At least once every week I get an email or message on social media from someone telling me about how they are interested in becoming a virtual assistant and asking how they can also go about it. I wish there was a simple answer to this. Because I don’t have the formula of How To Become a Virtual Assistant to be honest. The jungle my journey has been over the past 5 years can only be quantified in a book. But seriously, I really find that conversation very difficult. So I usually offer the other person an opportunity to get on a short call with me to discuss ANY OTHER related questions they may have. What always fascinates me is how they all seem to have this conviction to become a VA now at this point in their lives. The conversation always starts with, “You know I was doing…but now I am thinking of going out as a Virtual Assistant doing…” These popular statements always remind me of when I decided to become a VA myself. I had my reasons which some people felt did not warrant me quitting a “good” job without guarantee of a “secure” future. I understood their concern but they were still my reasons and I stand by them to this day.
Once upon a time back in 2013 I found myself working during a public holiday. This had become an ugly pattern in my work life. I seemed to be at the office ALL THE TIME! It was in April. It was Easter Holiday. I was fed up! I was getting tired of my discomfort and didn’t want to continue complaining about it to my friends. So I made a promise to myself. By end December 31, that year, I was going to be on my way out to a situation I was happier about. This is how it started. My search for something new. Something that’d bring me peace.
It wasn’t until later in the year I discovered the wonderful world of virtual assistance after searching high and low on how I could serve others whilst working remotely from the comfort of my (parents’) home. By the time I handed my employer my resignation, I was so determined to start out on this journey. It remains by far the craziest, riskiest decision I ever made in my career. But I had to. Everything in me wanted to do this for a whole lot of reasons. Here are the top ones.
I was burnt out!
Working 12 hours a day is not a joke. Can you imagine working 15 hours a day? That was really my life before I became a VA and to be honest I’m not quite sure how I got there and I just didn’t know how to get out. There always seemed to be something either in the form of a new project or a new issue. The IT world is crazy! As much as I enjoyed it most of the time, my body was giving in. I felt physically and emotionally spent. I even tried taking long periods off work (well, 2 weeks, LOL!) but it never seemed to make me feel better. I remember going to the doctor one time and the doctor said, “You are not sick. You are stressed. Work stress. Take it easy. I’m giving you 3 days off” I took the doctor’s note and threw it in the bin when I got home. Why? Because I knew what would be waiting for me after those 3 days and didn’t want to give myself a false sense of peace. But when the body is done, it’s done. Mine needed to know when I was going to liberate it. I knew I had to leave. Not for 2 days, or a month. Tariro needed at least a year!
I wanted freedom
When you are young there are things you hope for in your adulthood. For me, those things were having the freedom to travel and work from anywhere. I have always fancied that life. But it wasn’t happening where I was. I couldn’t just decide to have a 30-day vacation or take a Christmas break all of December or just go away with family – JUST. No. Things did’t roll like that in my world at the time. Yes, every now and again I’d get an opportunity to go on holiday but it always seemed short lived. Very very short lived. The thought of having to “ask for permission” and synchronise holiday with other team members’ vacation plans wasn’t exactly fun. Me and my spontaneous self wanted to be set free but still have an opportunity to serve others regardless of where I was.
I missed my family (and just having a social life in general)
Believe it or not, there are times, prior to becoming a VA, I’d spend nearly 2 weeks without seeing my father yet we were living in the same house. He didn’t have to tell me – my dad hated my job! I’m sure that’s why when I told him I was quitting to become something he had no idea what it was, he was unbelievably supportive. I honestly missed my family and friends because work always seemed to get in the way. My friends used to complain about how much I always was at work and never had time for fun. Work had somehow taken over my life and hardly saw my loved ones. I must say, for a few years after I quit my job I became more available – because I had no clients to do work for! I wish I could say the same thing now. What I can say though is this: Because how I plan and where I do my work are entirely up to me, I have the flexibility to always make sure I accommodate my social life as I see fit. I know for certain I’m not as absent as I used to be.
I really wanted to work with small businesses
Working in corporate is fun. You are part of big teams that work on these big projects and you all somehow contribute to creating these amazing products and services for millions of customers. I honestly loved this about my job and missed it greatly after I left. But I felt like I was being called into something different where I was really longing to add value. Small businesses. I was raised in a small business and started working for my dad when I was 12. I always felt that small businesses would achieve more if they had more experienced personnel to handle certain functions in their companies like marketing, finance or administration. When I worked for my dad I was young and inexperienced and my dad hardly had time to teach me some things I know now about business. Maybe because he didn’t have time or he didn’t know. So I had this strong desire to fill in this gap I saw in many other businesses like my dad’s.
…and this is why I started a virtual assistant business.
Do you want to become a VA? What are your reasons? Let me know in the comments.
I’m a techie administrative and project management assistant and specialize in implementing efficient systems and processes, supporting business operations and ensuring that project tasks flow smoothly. I have experience working with companies in various industries in Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Switzerland and the USA with focus areas that include Public Relations, Investment and E-Commerce. My experience comes from years of working in Banking & Fintech sectors where I provided technical support on financial systems, participated in the full systems development life cycle of projects and led the team responsible for day-to-day operations.