Being a Virtual Assistant: Hurdles & Potholes

In one of our earlier posts, I talked about the benefits of working as a virtual assistant. Looking at my own situation and circumstances, I’ve never regretted ditching the corporate world and everything that came with it: status, greater job security and other perks. But even with the increased freedom, life as a VA is far from being stress-free and every day comes with its own challenges and frustrations. If you’re thinking about working as an assistant on a freelance basis, then make sure you assess your own financial situation, professional ambitions and personality before throwing yourself into this discipline. You will need to jump over a few hurdles and avoid the odd pothole.

If your previous career came with a certain degree of organizational responsibility, a fancy title, or a very comfortable salary, then be prepared for a fairly drastic change. At least in the beginning. You will need to put in a fair number of hours to bring a decent income. There is a lot of competition; not just from other small (and bigger) companies but also from anyone and everyone willing to charge only a few pounds for a specific piece of work. Learning to position yourself and setting yourself apart from your competitors is a challenge in itself. If you boast niche skills or have plenty of work experience, then half the battle is won. In any case, you will need to consider the minimum hourly rate you’re willing to work for and the type of services you’re prepared to offer: ad-hoc tasks, long term projects, a combination of both?

Developing and maintaining good client relationships is also something you will need to work on. On paper, this sounds easy enough. But when you work remotely and don’t share the same office space as your client, becoming the go-to person can be more difficult than you think, especially when your client is not particularly responsive or expects you to read between the lines with very little live interaction. As you get to understand your client’s business and personality more deeply, you will hopefully be able to show that you can be a proactive and valuable member of their team – albeit a virtual one.