How many of you would like to free up a few minutes each day? Maybe you hate posting to social media, or you’re tired of trying to think of new topics for your newsletters. Shari Sant has made a career out of helping people like you – by working as a Virtual Assistant she’s providing for her family and helping small business owners focus on what they really want to do. Here’s how Shari does it:
Hi, and thanks for your willingness to appear on my blog! I’m looking forward to sharing your knowledge and advice with the rest of the world (at least with the small portion of it that follows my blog). Please tell us about your business: what do you do, when did you start your own business, and why?
Hi Karin, 5 years ago (so 2012) I started proof reading and copy typing, as well as a touch of data entry for some family friends as a way of doing something with my day. In 2013, I walked away from a bad situation and needed to start making a living for myself and three kids, so I pulled my socks up and started taking my business seriously and built it up. I love that I can be there for my kids and not worry about taking time off for medical reasons, my kids love it too and cannot wait to start their own businesses now. I slowly added in more services, and today I offer a very wide variety of virtual administration/business support services. From full business support, email management, social media management, content creation to simple tasks such as data entry and proof reading.
What has been your biggest struggle in launching your business/career?
My biggest challenge has been confidence in myself. It held me back from pushing my business further and taking the necessary steps to grow.
How did/are you overcoming it?
Taking risks. I decided to step out of my boundaries and even paired up with another local VA who would drag me along to meetings. If I ever second guess myself I will reach out to her, or to family and friends who encourage me to take the risks, and re-enforce that I can do it.
What’s surprised you the most about working for yourself?
How little people actually understand about self-employed individuals. In a corporate career you have set hours, and go in to an office every day so people know when they can get in touch with you, or where. Working for your yourself you have to set clear guidelines on when you are available and through what channels. Sometimes particular roles, such as VA work, are not quite understood either, so you spend more time explaining what you do rather than obtaining business.
What’s your favorite part of this kind of work?
My passion is helping people, and working as a VA allows me to fullfil that passion. I love it when my clients make that sigh of relief because weights are lifted off their shoulders and they can start to see a way to grow easier.
Is there any one event/moment that helped you move from starting your own business to making a living with your own business?
I couldn’t possibly name just one event/moment. It is all the little things – the happy reviews and thank yous from clients, the references those happy clients share and thus gaining the confidence in myself to grow.
If you could give a new freelance workers/entrepreneurs one piece of advice, what would it be?
Believe in yourself! It can be hard to get knocked back when working for yourself, and when work is slow-coming you can start to worry about providing for yourself. If you keep at it and believe in yourself and the goals you have set yourself then you will go far.
If you could do one thing differently in your career, what would it be?
I would have started earlier and taken risks a little earlier than I did. I spent years wasting time wondering what to do with my life, swearing I wouldn’t be a receptionist or customer care worker. Yet I love my life now and the work I do.
What’s your favorite kind of work? Why?
I love the content creation (for blogs and newsletters). Each new article is different, each needing their own research which then opens my mind to more. It is a constant learning curve and I love to learn!
What does your work space/office look like?
I work from an alcove in my living. I have a simple desk with plenty of files and folders filled with necessary information. I also have images of my kids and a photo frame we gave my Grandad just before he died (as a memory).
What does your work day look like?
I spend about 30 minutes at 7 a.m. working through messages and emails. Then I don’t actually start until about 10 a.m., once the kids are at school. I will have a to do list each week with the tasks I need to complete and I will work my way through them ticking them off one at a time. I break at 3 p.m. until between 4-6 p.m. (depending on the day) before I start work again in the evening. I try to finish around 8-9 p.m. so I can sit and study for my degree. Three times a week I take a break to go to the gym and clear my mind – it helps keep me motivated.
What’s your go-to snack when you need one?
CHOCOLATE! I always have some sort of chocolate in the house that I nibble on when I work. I occasionally try to be healthy and eat crackers instead. Chocolate tends to win though.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
There will always be people out there who claim to do your work cheaper, or just do the same as you – DON’T let them get to you. A phrase I learnt last year was ‘People Buy People,’ and that is very true. As long as you stay true to yourself and be respectable at all times to people then no matter what others do, or how cheap they do it you will win the business. Never undercut yourself to beat them, just stay true to you.
You can connect with Shari online here: