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 whilst in Vegas, the South of France, Verona, Rome, Zurich, Austin, Oman, The Hague, Spain, and the Canary Islands. Virtual Assistants can work anywhere in the world and many of them do.
I travel a lot (often 8+ 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.