Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

The Inspired Entrepreneur’s Guide Podcast Digs Deep Into a Discussion on Mentoring

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Ruth Martin of MaplewoodVA.com was honored to be asked back as a guest on The Inspired Entrepreneur’s Guide podcast with host Darlene Victoria. This time Darlene wanted to dig deep into mentoring and mentoring specifically geared towards virtual assistants and entrepreneurs that are working solo.

Darlene serves up a double dose of insights and information when she approaches this topic from two perspectives: 1) interviewing Doreen Astra of Astra Virtual Assistance who is a protege that Darlene, herself, has been mentoring, and 2) interviewing Ruth Martin of Maplewood Virtual Assistance who has served as a mentor for many, many years as well as volunteers in the Mentorship Program for a leading virtual assistant industry organization. Hearing from both sides of the mentoring topic brings added knowledge and depth to this episode as well as gives guidance for anyone seeking their own mentor or anyone interested in becoming a mentor.

Listen to Episode 20, All About Mentorship – Working with One or Becoming One here:
http://www.dvpodcasts.com/inspired/2016/8/12/episode-20-all-about-mentorship-working-with-a-mentor-or-becoming-one

Listen to the earlier interview with Ruth Martin, Episode 7, Inspired Interview with Ruth Martin
http://www.dvpodcasts.com/inspired/2015/8/21/episode-7-inspired-interview-with-ruth-martin

Meet Ros Adcock of Ros Adcock VA

Ros-AdcockWebsite URL: http://www.rosadcock.com

# of Years in Business: 10 (since 2005)

Type of Business/Niche Specialty: Virtual Assistant – Specializing in Coach Marketing

Works 100% virtual

Facebook Page

LinkedIn

Twitter ID @ ros_adcock

Ruth: Today our virtual professional highlight is focused on Ros Adcock of Ros Adcock VA. Welcome to The Naked VA blog. Introduce us to your Texas-based business and what you do.

Ros: I work with action-oriented coaches assisting them with product development and launches, social media management, CRM management, and more. More recently I’ve been working on creating eCourses for aspiring virtual assistants designed to help them escape from their cubicles and transition to working from home.

Ruth: You’ve always been one to keep active in your business and on behalf of your clients. It sounds like that is still very much part of your practice. Share with the readers how you got your start in this type of career.

Ros: When I started my VA business in 2006 I did it out of desperation. I was a newly-arrived immigrant bride with heaps of corporate admin experience back in my native country of South Africa but no way to translate that experience into a job in the United States. I had a strange accent. I dressed funny. I couldn’t drive on the left side of the road. While I had a nice looking resume employers were loathe to try and contact my past employers for references. Couple all of this with the fact that I was living with my rarely employed (now ex-) husband in Buffalo, NY – an area not exactly known for it’s booming economy – at the time, and you will understand why I had to take matters into my own hands and get this “VA thing” up and running – fast! The trouble was that I had very little money to dedicate to this project. I had to figure out how to do this quickly but with as little outlay as possible. In those first few weeks I worked around the clock researching and figuring things out. I spent hours and hours on VANetworking forum and reading other VA websites.

Once I had the basics set up I did a few crazy things to land my first client. Hint: It involved sending 100+ personalized emails. But that one first client referred and referred and referred to the point where I had to hire sub-contractors to keep up with the work load. I share some of my secrets to finding clients in my free e-course at www.onlinevatraining.com.

Ruth: Wow. You really dug deep and made things happen. That speaks strongly to who you are and that you won’t let anything stop you from solving problems whether in your business or when working with your clients. I agree with you 100% that being an entrepreneur takes personal drive, determination, and a healthy amount of grit. I’m so glad you stuck it out and we became friends on VAnetworking.  Being one of those virtual assistants that was hired by you as a subcontractor shortly after all of those referrals came rolling in I can attest to how dedicated you are to serving your clients. Along the way have you looked to a coach, supportive peers, or who to help answer questions and guide you?

Ros: I’ve already mentioned VAnetworking which was a great place for me to get start-up info and mentorship/guidance from other aspiring VAs. The group of us who started around the same time are still in touch today – 10 years later! Community is very important when starting out and forums and social media are great places to connect with fellow new VAs.

