Why did I decide to become a Virtual Assistant?

Amber Cat Admin LogoIn November 2011, the company I worked for announced they would be making redundancies in the Administrative Team and I was one of the names up for redundancy.  I started to work out my contingency plan so I was prepared for “the worst”, but it turned out to be the kick that started something amazing.  My partner suggested I look into being a “Virtual Assistant”.  I’d never heard of it before, but after a couple of evenings on Google, I had made up my mind that this was where my future was and the initial concept for Amber Cat Admin was created.

Virtual Assistant (VA) Networking phrased it as: “A Virtual Assistant (VA) is a highly-skilled, independent professional who provides administrative, technical and/or creative business support services.  They are your off-site administrative professional”, and it sounded perfect.

After talking with a handful of people who have their own business, they all seem to think that the “little admin tasks” were the bits that seemed to get in the way of them actually running their business, even though they knew they had to do it and they all hated doing them, so they got pushed aside and ignored as long as possible.

Every one of them seemed to think I was crazy, because I actually really love that type of task.  I know it’s hard to get the kind of passion I feel about admin work into words, but I’ll try:

  • I love filing (including on-computer filing), and being able to find things once they’re filed properly – one of the first things I did when I moved in with my partner was alphabetise his comic collection!
  • I love typing – the sound of the keyboard chattering away is quite soothing to me and I love the feeling of actually being involved in the creation of a document.
  • I love document formatting – the difference between a document in plain text and having it formatted correctly can make a huge difference to first impressions.
  • I am a bit of a perfectionist – it makes me twitch when people have misspellings and grammatical errors in their work, so I correct these as I go.
  • I love all the tiny little bits that just need to be done to make everything else run smoothly – I have an old-fashioned clock that I have to wind once a week and I love doing it. Winding all those cogs and gears and hearing the “tick-tock” constantly in the background, just so you can tell the time the rest of the week – without that regular winding, the clock just stops!

And that’s before the intrinsically selfish joy that I get when I know that the work that I have done has helped someone else.  Be it that the document I have proof-read and formatted has helped them win work with a client, or simply that they can now find the relevant photos on their computer without having to search for hours.

Which admin tasks will stop your business running smoothly if they’re not done on time, but you still push to the side until the last minute?

13 Responses to Why did I decide to become a Virtual Assistant?

  • I loved reading that redundancy turned out to be a positive experience for you, and you are now in control of your own destiny.
    Good luck in your fantastic new business.

  • Helen says:

    A great blog. It never ceases to amaze me how good at getting organised some people are. I can do it but it takes me an age and quite often I don’t really know how to use the packages. If there’s a long way I can be guaranteed to find it! As my business grows I will be looking at what ‘jobs’ someone else can do. I’ve just seen a discussion about getting someone to manage your emails which would be great for me as my inbox fills up so quickly!

    • I love things like that, ensuring that all of the mails are in the appropriate folders (the ones you need to keep, the ones you need to save as pdfs, etc.,) and setting up rules so that when they come in, they zoom to the correct place automatically. I think my favourite thing about Google Mail, is that you can tag your mail with a label (or more than one), so you can have an incoming invoice from CompanyX labelled with “Invoices 2012-2013″ and with “CompanyX”, and it will only be stored once, but appear in both folders! :)

  • Well put Tracey, it is amazing that some people don’t like doing admin – I really don’t understand it! But then again some people like creating images or looking in people’s mouths 8 hours a day!! We are all suited to our jobs and that is why we must all work together and do what we do best. This will increase our productivity and for people in business, grow their business.

    Businesses do not grow unless they take on help – the alternative is not employing individuals but working with individuals – it all means spreading the workload and everyone does what they love and what they do best.

    • I admit, I can never imagine the thought of being a dentist as the kind of job that I’d be jumping out of bed each morning for! :)

      I totally agree that businesses need that perfect mix of people, the ones who enjoy what they do as well as being good at it, and it shouldn’t matter if you’re a “bum on a seat” in the office, or working remotely, for that to work to the advantage of all involved.

  • Rachel says:

    Thank goodness we’re not all the same! I’ve just hired a book keeper because the thought of doing all that finicky admin just drags me down. The horror is completely disproportionate to the actual task, of course, but each to his own.

    • I love “playing with numbers” too (as I call it) – spreadsheets are great fun for me. I hope to branch out into bookkeeping in the future, but would like a little more official experience under my belt until I can offer it to my customers.

      And yes, the amount of time thinking about, and procrastinating from doing, those “horror” tasks often takes up more time than the task would take, especially if all you have to do is give it to someone else and say “can you do that”. :)

  • Janet Wilks says:

    Well done for having the faith and courage to go for it! We all have things that we are naturally good at and that we love to do and if we can make a career doing what we love, how great is that?

  • Jenny Cooper says:

    I agree with Janet, it is your response to external events that has had this positive result. That is fantastic, and hearing how much you enjoy all those little tasks is a delight. It is hard for me sometimes to let someone else do something that I can do myself perfectly well, but am finding less and less time and inclination for them. I have made use of a VA a while back, and it was a great help, so will be doing so again.

  • As a fellow Virtual Assistant, I love to hear the reasons why others decided to become a VA. :) Isn’t it the best job ever? Seems like a lot of us started with a company that we didn’t feel comfortable in or unfortunately got laid off from…but it doesn’t stop us from reaching our dreams. Good luck with yours!

  • Sarah Gordon says:

    What a lovely post Tracey – it’s so nice to hear people’s stories, what got them to where they are. Sounds like you’re now in your ideal life! SGHx

  • Enjoyable read which echoes many of my reasoning and sentiments. The sound of my fingers tapping away on a keyboard while I gaze out of the window still surprises me and the difference in a well formatted document … Ow the pleasures.
    Good luck with it all xXx

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