This is the journey I took from being a “cubicle-dweller” to having my own business and working from home full-time as a virtual assistant. It’s a long story and you certainly don’t have to read all of it. But I hope that if you do, you find it encouraging. If I can do it, so can you! So here we go …. (skip to the end for a summary if you like!)
My careers before VA
I’ve worked since I was 13, starting out my working life as retail, clerical, or managerial help. I started college part-time while working full-time through a few more jobs, promoting my way up from police dispatcher to budget analyst to program analyst. As you know, “life happens” at the same time. I got married, lost my dad, relocated, bought a house, and graduated college after 13 years of going to school around my work shifts.
This is what I worked so hard for?
I lived the American dream: marriage, mortgage, college degree, great job. The plan was to do that job until I retired, THEN I’d get to spend time with my husband and family. I’d do my 40+ hours per week in my cubicle, keep my head down and out of office gossip, and spend the 6 hours a day I wasn’t sleeping, working, or commuting to work on “the rest of life.”
What’s the rest of life? Cleaning, grocery shopping, running errands, social obligations, and once in a while, fun things like hobbies, reading, and watching TV. Looking back, I guess I was fine with this. It’s what I’d seen my parents and all their friends do. It’s just how you do #adulting, right?
Then something life-changing happened
We had children and they took over my mind and my heart 💗
Here’s how my typical “working mommy” day went:
5:30 wake up, get ready, get kids ready, pack lunches
7:00 drop kids at daycare
8:00 to 5 or 6pm work, have lunch with co-workers or work through lunch
6:30pm pick up kids from daycare
7:30pm feed and bathe kids, put them to bed
7:30-9pm eat grown-ups dinner, pay bills, organize social calendar, etc.
9-11pm watch TV with hubby or read
11pm-5:30am sleep, so I could wake up and start it all over again
Honestly, it was exhausting, I was stressed, always felt behind and like a terrible parent, and snapped at my family for no reason. I loved the work I did but felt unappreciated and overworked by my bosses. I lived for the weekend when I could finally exhale a bit … before doing the bigger chores, the bigger shopping trips, bigger house projects, and finally spending some quality time with my family.
Sorry, that’s a dealbreaker
But again, I thought this was it. The only way it was done. The only choice. And you know what broke me finally? When my kids started calling me “Miss Lisa.” Miss Lisa was their daycare provider. “BUT I AM YOUR MOM!” I shouted inside. “Why are they calling me that?!” Well, who could blame them? Five days a week, they spent 10+ waking hours a day with her and only 1 waking hour a day with me. Their mom.
I only knew two types of moms then: stay-at-home moms and working full-time moms. I didn’t know any moms who worked from home or who even worked part-time. Most families I knew were in the same boat we were; mom needed to work. We all needed 2 full-time incomes to live, hence this crazy hamster wheel we were all living on.
Somewhere along the line, in following the American Dream path, we had almost unknowingly agreed to this mortgage and these possessions and lifestyle that shackled us to maintaining a career life that we hated and resented. (I started talking to my friends about this and they ALL felt the same way). It made us tired and cranky and miss our kids. Oh, I missed my kiddos like crazy!
But when your own flesh and blood starts calling you Miss Lisa, something’s gotta’ change. At least it did for me. Please note that this is NO way condemns moms who continue to work full-time outside the home. It just wasn’t for me. I couldn’t do it any more. Things HAD to change for me and my family. We talked about a lot of options, including drastically cutting back our lifestyle, but none of them were practical for us.
What else is there?
That’s when I started looking for other options and it wasn’t very encouraging. I tried a job with an alternate schedule but it wasn’t what it was cracked up to be. Then I took a part-time job that was closer to home. It was absolute paradise when it came to spending time with my kids. We did so many fun activities, day trips, errands TOGETHER instead of just me, etc. We ate a more healthy diet, which was important to me. Working part-time, I could take the extra time to coupon, shop, and meal plan. Money was very tight but we made sacrifices. Then the company I worked for closed and I was looking for options again. Anything but going back to work in an office full-time!
Back before I’d left my full-time career, I’d answered an ad on Craigslist and started doing transcription work on nights and weekends. I got even less sleep than before but I hoped it would someday build toward something. It wasn’t enough money to survive on at that point so when I lost my part-time job, I took ANOTHER full-time job. The new FT job was for a lot less money than I’d made in my analyst career but …. after an in-house training period, it allowed me to work from home!