I also briefly worked with Michelle Jamieson when my business grew into a multi-VA practice and her guidance was very helpful. I also mentored up-and-coming VAs through IVAA.org which has an excellent mentorship program.

Ruth: Yes! Those early friendships and community seeds are so valuable…and sustaining. The years fly by so quickly but when you see each other around social media (often weekly or daily) it’s easy to keep connected. Share some words of wisdom for the person wondering about a virtual career such as yours and if they have what it takes to get started.

Ros: If you aren’t willing to put in the leg work, you will not be successful. That sounds a little ominous but it’s true. I’ve seen so many people open up shop with stars in their eyes, hang out their VA shingle, and wait for business to come to them. It’s just not going to happen. You need to work and work HARD to get your first few clients. Word of mouth and referrals go a long way but you have to start somewhere. Once you have those first two clients you’re all set if you can just follow one golden rule: BE VALUABLE. Go above and beyond for your clients. Wow them with your exceptional care, attention, and investment in their business. Make suggestions. Don’t just wait for the client to suggest tasks. Tell them what you think they need. The thing to keep in mind is you don’t want clients, you want RAVING FANS! Raving fans will tell their friends and colleagues about you and raving fans build VA businesses.

Ruth: Yes! Yes! Yes! All of those little things that set someone apart from other business do make clients rave about you. If suggestions like this are examples of what’s to come in your eCourse then aspiring virtual assistants will be pleased. What advice would you give to a prospective client who is searching for a business like yours to service their company?

Ros: Investigate your VA prospects. If you’re hiring a social media VA, check their social media profiles. Are they engaged? Do they have a strong following/community? Are they sharing valuable posts? If you’re launching a product/book/course, ask for references. Check if your VA prospects have launched their own products and courses? But most of all, check references. Ask if you can speak with a couple of past/current clients and get feedback from them. I generally ask new clients if we can do a trial month first. I find that in business, just as in life, there are some folks who just don’t work well together and have different work styles. In a small “team” like the VA-client team it’s essential that communication is smooth and clear and that work styles are compatible if you’re to be successful. Don’t jump right into a retainer commitment until you’ve worked on a couple of small projects together first.

Ruth: Any last thoughts or comments you would like to share with the readers?

Ros: My 10 years as a VA have been incredibly rewarding! My business has allowed me to support my family, on my own, through financially tough times. I’ve gone from a solo VA practice, to a multi-VA practice, and back. I’ve worked some 14 hour days, some 15 minute days, and closed my business down entirely while I pursued other dreams. I’ve earned as much as $80,000 a year and I started it all with $50 and a dream! Anyone willing to put in the hard work up front can easily recreate my success for themselves and that’s why I am so excited to be passing on everything I’ve learned in the last 10 years to those itching to make the move for themselves.

I could go on and on about how becoming a virtual assistant has changed my life – I tell everyone who will listen how much I love what I do. People are always asking me how I got started and where they should begin. I’ve spent countless hours on Facebook and in email writing out tips, tricks and startup advice for family and friends (and family and friends of my family and friends) – too many to count. I thought I could help MORE people escape their work cubicles if I created something that was more automated and that’s where my Free VA Business in 7 Days eCourse was born. The course is available here: http://www.onlinevatraining.com and you’ll receive one actionable email every day for a week. At the end of the course you’ll have your business set up, legal, and ready for clients.

Saying Yes to the Interview

microphoneIf saying yes to the thought of being interviewed makes you instantly want to run the other way, you’re not alone. I turn down more invitations to interview live than interview questionnaires. But over the summer I agreed to two podcast interviews and wanted to share these with you and why I said yes. Both podcasts while similar – asked about being an entrepreneur, how I got started in business, included marketing talk, and what it’s like being in this line of work – each interviewer’s questions were unique as well as the directions the conversations twisted and turned.

The Pros of Being Interviewed

You may be wondering why you should say yes to being interviewed especially if you don’t enjoy it or think you don’t have anything worth saying. The answer is because an invitation to interview:

  • allows others to get to know you
  • allows you to express your thoughts and ideas around a particular subject
  • positions you as someone knowledgeable about a particular topic
  • spotlights and introduces you and your business to new listeners or viewers
  • can be a teaching opportunity for someone to learn something or be inspired by your words

The Cons of Being Interviewed 

  • allows others to get to know you
  • being put on the spot with a question you’re not comfortable answering
  • stammering over expressing yourself

When the butterflies in your stomach begin to dance you may feel the cons are plentiful but in most cases with a little preparation and planning the cons can be tamed.

