Work and mum life are two worlds in constant juggle. But thanks to the online marketplace exploding there are more options than ever for any mum wanting to try their hand at working from home or being a “Mumpreneur”.
Tupperware or selling of products via Etsy doesn’t suit everyone. But there is an option for using the skills you had in your previous working life before children; start by acknowledging what your strengths are and how you can translate them into building your own business.
I was in the same boat in mid 2016, being a career administration professional without a permanent role to return to, and working in the temporary pool to help make ends meet. By chance I fell into the self-employment world of being a Virtual Assistant and I haven’t looked back.
I’ve had the opportunity to make meaningful client connections
I’m currently taking maternity leave from my own business after having my second child and thanks to my fabulous clients I’ve been able to do this. When I am ready I will be reopening my virtual doors and my previous clients have asked that I get in touch when I do. It doesn’t guarantee that I will be returning to a full roster but my goodness it’s a fabulous feeling knowing that I’ve made those meaningful connections and I have the option to do so. A very different scenario from when I last went on maternity leave!
My first pregnancy was a perfect storm of huge life events, redundancy from my long-term permanent administration manager role, terminal illness of a parent and trying to find suitable work to help with the financial stress that all of these elements were providing.
The strain continued after the birth of my son but when I started to look at re-entering the workforce, I discovered that there wasn’t a role that fit with my new life situation.
Being a career administration support person part-time is rare because anyone who has worked in admin knows that you’re expected to be attached to your desk 40 hours a week and at the beck and call of the managers/staff you’re supporting. So, in the meantime I found myself leaning more towards temp roles which of course made planning daycare and everyday routine difficult.
This juggle continued for a good nine months when by chance I met the person that would become my first (and still current) client. They wanted me to come in and assist their current administration employee with overflow tasks and setting up systems and processes to help their business. This was my lightbulb moment because I was so tired of making money for the recruitment agencies (and getting paid absolute minimum to do so) and having to drop my child at daycare at the drop of a hat because roles would come up that day.
Working as a temp I began to notice a theme where my skills were being underutilised. I even had an agency tell me to work slower on one assignment so that they would receive two day’s worth of commission instead of one because I had completed the tasks too efficiently. This was a huge red flag for me: surely there’s a better way, I thought.
Being a Virtual Assistant isn’t just doing admin
Some of you will be saying, “I hate administration” or “I don’t have the skills for that.” But the term Virtual Assistant can also encompass service providers such as graphic designers, copywriters, project managers, marketing professionals, and social media managers.
Working virtually means that you can translate your previous professional skills into a business that you can work alongside your life and family commitments. Some of you may have had a long-term career as an administration assistant and like me are dragging yourselves to temp roles just to earn money or get a foot back in.
Running my own business has broadened my skill set organically
I’ll be honest, after I started my business I thought I’m just an admin (a hangover from the corporate landscape) but that mindset was very quickly slapped out of me when I started interacting with small business owners on Facebook groups, answering their questions about software packages and systems and how do I get my document to do this? These simple interactions resulted in potential clients going to my website and making contact because I shared my knowledge in an area that was needing support in their businesses.
Just because I have a long history working in administration doesn’t mean that I have all of the knowledge; being a virtual assistant is a never-ending learning opportunity because of the changing technology business landscape. When you work in administration in corporate life you become a bit trapped within a technology bubble and miss out on seeing and learning the fantastic software and tools that are out there that can turn small businesses into automated machines. Working as a Virtual Assistant has opened my eyes and my thirst for knowledge in technology and processes in ways that I haven’t craved since I was at university. Something I love having as my own activity since becoming a mum!
Job variety is a huge bonus
Depending on the type of VA business you run, no two days will be the same – especially if you have a number of clients from differing industries. However some VA’s choose to follow a niche into specific industries (eg tradespeople, holistic health practitioners, business coaches, authors etc.). I gain from doing tasks for one client in one industry and then seeing it work just as well, if not better, within another client’s business because I’ve come in with a new perspective.
Working virtually gives small business owners a new option for bringing new skills and knowledge into their businesses without the overheads of hiring casual/part-time/full-time employees. And you know what, the market and opportunities are huge if you want to seriously pursue the avenue of being a Virtual Assistant and let go of going back to the corporate world. Plus, there are phenomenal resources and groups around that can help guide you into starting your own business as a Virtual Assistant.
I have no inclination to go back to being a traditional employee because while my children are young, it’s giving me a great way to earn some extra money for our household around them. And when they go on to school, I will be able to shift my business to fit into their new schedule.