Guest blog by Angiie Turay
When I took the leap of faith to start my own Virtual Assistance (VA) business with a 3 month old at home, I received very mixed reactions from people around me.
Some thought I was brave ‘to try’, some worried about how I could possibly give my baby all the attention he needed, some concluded there was no way I could make a living from home but, ‘it was the right time to give a go and get it out of my system’ *eye roll*. Those closest to me were genuinely excited for me and encouraged me to go for it ‘if anyone can do this it’s you’ they would say.
Then there were those who stared at me blankly when I uttered the words ‘Virtual Assistant’. You see, only a handful of people in my life knew what a VA was and frankly the ones that didn’t, saw failure ahead of me because being a VA wasn’t ‘the thing’ everyone else was doing.
That was over 18 months ago, and I’m still here! With so much of the world changing, people are now being forced to connect virtually, and many more looking online for opportunities, I can’t help but feel a little vindicated.
Working remotely, from my home with a child in tow is what I have come accustomed to. I already have the tools, skills and tried and tested and methods of running a home and a business successfully albeit with many bumps along the way.
One of the most profound things I heard in the past week came from Dr. Theophilus A. Ajadi, who in one of his sermons stated;
“The same flood that that destroyed the whole world at the time of Noah, is the same flood that lifted the ark.”
Now, whether or not you believe in God, the analogy applies to us all at this time. Basically, at a time of crisis some will give up and are left beaten & broken whilst others will use the same event as opportunity to elevate themselves. To be lifted. To be different. To try something new. To make new connections. To find a new vision. To follow a new path. To let go of what’s weighing them down.
There’s so much happening right now that we cannot control. It’s so easy to get so caught up in the noise and fill ourselves with fear and worry.
There’s two main events that lead to me starting my business and that was when both of my worst fears were realised.
My two biggest fears realised.
The first was when I lost my beautiful little sister whilst I was here in Australia on the other side of the world and there was nothing I could do to save her. To top it all off, news of her death reached me on my wedding day. (That’s a whole blog in in itself so let’s move on).
The second happened exactly one year later when I gave birth to my baby boy. You see from an early age, I had decided child birth was not for me. Yes, I wanted children of my own but I had convinced myself that when my time came they would’ve invented a less painful way of getting the baby out other than the current methods (I really hope someone is working on this ha ha).
There was a period between the day my sister died to the day my son was born – where my life was in Limbo. Not dead. But not living.
These two events as much as they broke me, in many ways they also strengthened me. I remember distinctively how I felt after I gave birth.
I felt more powerful and more in control that I had ever been in my life. I felt that I could do anything.
My two biggest fears are what pushed me to start my business. I had lost the one person in my life that I had tried to protect and had never imagined living in a world without.
Then, a year later I brought life into this world.
So, to me quitting my secure job and jumping into the unknown was no longer an impossible challenge. It was menial. Insignificant compared to what I had been through.
That brings me to a very important point. Perspective. You don’t even have to spend 5 minutes on social media to see that in the midst of this pandemic, through fear – people have lost sight of what’s really important. and we all need to switch up our lenses.
I mean it really baffles me how we can be fighting over something as useless as toilet paper. When millions of people have no clean drinking water? We need to adjust our lenses and remember that no matter what we are going through – there really is some else going through worse. More so, someone else has gone through the same thing as you and came out on top because they did not let fear overwhelm them.
18 months ago I realised that I had nothing to lose. But, also with no safety net I gave myself no choice but to give it everything I had.
There was no job to go back to after my maternity leave, and my husband was studying and working part time, so it was very important for me to earn an income in order for us to be able to manage financially.
Now, this doesn’t mean I have worked it all out and my life is all happy dandy – no far from it.
I experience the same struggles everyone does. I face daily challenges in my work, my family, my marriage, my inner-self and also in my relationship with God. And I have had some very challenging days of late.
But one thing I have learnt is that, how I react and how I choose to act has the greatest impact on whether I stay in my struggles or progress.
We can’t always control what happens to us or what other people do, the only actions we can control is our own. And that is what I choose to focus my energy on.
Now is not the time to throw in the towel and give it all up.
For business owners, now is the time to step back and take a birds eye view of your business.
Identify what is working well and what is not.
Does your business still operate as you had envisioned or has it shifted off course?
Is your business model still aligned with your values?
Yes, you may be losing Clients. Everyone is going to be more discerning with their money right now- it’s inevitable.
But, instead of just looking for new leads, how are you nurturing your loyal clientele? How can you show them you care and appreciate them?
This is the time to tighten the screws on all loose ends, get to those little projects you have been meaning to do but haven’t had the time.
And I’m not only saying this because I’m a VA, but what tasks can you outsource so you give undivided attention to the core of your business? (And if you are a VA, how do you make sure your Client sees you as an essential part of the business?)
This is all to ensure that when the storm blows over you are ready to embrace growth instead of scrambling to find your feet.
Don’t let fear blind you from the opportunities.
Let this pandemic be your elevating moment. Keep yourself grounded. Count your blessings. Look for the opportunities. And remember, this too shall pass, where there is life, there is hope.