Good interviewers will put you at ease. They also will provide a list of questions or topics several days ahead of time so you can prepare your thoughts. A good interviewer will join you in the conversation so while your responses may be lengthier their side of the conversation will build on or sustain what is being said. This allows the conversation to flow naturally and be more palpable for the listener.

Before saying yes to the interview ask what the interview will be about. Ask for a list of questions. Also ask about the length of the interview as a whole. Most interviews range between 20-30 minutes, any longer and you can lose the audience’s interest. It’s better to break the interview down into small segments. Additionally, ask for a link to listen to some of their other interviews so you can get a feel for their interviewing style.

My Recent Podcasts

Darlene Victoria invited me to guest on her show The Inspired Entrepreneur’s Guide podcast on the DV Podcasting Network. Darlene’s podcasts are based on the simple motto to stop dreaming and start doing.  The hope is to inspire want-to-be entrepreneurs to take that first step in starting their business. The show shares empowering interviews with entrepreneurs and content devoted to providing resources for starting a business to help inspire and motivate listeners.

Listen here (approx. 23 min.)

Electra Ford of Virtual Office Center invited me to be her virtual event guest. Electra specializes in online marketing plans that connect entrepreneurs, companies, and organizations with their audience to get traffic to their websites and make qualified connections.

Listen here (approx. 45 min.)

Meet John Hardy of John Hardy Business Services

john-hardy-photoWeb URL:  http://johnhardyvirtualassistant.weebly.com
Years in Business: 2.5
Type of Business: administrative support services
Works: 100% virtually
LinkedIn 
Facebook Page  
Twitter @johnriderjohn

Ruth: Welcome to The Naked VA blog John. Introduce us to your Boston-based business and what you do.

John: I am a VA and I provide Microsoft Office work, internet research, social media, and resume editing. At a future date, I will be offering blogging and newsletters.

Ruth: How did you get your start in this career choice?

John: I was hired by a company that outsources to the Real Estate industry as a VA and then proceeded to branch out.

Ruth: Describe those who have influenced you along this journey.

John:  The president of the company I worked for mentored all staff if they chose. My current client, as well as his mentors, are supportive.

Ruth: What advice would you give to someone thinking about a virtual career like yours? 

John:  You need to think about what your goals are both currently and in the future. You need to have a marketing plan in place and use it.

Ruth: Marketing is essential to business success. What suggestions do you have for those who would like to work with you? 

John: My business is unique from a lot of VA businesses in that it is male-owned and operated. I am a certified Microsoft Office Specialist so you will be getting an expert in this field. If you are doing a lot of other things that are important but taking you away from doing your core business, you are ready to invest in a virtual professional.

Ruth: Any last thoughts to share with our readers?

John:  The value of VAs can’t be over-stated. There are famous people who have invested in one.

Ruth: Good point. Virtual assistants support professionals in all walks of business. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you, John. Thanks for answering my questions.

Meet Laurie Mapp of Halo Secretarial Services

lauriemappWeb URL:  http://www.halosecretarialservices.com
Years in Business: 5.5 years
Type of Business: Paralegal work
Works: 100% virtually
LinkedIn 
Facebook Page
Twitter @halosecretarial

Ruth: Welcome to The Naked VA blog Laurie. Tell us about Halo Secretarial Services and what you do. 

Laurie: I’ve operated my virtual legal assistant / virtual paralegal practice since the fall of 2008, after having my third child. I am familiar with several practice areas, including family law, civil litigation, conveyancing, estate planning, and probate applications. I primarily work with sole practitioners, but can also assist small firms, particularly with overflow work during busy times.

Ruth: How did you get your start in this career choice?

Laurie: I wanted a more flexible and independent work situation and did a lot of research after having my third child. I believed virtual legal assistant work would be perfect for me and I strongly believed (and still believe) that it was a service that many lawyers would benefit from. I found my first client on Twitter, grew slowly and steadily, and I’ve never looked back!

Ruth: Describe those who have influenced you along this journey.

Laurie: I have found some very supportive peers along the way, in virtual assistant forums as well as getting some advice from Andrea Cannavina of LegalTypist.

