A Day in the Life of a 5k Virtual Assistant
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One of the questions I am most frequently asked is, “How do I scale my Virtual Assistant business to 5k months and beyond?”
Recently, a post in the Virtual Assistant Savvies Facebook group sparked even more questions about this topic. We had several comments and responses from Virtual Assistants currently making at least 5k per month in their Virtual Assistant business.
I love these types of questions and responses found in our community. I especially love finding successful VA’s who are willing to share their knowledge and expertise with the rest of the group.
(I’m all about some community over competition here!)
To help shed some light on this question for all to see, I interviewed three different rockstar Virtual Assistants who are selling out their services and making 5k per month or more in their VA business.
The interview was seriously ah. maz. ing.
They have varied experience, wisdom, insight, and tips to share in regard to how they started and scaled their business to a full-time income. I am sharing their knowledge with you to show that it IS possible to make legitimate money working from home as a Virtual Assistant!
You can watch the full 1 hour interview here:
Let’s meet our successful Virtual Assistants, and find out why and how they started their businesses!
LaTonja King, a.k.a. L.K. (lkexecs.com), started her own Virtual Assistant/Online Business Manager business about three years ago. She was pregnant with her first son when she decided to figure out how to work from home as a Virtual Assistant. She didn’t want to go back to the corporate lifestyle; she wanted to be home with her baby and raise him herself. L.K. found out about Virtual Assistant work through The Virtual Savvy. Like many of us, having more time with her son was her goal and catalyst for starting her business. She up and quit her corporate job to start her own business, and never looked back.
Lynn Jeffries (theelitepersonalassistant.com) started her career as an Executive/Personal Assistant. She was an EA/PA employee for 15 years. She was eventually made redundant at her corporate job and was offered two options: a different position in the same company or a compensation package to leave the company. She took the compensation package. She took a year off from working altogether. During that time, she was introduced to The Virtual Savvy and found out how to make Virtual Assistance a lifestyle. She lives in Canada, so her goal and motivation for starting her business was to spend three months of the year somewhere sunny.
Nicole Hayner (mountain46.com) worked for a large corporate company for 10+ years. She found it incredibly difficult to climb the corporate ladder. When she did succeed, her achievements were not properly credited to her. She found Virtual Assistance through Jenna Kutcher’s Goaldigger podcast. Nicole has a photography business on the side, so she already knew she could run a business from home. Her corporate job was mostly remote anyway, so becoming a Virtual Assistant was a natural fit for her. She wanted control over her own success and her own future.
Here are a few of the questions we covered during the interview:
Are you a generalist or a specialist Virtual Assistant?
Side note: A generalist Virtual Assistant is one that performs a variety of administrative tasks, similar to an administrative assistant. A generalist does not have a specific service they offer but is a Jack of All Trades. A specialist Virtual Assistant is one that has niched down from general services to only offer a specific service.
L.K. is a specialist. She transitioned from Virtual Assistance to Online Business Management (OBM). L.K. now works with both of the companies she used to do Business Management for (just not online), so her advice is: “Don’t burn your bridges when leaving your 9-5!” Besides corporate, she also works with online entrepreneurs. She works with the corporate-level teams in addition to her own business team. L.K. works a 4-day work week at 20 hours/week and she has a team she built that helps her along the way. She sets her routine up based on the workload for the week (e.g. if one of her clients is in launch).
L.K. wasn’t picky about clients when she first started out, but now she is. She has a preliminary questionnaire she sends to potential clients since now she knows her learning style and how she works with other people. She precautions other VA’s that you still won’t know if a client is a good fit until you start working together, but at least a questionnaire helps initially weed out the ones that are really wrong for your business.
Lynn is a generalist (not a specialist). As a Virtual Assistant, it’s important to Lynn that she is adding value to her client and that their communication styles are in sync. Lynn doesn’t have a team, but she does subcontract some work out. Lynn’s entire strategy is to give more than she takes. You don’t necessarily have to find “all the clients” – once you get out there and start working with people, you start getting referrals. As soon as you get the hang of marketing, it actually gets easier because you have referrals coming in.
Nicole is mostly a generalist Virtual Assistant and gets a lot of her clients through referrals. But with every single lead that comes through, she does a discovery call and she finds out about what their business needs. She then creates a plan to find out if the client’s business fits with her business. She is selective about who she adds to her client roster because she wants the client to fit her personality and work style. Her advice is to be picky from the beginning.
Side note: I love this so much. There’s not one way to grow a VA business. You’re building this business around YOU – the way you like to work, the people you like to work with, etc. There’s not even one way to start. You can be picky or not picky. You can generalize or specialize.
For what it’s worth, I do think it’s a good idea to be more generalized as a VA in the beginning. A niche means you are the go-to person for that thing (e.g., Pinterest Management for Photographers). It depends on your own situation. Do you need clients now or not? Do you have time now or not? Do you have availability to network or not?
L.K.’s advice to new VA’s:
A VA business is possible, but take it easy on yourself.
It’s hard to understand in the beginning-
Is this for me? Should I offer general services or specialize?
How do you structure your hours and/or packages?
