Setting up your own business might have been on your radar for a while but when you’re an events professional with a lengthy career delivering in person events, it can be a big decision to make in the face of so much uncertainty.
Since international travel is in a state of flux and many events have moved online, could this be an opportunity to transition to work remotely and add more strings to your bow?
Setting up in business as a Virtual Assistant – might be something you’ve considered in the past because you wanted to ditch your commute or change your lifestyle. You have all the experience of working for an events company, liaising with corporate clients and suppliers, managing pre and post event communications and budgets. How do you take the best of what you’ve learnt and remain relevant in your industry?
Are you ready to make the leap to becoming a business owner? Have you found that working from home has given you time to do more than just, well, work?
When I transitioned to becoming a VA business owner 14 years ago, I was an Executive Assistant at a cargo airline, a job which involved international travel organising press launches and charity events. Working at a Christmas charity event at JFK Airport, a blizzard meant that I was stuck in New York and missed my children’s Nativity play. I decided to change the way I work and launched my virtual assistance business. The airline signed up as my second client.
Two years later I won an industry award and as my client list increased, I took on a team of Associates look after our clients who are located in the UK, mainland Europe and North America. I can’t pretend it hasn’t been hard work but the rewards of running my own business and being part of our clients’ success have made it worthwhile.
Uncertainty is scary but you can test the water by becoming an Associate to established VAs. It takes a while to build your client base so if you’re employed, continuing to work part-time means you have an income whilst growing your new business.
The role of a VA can encompass many skills. From the traditional PA – diary management, scheduling, travel management – to event management, email marketing and social media management.
Your experience in the events industry means that you already have many of the skills you can offer your clients. Organisation, attention to detail, project management and budgeting can all be put to good use as a virtual assistant. You’ll be familiar with software packages encompassing CRM, email marketing and event management as well as social media platforms.
One of the biggest benefits of working for yourself is that you choose who you work with (and who you don’t!) Have you experience in a specific business sector or would you like to work with clients in a different sector?
There are downsides too, of course. Isolation and fluctuating income are the two biggest. Nurturing your networks can guard against isolation. Who do you know who runs their own business? Would they be open to having a half hour, virtual coffee to give you some tips on how they set up their business? Most people are generous when it comes to sharing their expertise.
Look after your networks because those same people may become your ambassadors. Word of mouth marketing is easily the best way to bring in clients so once you’ve decided to make the leap, let your connections know about your new venture.
So whether you want to make a change or have had change thrust upon you, could the moment be now? As Dolly Parton said, “We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.”
Susan Moore, Founder of multi VA business.