Until it didn’t 🙁 New manager + new rules = in-office work required. The pay wasn’t enough to sacrifice my family again so I spent lots of late-night hours when my house was asleep on getting more transcription, research, and admin clients for my home biz. I didn’t call myself a VA then but I was one version of virtual assistant then – doing admin work and transcription from home as an independent contractor. (This is a fine place for any virtual assistant to start! Don’t feel like you have to know everything about online business; I sure didn’t!).
Starting a new way of life
The in-house transcription job was 40 hours per week and I was doing about 20 hours/week of VA work at home. Over time, I was able to reduce my hours in-house and pump up my hours at home. Then I landed The Client Who Made It All Possible, a transcription client that provided about 30 hours/week. It wasn’t a steady amount but that was about the average.
But I couldn’t quit my “day job” yet because I hadn’t replaced my income with the at-home stuff. In the meantime, I also started blogging, learning about WordPress, mailing lists, and online business. My eyes were starting to be opened. I discovered Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income and listened to his podcasts while driving to and from my day job. At lunch, I worked my iPhone, trying to book more transcription and VA gigs.
My life was starting to look more like I wanted it to. My day job had a shorter commute and I was there 30 hrs/week instead of 40. My kids were at day care a lot less, I was less stressed, and I had a glimpse of what our family life could be long-term if I could build up enough VA work to quit my day job.
The question was … how to make the leap?
How was I to make the transition from day job + at home nights/weekends job to JUST at-home job full-time? For me, there was no grace period, not even one month where I could slack on income while I quit one job and secured clients for the other. My only option was to work 30 hrs/week at the day job + 30-40 hours a week on at-home VA work, transcription, networking, finding clients, invoicing, and all the “unpaid” stuff that goes with running your own business.
I know why sleep deprivation is a legit torture tactic
There was no extra time available in my daily life so I sacrificed sleep. For a period of 6 months, I worked 60 to 70 hours per week before I felt completely comfortable that I could replace my day job income with VA income. And it was THE most miserable 6 months of my life. I didn’t sleep in my own bed because I was at the computer working every night while my family slept.
I would get so tired, I’d literally fall asleep sitting at my computer with my fingers on the keyboard. I’d allow myself 1-hour naps on the couch in my office, setting an alarm on my phone. Then I’d drink more coffee and work again for as long as I could keep my eyes open. Nap, work, repeat. Have you ever been forced to stay awake – not only stay awake but working and productive? I can tell you, it’s literal torture. I’d have to slap my own face to stay awake. Man, it was bad. I DO NOT WISH THIS FOR YOU. But moms do what they have to, right? (Please find another option if you can!).
You need a WHY to get through it
My endless, driving motivation was my kids. They deserved a mom who was present, happy, energetic, and not irritable all the time. Secondly, *I* deserved to be happy – and being home made me happy. I’d done my time working for other people, making them look good while I did all the hard work. I’d worked my rear off to get my college degree (oh, another fine period of sleep deprivation!) and had my ego served by working up to the highest admin position in my office. But the ego-boost and bigger paycheck were no longer important to me. My family was my new priority.
One day I checked in with my husband for his thoughts. I said, “I’ve been doing this at-home business for 6 months, I’m making the same or better money than my day job, I’m loving what I do, and I’m home a bunch more. We’re all happier. What would you think if I gave my notice to the day job soon?” He said he supported that and was ready. Well, little did he know, that very day at work, I gave my notice, LOL (He probably thought I’d meant within the next month or so. Silly rabbit!).
And that’s how I became a work-at-home virtual assistant
This has been my long, convoluted path to a VA career and here’s the short version if you didn’t read my novel above :D:
- I had skills from other jobs I’d held in various areas, working both full-time and part-time outside the home.
- Once we had a family, I missed my kids desperately, felt like a terrible, crabby mama, and started looking for options.
- I took on work at home as a subcontractor to an established transcriptionist.
- Over time, I built up enough at-home work to match my day job income (6 months working 70 hrs on VERY little sleep!)
- During my commute, I listened to online business podcasts; I started a hobby blog and learned WordPress, etc.
- Finally quit my day job and became a full-time virtual assistant!
I’m sure it’s very different from your path overall but maybe you see some of yourself in me. Are you unappreciated at your current job? Do you want to be more present with your family? Do you wish you could work from home and run your own business? Yes? Then we’re sisters 🙂
Becoming an at-home virtual assistant is the BEST thing I’ve ever done for my career and for my family. I could write a whole ‘nother mega blog post about the reasons I love being a virtual assistant. For now, I’ll just close with this: If you want to quit your day job and become a virtual assistant, you can do it. You got this, girl! My mission is to help you accomplish your goal.
YOUR CALL TO ACTION:
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Please tell me how my story compares to yours and how I can serve in YOUR journey to becoming a virtual assistant.⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️