I first met Marie online just before she left her corporate job to launch her virtual assistant business full time. From the moment we connected I was impressed with Marie's spirit and obvious passion to help other people.
1. When did you start your business?
Well, I started putting things in motion August 2009, officially opened for business February 1, 2010, and dove in full-time (leaving a corporate job of 7 years) on April 1, 2010.
2. Why did you choose to become a Virtual Assistant?
I was finished with being undervalued and underpaid by my employer. Owning my own business had been a dream of mine for a long time and after facing several disappointments at my corporate job that culminated in utter frustration last July (2009), I started researching my options. I knew I wanted to work from a home office, I knew what I was good at and I knew what I enjoyed doing … when I discovered the VA industry, it just clicked. I’m a helper by nature, and I love being in a support role and seeing those I support succeed. Being a Virtual Assistant would bring all the things I needed and wanted together into my dream career! I knew that I would work harder than I ever had, but I’ve always felt that I would be better off working 12 hours a day for myself than 8 for someone else in an unfulfilling, boring job.
I’ve only been out on my own for a few months, but I can already tell you that I feel like I have the best job in the world. Even on the difficult days, I would not trade it for anything. My goal is to be a VA until I retire at 55 and to never again be anyone’s employee.
3. What advice would you give new and aspiring VAs?
Network, network, and network some more! Join Virtual Assistant Networking Association (VANA), FindVirtual, VA Forums, IVAA, and any other VA networking sites that work for you and get active on their forums. The VA industry is the most supportive, friendly industry I’ve ever had the pleasure to be a part of and you can learn so much from your fellow VAs who have been around the block a time or two. I started hanging out at VANetworking in August 2009 and I can honestly say that if has been like going to school to be a VA. I’ve made some great online friends, met VAs who live in my area, found a local VA group to provide friendship and support, and got connected with my first 3 clients from networking with other VAs.
Face-to-face networking at live networking events is also very important. The majority of your business will come from networking (online and off) and word of mouth/referrals. I highly recommend joining local small business and entrepreneur-focused networking groups. A great place to find networking groups in your area is www.meetup.com. Its free and easy to use.
Mentoring and coaching is also critical to a VA’s success. You need to have the support of someone who has been there, someone who will help you identify your strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities that you may not be aware of. A good coach and mentor will also give advice and criticism in an honest, helpful and friendly way, and be there when you need to vent.
4. What resources have helped you in your business? Forums, blogs, coaching, books?
Like I said, the VANA forums have been an amazing resource and I follow several VA and VA Coach blogs (Virtual Moxie, The Gritty VA, Chief Virtual Officer’s Blog to name a few). I also get a lot out of the group coaching calls that you and Joel host. I’ve been able to apply things I’ve learned on those calls right away with my prospects and clients and, because funds and time are tight for me right now (that’s how it is when you’re a start-up!) the calls are ideal for me. Eventually, I’ll have the resources to spend more time with a coach (I’ll probably be hitting you up for that when the time comes, Sue!) but until then, the coaching calls are a perfect fit!
5. Share a success story or something about yourself.
Well, I consider my journey in getting my VA business started to be my biggest success story so far, so I’ll leave it at that. A few things about me that not many people know are that I was once in an improv comedy group, I had another small business on the side a few years ago in which I designed and sewed one of a kind clothing and accessory items on eBay, and once upon a time I was a social work major at CSULB!
6. Additional comments you'd like to share.
I truly enjoy knowing you, Sue, and I love your coaching group!
Marie's contact information:
Marie Fitzgibbons, Deadline Met Virtual Assistant Services
Blog: Do not have one yet … soon!