We chat to Jennie Taylor, a VA from Surrey, who took the plunge and set up independently building up her very own client base. Jennie proves that there is a real need from local individuals and small businesses for part-time PA support on a flexible, non-committal basis. Hiring a VA could be the growing, cost-effective and hassle-free solution for many.
We are excited to find out more about Jennie and her VA experience so far!
How long have you worked as a VA?
I’ve been a VA for two and a half years.
What made you decide to set up independently as a VA?
It wasn’t really a conscious decision – I had seen a local business advertising the need for some on site and virtual support. The timing was perfect for me. My daughter was 10 months old and I was just starting to think about returning to work, however, having been made redundant from my previous role, I was reluctant to return to the dreaded daily commute! This opportunity seemed perfect, so I applied for the role, got the job, and then realised that there were lots of other local businesses with similar needs. It was at this point that I decided to formally set up my company, JT Solutions, offering this type of support.
You have a broad range of clients. Tell us a little about the sort of work you do.
My work is very varied, and includes dealing with client emails, writing e-newsletters, managing social media accounts, sending invoices and chasing debt, creating reports, website updates, proofreading and research. One of the reasons I love what I do is because of the variety in the work! The majority of my clients are small, local businesses, enabling a mixture of on-site and virtual support. However, some are further afield and for these my work is solely virtual.
How do you feel your services have benefited your clients?
Feedback from my clients includes the fact that they are actually able to relax when they’re not working, and not have this permanent cloud hanging over their heads of the admin backlog awaiting them in the office! Other clients have commented that they have been able to truly enjoy their maternity leave without worrying about keeping on top of client emails and invoicing. The main benefit, I feel, is that I am allowing my clients to get on with what they do best, so I can take care of the behind-the-scenes stuff, therefore allowing them to grow their business!
What do you like most about your job?
As previously mentioned, I love the variety in my job. Every day is different and therefore never boring! With a young family, I am so thankful that my job allows me to do the school runs, attend assemblies and sports days, and have some precious time with my younger daughter before she starts school next year. By working for myself, I have a fairly good element of flexibility, and am always happy to catch up on work at weekends and in the evenings, if it means I can be there for my family.
Sometimes being a VA can be a bit lonely, especially if the majority of your work is virtual. On the flip side, it’s a lot easier to concentrate on what you’re doing without the distractions of a busy office!
You mention the job can feel lonely at times. At Designated, we have a great VA community who we can reach out to at any time – there’s always somebody there! How do you find working completely independently?
Fortunately my work isn’t 100% virtual – I would say I have a balance of approximately 80/20% virtual vs on-site work. This means I don’t feel too isolated, and since the majority of my clients are local, I can travel to them quickly and easily if on-site support is required at short notice.
Do you have any tips for somebody who might be thinking about becoming a VA?
Network! The majority of my work has come through local social media sites and word of mouth. I am a member of lots of different networking groups, and even if you don’t actually get any work from these, it’s great to network with other entrepreneurs, especially if they are local, so you can attend face-to-face networking events.
What about for anybody looking to hire a VA?
Look for recommendations and ask for references or testimonials. Anyone can say they are good at something if they might get work from this, however this person will be representing you and your business, so it’s important to know they are the real deal!
And just for fun…
Who shares your home?
I live with my husband, two daughters and two kittens!
How do you unwind after a hard day of work?
TV box sets, and if it’s a really hard day, wine!
I have recently started running, and have applied for the 2020 London Marathon, though I’m currently not sure if I actually want to get in or not!
One rule you live by..
Treat every day as a beautiful gift, don’t wish your life away!
What wouldn’t you leave home without?
A full face of makeup, I look awful without it!
What new skill would you like to master?
The enjoyment of running (I currently only enjoy it when I’ve finished)!
Check back in to see who will be in the hot seat next week as we continue our VA Diaries series!
If you are looking for a career as a virtual personal assistant but want to join an established and reputable business and be part of a team of PA’s then get in touch as we are always keen to hear from experienced PA’s.