In The Words Of A Virtual Assistant

This blog is currently undergoing some *major* changes ... in the meantime, here are a few words to ponder.

Can You Make Money As A Virtual Assistant?

Monday, October 6, 2008 at 12:01PM

In a word, Yes. When people ask me what I do for a living, I used to respond with, “I’m a Virtual Assistant,” which usually garnered either a blank stare or a quizzical look, followed by the question, “what’s that?” Although the Virtual Assistance industry is a million – possibly even billion-dollar industry, it is still somewhat unknown, especially on the Canadian side of the border. After launching into my 15-second elevator speech on what a Virtual Assistant does, the “ahhhhh, I see – so you’re a secretary?” prompted me to change my approach. Now, when someone asks what I do, I respond with, “I work for myself from home doing database management and web development.” No longer do I receive blank stares, but it creates interest, and the question is now, “so how much do you make doing this?” I’m always amazed at this question – I don’t usually go around asking people what their annual salary is, but when you are self-employed, it seems as though you are free game. I have determined that most people dream of working for themselves from home, and often wonder if they could do the same thing. So, naturally, they wonder if they can sustain themselves on my salary. I quickly forgive them, and respond with “enough to make me happy.”

Working as a Virtual Assistant is not an easy ride. It is not a get rich quick venture. And it will not make you a millionaire. Starting a business is an expensive proposition, and being a VA is no different. I would estimate that I invested about $10,000 in the first year getting the business off the ground, and approximately the same amount every year just to keep it running. As a small business owner, you have expenses that range from the outlay of cash for computer hardware and software, to ongoing expenses such as Internet connection fees. A telephone is an absolute must, a website is a necessity, and advertising can eat up your profits more than one would think.

Being a Virtual Assistant is the same as owning your own business. Aside from all the work you perform for your clients, you also have to run the administrative side of the company. Just the accounting alone is mind-boggling, especially at tax time. For the first six months of operation, I may have put in 12-14 hour days, but only 3-4 hours of that might have ‘billable’ to clients. The rest was off the clock and out of my own pocket. In my first year of operation, I had only earned enough to barely pay for my expenses, and it was not a financially lucrative company.

However, after getting everything in place, setting up my website, and gathering a very loyal client base, in my second year, I actually made a *small* profit, which I put right back into the business. Since then, the income has remained at a sustainable level, and although it will be a few decades before I make my first million, it is enough to make me happy and continue doing what I do.

Kerrie Jean | Post a Comment | Share Article
in Becoming a Virtual Assistant

New NDNC List A Waste Of Time?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008 at 03:10PM

“Don’t waste my time.” How many of us have thought (and some of us even vocalized) this phrase when a telemarketing company would interrupt a nap, a meal or a football game? I’ll admit that I am usually polite (though will complain after hanging up the phone) when these calls happen to get through my absolutely useless Call Privacy service provide by the phone company. After today’s events, I have changed my opinion, and almost welcome the unsolicited phone calls. Here is my story.

In a similar service to what our American friends have been enjoying for a number of years now, the new and highly-anticipated Canadian National Do-Not-Call (NDNC) list was launched today. Regardless of the fact that I have adopted the term, the “Feel Free To Call Me Anytime” list given the number of exempted corporations, I admit to being one of 30 million Canadians who have dreamed of this day, and as such, I wanted to be one of the first to register. If I can recall correctly from the notification email, the exact phrase was “ Signing up is simple, quick and free.” The government even provided us with a simple to use website link where all you need to do is enter your phone number and voila! Your telemarketing frustrations were over (or at least, minimized.) HA! Did I say that loud enough? I’ll say it again. HA!

I have now spent a better portion of my day trying to register my phone numbers on this list. Here is what I have encountered. At 7:30 am, I was greeted with the response that the NCNC website was “ temporarily unavailable” due to “planned maintenance” … (Now, I ask you, why on Earth would they plan ANY kind of maintenance on the day the site was scheduled to launch?) … My guess is that the site was temporarily unavailable due to “unplanned inundation.” Ever since my first attempt this morning, I have tried every hour, on the hour, to register my phone number. At approximately 1:00 this afternoon, I was able to at least access the site, and begin the “simple, quick and free” process. Unfortunately, after entering my phone number, I was greeted with another message that said “We’re sorry, but the website is experiencing technical difficulties and cannot process your request. Please call 1-800 … to resolve the issue.” Yeah, right. I was going to CALL the government on the busiest day of the millennium! … I don’t think so!!

So I waited another hour. At 2:00, I was able to get one step further and enter in the confirmation code (you know, the one to let them know I was a human and not a machine?) Well, after entering the confirmation code, I was brought to an almost-completely blank page, with a little message in the top left corner, in a plain font, that simply read, “The service is not available. Please try again later.” I still have another 40 minutes to go before my next attempt, which I am still debating after doing the following calculations.

I have tried to access the site on at least seven occasions (not including the one or two that I snuck in “just to check” and was greeted with a 404 page error) Each time, it took no less than one to two minutes for the attempt, and another one to two minutes to enter the details when it was available, only to receive the error messages. I’m unsure of what happens AFTER entering the confirmation code to prove my humanness, as I have yet to get to that point, but I’m SURE I will be required to confirm a few more details to prove that I, in fact, have the authority to put that particular number on the call list – sorry, the do-not-call list. So let’s add another minute. So far, including my rant, I have probably wasted about 45 minutes just trying to (unsuccessfully) get my number registered! … So what happens when I (inevitably) get a call from a telemarketer and need to file a complaint? Or what about the time I will need to spend logging all of the unauthorized calls, keeping track of who I have requested they remove me from their calling list, and cross referencing them to the companies allowed to call? Fughetaboutit … I’d rather take a second to say “No thanks,” to a telemarketer. And, if all else fails, it only takes a second to hang up the phone.

Kerrie Jean | Post a Comment | Share Article
in Rants

How Did I Become A Virtual Assistant? 

Monday, September 29, 2008 at 12:55PM

If we go back in time about 10 or 15 years, (wow! has it really been that long?) I can remember watching Sandra Bullock in the movie 'The Net' and boldly proclaiming, “THAT’s what I want to do!” I was fascinated by the idea of working from a home office and using the Internet to connect with clients. The virtual seed was planted. I had a quite a bit of background in sales, customer service and information technology, and I also I had the basic foundation for a business idea (and to be quite honest, I was AMAZED when I did some research and found out that the Virtual Assistant world was so HUGE!) Stay tuned for more posts on how I became a Virtual Assistant!

Kerrie Jean | Post a Comment | Share Article
in Becoming a Virtual Assistant


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