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Why I became a virtual assistant...

By Emma Grounsell
Thursday, May 23, 2019

Why I became a virtual assistant and why it works so well for me

My journey over the last 15 years or so goes a long way to explaining why I became a VA and also why I run the business the way I do.

Why I became a VAMy background is in Human Resources. I mainly worked for charities, the largest one being the NSPCC and I was there for 8 or 9 years. I started in their Training Department, organising and managing all their staff training programmes from Induction through to management. I did some of the training myself but mainly kept everything running smoothly!

I then began working on the HR software systems, including helping to bring in online recruitment, including writing scripts for testing, user acceptance testing to make sure that it was set up and worked properly for our systems and end users, creating management training materials and training and supporting those managers. I’ve also done recruitment and management information, both of which I really enjoyed.

I then discovered that I was expecting twins! This kind of changed everything because I knew I wouldn’t be going back to work any time soon because I couldn’t afford to go back to work and certainly not in London. So, I became a full-time mum for a couple of years.

That was OK for a while until I got really bored. I love my children but toddlers aren’t great conversationalists and the most challenging thing I had to do was work out what to have for dinner. I knew that I needed to find something that I would be able to work around the kids so that I didn’t have to pay for childcare so I hit on network marketing, doing various things for a couple of years.

In the middle of that, when my daughters were two, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma and had to have 6 months chemotherapy. That tends to slow you down a bit and then it took me quite a while to recover. So, when I realised that I needed to find work that really suited me and that I enjoyed I knew there were various things I had to consider.

Firstly, it had to be child friendly. Secondly, I no longer fancied working in an office. Thirdly, my health always has to be a consideration and I can put it at the top of the list if I’m the one setting the agenda.

So, I just needed to decide what I wanted to do and realised that I needed to go back to what I was good at. I had always done a lot of admin in my HR roles and there had always been a high degree of organising and managing things for other people.

I don’t like duplication because it’s just a waste of your precious time so I like to find ways to streamline things as much as possible, or set up systems and workflows so that nothing gets forgotten.  I like to be able to look at a client’s systems, find a piece of software that will do what they want and then set it up so that it fits their needs and processes. I do have a love for spreadsheets and CRMs that I know lots of people really don’t. Because I knew that many people either don’t want to do these tasks or don’t have the time to do them I realised that I could help.

Being a virtual assistant means I can work from home in the hours I have available, even if the kids are off sick. Everything I do can be done online and generally doesn’t matter at what time of the day it is done. I keep office hours but do work the odd evening or early morning when necessary, to make up for time out networking or family responsibilities.

I now have clients who I have worked with for a few years and who all give me regular work every month. The work can be quite varied, ranging from the traditional correspondence and scanning to getting their entire client base onto an appointment scheduling system. In between there is usually some internet research, social media scheduling and email management. I do quite a bit with mailchimp signup forms and email automations as well as setting up customer relationship managers for clients.

So, that’s my journey, from full time employee through stay at home mum to self employed virtual assistant.


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