Should I start freelancing during the pandemic?

Should I Start Freelancing During the Pandemic

So you’re thinking about freelancing? In the midst of a pandemic, I’m not surprised! There are many reasons that people turn to freelancing. The short answer (TLDR): yes!

Now I’ll explain.

But first, what is freelancing?

What is freelancing?

Freelancing is a non-traditional means of making money. It is non-traditional in the sense that it is not the typical means of employment. Freelancers are independent contractors. They are responsible for their own income reporting and taxes.

Why do people want to freelance?

So why would someone want to freelance? When you’re a freelancer, you’re your own boss. Who wouldn’t like that? Some people don’t work well without a boss telling them what to do. But if you’re a self-starter and don’t need someone micro-managing you, telling you when and how to do your job, then freelancing could be for you!

Freelancers set their own hours. They work from their own home office (or kitchen table). They can take time off as needed and don’t usually have to let anyone know about it.

Freelancers, like myself, are home and available to get the kids online for eLearning. I make sure my 4-year-old is paying attention to his teacher. When he’s done, I hop back online to work for my clients.

If you’re not convinced yet, here are some other pretty interesting statistics that might perk up your ears. According to this article on Websitebuilder.org, 25% of freelancers can find work within 1 day if needed. And in 2019, freelancing contributed $1 trillion to the US economy. WOW!

Why start now?

Should you start freelancing now, during the pandemic? Sure! It’s a sad fact that you may have to try. But let me tell you why that’s OK.

According to Market Watch, more than 22 million people lost their jobs in the first half of the year due to the Covid-19 pandemic that emerged in the US in March of 2020. I’m sorry if you or someone close to you is one of those statistics.

But it’s time to look forward! So…

How to Start a Freelance Gig

 

How do you break into freelancing?

I think one of the hardest things about losing your job or getting into freelancing is explaining why you’ve come to the decision to start freelancing.

If you’re used to working in an office, you don’t realize how mainstream freelancing is in some circles. But I can see how someone might not want to tell their friends and former co-workers that they are now freelancing. It just sounds strange. Or does it?

Change your mindset. Now.

Say this out loud and take ownership of it: I decided to start (fill in the blank with your job or skill) as an independent contractor instead of an employee because (fill in the blank with your key reason for working for yourself).

Here’s what I would say: I decided to start doing marketing consulting as an independent contractor so I can be home and available for my kids when they’re little.

Now, you may have lost your job because of the pandemic and if you’re comfortable saying that, then by all means say that! But if you’re feeling down about it, like you didn’t have a choice, put a spin on it.

Find the reasons that freelancing is an advantage for you and say that you made this decision just in time. Or it was serendipity that you can now be a freelancer instead of an employee.

Say, “I had been thinking about going out on my own for some time. Now it’s a blessing to be home with my kids while they’re eLearning.”

I’m going out on my own

Undoubtedly, you’ve heard someone say, I’m going out on my own. 

Anyone who says that is a freelancer! They may not consider themself a freelancer, but it’s essentially the same thing! They are an independent contractor.

True, that person going out on their own may eventually incorporate their business. But the beginning of the process is very similar.

If you’re not comfortable with the term freelancer, you can say it this way.

Examples of jobs you can do freelance

Let’s look at what you can do. Freelancers take a skill that they have and offer it “on the side”. If you find yourself without a job, you can take something that you did for your employer and offer it on a contractual basis to someone else similar to your former employer.

The examples are going to be endless, but I’ll start a list.

  • Bookkeeper
  • Content creator
  • Secretary
  • Scheduler
  • Calendar management
  • Appointment setter
  • Customer service
  • Designer
  • Developer
  • Programmer

I think you get the idea. Horkey Handbook has published a very long list to give you some ideas of things you can do as a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant is basically a freelancer.

How do you start getting jobs?

When you get in the groove and get comfortable with your new role as a freelancer, you’ll see opportunities. You’ll be prepared to talk about it – what you could do to solve someone’s problem. Or better yet, what you can do to increase their revenue.

But what about now? There are several job boards for freelancers. One that I’ve used with success is called Upwork. I don’t use it regularly now, but I probably have looked at it in the last year just to see what people are looking for.

If I suddenly lost all of my clients, I would look there to see if anything caught my attention. According to that article on Websitebuilder.org, freelancers earn over a billion dollars yearly on Upwork.

