Rosalind and I have been connected online through virtual assistant forums for some time. Thank you Rosalind for your interview here!
When did you start your business? January, 2007
Why did you choose to become a Virtual Assistant? I love being an Executive Assistant and helping busy professionals manage and organize their day. Being a virtual assistant allows flexibility in choosing the type of work performed and selectively choosing the businesses and people I work with.
What advice would you give new and aspiring VAs? Do lots of research, ask questions, have a plan, look into programs that provide assistance and training for individuals who wish to start a business (i.e. chamber of commerce, Small Business Administration) network a lot, really think about where and how you spend money, be patient, stay true to your values, run an ethical business. Have confidence in the value that you provide clients. It’s important when questioned about your rates. Avoid working on projects or with clients that are incompatible with your work style or business goals. The beauty of being in business for yourself is that you are no longer an employee and get to decide who your ideal client is. In the beginning, we all take on projects that we don’t like just to get our name out and hopefully generate additional business. Once your business begins to grow, consider sub-contracting projects that you don’t enjoy or don’t know how to do. Sub-contracting allows you to build relationships with other virtual assistants with various skill sets while expanding the types of services you can offer clients. A word of caution about sub-contracting. Make sure the individual is reliable, trustworthy, and can perform the tasks needed. Your reputation and that of your company depends on it. Make sure your clients know how much you appreciate them and their business.
Don’t get consumed with the idea of doing everything perfectly. Mistakes are a part of learning how to run a successful business. Do what feels right for you. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider or implement ideas suggested by coaches or business contacts. Just don’t get caught up in doing what everyone else thinks you should be doing, or gauging your success by comparing yourself to others. It’s counterproductive and will undermine your confidence.
Lastly, HAVE FUN! Don’t get so bogged down in the projects and details associated with running a business that you forget to enjoy the experience. Running a business is one of the hardest things you will ever do, but will also be one of the most rewarding. You will meet interesting people and have experiences that you could never have imagined.
What resources have helped you in your business? Forums, blogs, coaching, books? All of the resources mentioned have been helpful. The most helpful was taking a four-month entrepreneurial training program offered by a local Chamber of Commerce, as well as graduating from an online Virtual Assistant training program. Many of the clients I have today are a result of direct referrals from connections made through the Entrepreneurial Assistance Program, by joining a Chamber of Commerce & networking with other virtual assistants.
Share something about yourself. Have been married to my high school sweetheart for over 25 years. Love reading, smooth jazz, crime shows, the Food Network, HGTV & a good glass of wine & trips to Maine. Hate snakes and bees, (don’t tell “Fear Factor”!)
Additional comments you'd like to share. Be willing to help and mentor other virtual assistants. If you belong to a VA forum and have the time, volunteer to serve on a committee, provide training, or write articles on a subject you know a great deal about. Don’t become a VA for the money. That will come, but it will take time and much relationship building. Get involved in your community without the expectation of getting anything in return. By giving to others, you are helping yourself although it may not be immediately apparent.
I had the pleasure of attending one of the teleseminars offered by Sue and Joel. The topic was the “Client/VA Relationship.” At the end of the seminar, I had an idea for my next e-newsletter and learned some helpful client appreciation tips, one of the most valuable having to do with how to conduct client satisfaction surveys and the benefits of having the survey completed by a third party. Sue and Joel cover topics on issues that all VAs struggle with at some point. If you haven’t attended one of their teleseminars, I encourage you to do so.
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