When we started our VA businesses, each of us had an idea of what we wanted life to look like – a clear vision of the path we wanted to follow and where we wanted to get to. For some of us, that was based around family flexibility, others a better work/life balance. Each of us has a unique Big Why that drives us to succeed and to, quite frankly, get out of bed on the tough days.
In her guest blog, VIP VA Member Sarah Banks shares her VA story and how it has led her to now realising her vision to travel the world with her family…
“Back in 2014 when I launched my business my goal was to be able to work flexibly around my children. I knew I wanted a professional business that would grow as my children grew giving me a long term alternative to employment but I always envisaged the need to be located in the UK.
Over time I developed new skills, realised that paper wasn’t necessary and that actually I much preferred supporting clients with non-time dependent tasks.
My service offering now includes…
- Online customer service – email, social media and CRM management
- Email Marketing – setting up systems, managing lists and sending campaigns in Mailchimp
- Blog Management – planning, reviewing, scheduling and publishing blogs
- Social Media Management – content creation, scheduling and planning
- WordPress websites – creating and updating
All of these things can be done at any time of the day and as long as I meet the client’s deadlines or response times I am not committed to being at my desk specific times of the day
I normally work school hours and in my first two years continued this during school holidays, limiting the time we were on ‘actual’ holiday so I could work as much as possible.
Last year I had a revelation!
My husband is a teacher and we love spending time as a family in North Wales. In 2017 we had the opportunity to be out there for 3 weeks and all our accommodation had wifi. So i decided to trial working completely flexibly for the whole 6 weeks (even whilst camping!).
My clients were unsure at first but soon realised that whilst they couldn’t just pick up the phone to me, work was getting done and we could schedule catch ups if we needed to.
This way of working made me realise that there is actually no reason at all for me to be tied to one location. As long as I have a secure internet connection and my laptop I can work from anywhere.
In July this year we are taking 3 months out as a family to travel. I would never have thought this was possible 4 years ago but now all my clients are on board, our accommodation has wifi and I’m set to take my location independent business to the other side of the world.
There will be challenges along the way I’m sure – I think my biggest concerns are jetlag, working out timezones and dealing with dodgy wifi!
A trip like this isn’t for everyone and I know that the way I communicate with my clients will be critical to this. All of my work is stored in the cloud, I can be contacted via social media, Whatsapp, skype and email so actually being contacted by clients is still possible and we can even speak face to face. The main thing is the expectation on responses and turn around of work – there will be days when I don’t log on and my working hours won’t match typical UK office hours. However, I have a team of associates in the UK who can pick up urgent things when I’m not online and I actually think that being able to work when clients aren’t online will mean they get responses quicker.
I’ll be using my out of office messages to let people know when they can expect responses to emails and alternative ways to contact me as well as putting in notes about timezone differences depending on the country I’m in.
My ‘why’ for becoming a VA was more time with my family and my business has given me the opportunity to do this. Always stay focussed on your ‘why’ so that you can achieve your dreams with a business that works around you.
Remember it is your business and you make the rules – if you want to start work at 4am and spend the rest of the day at a spa you can! As long as you have clear boundaries and expectations laid out with your clients you can work in the pattern that suits you.”
If you want to follow Sarah and her family on their travels, you can do so via their blog The Travelling Bees.