L.K. hates hourly tracking. She started out in her business offering hours, but she learned she does not like recording her hours and sending in her time sheets. Today, L.K. does packages. She has set packages for smaller entrepreneurs, and customized packages for larger corporate clients. Her packages include her responsibilities and are driven by value. Contract terms can vary. L.K. offers 3, 6, 9, and 12-month contracts. Three-month contracts are only for new clients. L.K. advises there is no right or wrong way to set up your packages/contracts. Just make sure they fit with your working style, personality, and hours.
Lynn decided to set her rates as hourly packages. She has a trial/discount package on her website for a one-month term to see if she gels with a new client. She has a social media package for a set rate, and then she custom quotes per client for higher hourly packages.
Nicole offers hourly packages. She has packages at 10, 20, 30, and 40 hours per month. 7 of her 8 clients are hourly; one graphic design client has a package that is per project. Her hours don’t roll over to the next month. If clients exceed their hour limit, they pay $50/hour as opposed to the discounted package hours ($40/hour).
Nicole’s advice to new VA’s:
Getting in and starting with clients for a small amount of hours isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You can grow as a VA with your client as they grow in their business. A client that Nicole started with went from 10 hours/month in the beginning, to 30 hours/month, and now is at 80 hours/month.
How do you face objections? How do you convince clients that are new to the idea of a VA to hire you – especially for brick/mortar businesses such as corporate, dentist, lawyer, etc.?
L.K. says she sees the role of a VA/OBM as educating your client all the time. It’s a constant growth experience. Every time L.K. walks into a live networking event, she educates everyone she meets about her business, what she does, and how her business will save her clients money long-term.
Lynn – Lynn only wants to work with clients in her own city (Toronto). Her VA/client relationship is built on trust. Although Lynn works virtually, she might make herself available to go into the client’s office about once a month. She connects with others and attends events in her city. She feels she adds extra value to her clients by being local. Building a relationship with her clients is a vitally important part of her business. She gives clients peace of mind – they know they can come knock on her front door if they wanted to.
Side note: Many people say “The Riches are in the Niches.” I agree there’s something to be said for having a niche, especially when it comes to the online world (and even more specifically, course creation). For the online world, it is so important to be super specific about who you help and to have a really specific audience. Even though she is a generalist, Lynn is the go-to person for her city. “I am the VA for Toronto.” She has created a niche for herself in this way. There’s not one wrong way to do it – stick with it long enough to see it through. If something marketing-wise isn’t working for you, tweak it and keep moving forward.
How do you market your 5k+ Virtual Assistant business?
L.K.’s first client came from a Facebook group, and the client was a fellow veteran. L.K.’s marketing has changed to match her business, but word of mouth is her number one way to get clients. Her corporate-level clients are constantly sending people over to L.K. L.K. goes to local job fairs and networking events. She advocates that you just have to put yourself out there. People will see your confidence and want to work with you. Keep getting visibility. Keep learning and growing. Always continue to educate yourself. If you need a business coach or you need to take a course to scale your business, do it!
Lynn first started marketing her business with ads on Kijiji and Craigslist. Most clients came from ads Lynn had placed on those sites advertising her services and from her website. She hasn’t updated her website since she launched because she’s been so busy with client work. Lynn got about four clients from her Craigslist ad. She also went to networking events and listened to other people.
Lynn went to local businesses (nail salons, mom-and-pop shops) and said she looked at their website and/or social media, and here were a list of suggestions for free that they could/should fix, regardless of whether they hired her or not. She gave incredible value for free upfront, and most clients either hired her or referred her. She started her business by building a website, networking locally, showing up, and really listening to people. She kept discerning:
- What is this person’s pain point?
- What are possible solutions to their problem?
- How can I help bridge the two?
Nicole’s current marketing is dramatically different than how she marketed in the beginning. Through talking to people and reaching out to people in her immediate circle, she gained feedback from local business owners and family/friends on what they would need from a Virtual Assistant, which also gave her the opportunity to let them know what she was doing.
Nicole now works with a lot of startups in California and gets her clients through referrals from similar companies. She thinks VA’s should not be afraid of referrals for fear of pricing differences. Clients generally don’t tell referrals what they pay, especially if they truly know and love the value you bring to the table (a.k.a. they know you’re worth your rate).
Also, don’t be afraid of hearing the answer “no” after a discovery call with a client. It may take you 10 “no”s before you get a “YES!” That’s okay! Get your 10 “no”s, then get your YES! Having pricing clearly stated on your site will help to weed out clients that aren’t a good fit.
Lynn’s Advice to New VA’s:
Take note of what other business owners are saying.
Everyone is in sales mode at the meeting, but nobody is in listening mode.
Any other advice for Virtual Assistants?
When L.K. looks back at her VA journey, she definitely recommends having a plan for transitioning full-time to your VA business from your corporate job. Either way, she doesn’t want anyone to let fear hold them back.
Lynn advises that becoming a VA and getting clients is just a matter of listening and being able to solve a problem.
Nicole wants you to know that higher rates generally indicate a higher quality Virtual Assistant and a higher commitment to the quality of work. You will start attracting clients that are willing to pay more, and the clients are usually more established businesses who know what they want from a VA.
READY TO START YOUR OWN VIRTUAL ASSISTANT BUSINESS? DOWNLOAD OUR FREE VIRTUAL ASSISTANT CHECKLIST AND STARTER KIT HERE. YOU’LL LOVE IT!
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