Ever wish you didn't have to sacrifice so much of your personal life to enjoy a healthy professional life? The good news is that there are now more opportunities to work from home than ever before. One of those remote worker options is becoming a virtual assistant. But what are the benefits of being a virtual assistant and is joining their ranks the right option for you?
We recently got the inside scoop from Lisa Zeeveld, CFO and original culture cultivator of Belay, a virtual staffing solutions company. Lisa started as a virtual assistant with the company over two decades ago when she set out to find a more flexible work-life balance. Today, she's here to provide us with a look at the biggest benefits virtual assistants enjoy, complete with several factors to consider before you take the leap!
Lisa Zeeveld's Journey to Working From Home
Having grown up with a working mom, Lisa Zeeveld always assumed that she would become one herself someday. So when she and her husband learned that they were expecting their first child 23 years ago, Lisa planned to keep her job as a financial planner. But when the day arrived to drop her new son off at daycare, things didn't go quite as planned.
“I never thought that I would have the reaction I did right after my son was born,” Lisa reveals.
Sure, she managed to power through the first few days of her new shaky work-life balance. But by Thursday of the first week, her floodgates could no longer hold. Lisa recalls the evening that her husband arrived home to find her sobbing over having to drop off her baby at daycare each day in the name of job security.
Like any wise man faced with a sobbing, hormonal woman cradling an infant, Lisa's husband realized that this was a situation best approached cautiously. So over the next few days, the couple did a great deal of talking, planning, and praying. At the end of the day, Lisa bravely admitted that she felt like her true calling was “to be a mom and a wife first and foremost.”
Transitioning From a Double Income Household
So she and her husband came to the joint decision that it was worth it to downgrade to a one-income lifestyle. Three years later, around the time the couple welcomed a new daughter into the family, the Internet of Things was kicking into gear. That's when Lisa decided that maybe it was time to explore the possibility of becoming a remote worker from the comfort of her own home.
That's when she found Belay, a company that pairs professionals with virtual assistants, remote accounting services, and remote social media management professionals. After starting at just five hours a week, Lisa quickly discovered that it was possible to use her existing skills to bring in more money for her family on her schedule.
The Benefits of Being a Virtual Assistant
Let's take a closer look at some of the benefits that working as a virtual assistant has to offer.
While Lisa was certainly grateful to her husband for taking on the role of the sole provider, she couldn't help but acknowledge a nagging feeling. “I hate to say it,” she recalls, “But I feel like there was a little bit of guilt there. I knew how busy I was, but I also knew there was a lot of pressure on his shoulders to provide for a family of four.”
But becoming a virtual assistant helped her realize that contributing to her family's finances didn't have to mean spending 40 hours a week in a corporate office. The gig allowed her to flex her specialized skills and bring in extra cash, without having to sacrifice her main focus on her kids. Sometimes her checks went to her kids' soccer pursuits, while other times they helped chip away at the monthly bills.
“There were times it was grocery money, there were times it was car payment money, there were times it was travel money,” Lisa says. But the important thing to her was being able to use her skill set to help her family financially, all while enjoying putting her kids first.
Personal and Spiritual Benefits
Let's face it, we live in a culture that borderline worships capitalism. One of the best things about Lisa's story is that she dared to stay true to herself by admitting that spending half her life in an office wasn't her calling. If working as a virtual assistant sounds like a great gig for you, then be sure to check out Belay's website to find out more.
But the good news is that virtual assistants aren't the only ones capable of enjoying the perks of working from home. There are now plenty of great opportunities to work remotely doing anything from administrative tasks and project management to social media marketing and web development. Regardless of your work history, it's possible to work from anywhere for a wide variety of skill sets.
If there's one thing independent contractors have going for them, it's flexibility. Lisa now works with a range of virtual assistants from all walks of life. Some are working full-time hours from home, while others stick to a single client with an opening package of just 45 hours a month.
At Belay, you'll work with clients, or “leaders” as Belay calls them, to plan out your actual working hours. As Lisa explains, “What we really wanted to do was offer a program that provided flexibility for leaders and flexibility for the contractors.”
Being able to work from anywhere is another great perk that should not be underestimated. You can answer emails while standing in line at the coffee shop or work for an hour or two each day while spending a week at Disneyland. For Belay's virtual assistants, great customer service has nothing to do with sticking close to the home office.
Working as a virtual assistant at Belay also offers the opportunity for professional growth. For instance, sometimes a client might have a special project coming up, in which case their virtual assistant has the option to tack on a few extra hours.
Some virtual assistants even take on multiple clients, though Lisa cautions that any more than two can get a little hectic. She does note, however, that that isn't necessarily the case for bookkeepers, whose work is more project-based. Some bookkeepers, she reveals, have as many as 8–10 clients they work for regularly.
Lisa says that an unexpected perk of becoming a virtual assistant was that, “it made me more interesting. And I think a lot of people forget that part.” If you've ever sat down with family or friends, only to discover your hottest conversation topics revolved around the unexpected plot twist in your child's favorite cartoon show, then you likely already know what she means.
Lisa recalls the joy of feeling “like I could talk about bigger things that were happening in the world because I was now a part of it. And that elevated my confidence in who I was.”
Sense of Contribution
Whether you're a pro at email marketing, administrative tasks, data entry, or anything else, being able to flex your skills is an awesome feeling. Some contracting companies will even allow you to set your own rates, all while maintaining complete control over your schedule.
Before working as a virtual assistant, Lisa recalls feeling like she could contribute to society in a greater way. “I love, love people and I knew that I was gifted with numbers,” she explains. “So I wanted to contribute to something that was bigger than me and bigger than our family.”
Peace of Mind
One question that many new remote workers have is whether it's better to work with VA agencies like Belay or become a small business owner. The truth is that there's no one right answer for everyone. While you may end up making less by booking work through VA agencies than independently, you'll also enjoy plenty of benefits.
Belay takes care of everything from lead generation and marketing to billing, payment, and any legal aspects of the work. It's a great way to enjoy the job security of traditional work without having to worry about the time-consuming tasks that many independent virtual assistants face when drumming up new clients.
The path for bookkeepers is similar to that of virtual assistants when it comes to entrepreneurship vs becoming a contractor. Some find the small business development side of bookkeeping quite difficult and frustrating, while others find it to be quite lucrative.
Final Thoughts on the Benefits of Being a Virtual Assistant
Want to learn more about becoming a virtual assistant with Belay? Head over to the company's application form to find out more!
Whether or not you decide that Belay is right for you, we hope this has helped answer some of your questions about the virtual assistant opportunities. If you're looking for a solid way to create a schedule that allows you to use your skills, earn income, and focus on your family, then don't be afraid to research more remote work opportunities in your field!
Which of these benefits of being a virtual assistant appeal to you most?
Please let us know in the comments below!