I get asked this question a lot, whether it’s possible to start and essentially run a VA practise while working full time. I personally haven’t done it, I quit my day job to start my business, but because of the number of hours I put in, and the varying times I worked, in various time-zones, early in the morning, very late at night, weekends etc… I know when you work full time, you have some of those ‘outside hours’ available, and if you feel inclined, you could very well run a VA business in them.
What a lot of people aren’t aware of is how they can organise the logistics of working in this way, because most times, the job is a ‘day’ job. Well folks, that’s the beauty of working on the Internet, there doesn’t have to be a night and day, it’s a constant. I have a few tips for you that will help you while you’re working to keep your business flexible enough for you to not burn out.
#1 – Don’t have response “times” – have response “hours.”
So basically you should not say you’ll respond between 9 and 5 – because you can’t, you’ll need to set up an autoresponder on your email saying you’ll respond within, for example ‘24 hours’ – this will allow you time during those 24 hours to respond without having to rush anything.
#2 – Schedule calls.
Get yourself an online appointment calendar and block out all the time you are not available to take calls. Then, open up as much time as you can outside the hours when you know you will be available, even if it’s in the evening, in this industry it doesn’t really matter too much, in fact, most of my own business calls and consultations are in the evening after 7pm central European time. Then make sure that all calls and appointments are scheduled via the calendar.
#3 – Call answering.
There are many call companies that will only charge you by the call, to take messages or schedule appointments in your calendar, so a handy thing to do is hire one of these services to take calls during your ‘office hours’ while you’re at work, and then use the calendar from #2, to schedule a call back for you.
If you would rather not go for call answering, get a Skype-In number with Voicemail, and leave a message, “Thanks so much for calling XYZ Company, there is nobody available to take your call at the moment, please leave you name and email address after the tone, or visit XYZ.com/appointment to schedule a call back.”
Why don’t I ask for a number?.. Good question, because I get calls from potential clients across the globe, and as a rule, I don’t call them back unscheduled unless I know exactly what timezone they are in, and it’s a bit long winded asking that on a message.
#4 – Deadlines for Billable Time.
Basically to me, billable time is when you are working directly on a client’s task and/or project in exchange for money, and when you do this, you will need to make sure you are working to mutually agreed deadlines, allowing yourself enough to time to complete the tasks and assignments for your clients, knowing you can only do it outside of your normal work hours.
#5 – Stick to what you know.
This is my final tip. If you are going to start a VA practise and continue your full-time job, you’ll want to limit stress as much as possible, because it’s likely to be a difficult period in your life doing this transition, so with clients and services stick to what you know, and if you want to learn and expand your services repertoire, do that when you’ve got to the point where you can quit your job. There is nothing worse than feeling the pressure of a job, the pressure of learning and the pressure of running your own business, and marketing it too.
So these are my tips if you are planning on working a job full time, and setting up a VA Business. I hope you’ll find them useful!