Working as a virtual assistant involves providing admin services to other businesses, often small businesses and one man bands, in exchange for a fee. This might be a set fee you are pained every month for taking responsibility for certain tasks, or a payment for a one off piece of work. Some people prefer to take on a virtual assistant franchise to lower the start up risk and have access to support.
Virtual Assistant work often fits in well for mums as it can be done from and can usually be fitted into the hours you have available as long as work is completed by the agreed deadline.
Starting a virtual assistant franchise rather than going it alone can increase your chances of success as the franchisee will provide training and you will be working under an established brand.
To help you decide if work as a virtual assistant is for you, we have interviewed Sandra, who runs a virtual assistant franchise with Pink Spaghetti.
Tell us your name and a bit about your family?
My name is Sandra and I moved to Sussex with my family 7 years ago, I am married to Paul, who is a Product Manager in London and mum to three girls, Mia aged almost 14, Alexa aged 11 and Sienna aged 9
What’s your business called?
Pink Spaghetti PA Services
Can you describe it in one sentence?
Your 25th hour in the day, offering you the ‘Gift of Time’.
How did You end up buying a Virtual assistant franchise and what inspired you?
I started my virtual PA business over two years ago and have never felt more fulfilled. I had always wanted to run my own business, especially after starting a family of my own. When my first child came along I reduced my hours to part time with the full intention of returning full time to my corporate role but when no.2 arrived and then no.3 I knew I had to have the flexibility of working for myself and started to think and search for ways to achieve this, I dreamt of running my own business someday and knew I had to turn this dream into a reality.
How did you fund your start up?
I had a small savings plan mature and weighed up the pros and cons of putting it towards a new car or holiday but instead the business concept won out. I didn’t want to look back at retirement and regret not going for it. I knew in my heart of hearts that it was now or never!
How do you manage Running your virtual assistant franchise around your children?
I work during school hours but sometimes have to work after school pick up or in between school clubs. I make sure I carve out time to support them in their homework or have a planned meal for dinnertime so that the evenings are stress free.
I have become much more conscious now of putting my family first. As my family has grown I have realised the importance of being there for them is even greater. Contrary to popular belief they need me more now, perhaps not so much physically i.e. I no longer need to help them with their shoe laces but they definitely still need me emotionally, whether it is to discuss school work or generally just being available for them as a sounding board.
Can you describe a typical day, what tasks do you have to get done, how do you manage your time?
I love the variety of my work, the day is never dull and you can never guess what your next enquiry could bring. For example I may be organising a party one minute, then be creating social media content the next. Helping my clients with their book keeping or sourcing a gardener. Some tasks are on-going month on month and others are one-off jobs.
I try to structure my week carefully, spending one morning per week on my admin, one day on my social Media Marketing and the rest of the week working on my clients work. I try not to have more than one day per week at networking meetings or 1-1 meetings, although it doesn’t always work out like this, just like life there are curve balls thrown at me i.e sports day at my kids school recently.
What challenges have you faced in your Virtual assistant franchise and how have you overcome them?
Getting the balance right is always tricky, especially in my first year of business where I was working long hours and it was impacting my family life, my work/life balance was non-existent. I found it really hard to switch off from the business and was thinking about it 24/7. I realised this was not healthy and had to find a happy medium. Working from home also created other challenges, I would often feel the pressure to do housework or could get easily distracted by social media. I have now become much more disciplined with my time. I set a timer for tasks and also switch off notifications from certain platforms to avoid unnecessary interruptions. I also have my own office space now, which has helped tremendously, I walk in and immediately turn to work mode.
What’s the best thing about being Virtual assistant?
The best thing is definitely being my own boss and having the flexibility to go out for lunch with a friend or make that important school assembly.
What are your plans for the future?
I would like to see my business grow and become an employer, this will be a huge step for me.
What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?
NETWORK. It takes a good year to get established within your community and to turn a profit in your business, sometimes even longer, so adapting your mindset to this is crucial. Going from an employee to the boss is not an easy transition at times. Every aspect of the business is your responsibility, which is easily overlooked when you are first starting out, new skills need to be gained and dedication is the key, being able to adapt and continue to keep learning.
All this though can be very overwhelming. I found lots of support from my local networking groups. It is vital to network with other small businesses, gaining their trust, confidence and expanding your network is fantastic for your business and for you, you learn so much from each other. It also brings new friendships and combats any loneliness you may be feeling working from home. You will be out, socialising with other businesses in the same situation as you or who have skills and expertise to advise you and will offer support. I have made some really good friends from my networking groups and have even become an Ambassador for one and currently run another networking group of my own now, something a few years ago I would never have believed I would be doing… I didn’t even realise networking groups existed before I started my business!
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us
It has been a steep learning curve with many challenges and amazing milestones along the way. I am truly happy to have had the courage to start this journey, it has opened doors to me I never knew existed, I have established friendships and collaborations with fantastic local businesses and feel so empowered, don’t get me wrong there are up days and down but the ups definitely outweigh the downs.
I hope that one day when my children are older they will be proud of their Mum and admire the business woman I have become. #NoRegrets
You can contact Sandra via Twitter
If you’re interested in running a franchise, you can find more suggestions in our post on franchises for mums. You might also like to read the story of the a Pink Spaghetti Virtual Assistant Franchise opportunity.
You can find other stories of mums who are running a virtual assistant franchise in our Business to Business stories.