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Old 01-19-2008
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Default Working from home while still working full-time
I have a question for veteran VAs as well as newbies. I am currently building my practice while still holding down a full-time job. How did you manage to juggle the two? Suppose you have a client that needs support during working hours. Did you do work for these clients while at work? Or did you inform your prospective clients that you would only be available to do work for them in the evenings? Not sure what I should tell prospective clients when speaking to them for the first time.

Looking forward to your input.
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Old 01-20-2008
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Default Re: Building a VA practice while still working full-time
In all honesty I cannot say how possible it is to juggle since I started full time in my practice. In my opinion, supporting a client that needs support during your working hours will be quite a challenge. Since you are not yet full time, the best way to approach a situation like this is to let the prospective client know your hours of availability and see how willing they are to work around your schedule.
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Old 01-20-2008
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Default Re: Building a VA practice while still working full-time
Repeat posting BTW just signed my 4th client, have a meeting wed. about my potential 5th!

I, too, still work a "9-5" job while getting my VA business going strong enough to support my household. I devote 6am-8am and 8pm-9pm M-F and 8am-noon on Saturdays to "The Virtual Office Goddess, LLC"; it's understood at home that I am "working" those hours and not to be disturbed. I also check emails/posts at lunch time and on breaks during the day. This makes for a long week but, that's what it takes to run your own business in the beginning!

I have been "officially virtual" for approx 7 months and am (hopefully) going to sign up my 4th client next week. Each of my clients is only 4-8 hours/month of billable work so I devote the rest of my "Goddess" time to marketing, networking, etc. while maintaining my 40-hour full-time job so that my hubby and I can continue to eat.

Once I am up to 20 hours/week on top of my 9-5, I will go full-time virtual and offer 25-30 hours/week to my current employer as a VA (that way, if they decline, I'm not TOTALLY dead in the water for finances )

I anticipate working 60+ hours/week for at least the next 3 years if I want to get my practice solid and develop "Goddess" into a good living. I hope to find a part-time assistant at that point to take over the "drudge work" and let me go back to working 40 hours/week and still be able to live comfortably.

Let me know if you have any questions about working full-time while building your practice; I'll answer what I can...
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Old 01-20-2008
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Default Re: Building a VA practice while still working full-time
Thank you for both of your responses and congratulations Office Goddess on signing a new client.

Did you let your clients know that you still work full time? If so, how do they feel about that? I was thinking that I'd have to train my clients to expect a 24-28 hr turnaround time, since I'd be working in the evenings.
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Old 01-20-2008
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Default Re: Building a VA practice while still working full-time
Oops, I meant 24-48 hour turnaround time in my previous post.
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Old 01-31-2008
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Default Re: Building a VA practice while still working full-time
I'm still working f/t and doing my VA business p/t. I do like Lily does, work the VA in the evenings. That's all I can do until I get enough coming in to go f/t.

I would screen the work as much as possible and decide if you can do it in the time frame you have at night. I wouldn't say anything to the client unless I really had to tell them. So long as I can get the work done in the time they require it and meet their deadline, then why do they need to know whether I do it during the day or at night?

My feeling is the less said the better sometimes. I don't want to plant a seed in their head that I can't do the work just because I'm not working as a f/t VA, or that I have too much on my plate. I'm very honest and open with people, but I don't think they need to know every detail of my business, unless I can't meet their deadlines, then yes I need to tell them my hours are limited. Just my thoughts.

Blessings,
Lisa007
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Old 01-31-2008
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Default Re: Building a VA practice while still working full-time
I started part time in the beginning. I made it a point to take on clients that were comfortable with my hours. From the very start, I've held strong to the principle that I only have to work with the clients I want to work with. If they needed someone 8 to 5, I simply told them my availability, asked if it worked, and declined the work if it didn't.
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Old 02-08-2008
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Default Re: Building a VA practice while still working full-time
I had this question, too.

