We spoke with Leisa Good last week about her Virtual Assistant Business. Angie Nelson also work in this field but as Leisa pointed out, there are an unlimited number of directions to take a VA business.
Can you tell us about your Virtual Assistant Company and the direction you have taken it?
I started my Virtual Assistant business in November 2007. I had been an administrative assistant at the same company for 11 years. The economy was starting to take a turn. We were experiencing a lot of lay-offs and downtime, and that was causing a lot of internal stress for all of the employees, myself included. It was becoming unbearable, and that constant stress and unease was carrying over into my personal life. I spent several months interviewing with other local companies, and I saw that same stress and fear on the faces of employees everywhere I went. It was actually my husband that suggested I start looking into work at home options where I could have more control over my future. Thankfully, I had been a member of a few work at home forums for several years already as I dabbled in direct sales. As I explored other forum folders, Virtual Assistant was something that really piqued my interest. I spent several months getting all of my ducks in a row, forming a business entity and I took a phone job to help pay my bills as I built my portfolio of personal clients. Within four months of leaving my outside job, I was able to let that phone job go and focus solely on my business.
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Those first four months were a very scary time. I wasn’t sure what services to offer. I was being told by other Virtual Assistants that you could not build a successful business around general clerical services, you had to have a very specialized niche. I didn’t know a lot about the online world at that time. I never thought I would get anywhere. Four years later, the majority of my clients are contracted for those general clerical services. While I am able to offer specialized social media and blogging services now, I still do a lot of typing, basic bookkeeping, document creation, etc.
How were you first introduced to this type of work?
Work at home forums were my first introduction to Virtual Assisting. Though over the past few years a few acquaintances have transitioned into working at home, at the time I did not personally know anyone in the freelancing arena.
Angie, I know you on a more personal level because of your freelance help site, TheWorkatHomeWife.com. Is this an extension of your VA work?
The Work at Home Wife came to be primarily due to the frequent inquiries I was getting about what I was actually doing from home and how others could make that switch also. Those inquiries were coming from both people I knew personally and people researching work at home options online that had come across my VA website. I was spending a lot of time answering emails individually. Other Virtual Assistants were starting to jump on the blogging and affiliate marketing bandwagon at that time also. I thought the Work at Home Wife would be the perfect opportunity to kill three birds with one stone; have a centralized location for answering those home business inquiries, start blogging, and add that much desired second income stream through affiliate marketing and advertising.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone interested in starting their own web-based business what would you tell them?
Expect and prepare for a lot of trial and error. The first two years I was in business I took on a lot of short-term clients and dabbled in several service offerings just to figure out the type of client I wanted to work with and the services I wanted to offer. Those two things have changed greatly since I first started. There was a lot of instability during that time, but I prepared ahead financially as much as I could with each new contract. That gave me opportunity to take on only those clients that I truly wanted to work with and offer only those services I truly wanted to offer. The last two years I have had very little, if any, turnover. I’m happy and my clients are happy. When I do take on new clients now, those happy clients are also my best marketing avenue.
What are the biggest obstacles you face as a web-based business owner?
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In my start-up phase, I would say my biggest obstacle was figuring out what I wanted my business to become. I was really going it alone at that time. Now, I would say it is the day-to-day juggle. There are going to be weeks when every client is going to have numerous projects that need completed. Being able to manage my time so everyone gets taken care of in a timely manner can at times be overwhelming. But, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Though none of my clients know the others, I’m blessed that everyone works essentially as a team. This is a unique work environment, and my clients seem to appreciate and respect it as much as I do. That’s what I have been looking for since Day One.
Angie Nelson is an online virtual assistant and founder of the Work at Home Wife where she shares home business solutions and internet marketing tactics with those working from home or hoping to make that transition.