What’s next?

Well, I guess it depends on if you’re out of a job or if you’re just thinking about your options.

If you’re out of work, I would get signed up with Upwork immediately and start making offers! The site is pretty self-explanatory. Fill out everything as completely as possible. And start pitching!

If you’re looking at options for stay at homework, or to replace your day job, check out this list of services you can provide. You can get it in exchange for your email address. It’s totally worth it!

How to Start a Virtual Assistant Business

HOW TO START A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT BUSINESS

So you want to know how to start a virtual assistant business. My simple answer: SAY that you’re a virtual assistant. But follow this list and you can start TODAY!

Below is a list of the 5 key things you need to start a virtual assistant business.

You need a place to work

That’s easy! As an independent contractor, you can work anywhere! I have a small office in my house, but I’m sitting at the kitchen table as I write this post. Almost my entire last pregnancy was worked from the couch!

I have clients who regularly spend time at a coffee shop and another client who needs to go to the library when she wants a strong internet connection. So really – anywhere!

Steps to Start a Virtual Assistant Business

You need a computer to do the work

As an independent contractor, you are responsible for “outfitting” your own “office”. But if you already have a computer, you don’t need a new one! Just use what you have!

Honestly, though, with cloud access to so many things, you could work off of a computer at the library until you earn enough to get your own! Talk about bootstrapping!

You’ll need internet access

You have to be able to do the work and submit it virtually. I can’t think of any way to do this without access to the internet.

Does it need to be your own internet? Absolutely not! You can go to a library or coffee shop to access their internet.

Still in the days of COVID and you can’t sit in a coffee shop? Sit in your car in a parking lot where they have internet access – Starbucks, Mcdonald’s, etc.

Have you ever seen the Will Smith movie, The Pursuit of Happyness? Oh boy, I just cried watching the trailer! I think of that movie and I think that anyone can do anything if they really want to!

People can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. – Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness

You need clients

Tell everyone. Work it into conversations! The more you say it, the more you will believe it. And the more you believe it, the more it will be true!

I was recently interviewed in a podcast about becoming a VA and right around the 19:15 mark, I am asked about my first client. I go on in the interview to explain that my first client was my physical therapist and that it came about through simple conversation! You can listen to it via the link above or you can watch it on Youtube!

If you want more info about how to get clients, you might want to take a course. I suggest 30 Days or Less to VA Success. I’ll tell you more about it in a bit.

You’ll need a contract

Once you get your first client, what do you do next? You’ll need an Independent Contractor Service Agreement, or contract for short. I’m working on a template pack right now! At the time I’m writing this, you can actually pre-order it at a lower price!

So those are the 5 key things that I think you need to start a VA business.

Of course, there will be other things you’ll eventually need, but you don’t need them to get started. Someday you might want to make a website or make your business really legit by registering the name or creating an LLC.

You can learn more about these things and tactics for finding clients if you decide to take the 30 Days or Less to VA Success course.

I highly recommend taking any of Gina Horkey’s courses. Gina is the founder of Horkey Handbook. She’s an infinitely successful Virtual Assistant turned course developer who will help you set up your business to be a smashing success.

But don’t think for a minute that you have to take a course to get started! You can start your VA business for $12.99 – the cost of a contract template that you will use over and over!

Can you be a virtual assistant with kids?

Tips for Working at Home with Kids

Can you be a virtual assistant with kids at home? Absolutely! Even with small kiddos like mine! My kids are 6, 4, and less than 1 year. AND, we’ll be starting first grade and full-day pre-K next week from home!  🤣

I was choosing to keep the kids home this year. Thanks to Covid and the expectations to wear masks and social distance while in school, I just didn’t think that was realistic for our little ones.  But after making my choice, our school district announced that we would ALL be e-Learning at least until mid-October.

Where did I learn to be a virtual assistant?

I guess I learned it over the years! My first job out of college was technical services – kind of like customer service but more technical in nature. I have taken several courses from Horkey Handbook, but what I really recommend is to get this list from them – it’s 150+ services you can offer as a VA. The list is free – just give your email in exchange for the list. Check it out and you’ll see that you already have services you could offer!

How do the kids affect my virtual assistant business?