Whether or not to staright out tell a client I have a 9-5. I lucked out with my latest client.

They are local and wanted me to come into the office to meet initially. Thank god they're open 'til 6, so I just skirted around the fact that I had a 9-5.

It's copyediting work, so it doesn't really matter timewise as long as I have a good enough turnaround on the project...

So, the topic thankfully never came up. But I agree with lisa, I'm not going to tell them unless a time-issue comes up and I'll have to be forthright that until I have enough business income, I'm committed to a 9-5 position.

But my 9-5, I'm hoping I can cut down to 30 hours a week eventually, especially if the work keeps coming in like it has been lately.
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Old 03-13-2008
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Default Re: Building a VA practice while still working full-time
This is a topic that greatly interests me, since this is what I plan on doing for a while once I get started!

Today was a particularly stressful day at work and it worried me a little bit about what it will be like coming home to a whole other job! Then I calmed myself down and reminded myself that it's all part of the master plan and all worth it and I can do anything I put my mind to!

If anyone has anything more to say on the topic of starting your VA business while still working FT, I'm all ears! I just can't read enough on this topic! If anyone knows of articles or anything on the net, please point me in the right direction! Thanks!
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Old 04-01-2008
Txfarmgirl
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Default Re: Building a VA practice while still working full-time
This was a great topic to start because that is exactly what I am going to do once my business foundation is up and I start marketing for clients. I have approximately 2 years before it will probably become neccessary for me to leave my full-time job. Although, I am lucky because I'm off by 330 M-F. The kicker is that right now.. all the rest of the time is devoted to my children.. ballet, softball, track, etc.

I LOVE my job, and I thought this was the perfect solution to keep on doing what I'm doing even if circumstances require me to stay at home. It sounds like a lot of hard work, but I know in the end it will really be worth it.

Thanks for the time sharing your experiences!

Shannon
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Old 04-01-2008
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Default Re: Building a VA practice while still working full-time
This is a common question among a lot of new & aspiring VAs, myself included. In reading other forums in the past, the majority of the responses from established VAs pretty much agreed that it's not necessary to state that you work full time outside the home unless you want to. I'm actually trying to turn this into one of my "unique selling points" by promoting that I'm available after hours & weekends to better serve clients' needs.
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Old 04-01-2008
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Default Re: Building a VA practice while still working full-time
Melissa,

It's a good idea to use it as a promotion tool. I put on my website that a benefit to hiring me would be availability outside of normal business hours. I'm like you and I think it can be a selling point. The only thing that really scared me are the VA's who talk about all the phone time that they do. When I'm at my FT job, I can't be doing phone power, and at the same time I would hate to be missing those calls.

Shannon
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Old 04-01-2008
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Default Re: Building a VA practice while still working full-time
Shannon,

You only have to be on the phone all the time if you want to be. I've heard that alot of VA's let there phone go to voice mail the majority of the time and then sometime durning the day they return those calls.

I also am still working a FT JOB and that is what I'll be doing when the phone starts ringing. I've also got on my website that I'm available after hours if needed. I agree that it can be a selling point. But at the same time I don't make it known that I'm still working an outside job. I don't think a potential client needs that information unless absolutely necessary!
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Old 04-01-2008
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Default Re: Building a VA practice while still working full-time
I am fortunate at the moment to have a full-time job in which I telecommute. I dedicate most of my day doing that work, but have a little more flexibility to do other things as needed for my business. I anticipate that as my business grows, I will have to work around my day job a bit, but then hopefully be able to also go to contractor status with my employer and cut back my hours while increasing my VA hours with my own business.

*Fingers crossed!*

- Isabel
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Old 04-01-2008
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Default Re: Building a VA practice while still working full-time
I can understand Deb.. they don't need to know why you are so available after hours.. and its good to know that this doesn't have to be a "phone" job if you don't want it to be. I personally am not a huge fan of the phone!

