On the weekend just gone there was an article published in a couple of major Australian newspapers in the My Career section about our industry and based on an interview I had with the journalist.
A comment was made on one of the forums I moderate that ‘it will take a long time and hard work to make money, if any at all’ and I want to address that comment here.
I agree that to establish a good VA business (or any business for that matter) it takes a lot of hard work and it does take time – the length of time really depends on that person and what they do to generate business. But I disagree that you won’t make any money unless you do nothing to get your business going. Nothing was ever said about ‘big money’ in the article but did give some idea of what clients might expect to pay for services here in Australia.
I’ve been in business for over 15 years and know many, many VAs who have also been in business for many years. I doubt very much they would continue with that business unless it was generating some kind of income. I know VAs who have bought houses and are paying mortgages, some whose husbands have left jobs and joined them in their home offices to work, some who have husbands who are ‘retired from a fulltime job and working part-time’, others who have been able to put their children into the schools they wanted because of the income they are generating from their home based businesses.
When people leave the corporate world to work from home two things are affected relating to the need for income:
1. They no longer have the same set of expenses incurred in going to a job such as travel, clothes for their ‘job’, meals to pay for while away from home, long childcare hours to be paid for, wear and tear on their vehicles and the list goes on.
2. They will be earning a lesser income until their business has been built up but they won’t have to distribute their income to those items listed above. Therefore the amount of income they need will change. And often they can work around the hours that their children are home with them therefore being available to their families when needed.
I found in my first year of business I worked while my children were at school and didn’t get a lot of work done while they were home and not in bed. There were often times I worked very late hours to get work completed. My marketing mainly consisted of networking – meeting people face to face at networking events and as the internet grew and changed I began networking online as well. I did try flyers in letterboxes but gave that away as not effective. I do advertise in the Yellow Pages and that has been worthwhile. I also advertise online and you may have found this article as a result of that advertising. Not all of my marketing efforts have required money to be paid but it has definitely required my time and my willingness to share my expertise and knowledge to help others.
Today I earn a fulltime income and have done so since the end of the first year of my business. However, I no longer work 7 days a week as I did when first establishing my business thanks to the guidance of my business coach and the years spent in developing this business. Not all VAs have that experience and it may take 2-3 years to build up a fulltime income – if that’s what a VA is seeking. However, not all VAs want that because of their circumstances and some are happy just to be working 5, 10 or even 15 hours a week. Do the sums and work out what your needs are financially and what time commitment you can make and you will find that the time and effort is very much worth it.