A question I often see from newbies in VA groups is “What can I do if I am not the only VA in my town?” This question always tickles me. In short it would have to be Carry On Regardless! If the likes of McDonald’s, KFC and Burger King can set up retail units next to each other, and still have the amazing success they have, then so can VA’s.

How Do You Feel About Competitors?

Do you have any ‘competitors’ in your industry located in your town?

How did you feel when you found out… threatened, frustrated or insecure? All perfectly natural and normal responses in lots of ways.

What would or even could you do if you found out you are not the only VA in your town?

Should you go hell for leather to compete?

Should you approach them, discretely check them out or cyber stalk them?

Would you ghost them if they contacted you?

My Story

Making the decision to go self-employed is so hard. Lots of blood, sweat and tears and imposter syndrome go into setting up. I know I lurked in a lot of specialist VA groups for a long time before I took the plunge. I did my research…great there’s no-one showing up locally on Google. Whenever the ‘where are you in the UK?’ posts went up in the groups, no-one claimed to be from Doncaster.

I bagged my domain and social media profiles, and started out very low key in Sept 2017. Initially, I started as an Associate picking up ad-hoc work as a call handler, then as an ad-hoc transcriptionist for Business Friend and Gemma Broadstock. It was a great way to build my confidence and make sure that a career as a VA suited me.

Whilst doing this, I built my website as part of Vicki Jakes’ Word Press Bootcamp Beta Test early in the Summer of 2019. Vicki has am amazing, and very effective teaching style. There were so many lightbulb moments on the course. I rediscovered my passion for tech, and realised I wanted to go back to my techie roots. I have also made some fantastic friends and business connections through the WordPress Bootcamp and her Supercharge Your Website Membership.

It was really empowering doing the course and thoroughly enjoyed digging back into the memory vault and learning again. WordPress is totally different to the programming languages we used to use 20+ years ago. It is a lot more colourful and intuitive for starters! A lot of the principles remain the same though. With much encouragement from Vicki, I finally launched this Time Saving Assistant website and my Social Media in Sept 2019.

I was only ‘live’ a couple of months when I heard from a friend of a friend in a neighbouring street that she was setting up as a VA. We met for a coffee, and had a lovely chat. I hopefully allayed some of her fears about setting up, and that I wasn’t competition. Imagine when only a couple of weeks later, a chance conversation on a community Facebook group leads you to discovering that someone you’ve previously engaged with in a UK VA group is not only in your town, but actually also lives in your village..and they know someone else is a VA in your town. 😱

Does it matter? No, not one little bit!

The very nature of the #virtualassistant Industry, is #CollaborationNotCompetition, which is something that the Society of Virtual Assistants and my mentor Amanda Johnson encourage all VA’s to do.

There are how many VAs in my village?

Time Saving Assistant - What Can I Do If I am Not The Only VA in My Town - image of fellow local VAs at our first meeting
Our inaugural meeting of Doncaster VA’s, Feb 2020

I met up with the lovely Pippa before Christmas 2019. We now have Facebook and LinkedIn groups set up to for us to connect with local VA’s. I also share any opportunities I find, which I hope is helpful to them. A few months ago, a few of us had our first meetup. We are looking forward to many more post lockdown. Can you believe that there are actually 5 of us at some stage in our journey within a one mile radius!! Two even live next door but one to each other!

The group has grown even more recently. Becoming a VA is an exciting and attractive prospect for many talented people who are facing furlough or redundancy. Being a VA and running a business is a lot harder than it looks though! There is so much more to it than a bit of typing or ‘doing Admin’. This is why we are such a supportive and friendly group.

You may panic and think “What can I do if I’m not the only VA in my town?” It’s human nature. Honestly? It doesn’t matter if you are not the only VA in your town, as the clue is in the job title…we are virtual, and we all have our own experience, skills and niches.

My why

The very nature of the work that I do means that I work solely with online clients around the U.K. and beyond. I have an awesome teenage Son who has Dyspraxia and sensory difficulties. At the moment, I still need the flexibility of being able to work from home. (Believe me the fact that I was already working from home has been a godsend during lock down) By working solely online, I can be at home and be there to meet his needs. Whether it is for emotional support, meeting him from school when he has fallen or is too fatigued to carry his ridiculously heavy bag, school meetings, hospital appointments, and yes, he’s a teen, so also the occasional kicks up the….

I don’t drive, so the logistics of that make most onsite work off limits for me. My speciality and experience is in tech and online support because that is what I love to do, and why I chose to niche down to that area.

The vast majority of prospects looking for a VA in Doncaster to do general Admin/PA/EA support are not looking for someone with my skillset, nor are they my ideal customers. (That sounds wrong and almost snobbish!) I love my town, but in business knowing who your ideal customers are, and speaking to them through your online marketing really helps. I’m a techie geek, I love learning, It’s not without the odd tech glitch, but I love working solely online. My ideal clients are online course providers. I will happily point any other leads in the direction of the other local VA’s.

I have asked them all to write an introductory paragraph about themselves and their business. If you want to know more, or need help, feel free to contact them, or contact me and I will introduce you.

Meet Angie Harper of SOS Solutions

Time Saving Assistant - What Can I Do If I am Not The Only VA in My Town - image of fellow local VA Angie Harper of SOSolutions
Angie Harper of SOSolutions

Hi! I’m Angie Harper, originally from South Africa, I’m a mom of 4, a chef to my family and a tax consultant to my in-laws 😂… but for everyone else, I’m a Virtual Assistant/Solopreneur. I got into Marketing when I owned a business with my late husband 14 years ago and quickly discovered that my niche is digital marketing, although I started out as an Admin VA.

I love creating engaging, colourful newsletters and social media posts, I build and maintain websites and blogs, and can set up business processes such as sales pipelines and CRMs. My website is sosolutions.co.uk and email angie@sosolutions.co.uk. ♥️

Meet Steven Bisby of Help With Admin

Time Saving Assistant - What Can I Do If I am Not The Only VA in My Town - image of fellow local VA  Image of Steve Bisby of Help With Admin
Steve Bisby of Help With Admin

I have been working in administration for over 20 years within the public, private and charity sectors. Following 12 years working in a further education establishment I set up as a Virtual Assistant in April 2018.
I enjoy helping clients free up their time to concentrate on the higher value tasks through my Timesheet Challenge.

I provide admin support to individuals and community groups in the form of the organiser package, awareness booster package and host a twice monthly Focus Zone session.
When not at work I enjoy watching musical theatre and playing/watching sports.
My website is https://helpwithadmin.com

I couldn’t not mention Tracy-Jayne Cartwright. Whilst initially her intention was in setting up as a VA, she has since decided to go back to her roots and is focusing her time as a Health and Safety Consultant at Danum Business Solutions. She has so much advice and support to give small businesses – especially in the wake of Covid-19. Watch this space, she has promised me a guest blog in the coming weeks!

If you are a VA in Doncaster, then I’m more than happy to add your bio and link here – just drop me a message on Facebook, or email enquiries@timesavingassistant.co.uk