You would expect an article like this from me, considering I founded a Virtual Assistant Company. But what you probably don’t know is why I founded this company. Like many other entrepreneurs, it started with a passion to help others that led to its creation.
I’ve been a Virtual Assistant myself in many capacities for over 18 years, which started soon after my daughter was born. I needed to work AND be home with her. I had no idea how to do this or what I would do, until I saw an ad in the paper from a wholesaler who needed part time work, which I could do from home. My VA career started and blossomed from there.
It kept my skills sharp and also allowed me the flexibility to stay home and raise my kids for many years. I started out part time, but by my third child I was working almost full time as a Virtual Assistant, and eventually needed to send him to daycare a few days a week (funny how we change our mindset by the 3rd child…).
My passion was two-fold; I wanted other women to have the freedom and flexibility to work around their schedules, while staying on top of their skills. Unfortunately when women (or men) take a leave from work to stay home for even a year or two, it makes it difficult to get back into the workforce. It takes time to get up to speed on the changes that happened while you were away. I also wanted them to not have to search for work. That is a stressful time when you’re between clients, and probably the hardest aspect of working as a freelance Virtual Assistant.
The women we’re working with today at Elite, for lack of a better term, are awesome. They’re take-charge women who want the same things we want: to be recognized for their expertise, keep their skill set sharp and earn a good living, while still being able to be available to their families. These women help us grow as a company with their knowledge and experience leading the way. It’s a great feeling to know that we’re helping each other on this path.
The second part was seeing how as little as 5 hours a week could benefit the clients I was working with. When someone can take even 2-3 tasks out of their daily or weekly routine (I call them the time-suck tasks), it makes a big difference. I found over the years that people take advantage of that time in different ways. Some used it to free up more time to spend with their family and some used it to allow them more time to work on other areas of their business. Regardless of the reason, time is time, and it’s not easy to come by.
One of my favorite parts of this job is the initial consultation with a client. Giving information via email is fine to start, but I always insist on a call. Yes, people are busy. But if you’re serious about getting some help, then I need to talk to you. Most conversations always start out the same, “I know I need help, but I don’t know how someone can help me”. By the end of the call, it feels great to have helped someone plan out how to get started, and discover the things they can outsource that they never thought of before. It’s a wonderful feeling of accomplishment.
I made myself a lab rat.
I’m the perfect test subject: When I started using one of our VA’s, I was amazed at the weight that was lifted off my shoulders. I am someone who feels they need to do everything themselves, whether it’s for business or at home. What got me started was one particular project I had and just couldn’t find the time to complete. I had the bulk of it put together, but no time to implement it. I took my own advice and handed the entire project to a VA. Her help has been invaluable to me. That project has led to other tasks that I’m handing over, knowing we can keep moving our company forward with her by my side.
I never thought I’d become such a “business nerd”. I am always reading and researching everything I can find on business. I laugh at myself on how many articles I find on different topics, and my first reaction is “that’s something a Virtual Assistant can do for someone”. It’s exciting and such a tremendous learning experience.
My partner and I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out the best way to structure Elite and create a sustainable company. There’s a learning curve with everything in life, and we’ve had some bumps along the way. But we’ve found a solid foundation that we’re working on, and constantly working to improve. If I’ve learned anything so far, it’s to always be in student mode. If you’re not learning, you’re losing. You know the old saying, “you gotta work in the trenches…” Well we have, which I think is what has helped us develop our company to where we are now. Having been Virtual Assistants ourselves for so many years has helped us to understand what drives and motivates our team.
For our Virtual Assistants we strive to:
- Have a caring, understanding and sustainable company to work for.
- Offer good rates to keep our VA’s happy and turnover low.
- Positions that challenge them and keep their skills sharp.
For our clients, we strive to:
- Have a dedicated assistant who isn’t looking for a higher paying job.
- Have an assistant who is experienced not only with certain skill sets, but also with working remotely. It may not seem like it, but it’s not easy having a flexible work schedule. It takes discipline, and a lot of it.
- Be happy. You can’t put a price tag on a happy client.
When I first started this company I never thought about it being my passion. I was initially thinking about how I wanted to help not only other women, but also clients in need of assistance. Then I discovered what a great sense of satisfaction it’s been to create these scenarios for both sides, and that has become my driving force.
If you’re someone struggling with wanting to start a company or a business and you aren’t sure where to begin…think about what you’re good at, and what you enjoy doing. Now figure out how that can help others. This will help give you a great foundation to get started. If you’re struggling with too much work or need that driving force to keep you motivated, it might be time for you to hire a Virtual Assistant.