Q: What are your thoughts on trying to start a VA business during this pandemic?
Easily one of the most frequently asked VA industry questions of the year. I definitely have an opinion! Read on.
The short answer is that now is as good a time as any -- perhaps even a better time than most.
“I started my business one month after the dotcom bubble burst, and six months before the tragic events of 9/11.”
I stumbled into starting my business. I had relocated from Connecticut to Northern Virginia in March of 2001. I'd done my research before coming down. I was familiar with the job market. I'd created a list of the many major companies in the shiny glass buildings that lined the Dulles Corridor. And frankly, with the skillset I'd developed as an Executive Assistant, I'd never had a problem getting an office job.
Nothing could have prepared me for the dotcom bubble burst that happened the very week I moved down here. Who could've known how quickly those pretty glass buildings would empty out as the Silicon Valley of the East began to shut down? What would I do now?
I did the only thing I could do. I took my EA skillset, layered with an entrepreneurial spirit that had been instilled in me by my father, and I gave myself the title of Freelance Administrative Assistant. I approached small companies, and I pitched them the idea of hiring me for just a few hours a week -- the plan being that I would negotiate this deal with several companies in hopes of stitching together a 30-40 hour workweek for myself as an independent contractor in a time of massive hiring freezes.
And then 9/11 hit.
I thought for sure it was all over. That any successful deals I'd set up would dry up. Some of them did. But I kept going, picking up temp work (through agencies) along the way. And as the economy began its recovery, I eventually went back into Corporate America, working as an EA making a pretty decent living -- and all the while side-hustling in my own business doing what people were beginning to call virtual assistance.
And then I got sick. After several years of dealing with a bad heart, I eventually realized that I could no longer maintain a demanding work schedule or workload. So I chose easier jobs that were below my regular paygrade, but that would leave me with enough energy to still provide a few light services to the occasional client or three. I really loved this virtual assistance thing that was growing in popularity!
Fast-forward to 2020 and I'm still in business. And though I thought this pandemic would surely wipe out my client list, it turns out that I am busier than ever! Not because I am any more special than any other VA -- but because I never gave up. Because I never stopped networking with other business owners, even though it scared the heck out of me. Because I swallowed my nerves and made podcast appearances and wrote articles that gave me exposure I didn't really want. Because I continued to read the business pages to keep up on who was making business moves and strategized how I might get them on the phone to tell them about what I do. Because I switched gears when things weren't working and chose a niche that I love (working with authors). Because I have aligned myself with other small business owners for whom I can serve as a referral partner (and vice versa). Because I know that things can change at any moment, so I have to keep my pipeline active. And because I know that many, many small businesses are born out of desperation, tragedy even -- and the owners of those businesses often quickly learn that their companies won't grow if they don't have an admin professional handling the behind-the-scenes tasks that take them away from delivering the services/products that bring them income.
If you're willing to do these same things with a similar mindset, then yes -- starting your VA business right now, even during this horrible pandemic, makes complete sense.
Ready for a one-on-one conversation to explore how your specific skillset could lead you into working as a Virtual Assistant? Book a low-cost 30-minute session with Chela today!