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  • Writer's pictureEnza Kursun

My Journey into becoming a Virtual Assistant

A few years ago, I met a friend through our local soccer club who was a Virtual Assistant (VA). I had never heard of a VA before and was a bit curious. I was intrigued by the idea of a work-life-balance and saw it as a great opportunity. I wish I had heard about being a VA years ago when my kids were small – then I wouldn’t have missed out on so many school events. I know many of us out there, are reading this and are nodding in agreeance having led the same life.


When I heard about VAs, I was a manager for a government agency, and I enjoyed my job. I had a very well-paying position, my kids were older, and I was in a phase of my life where I was doing well. I still liked the idea of being a VA; it was always in the back of my mind.


Throughout my career, I had always been in administrative or managerial positions. I really enjoyed customer service and administration. Every day was different, and I liked that variety – as they say, “variety is the spice of life”.


Another passion of mine was streamlining processes – I like to work smarter, not harder. If there is a way to improve a process, I will find it. The challenge of finding a better way to process a task was always exciting to me. I was constantly working on ways to improve processes so I could work virtually, if needed.


“HELLO 2020!”


Who would have thought we would be thrown into a pandemic in this day and age? For anyone who had doubts about working from home, those doubts were now quashed as they had no choice. Fortunately, I had already developed a crisis management plan and pushed for many of our processes to be either online or automated. Little did I know at the time, that this new way of working was the beginning of my journey to becoming a virtual assistant!


RESTRUCTURE TIME


The dreaded “R” word first appeared in March 2021. I was on holidays at the time enjoying my time away when I was advised...yes, I was not impressed. There was a corporate restructure within the organisation I was employed with at the time. It was a very slow process as I struggled with my emotions - no one wanted to lose their job - bills needed to be paid, mortgages, lifestyle...


By August 2021, I had been unsuccessful in re-obtaining my old role due to implementation of new requisites to fulfill that role, then I received a rejection letter for another job. That was it! I was so discouraged at this point that I started to doubt myself because it had been 5 months since I was told I no longer had my job. There was no information or support being supplied to the displaced staff, and I felt like I did not exist. When they say it was a roller coaster of emotions, they are not kidding.


STOP I WANT TO GET OFF!


I needed to get off this roller coaster, I never liked roller coasters as a kid anyway. I was a strong woman, and yes, it's okay to cry, scream, and have self-doubt, but I cannot live like this forever, and I needed to get my head on straight and think positive.


I had decided, at that moment, that I never wanted to work for "the man" again. I did not want to feel rejected anymore. I no longer wanted to feel like I was going to throw up every time I went to another interview. I no longer wanted to feel that just because I did not have a degree, I was not worthy of a job. I knew I had a lot of administrative and customer service experience and that I could do better.


At that point, I had decided to opt for a voluntarily redundancy (VR).


Those who know me well, know that I do not like to sit around and wait. I knew I had received some emails about being a virtual assistant, which naturally joined the other dormant emails in my inbox - you know what I am talking about, we all have them. I set out to find them.


OMG! WHAT HAVE I DONE?


I had been employed all my life and had never been without a job, but that same month I decided to talk to Ingrid Bayer at the VA Institute about becoming VA. My email to Ingrid explained how I was feeling at the time: depressed, angry, anxious, lost, and the list could go on, if you only had to read and psychologically analysed that email…. I had no idea what I was doing, and I was overwhelmed.

I had never set up my own business before. However, thanks to COVID -19 I knew how to work from home, and I was already prepared. I was now sitting in the "departure lounge" but now with a date when I would leave, no more "limbo", what a relief.


Ingrid was a treasure trove of knowledge. I had told her my "whole" story, and she had heard the same thing a hundred times. Ingrid had a very perceptive ear. My story was just one of the many stories that people like me had experienced to get them to change, to get them to think about becoming VA.


NEW JOURNEY HERE I COME


So, that day my "NEW" journey began... I was still scared, do not get me wrong. If you are not scared, and do not take risks to be successful, you we will never learn how to grow. I had a new focus and perspective for the rest of my working life.


That night, I told my husband that I was going to start my own business. He did not have a heart attack, so that was a bonus. I told him that I would set a time frame of 6 months, and if I did not make money or have clients in that time, I would get a job with another company. I am married and we have always made decisions as a team and this decision would affect us financially.


A few weeks later, I had finished my VA course and completed all the paperwork I needed to get my small boutique, administration business off the ground. I was EXCITED! I had Ingrid and her team to thank for that. The course I took showed me what was required and how to do it - the package included creating a website and designing my logo!


Now comes the fun part: colours, designs, images! I started thinking about what colours I would use, what images I could use for my website, and not to mention business cards. I decided on a colour scheme of pink and purple - those are my favourite colours and it was my business.


Oh, I forgot to tell you about the hard part between all of this.... What was I going to name my business? I had to come up with a name before I could even play with the colours, but I had no idea where to start...the names were buzzing around in my head. I decided on a few names and submitted them to my "panel", yeah ok, I asked my daughter, sister and friends for their opinions, aka "The Panel".


Yes, if you do not have a preconceived notion of a name in your head before you embark on your journey, you will be mentally challenged/tortured... and then there was the logo... Mel Clarke from VA Institute was my go-to person for designing my logo and website. Mel was my subject matter expert and has a lot of patience! I sent Mel an idea of what I wanted for my logo and with the help of her wonderful talents, she came back with about three options for my logo. She is so creative!


Before Mel could create my website, I had to give it my personal touch. The package included ideas of what I needed, and I then had to provide her with images and content. Mel then worked her magic, and let me tell you, she is magical, and she created my website. Do not think everything is easy, we went back and forth a few times, hence the patience Mel has in dealing with "L-Plate Virtual Assistants" who have no clue, hahaha! Yes, that was me.


WHO AM I?


I have been managing teams for most of my working life since I was 26, thanks to the private and public sectors I have worked in. During that time, I also joined the Committee at Doonside Hawks Soccer Club and was the first female secretary for several years, running the club along with a great team of people who are now friends for life. I also coached and managed both boys’ and girls’ teams and - crazy enough - started my own women's soccer team - we made Grand Finals this year (2022) as this goes live we still have not played that game yet.


When I look back, at all that I have accomplished professionally and personally over the years, I cannot understand why I doubted myself. I always had the attitude that if I set my mind to something, I could do it. And if I failed, that's okay... I will always learn from my mistakes... that's normal.


Financially, this is not a career that will make you a bunch of money in the first few months. You must work hard and put in the effort to find clients. There are a variety of groups you can join to look for work, network, and constantly educate yourself, such as Virtual Momentum, Virtually Yours, Freelancing Gems, just to name a few. I spent weeks researching to find groups to join. Facebook is a fountain of knowledge with many groups that give you advice, ideas, and job opportunities.


Let's Talk Admin started on September 6, 2021.


My next task...where do I find customers? You will have to wait for that in my next blog!




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