I mean, it does affect my business a little bit. But it’s not going to be a huge burden. I am so blessed that I’m already working from home. And to top it off, I can set my own schedule. So my day will change a bit because of the e-Learning requirements, but honestly, I’m feeling pretty lucky!

 

Tips for Working at Home with Kids - Pin

What will our days look like?

The school day starts at 7:45 am and ends at 2:15 pm. Before I was pregnant with the baby, I would get up around 5:30 am when my husband leaves for work. I could get in a solid 2 hours of work before the kids even got up. It was awesome!

Now that we have the baby – who still doesn’t sleep through the night – I am sometimes up that early, but not consistently.  But what I am hoping for is to get up early and get in even just 1 hour before the kids need to start school.

That one hour before school starts will be my bonus time! But I won’t bank on it. I will plan on starting my workday around 3 pm when the kids are done with school and I’m done feeding the baby. Because that still has to happen! 🍼

How do other virtual assistants fit their business into their day?

As many VA’s are getting started, many are still working full time while they slowly add clients to their roster. Many VA’s get up early and then work late at night after a full day of work and the family goes to bed.

Where will we all sit?

Sounds like a funny question, but I know you’re thinking it! I’ve been watching my friends post their school setups on Facebook for the past week. I don’t know if we have a good setup, but I’m giving it a shot!

We’re all going to sit at the kitchen table. Our kitchen and living room all blend into one space. I have a small office, but I’ve been at the kitchen table since the baby was born. I need to be right in the room with everyone so I can keep my eagle eye on the baby and the other kids!

We also have a playroom that I thought about setting up like a school, but decided against it since that would require a table or desks. Plus since they’re so young, they’ll need my help for almost the whole day, so I decided on the kitchen table.

Staying organized is key!

I’m adding a small cubbie shelving unit next to the table so I can keep our stuff off of the table while school is not in session!🤣 I got something to match the other shelving unit we already have in the living room. My husband makes fun of my shelves. I love my shelves!

I think being organized is a very big part of working from home and now schooling from home too! If you are organized, both physically and digitally, you will spend less time prepping and more time working.

One of the things that keeps me organized digitally is Trello. I’m a big fan. And Client Portal. In fact, I have a discount code you can use for Client Portal. Use CARRIESdiscount at checkout to get 10% off! You can see more about Client Portal in this article I wrote.

Summary

Yes, you can totally be a virtual assistant with kids at home!! Actually, I recommend it! Unlike another job that you have to work specific hours, you’ll be free to set your schedule and work the hours that are best for you and your family!

Thanks for checking out my blog and seeing what I have to say about being a virtual assistant! Join my email list to stay in the know about virtual assisting!

Can you work from home as a Virtual Assistant

Can You Work from Home as a VA
Are you currently a stay at home mom? Well, you’re already in the right place! But joking aside… that’s basically what I am! In my article on my pet project mommy blog, I talked about my schedule in this short post But you’re here because you want to know: Can you work from home as a virtual assistant. The simple answer is yes. YES! Yes, you can!

Do you have to work from home to be a virtual assistant?

No, you can work from a coffee shop (if we were sitting in coffee shops these days, thanks COVID). I used to go to our local library to get some focused time. It might depend on your reason for wanting to be a virtual assistant. I started out wanting to be a VA because I wanted to be home with my kids. So why would I leave the house to be a VA if I wanted to be at home? Simple: I AM home with my kids. Sometimes, when my husband gets home from work, I need to put in some time, so I go somewhere quiet. But the point is that I AM HOME when my kids need me. If my kids are sick, I’m home with them. If it’s a snow day, I’m home. Doctor’s appointments, no problem!

How do you start working as a virtual assistant?

Here’s how it might look:
  • You will meet a potential client online, possibly from an ad on LinkedIn. Or you’ll see an acquaintance post something on Facebook stating that they need help with something.
  • If you know how to do the thing they need help with, you reach out to them, electronically, through the same platform you heard of their need.
  • You’ll go back and forth with a discussion, possibly do a zoom meeting.
  • Together you will define your scope of services.
  • You write up the appropriate and necessary contract. (here are my contracts)
  • You’ll start working.
Is that simplified? Overly! But you should get the idea. You CAN work from home as a virtual assistant! Check out this list from Horkey Handbook. It’s 150+ services you can offer as a virtual assistant.   Make Money at Home as a VA PIN

What do you need to be a virtual assistant?

