Name Rachel Dool
Demographics – Married with 2 children
Time as a virtual assistant – 4 years (Commenced April 2014)
What circumstances made you look at becoming a virtual assistant?
I was really unhappy with my job situation at the time. The company I worked for was pushing me in one direction, whereas I really wanted to go in another. I didn’t feel in control of the choices that were defining my career.
What challenges did you face before you started?
My husband was pretty sceptical! He’s not at all technical so I think he found it very strange! Otherwise, I just dived in headfirst.
What was/were your biggest fear/s?
I was concerned about taking on more than I could manage and work infiltrating my personal time. Also about being able to stay relevant in the market.
Did any of the above become a reality?
I have to try very hard to not work when I’m not working! That’s still a challenge for me. To stay relevant I engage with other VA’s and have 2 great mentors. I also do a lot of online reading and learning.
What is your advice to people who are thinking of starting up as a virtual assistant?
Have a go! There are start-up costs, but they are low and you can keep control of them. Also definitely work with someone who can offer advice and mentorship. My mentor has been invaluable and I know I wouldn’t be where I am now without her. Also stick with what you know first as a foundation to build on.
What attracted you most about becoming a virtual assistant?
Working for myself, the autonomy, and control of it. Achieving a better work/life balance and the ability to earn more income.
How did you get started, what was the first thing that you did?
I started by getting in touch with 121Temps. I’d come up with an idea after talking to a friend of being an online personal assistant. Thought it was super original and no one had ever considered it….! That’s how I discovered the VA industry. I looked at several websites, but 121 Temps was the one that spoke to me most. After talking to Liz (Parker) the first time I was sold. She was so positive and encouraging and we had some affinities that made it seem like it was fate that we work together.
Tell me about some options you considered but rejected.
I had thoughts of going into business for myself. A friend and I really wanted to come up with “the next best thing!” but all the ideas we had were taken!!
What would you do differently if you had to set up now?
Nothing really, I have learned so much along the way and it’s been an up and down journey at times, but I think it’s ok to not see the whole picture when you’re starting out – sometimes you have to just let it happen. The only thing I may have changed is to consider the costs a little more. You do need a bit behind you; I would estimate $1000- $1500 max.
What has been your biggest success to date?
Getting my first clients was amazing – having someone trust you to help in the progress of their business is an honour and something I still feel very grateful for. I have also created some very positive relationships with my clients and achieved success for them.
What has been the biggest benefit to you or your family? How has being a virtual assistant changed your life or circumstances?
I’m happier doing what I am now and that has a definite flow on effect. My husband was able to change jobs too, and he’s also far more content. That has a big impact. I can also change my schedule around to accommodate school commitments, etc. The kids love it that I can be there for them more easily.
What is your goal for the future?
To keep learning, to keep improving, to keep defining my niche market and provide the best services and products for them that I can and, to earn an income that improves the quality of life for my family.
If you had one piece of advice to give other virtual assistants, what would it be?
Find what you’re interested in and what you excel at and work hard at getting better at it.