THE BLOG
10/28/2014 10:12 am ET Updated Dec 28, 2014

This Woman Turned a Layoff Into a Payoff

Maciej Frolow via Getty Images

Tammi Oldknow worked in a large corporate office for nearly 20 years when the company suddenly downsized, eliminating her position and leaving her feeling confused, afraid, and powerless. With a family of nine to care for, she could have just taken another job at a corporate office and continued to make ends meet. But Tammi was finished with leaving the future of her family up to her employer. She knew she had to make a change.

Tammi did some research and came across information on starting her own business as a virtual assistant (VA). Virtual assistants are a growing sector of the workforce and their income potential continues to rise as more niche companies request highly specialized work. They specialize in a wide variety of administrative duties and because of the scope of their services, are able to work remotely.

According to Randy Duermyer, the "Web Go-To Guy," there is a high demand for virtual assistants among small and medium businesses because they provide the skills and experience of a long-time employee without requiring the resources of a full-time employee. Small businesses aggressively hire experienced VAs to accomplish a wide variety of tasks related to their business, from bookkeeping and newsletter writing to blog editing and creating logos.

Tammi got excited about her new opportunities and went to work immediately, creating a logo, business cards, and a website to establish herself as a qualified VA taking on clients. And that's when she realized one of the toughest challenges of starting your own business: finding the clients who want your services.

She looked for potential clients locally wherever she could, talking about her business and making connections with people she wanted to work with. She focused on her immediate goals and told herself if she hadn't landed an ongoing client within a month, she would look for a new job.

Just when she had nearly given up hope and set up an interview to go back to a corporate job, something awesome happened. Tammi impressed her interviewer with her experience and skill set, and before she left, she took a chance and handed him her business card. "I'm also a Virtual Assistant, so if you're ever in need of my services, just give me a call!" He did call. He wanted Tammi to be his personal assistant on an ongoing basis! She accepted and still works with that client today.

Tammi's been working as a VA since 2012 and she's still excited about it. "The flexibility is the best part. I just took a two-week vacation and I was able to do my job while I was there!" She also likes the variety of her work--for example, she used LogoGarden to create a logo for a client recently and got be creative with the design; the same day, she set up a mass email campaign and made travel arrangements for a client!

If you're interested in starting your own business as a Virtual Assistant, Tammi says "Don't give up -- get your materials, do your research, and most importantly, be bold."

You can follow Tammi on Twitter @Toldknow!