This week we spoke to Genevieve from Ask Genevieve – about how she became a VA. Genevieve was one of the very first VAs to use Kirmada, and we are now one of her clients too (she does our social media)!
Hi Gen. Great to see you again. You’ve had a really interesting career, being Bob Harris’ PA for a few years before then working for UNICEF and OXFAM in a celebrity liaison role. What inspired you to become a virtual assistant?
I had returned to work after having a baby and wasn’t feeling fulfilled anymore – I loved my previous job, but I knew it was time for a change and felt it was time to be my own boss and work around my new family commitments.
A friend reached out to me and mentioned that perhaps I could help people with their social media (which I love doing) and it all snowballed from there…
I realised I had a lot of skills in a lot of different areas, was a great organiser, loved admin and loved design… all these skills pointed me in the direction of being a VA.
It was a big move. How hard was it to change career and virtual assistant?
It happened almost overnight… I did a lot of reading on the internet about how to set up and what I would need in terms of structure and tools.
Firstly, I set up my website and email address, then designed a flyer that I could sent to friends digitally and just got going!
You must have hit some interesting challenges setting up as a brand new virtual assistant. What roadblocks did you hit and how did you overcome them?
I guess the first challenge for any VA is finding clients – luckily this happened very quickly for me, and all my first clients were through contacts I already had. I emailed everyone I knew and asked them to pass on my details to anyone they knew and then the wheels were in motion.
How did you acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to excel as a virtual assistant?
I already had most of the skills I needed… I had been a personal assistant before and then my other roles had required me to do lots of various admin, travel arrangements, PR… you name it… so I felt confident I had the skills and knowledge to push into my new career.
Did you have a mentor or role model in the virtual assistant industry who influenced your career path?
My friend Rachel Kenny was already a successful VA – and she helped and guided me into setting up… she was there for any questions I had and also showed me where to go for the best info, how to set up my business insurance, things like signing up for ICO and help working out my contracts and terms etc… I couldn’t have done it without her!
She also shared some amazing social media groups to join – which have been a great source of knowledge.
What strategies did you use to build your client base and establish a successful virtual assistant business?
I’ve tried out a few things – including advertising (on social and in local press) – but quickly discovered that, for me, my best strategy had been my first – word of mouth.
I also have a niche, which I think is important – I like to help creative people who don’t have time for their own admin.
One of the things I do offer as a VA is website design and social media help – at first this was through friends but now the people I have designed sites for have recommended me to others – and so work now comes in from people I don’t know. All of my website clients have been women with their own small businesses – which has been so lovely as I have loved helping other women make the most of themselves.
Can you share any pivotal moments or lessons learned during your journey as a virtual assistant?
I think a BIG moment was finding out how quiet August is… everyone is away or busy and looking for new clients in this time was tough… things started up again afterwards – but I know now to make sure I am in a situation where I am not actively having to look for clients during the height of summer.
How do you stay updated on industry trends and continuously improve your skills as a virtual assistant?
Social media has been key – plus talking to other Va’s. I also get regular emails with interesting info from places such as The VA Handbook and The Society of Virtual Assistants.
Are there specific tools or platforms that you found particularly helpful in your virtual assistant career?
When I started out, I used Toggle to track my time – which was good… although I quickly realised, I wasn’t tracking it lots of the time… which was worrying.
Canva is amazing (as most of us know these days)!
I was lucky enough to be one of the first users for Kirmada – I was invited to a webinar and couldn’t believe that I had just stumbled across such an amazing platform! Before using Kirmada I was having to open multiple browsers and keep re-logging into all of my accounts for all of my clients. Having it all in one place and being able to make workspaces for each of my clients – so all I have to do is click on the client to open up where I left off (with all my log in info saved) AND it times for me – has been a godsend.
What advice would you give to someone aspiring to become a successful virtual assistant based on your own experience?
If you think you can do it – then GO FOR IT. I would try and set up as much as possible before you go on your own (or have some financial back up for the first few months) … don’t be afraid to put yourself out there… having social media is great (although I hardly update mine now as so busy working on other peoples). Get a good, clear website. Do not under sell yourself, your time is precious, and you deserve to be paid properly for it.
If you’d like to talk to Genevieve about using her VA services, please pop along to askgenevieve.co.uk.