Running Your Virtual Assistant Business During the Summer Pt 1
Running Your Virtual Assistant Business During the Summer: Managing Client Work
Many virtual assistants started their businesses with their families and specifically their children in mind. If you have children that are school age you know there will be regular hours when your children are not at home and you can have quiet time to work. However, when school’s out we were interested in learning how this affects their businesses.
We interviewed four of our founding AVA members and they are going to share their routines, challenges, benefits, strategies, vacation schedules, and even how they manage clients during the summer months. This is real talk with real VAs!
Let’s face it, if we don’t have clients to fund our lifestyles, life isn’t as much fun and certainly more stressful! Plus, as assistants we’re here to serve and support and that doesn’t stop during the summer months. (Although we will be discussing vacations in this series as well).
We’ll be hearing what our four founding AVA members, Katie, Heather, Alicia, and Keisha have to say about their client work and schedules.
Summer Client Routines
Katie Ehle of Ekklesia Marketing hasn’t had to change her client routine thanks to a dual flexible home life. “I have a fantastic husband and his job is very flexible so he can work from home any time.”
As a project manager it’s no surprise Heather Nitch of Do It the Write Way doesn’t have to change her client routine. “I do not change my schedule. I set my work hours during the summer to account for check-in calls and other video conferencing scheduled.”
Alicia Peterkin of New Methods Consulting credits having awesome clients and providing a way to stay connected as the reason she doesn’t change her client routines. “I simply let them know if I am stepping out for a while and let them know that I have my phone and can be reached if I’m truly needed via usual means (varies per client). My clients are really awesome with understanding that my time is mine to be spent as I’d like and that it will not in any way take away from the support I provide to them each day.”
Working Mama Media owner, Keisha Page says now that her children are older she doesn’t have to. However, when they were younger her strategy was, “I would schedule client meetings at times when my husband could be home so I could shut myself in the bedroom.”
Summer Client Challenges
One of the most common client challenges is having your children interrupt a meeting in progress. Only three of the VAs we interviewed had this happen to them.
Heather has found that taking a simple approach to the interruption works well with her clients. “They have taken it in stride. I apologize and reiterate that it is not a norm for there to be interruptions.”
When you are working with your ideal clients the interruption might not even be seen as a challenge as in Alicia’s case. “My clients all know I have kids and being that they do too, they get it. I have had them actually ask to say hello. I have clients that have kids that interrupt them and even pets. I love this about working with like-minded entrepreneurs; they get it and they welcome it!”
It’s always a fine line which Keisha has experienced. “Most of my clients are moms themselves. They usually roll with it. I have had clients that were really bothered by the interruption, and felt I was not professional enough.”
Summer Scheduling Tips
Who doesn’t love a good scheduling tip?
It’s all about the right client says, Katie (and I agree!). “Be flexible and honest. Let your clients know that you have kids at home with you so they may hear some pitter pattering feet or some small interruptions. The right clients will be just as flexible and understanding.”
Heather takes a different approach to scheduling and creates boundaries, as well as thinks ahead to the needs of her children in order to create the best schedule. “Make sure you have a separate work area/office that can be a No-Kid Zone. When you are there, it is mom’s work time and I cannot be interrupted. I also plan ahead meals, snacks and ideas for things to do before I start working so the number of questions the kids have are minimal.”
For those of you who experience FOMO (or don’t want to) like Alicia, “Don’t be afraid to schedule the time you want. I find that many of us don’t want to miss out on supporting our client. If you want to take that trip to the pool with your family, schedule it and go. Be transparent and open and enjoy your time. For some, maybe it comes down to scheduling an entire out of the office, maybe your summer schedule has you cutting back on your hours of availability. My best tip is to set your parameters/boundaries and trust that your clients respect you enough to happily roll with what you have set.”
If you find yourself in the ultra productivity group but don’t want the summer to be boring for your children, Keisha says, “If you can find activities for the kids to do, then do them. Even if you are going to the library for story time, you can work in the corner. If you take the kids to the park, work from phone or laptop while they play. Maximize every minute that the kids are occupied.”
Working with the right clients and having appropriate boundaries for both your clients and children seem to be the running theme to the success of these virtual assistants. Remember there is no right or wrong way to work with your clients. However, with the wrong clients and no boundaries it can seem that nothing is going right and it can feel wrong.
Share your best summer stories and tips with VAs in the Association of Virtual Assistants. Join now and become part of a community of like-minded individuals sharing the same joys and struggles as you! Have grown children (like me!) or no children at all? We still have plenty of like-minded members from all over the world to share your story with.