Question I'm stuck! How do I start after being out of the work force for 12 years?


New Member
Hi Everyone, This looks like a great forum... I'm new and have been reading subject after subject and decided I probably should finally jump in.

I have a question, how do I start my business after being out of the work force for 12 years. I feel stuck. I've been homeschooling my kids and currently still do.

I do have a website up, needs polishing, started making my social network accounts, have been updating my skills on, and have been brainstorming blog ideas (feeling really stuck with that since I'm not sure about my ideal client).

Prior to kids and homeschooling I was in project management and database management. It's been difficult trying to figure out what skills I have to bring to clients. I've been trying to remember what I enjoyed, and I have come up with project planing, writing and maintaining project plans, I really loved developing system process documentation and flows. I do know I love, planning and organizing events... I'm the “go to” homeschool mom for field trip and activity planning.

So I have a second question: Where does my skill set fit in the VA world? Does anyone have any industries/niches recommendations for me to research?

Thank you and I look forward to participating in this resourceful community


New Member
I'm a relatively new VA too (2013) but in my own experience I've found that the skill set I thought I wanted to go with is not what i'm going with now. The point being, one of the great things about running your own business is you get to change. Our businesses are fluid. So you can start by writing down the things you know how to do, it seems like you have a lot of them. Project management, databases, event planning, the classes you've taken on (how do you like that BTW?) and I'm sure you have a lot of generalist skills as well.

I started out with a couple of niches that I thought I was interested in. I posted things about them both to my social media accounts. I sent out local targeted email to those groups and eventually did get some jobs in both areas. However I realized I don't like one of the areas at all and the other is so so!

So I've been acquiring new skills and am now targeting another area. So as we go things can change, nothing has to be written in stone when you have your own biz. If you took classes and you don't like those areas it's not wasted time, you still have the skills and you've learned more than the skill, you know something about yourself.

I'm not sure who you can or would want to market to. I have a builder as a client and we are right now putting in place a project management system, when you build houses there are so many bazillions of details; estimates (really hard he actually figures out how many 2x4's in house build, plywood, fixtures, hardware, blah blah), permitting, staying on top of inspections, ordering, sub contractor schedules, and so forth. Maybe event planners, or speakers (they travel and book events constantly).

Think out of the box! I'm sure other more experienced VA's will have some suggestions.


New Member
Thanks for the advice Susan. You're so right, things may change as I build my business.

I've been enjoying My husband has a membership so I've just been plugging along taking classes. It's been extremely helpful building my confidence and reassuring myself that I still have skills to offer.

Thanks again.
Hello there. I'm new to the Virtual Industry as well; as I've been in the Professional Administrative Assistant field in a corporate setting for more than 20 years and due to a company wide layoff, have decided to step out on my own.

At any rate, my suggestion is to start off with Meeting/Events planning. Also, I understand that Realtors are always in need of people with Database management skills for all of their clients to keep track of when they were contacted, follow up, etc.

Another suggestion since you enjoy the creation of workstreams, processes, etc. is to identify businesses in your own neighborhood that you believe you have ideas to make them function better. Put together a flyer or other advertising advising what you can do to better organize them and make them more profitable.

I don't know if the Meeting/Events planning will work if you are still homeschooling your children, as there will obviously be times when you will need to be at the meeting location.

Here are a few websites to get you started.

To focus less on the time period that you are out of work, you can put together a functional resume which focuses more on what you've accomplished, and less on the dates that you accomplished it.

Hope this helps.


Hi Julie-Anne,

You may have been out of the 'paid' workforce for 12 years, however as a former stay at home Mom myself I know you have been working! Especially if you are home-schooling. I was out of the workforce 18 years when I needed to get back into it. When I interviewed I focused on the skills I used while performing volunteer work at my church and schools. I did not focus on the time I hadn't done paid office work. I turned a 4 week temp job into a 10 year permanent position. When you really think about your life at home I'm sure you can make a list of skills you've been using during this time that transfer to VA work. Planning lessons and organizing schoolwork may come easy to you but those are definitely skills that would be valuable in a VA business. I was laid off in February of this year and decided I did not want to get another corporate job. So my VA business is in place and I'm working on getting that first client. So much to learn for sure. In addition to the other great responses here I would suggest finding out which computer applications are commonly used in the niche(s) you think you might be interested in. There are so many tools out there, it would help you narrow your focus and be ahead of the game if you could master some of them. You'll do great!