There’s not much that you really need to be a VA. You’ll need a computer and internet access. Even a phone could be considered optional. Personally, I text with my clients for quick questions, but otherwise, everything is done by email. I do virtual “calls” as one of my tasks for a client and those “calls” are through the computer. So again, only my computer is needed. You also need to have contracts with your clients. Any legit business person will want to have a contract and will understand that you want one too. I have a contract template as part of my Asset Pack.

Do I need to have a website to be a virtual assistant?

Do you need to have a website? Nope. I started one right away because I wanted to learn WordPress. But it’s not necessary to get started as a VA. A simple Facebook Page would suffice.

Do I need to take a course to be a virtual assistant?

IF you wanted to take a course to start your journey as a virtual assistant, this is the course I recommend – 30 Days or Less to VA Success, by Horkey Handbook. Is it necessary? Not at all! Technically, I started as a virtual assistant before I even knew what it was! I was responding to emails for a friend. Then I saw an ad for the Horkey Handbook 30 Days or Less to VA Success course and I took the course to find out what else I could do as a VA and to walk me through setting up my business. I mean, do I recommend it? Absolutely! But it’s NOT necessary. Find something on the 150+ list of VA services that you can do and just get started! When you start getting paid, you can set some money aside to use for development. I hope this article helps you see that you CAN work from home as a virtual assistant! While you’re here, look around my website and remember to join my email list!    

What does it take to be a virtual assistant

What Does it Take to Be a Virtual Assistant

If you hadn’t thought about being a virtual assistant in the past, there’s a chance you’ve thought about that or another virtual job in the past few months. Covid-19 hit the US in March and according to this article published by Pew Research Center, unemployment rates have risen higher in three months than they did in the two years of the Great Depression.

Odds are, you’re looking for options that will allow you to work from home. And if you’re reading this, you wonder if you have what it takes to be a virtual assistant.

My guess is that you do! First I’m going to answer some common questions about Virtual Assisting. Then we’ll look at some of what it takes to be a VA.

How am I qualified to determine if you’ve got what it takes?

I’ve been a virtual assistant, or VA for short, for about 5 years now. I get confused about how long since I was working virtually before I called myself a VA. But I can estimate that it’s about one year less than my daughter’s age since I started after she was born.

I’ve taken several courses over the years to help me up my game as a VA. I love the courses from Horkey Handbook. This is actually the course that got me started. It’s just from experience, I have a pretty good idea of what it takes!

But it’s not up to me to “determine” if you’ve got what it takes. YOU need to make that determination. And really, a lot of it comes down to your belief in yourself, your skills, and your ability to learn and grow.

Work at Home as A Virtual Assistant

What is a Virtual Assistant?

A virtual assistant is an independent contractor who works independently for a small business owner. Usually, the business owner needs some sort of help with their business, but they don’t have the need for a full-time employee.

Sometimes, a Virtual Assistant knows how to do something that the small business owner doesn’t know how to do. So you would bring your expertise to the table. But not always, so don’t get hung up on knowing something special.

What do Virtual Assistants do?

VA’s do many different things for their clients. I have done the following things for clients.

  • Email management
  • Content creation
  • Website updates
  • Social media
  • CRM support
  • Customer service
  • Database creation

But what if you don’t know anything “special?” Don’t worry about it – you WILL learn new things as you go! I bet there are several things that you can do that you would never think of. Here’s a list of 150+ VA services you could offer.

What are the hours for a Virtual Assistant?

Your hours will vary depending on a lot of things. Your client may need work to be done at a specific time. For email management, it is common that you will log in twice a day to check emails. Maybe you will do this at a specific time, maybe not. It all depends on your client and the expectations that you set when you start working for them.

The nice thing about website updates and content creation is that you can usually do it at any time, day or night. So if you’re watching your kids during the day, maybe doing homeschooling or other “kid” activities, you can work in the evening and later after you put your kids to bed.

I talk about my schedule in this short post. I can tell you, one of my favorite things about being a VA is being in control of my schedule!

Do you have what it takes to be a Virtual Assistant?

What have you decided at this point? Do you think you have what it takes to be a VA?

