included everything that I needed to get my business started plus I could pay weekly which really helped with cashflow:

  • Website URL and website creation course
  • Marketing course
  • Monthly Webinars
  • Free Client Leads
  • Mentoring and Support
  • Plus a whole lot more.

And after just spending an excessive amount in advertising in the wrong place, I knew that this was the perfect investment to learn those things that would put my business in good stead for years to come.

From there it took me a little while to find my feet, I had three young boys, they were 7, not quite 3 and 18 months old (the younger two are only 16 months apart) so my life was hectic and filled with a school run and toddler taming along with trying to build a business.  In those early days, I only had lunchtimes if the younger boys slept and after 7:30pm at night once they were all in bed.  It was hard building a business on those limitations but definitely possible.  Plus, I was dedicated and motivated, it was either build my business or go back to work and frankly I couldn’t afford to go back to work as the childcare fees were exorbitant especially times 3 children.

As my business grew, so did the childcare by one day a week for the two youngest children up to 3 days per week until they went to school.  Eight years on I now have a 15 year old, 10 year old and 9 year old and I can say that they’ve never been in after school care or school holiday care, we regularly have their friends over during school holidays plus the boys all enjoy sporting activities most afternoons each week.  I also love that I can still be there for them and earn a full-time income on essentially a very flexible schedule.

In those early days, I set basic goals, I remember my first goal being to earn $400 dollars in a month and setting tasks around what I had to do to achieve that.  My mantra was ‘make this work or go back to work’ and ‘it is all up to me’.  I had to get my services together and write them as benefits to attract a potential client and I found this to be one of the hardest things to do.  Marketing really wasn’t my strong suit and I put my energy into learning as much as I could about it.  My little hack was that once I worked out my target market which was quite tough in the early days, it was much easier to explain my services because I knew what appealed to that industry.

Eight years on, I still love what I do.  I love the business and the clients I work with are amazing and inspiring.  I love that if I get bored, I can change my services or do some further study to offer different services.  My clients love this too and it means that they’re staying ahead of new trends as well.  They love that I am innovative and nothing is too hard to do or achieve.

I have been working with my longest running client for seven years and I believe that the longevity is due to going above and beyond for my clients, along with adding value to their business.  At the end of the day, I’m in this for the long haul!

Susan Wilkin