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Thoughts on being a Virtual Assistant now the Virtual Assistant hype has blown over

Lockdown & the Virtual Assistant boom

Covid was the beginning of the Virtual Assistant boom. VAs had been knocking around long before 2020, but the whole world coming to a standstill during lockdown was a major catalyst for many people to have to think on their feet and find a new way of bringing in an income. Setting up a Virtual Assistant business is something that you can do from home, and with minimal resources & overheads, so it was a no brainer for me and MANY others. 

Eighty Eight Co: Molly (Virtual Assistant) sits on sofa with dog and laptop

In my case, I had run a wedding videography business for 6 years, and everything came to a very dramatic halt in 2020. I had a 5 year old, a newborn and bills to pay, so I needed to act fast & take a long, hard look at what transferable skills I had. This is when I stumbled upon the Virtual Assistant world – I’d never heard of a VA in my life – and very quickly binged every available piece of information that I possibly could to understand:

  • What on earth a VA was

  • What a VA did

  • What I needed to set up a VA business

Fortunately, I had enough experience to understand what was required in order to support other businesses. So for me, it was pretty straightforward to set up as a Virtual Assistant, because I already had most things in place & didn’t need to invest too much into bringing it to life. 

A LOT of people were doing the exact same thing. There were new VA instagram accounts popping up left right and centre, all showcasing their services, skills, offers, rates, etc, etc. It was wild. But I got it. Everyone was on the VA train, including me. 

Fast forward to 2024, Instagram is like a graveyard of dead VA accounts. Why, though? How come it wasn’t plain sailing for so many start-up VAs?

The Virtual Assistant Scam

First of all, there were a number of self-proclaimed Virtual Assistant coaches who declared that you could get fully booked within [x] amount of weeks, and hit 5k+ months whilst only working ~10 hours per week as a VA, and the people of TikTok & Instagram ate it up. I remember feeling deeply uncomfortable when this was happening because it was so far removed from reality, and the bottom line is: where are those VA coaches now? Because they seem to have gone MIA.  

Not only was this a major scam (they may have been fully booked within 3 weeks, but the way they scaled their business was by capitalising on an unattainable IDEA), it’s also extremely dysregulating and straight up incorrect. In order to turnover £5000 per month working 10 hours per week, you’d have to be charging £125 per hour. Given the going rate for a VA in the UK is between £25 - £40 per hour, the maths ‘aint math-ing. 

Eighty Eight Co: Molly (Virtual Assistant) sits on sofa with dog and laptop

Secondly, running a VA business is not all digital nomading in Bali and 4 hour work weeks. You are still a business owner, and you have to do the thing. A Virtual Assistant supports other business owners with backend tasks, remotely. Whatever you specialise in, from general admin to social media support, you have to do the thing in order to keep your clients and generate your income. The VA biz world has, unfortunately, been massively romanticised so that the self-proclaimed VA coaches can hit their own income goals. And unfortunately, they managed to blindside many, many folks… 

I strongly believe that there’d be a lot less abandoned VA Instagram accounts if the VA coaches had shouted about:

  • How to create a sustainable VA business model

  • How to do their own biz maths 

  • How to set boundaries

  • What their definition of success is

Here’s the thing: yes, it is possible to have 5K+ months as a VA. I’ve done it. Yes, you started your business to get on the path to financial success. But you’re never gonna be truly content until you define what success actually means to you, on your terms. 

Defining success on your terms

Do 5k+ months = success for you? Is that what you really want? Like really, really? Or do you want to be able to…

Take a nap on a Tuesday afternoon because you can?

Being there for every school drop off & pick up?

Plan your client work & calls around your cycle?

Have the freedom to choose when & where you work?

Go to the late morning Pilates class?

Support and serve delicious, aligned clients?

Make every weekend a long weekend?

Give your body what it needs, when it needs it?

When you know what you value wholeheartedly, you can sow those value-seeds and nurture your VA business baby to bloom and grow around YOU. 

How has your Virtual Assistant business evolved since you started? I'd love to know! Let me know in the comments.

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