I have a variety of resources I’d like to share with you. One is my Asset Pack. This is a pack of documents and such that you will need as you get started as a Virtual Assistant. This Asset Pack is starting off with 2 contracts. As I add more documents, you’ll get all the updates for free! You can check it out here!

I also have an application to be a VA – if you want to get started as a VA but don’t know where to begin, check out my application. I am always looking for the right people to work with!

Last, I’d love to hear if you think you have what it takes to be a VA!

Intro to Client Portal

Here's why freelancers should use client portal

I want to share a quick introduction to Client Portal. Have you heard of it? It’s a WordPress Plugin that was created by my client (there’s the first half of my disclosure;-)) Laura Elizabeth. You see, I’m a virtual assistant and Laura is my client!

So not only am I using it, but I’m working on the back side of it. I have quite a grasp of how it can be used by all different types of businesses. But since Laura created it for herself to use with her design clients, she has a very large design audience. What I want to focus on is how freelancers such as myself, can make use of Client Portal.

Top 3 reasons Freelancers should use Client Portal

  1. Professionalism
  2. Organization
  3. Convenience

1 – Professionalism

Think to yourself – what does my business process look like to an outsider? That outsider being a new potential client. What do they see? Do you give them a contract? Are your invoices and documents neatly organized? Now think about what your competition is doing.

Impress clients with your organization!

What if you present a portal as soon as you get off the phone with a potential client? Just a follow-up – “thank you for your time” message.

Hey, Potential Client ABC, I set you up in my system just in case we decide to work together. When you get inside my client portal, you’ll see our preliminary discussion, which you are free to add comments to if you feel I didn’t understand something exactly as you intended. You’ll see some grayed out sections which will become active if and when we start working together.

This shows Potential Client ABC that you are a professional, serious about your intentions to work with them, and organized!

2 – Organization

Client Portal will allow you to organize all of the documents that you use for your clients. I am a fan of both Dropbox and Google Docs. But I find I’m using Google Docs more and more. So what I’m doing is linking my doc right into the portal.

I can work on the doc from my Google Suite. But anytime the client wants to look at it, all they need to do is log in to their Client Portal.

I also have a link to their invoices. I’m still using PayPal to create my invoices, just like I always have. But I’m adding the URL to my client’s project.

So again, I look incredibly organized and professional. AND my client only has to go ONE PLACE to see everything that I’m working on for them – it’s so convenient!

3 – Convenience

I have a small handful of clients right now. If you’re a freelancer, you likely have a small handful of clients too, or maybe more. I have them all lined up in my Client Portal dashboard in WordPress. As I work on things for my clients throughout the day, I can easily switch to their project if I need to make any changes, like adding a module to keep track of a new project they just assigned to me.

But for the most part, I’m just working along like usual. The difference is that everything I’m working on is linked to their project. So any time they want to see what is current, all they have to do is log in to their secure project (password protected and private to each of them individually) and they can see the current version of basically everything we’re working on together!

I’m receiving fewer emails because my clients know they only have to look one place to find what they’re looking for. It’s convenient for them and I spend less time out of my day looking for something I sent them two weeks ago!

Do you want a Client Portal Discount?

Lucky for you – I have one! Follow this link to see more details about Client Portal and to purchase your copy today! If you follow my link, I will get a little kick-back for telling you about it, but it doesn’t change your price (and there’s the second half of my disclosure). If you’re gonna try it anyway, please help out a fellow freelancer and use my code!

When you get there, use discount code CARRIESdiscount to receive 10% off!

If you have any questions about Client Portal, you’re welcome to email me at carrie@yourvirtualassociate.com. Or you can send your questions straight to support@lauraelizabeth.co. Maybe I’ll still be answering your questions!

 

 

5 Reasons VA’s Love Working From Home!

5 Reasons VAs Love Working From Home

One perk of Virtual Assisting is to work from home! Read about other reasons VA’s love working from home!

I can tell you in one sentence why I love working from home: I love being home for my kiddos! But I want to go into some specifics, as to why VA’s love to work from home!

In case you are wondering, VA’s are virtual assistants. Virtual means that they are working in the “virtual” world. On-line. Assistant means they are assisting, or helping, someone with something, usually a small business owner or entrepreneur with business related tasks.