Ruth: What advice would you give to someone thinking about a virtual career like yours?

Laurie: Keep your expenses as low as you can, network like crazy, and be patient! It takes time to grow a business. Also, reach out to colleagues who can support you and who can just be a friendly ear when you are finding the work at home life lonely.

Ruth: Excellent advice. There is so much truth in your words. I hope the readers thinking of this career are taking notes. I especially like “network like crazy.” What suggestions do you have for those who would like to work with you?

Laurie: Be prepared before you reach out, spend a week deciding what work you would be comfortable delegating. Be sure you trust and can communicate with your virtual assistant in ways that work for you both. Most importantly, know that this relationship is different from traditional in-house staff and that has both benefits and drawbacks, but it is often a great compromise for a lawyer who needs more help but needs to watch the bottom line. An experienced paralegal is an expensive proposition full-time, but an experienced virtual paralegal can save you time and money by working when, and only when, you really need them.

Ruth: Any last thoughts to share with our readers?

Laurie: This career path is incredibly rewarding. I can take an afternoon off and go to the beach with my boys, I never miss Christmas concerts or track meets. I can receive a call from a client and sort out a problem in 10 minutes, relieving their stress or I can tackle a 40 page arbitration decision over the course of several days. I can work with a criminal lawyer AND do some conveyancing AND help a litigation lawyer with document review. I love the variety and I love my clients.

Ruth: Laurie, thank you for sharing a glimpse into being a virtual legal assistant.

Interested in connecting with Laurie, check out her links at the top of the page.

Meet Kyle Sheldon-Chandler of KSC Virtual Assistance & Paraplanning Services

Kyle-Sheldon-ChandlerWeb URL:  http://www.virtualadminksc.com
Years in Business: 11
Type of Business: Professional Administrative Services
Works: 100% virtually
LinkedIn
Facebook Page
Twitter @KyleSC

Ruth: Welcome to The Naked VA blog, Kyle. Tell us what you and your businesses are all about.

Kyle: I started my business in 2003 when I graduated from AssistU. I work with a variety of clients, including management consultants, financial planners, lobbyists, lawyers, etc. I work from my home office and offer the following services: Scheduling, Calendar Maintenance, Powerpoint, Word Database Management, Financial Meeting Preparation and more.

Ruth: When we first began talking about having you to be my guest I was curious what a paraplanner was. It was a term I wasn’t familiar with and I thought this was similiar to a paralegal. In case we have readers, who like me, aren’t familiar I’ll share how you defined it to me, “A paraplanner works with financial planners doing their back office or preparation work for the meetings with clients.” How did you get your start in this career choice?

Kyle: I started after leaving my corporate job and reading about AssistU in the International Association of Administrative Professionals’ magazine, OfficePro. (Tip: Anyone interested in subscribing to Office Pro can find additional information here.)

Ruth: What are you thoughts about having mentors and support peers to encourage you?

Kyle: Having mentors or a supportive group is absolutely necessary. You need a group of objective colleagues to keep you motivated, help you solve problems, and provide some social interaction.

Ruth: I agree. The transition from group office settings to a solo-office in your home also removes a layer of natural interaction and the volleying of ideas, brainstorming, and team problem-solving. What advice would you give to someone thinking about a virtual career like yours?

Kyle: Don’t expect to become a millionaire or have a full-time practice overnight. This is a profession for individuals who are focused, self-directed, and don’t mind working from home. Do your research. Join forums.

Ruth: Awesome advice. Mindset is critical to a VA’s success. Someone seeking a virtual professional such as yourself, how would they go about this?

Kyle: Each administrative professional is different. We have different working styles and cannot work with everyone. Look for someone who has the right stuff to work with you – skills can be learned. The soft skills are sometimes more important. We work to the level of trust and responsibility. Micro-managers or people who must dictate each and every little task and how-to sometimes struggle working with a virtual professional. How each party handles communication and errors is crucial.

Ruth: These pointers are sure to make an impact. Any last thoughts or comments you’d like to share with our readers?

Kyle:  I really enjoy my business and supporting my clients. I love learning new technology and doing my best to make my clients look great.

Ruth: Kyle, it’s been a treat getting to know you better plus learning more about your business.

Interested in learning more? Visit Kyle’s website and take a look around.