Seven months ago, I was unemployed-but very employable-and praying for a way that I could earn a living and have the flexibility I desperately needed at that time in my life.
My husband had suffered a major stroke (at 38…listen to your body folks!) and is on dialysis, which necessitates my being available to take him to doctor’s appointments and so forth. Also, we live in the Atlanta area, where traffic is horrendous. My last job as a project manager for a well known international ministry had me commuting two plus hours each way, and I worked 10 plus hours a day. I couldn’t do that any longer. My family was my priority and I while it was a great job, with great pay, my family was suffering, and I wasn’t there for them like I needed to be.
So I left there and began to look for something less demanding and closer to home. During this time I began to pray diligently to find a job with the flexibility I desperately needed. While surfing the web, job hunting one day, I came across an article about virtual assisting. Eureka! I think my prayers were being answered. I had the skills, the office and equipment, the demeanor and professionalism it would take. Darn it! I’m going to do it. So I stepped out on faith; stopped searching for jobs and started searching for clients.
I chose my name — Emackulate Assistants. Catchy, huh? I thought it was pretty darn creative to incorporate my first initial and last name to phonetically spell “immaculate” which means perfect, which I am striving to be… or as close to it as one can be. I designed my website (also my first time), created brochures and business cards, secured an 800 number, obtained my business license (I didn’t do this in any particular order)….just a few of the myriad of “little things” that must be done when starting a new business. Being a sort of closet techie, I already had a complete-home office and tons of business and creative software.
I began to do research on virtual assistants; read everything I could get my hands on regarding the field. What I have found is education and networking are two keys to success. And know that I will have to always continue to educate myself, keep up with trends, and network, network, network. Not long after I made the leap of faith, my phone rang, and it was from the business manager of my old company, who asked if I was interested in doing some freelance work as a closed captioner….well heck yeah! (I had that experience and the software needed) . I’m cooking with hot grease now! I was so excited.
Shortly after starting that gig, and sending several hundred emails later (well, maybe not hundreds, but it sure seemed like it), I got a response and I landed two more clients. I was a legal word processor for 10 years, and while I had long ago left that field, that skill came in very handy, and I began doing transcription for these two clients.
It was slow going for a while, but perseverance paid off and soon I had three regular clients and few small one-time clients here and there. Whoo hoo!
I’ve decided to step it up a notch this year, and really knuckle down and get serious about building my clientèle and making Emackulate Assistants a success. I know that as a V.A., you should really have a focused area, but I have worked in so many fields over the course of 20 years. I’ve worked in the legal arena, non-profit, education, project management, music business management and consulting, event and meeting planning. Eventually I will focus more on a limited area, primarily, but right now, mama has bills to pay!! One particular thing that I think will give me a leg up is I know how to close-caption and have the software to do so. Eventually, I think this might become my niche, providing closed captions for ministries.
So I’ve made a list of goals to accomplish this year (I’ll update you as a go along). But jumping into the “blogasphere” was one of my goals this year… I love to write and I love to talk. So in the words of Hannah Montana….it’s the best of both worlds. Hey I’ve got a teenage daughter. What can I say?
I am thankful that I was blessed with the skills and experiences that have afforded me this opportunity and am beyond determined to make it work. It’s not as simple as hanging up your shingle and going to work, and it really isn’t for everyone, but I think my career path and experiences prepared me for this time in my life and I have what it takes to be a good–no, make that a great–V.A.
I believe that it takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a village to be a success…so if you have any tips, suggestions, or simply want to send up a prayer that Emackulate Assistants is successful, I sure would appreciate it.
I’ll keep you posted on my V.A. journey and what’s happening in my world. It might be a bumpy ride, but stay tuned.
Till Next Time,