Shannon
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Old 04-06-2008
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Default Re: Building a VA practice while still working full-time
I've been interested in the best way to go about doing this. Seems like that we are drawn, in part, to doing a VA business for the exact reason that we can still do it while have other work...the flexibility that it provides.

I was reading this article on the nytimes website tonight which provides some interesting thoughts on willpower and that not only can we increase our willpower but that we have a "willpower" bank. Anyway, my point was that building your VA business while continue to work outside the home for awhile will definitely take some willpower, and as many have said, will be worth it in the end.

You can read here if you are interested: nytimes article.

Kimberly
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Old 04-06-2008
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Default Re: Building a VA practice while still working full-time
Originally Posted by slimthick2001 View Post
Thank you for both of your responses and congratulations Office Goddess on signing a new client.

Did you let your clients know that you still work full time? If so, how do they feel about that? I was thinking that I'd have to train my clients to expect a 24-28 hr turnaround time, since I'd be working in the evenings.
Sorry it took me so long to finally respond! I have been crazy busy due to tax season and, for the last week, a NASTY chest cold combined w/spring allergies.

No, my clients do not know I work a 9-5 as I agree that they will assume that means I have too much going on and won't provide them the service they deserve. I tend to call my 9-5 a "client" as well when talking to potential and current TVOG clients, explaining some of the deadlines I am working on when they want "immediate" assistance.

As far as phone calls, I use my cell phone as my business number. Since my 9-5 is not aware of TVOG, the default ring-tone is 30 seconds of silence (custom built at www.3guppies.com) so I can leave my phone on w/out my employer hearing it ringing constantly. (I have also built custom phone rings for my family, work, etc. so I DO hear the ring when they call.) I let clients know that I will return messages within 2-3 hours max. This allows me to call them back during lunch, breaks, etc. I tell my clients that if I am being constantly interrupted, it could be THEIR project that is being slowed down, and that is why I rarely answer my phone and often respond to phone messages via email...

Because I provide bookkeeping services, I email my clients a status report 1x weekly (Friday mornings) w/the prior week's data entry, bills paid, etc. Hope this helps!
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Old 04-10-2008
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Default Re: Building a VA practice while still working full-time
This is helpful because I too work a 8-5 and the thing that is wracking my brain is the transition. I think evening work and weekend work would be something to push since you have to have a steady income coming in until you become a FT VA.
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Old 04-10-2008
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Default Re: Building a VA practice while still working full-time
I too am employed FT. It's not easy, but it is worth it. I'm lucky in that the job I have now knew going in that I had a business and that I would need flexible hours, but I do still feel a sense of responsibility to make them a priority. Working a full time job means you will be working looooong hours in the evenings and on weekends. Right now I'm exhausted and I've got 3 more big projects coming in this weekend, but it's worth it.

I don't tell my clients that I am also employed, but I stress to them that I do work with multiple clients and that I'm not always available at the drop of a hat. Luckily most of my work doesn't need quick turnaround but you always want to show your clients that you are efficient under any circumstances so you have to make sacrifices of your free time with friends and family in the beginning while building your business to be able to do so.

My business has grown by leaps and bounds just in the past month, and although it is exhausting it's exciting at the same time. My plan is to save as much money as I can so that when I do decide to quit my job (I will probably transition to PT first) I will have money put back for those times when business is slow, because as with any business there will be busy times and slow times and I want to be prepared.

What I enjoy most is the ability to be able to choose who I get to work with, because I know I will always enjoy what I'm doing and the people that I'm doing it for.
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Old 04-11-2008
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Default Re: Building a VA practice while still working full-time
Planning ahead for slow times is a smart thing to do! I'm glad to hear that you are growing by leaps and bounds though. I have yet to secure an outside contract, but I haven't tried either. I want to make sure I have everything situated (business licenses, contracts, set-up.. basically the whole nine yards!) before I start marketing my business.
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