Many people have told me that they thought they needed to get an office or have a ‘proper’ desk set up before they could be a freelancer, so I want to show you that this is complete and utter nonsense. Virtual Assistants can work from anywhere they like and you shouldn’t let the lack of an office prevent you from setting up your business.
Where I used to work
I finally managed to buy my own apartment in December 2017, but before that I lived in a string of rented and shared accommodation. For five years before I bought my flat, I lived in a second floor (top) one-bed flat in Hove.
I’d get up and wander into the living room around half seven and stay there for most of the day. Although I tried to get out for at least one walk around my local park, if I’m honest I usually spent most of my day holed up in this one room!
This was my main desk:
As you can see, it was just my dining room table. It wasn’t impressive but it had good light, I was near the Internet router, and it did the job.
This is where I’m sitting in many of the videos you can see on my YouTube channel.
Actually, the monitor was quite new at the time. For quite a while I just had the laptop on a stand, but when I started to get headaches early in 2017, my chiropractor and doctor told me to get a monitor and a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard. It seems that I’d been sticking my head forwards towards the small laptop screen which was causing all sorts of neck and back problems.
But basically, this desk was just a place I could sit and get on with my job.
(If you’re not sure what laptop to buy then my blog post on how to choose the best laptop for your VA business will be useful)
This was my other desk at this flat:
My living room was quite big and had massive windows which made it really hard to heat. It was sunny in the morning but, because it was sometimes cold and gloomy in the afternoons and winter, I often moved to the kitchen which was smaller but much brighter.
I once showed another freelancer this photo and she said: “but where’s all your stuff?!”. She was absolutely dumbfounded that I don’t need anything to do my work.
All I (we) need is a laptop a strong Internet connection and a mobile phone.
Hence the name ‘Virtual’ Assistant!
Again, you can see that this area is nothing special. It’s just a small table in a sunny spot where I could sit and work.
Other desks I have known
Before I moved into the flat above, I lived in shared accommodation (with a boyfriend for a couple of years but also just flatmates) and all I needed was a quiet spot to get my head down and work.
When I set up my VA business, my first ‘desk’ was actually just my lap. There wasn’t space for a desk at the house I lived in when I became a VA, so I just opened my laptop and got on with it.
Where I work now
Ha, well now I’m completely spoiled…!
My new apartment has a second bedroom that I turned into an office. It looks absolutely gorgeous but in essence, it’s still just a quiet place to work and (aside from the Yo-Yo desk) nothing you can see in these photos was expensive – thank you, IKEA!
Other places I sometimes work:
Seeing as I’m 100% virtual I sometimes try to mix it up a bit and leave my flat at least one day a week even if it’s just to go to a local cafe or a hotel lounge.
I write blog posts, draft newsletters, read up on social media and new things I’m interested in and plan fun things for my Facebook groups and membership site. The VA Handbook is my main line of work now so I had to reduce my client work in order to be able to write content and courses for you guys.
I also work abroad.
I’ve worked on client tasks in pretty much every continent on the planet – Virtual Assistants can work anywhere in the world and I’m not the only one who does this.
I travel a lot (sometimes 10+ cities a year) and I love that I can travel and work at the same time – as long as I plan ahead, manage expectations, manage my time and actually do the work of course. These photos are from when I spent a month working in Bali:
With modern technology it isn’t at all difficult to do this and, although I’m not a full-time Digital Nomad, I have a location-independent business model and I made the conscious decision to set my business up to work this way from the start.
And you can do the same if you want to. That’s the beauty of being virtual.
My point is that even though I now have a lovely dedicated workspace, for years I just made do with what was available. Yes, it’s great if you can create your own home office, but it’s far more important to find somewhere quiet and just get on with it.
Clients don’t care where you work from, they just want the job doing.
So if you’re waiting for everything to be ‘perfect’ before you become a VA then don’t. It’s just a delaying tactic and will end up being an excuse to not set up your business.
Just get some clients, find a quiet place to do the work and then send an invoice – because that’s all freelancing actually is when you break it down.
Think you’d make a great VA?
If you want to become a Virtual Assistant and just want someone to tell you what to do and when, then sign up for my DIY VA course today.
With lifetime access and an incredible trainee-only support group, you’ll be a confident business owner in no time.
Mmmmm you have all got me thinking now!!
Have been trying to write several books for years and the research done is amazing though very time consuming obviously!! Being on lockdown has made me focus on the latter and my final ‘job’ within the house is to sort my half established office….not that I use it but it is junk laden with all types of files, household paperwork, books, etc etc. I want all to be sorted, neat and tidy but it just does not happen, something always gets in the way…last time it was a new relationship which at that time took my focus away from the actual writing!!
Now I am in a quandary, I find out the desk I have is of antique value so think that has to go, the bookshelves purchased recently are cluttered and I realise they take up much floor space…the printers have dried up from lack of use as they weren’t connected properly to computer!!
So, do I get new desk, have book shelving installed on walls to free floor space and finally get printers sorted but might need extra electric sockets put in….arrrggghhhh! I purchased a small filing cabinet at same time as bookshelves but all of these items seem a waste of time!!
What am I doing wrong!!?? Help!
I don’t think it matters too much actually Denie – it’s more important to focus on doing the work. I do have a free decluttering and productivity course that might help you though. You can find it here.
I have a decent office to work from but my husband laughs at me because I am always at the dining room table! He asks, ‘Why don’t you use the office?’ I am a VA and our household division of labour is, I run the house and manage the child while he works out of the house long hours, so I need to be close to the kitchen! It seems like my other job is preparing food, tidying up and packing snacks, lunches and shuttling son to sports etc. 🙂 I love the flexibility of being a VA. As my son grows up where I work and what hours I work change and I adapt as I go.
My current workspace is one of those folding tray stands up against the wall by living room window with a laptop on it. At a later date, because we have so many in our storage shed, I hope to set up a printer. I don’t know why, but I have always loved doing secretarial work. When people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would always say a receptionist or a teacher. But then that later changed to a model, singer, and an actress. Yeah! (sigh). But I really love doing secretary style work. So I’m excited about this new adventure.
That’s great Erica and it also proves you do NOT need a fancy desk to just get on and work!
From the age of 3 I wanted to be a ‘typist’ but there was no opportunity to learn until I started college. My year was the first to have word processors and the last to have typewriters! Fortunately I passed my touch typing course with distinction! Still love to type (copy type not punch and tab on spreadsheets)
Unfortunately for now I house share so I work from my bedroom! Desk, chair, foot stand, table lamp all for €150 in IKEA! I thought at first it wouldn’t work, but I’ve the desk positioned directly looking out onto my street and I actually don’t see my bed until I have to get up and move (only because my hips have stiffened for sitting too long). When I first started to Skype with clients I was so conscious of them seeing my room, but I’ve found an angle now that they only see a door behind me. All things are possible.
I had a similar situation. I used to rent with others when I first set up and I also worked from my bedroom. I too faced away from the bed and worked in the window and just got on with the work. You can sit on the floor with a laptop and still work – thanks for sharing Vicki. x
Brilliant! And what I love about being a VA.
My office is also my bedroom (my daughter and I moved in with my Mum 2 years ago) and I have my main (large screened) computer on a desk in there. It can feel a bit cramped sometimes. I also have a diddy laptop so for a change of scenery I can sit downstairs, in the sunshine, with the cat! Or in the pub down the road…..
The whole needing a desk thing really is a myth!