1. My “Home Office” isn’t always at home!

While I ultimately want to end up working from a beach, right now my goal is to be working from my home office so I can be more present while my kids are young. Virtual assisting allows me to be home for occasions, like the first day of preschool! (That happen to be today!) I was able to drop my daughter off at school and be first in line to pick her up afterwards. That was really great for both of us! I’m also free to take my kids to doctor appointments, play dates, and the library.

Thanks to the internet and Skype, I took my business on the road this summer when we went to visit my folks for a week. I set myself up at a small table in the kitchen and got to work!

 

5 Reasons VAs Love Working From Home - Pin

2. Break time!

No, I’m not talking about the number of breaks I can take, or that no one is watching the clock while I take a break (although that’s true). I’m talking about what I do during my breaks. Instead of walking to the coffee machine or water fountain in an office, I’m walking into my kitchen to refill my coffee, and I might also do some dishes or start a load of laundry. My “break” time is productively filled with chores that I would normally have to do at night. After returning from a long day of work, who wants to do laundry and dishes?!

Sometimes break time is spent reading a book to my children, or helping my daughter with a puzzle, or “smashing” the Play-Doh so she can make more butterflies! I might make a run to the post office or bank, which in the old office days, that was hard to do! I remember actually having to take a half-day of vacation so that I could do errands such as the PO and bank! Crazy!

3. Who’s the Boss? I’m the Boss!

I am my own boss and that really is priceless. If I need to make more money for our family, I know what I need to do to get more work. I’m the only one telling myself that I need to work harder or work more. Although my husband does try to tell me that too, I still know that I’m the boss!

When I need more work, I can hop onto Upwork to look for a variety of freelance job postings. They charge you a fee, but only after you get paid (comes off the top before you actually receive payment, so it doesn’t feel like you’re paying). I also took a course an online course called 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success. That helped me with the ins and outs of the virtual assistant role and how to get started. Obviously you will pay for the course, but it’s a business expense, and it’s helpful to be able to say, “I took a course”. Plus there is a Facebook community for support and asking questions. (Sorry, I didn’t mean for this to be a sales pitch, but I highly recommend!)

4. Variety is the spice of life!

I love the variety that I encounter as a virtual assistant. I have learned about many different subjects from the different people I have worked with. At one point in my day, I am working on website updates for someone in the healthcare industry. Later in the day I may be working on an email campaign for a dance instructor. The variety is amazing! It heightens my level of interest in what I am doing for my clients, because I’m not working on the same things for hours on end.

5. Any time of day.

My mind seems to focus better later in the day. So it’s great that I can choose to work whenever is best for me. Sometimes you’ll have a client that needs work to be done during a certain time of day, but not always. Usually it’s work that just needs to be done and they don’t care how or when you do it, as long as it gives them the results they are looking for.

There you have it – 5 reasons VA’s love working from home! But I’m sure the reasons are endless!

Thanks for reading! See you next time!

I may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post. 

3 Top Reasons YOU Need a Virtual Assistant!

3 Top Reasons You Need A Virtual Assistant

Keep reading to learn why you should have a virtual assistant!

(1)  Get back to doing what you love!!

There is something you are passionate about, and it’s the reason you started your business!! But now that you have a business doing what you love, you have to do all kinds of other things that you AREN’T passionate about!

The solution: you need a virtual assistant! When you work with a virtual assistant, you can delegate the tasks that you don’t like and spend more time doing what you love!

3 Reasons You Need a Virtual Assistant - Pin

(2)  You know you need a social media presence, but you don’t know how, nor want to learn it! 

Social media can be time consuming as well! Get connected with the right virtual assistant and you can tap into a whole new world of possibilities. Social media isn’t just “social”. Business connections are made through social media every day! Your network is an asset and a virtual assistant can help you interact with your network and beyond. The World Wide Web is full of people who might want what you have to offer!

(3)  You want to grow your business, but you don’t want to manage an employee. 

When you hire a full or part time employee, you have to consider many things. They need a computer and phone, a work space, not to mention benefits like vacation pay and insurance! When you contract with a virtual assistant, you don’t have to do any of that! In fact, a virtual assistant should be a trusted partner who you can bounce ideas off of.

This list is only 3 reasons you should want to have a virtual assistant. Can you think of other reasons why you should have a VA? I would love to hear from you!