Nearly all of the virtual assistants I know – myself included – started their VA careers while working another job.
You probably worked a few hours at night or on the weekends, maybe just to bring in a little extra cash to pay a bill or two, or maybe you were trying to build something that would allow you to work from home so you could be around for your kids.
Eventually, you reach a point where you have both too much work to get it all done while still heading off to the day job, and too little work to really cover the bills if you quit.
It’s a dilemma a lot of us have faced. Here’s my top tips for making the transition from part-time to full-time VA and ditching the day job for good.
- Be absolutely sure your entire family is on-board. There’s nothing quite like a resentful spouse or angry teenager to turn your dream job into a real nightmare. It’s very likely that at least a few cutbacks will have to be made, especially when you’re just getting started, so it’s important everyone knows and accepts that.
- Eliminate consumer debt. Pay off as much as you possibly can before you quit your day job. Consolidate and pay down your credit cards, sell that second car (you’re going to be working from home anyway!), and make a commitment not to take on any more debt until your income is stable and predictable again.
- Save some money. Having some cash on hand will smooth out the rough spots. If you have months when client projects are scarce (and you will) then having that financial cushion will help ease the stress. Ideally, aim to put aside 3 to 6 months of your projected earnings before you quit your job.
- Connect with other VAs. A home office can be a lonely place. It helps to have a group of other solopreneurs to turn to when you have questions, need a referral, or just need to talk to someone who “gets it.”
- Have a rock-solid client or two. You may not be able to completely replace your income right from the start, but it does help to know you can count on one or two clients for the same amount of work each month.
- Be disciplined. If you’ve been working a day job and putting in some evening and weekend hours, this probably goes without saying. Still, when you suddenly realize that there’s no alarm clock, it can be easy to slack off.
- Be organized. When you have one boss, it’s a lot easier to prioritize your work than when you have several. Juggling multiple clients and projects takes a fair bit of skill.
- Develop a marketing plan. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, but you should have a list of tasks you’ll do every day/week/month to help grow your business.
- Prepare to work your butt off. In the months after I quit my day job, I worked more hours per week than I ever did as an employee. Not only will you be trying to build a business, but working at home means it’s hard to disconnect.
- Believe in yourself. There will be bad days. Projects will blow up. Clients will be less than pleasant. Technology will not cooperate. But if you believe in your abilities and have confidence in yourself, the good will outweigh the bad.
What tips can you offer aspiring entrepreneurs? Share in the comments.