Day in the Life of a Virtual Assistant — Tracy Bates

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Abbey Ashley

Tracy, tell us a little bit about YOU!!

 

Currently I am in Austin, Texas. I’m originally from Illinois though, so Midwest roots. I have three dogs. Also, a little fun fact… I have read 50 books so far this year! I have always been a book lover, but in the past few years have really pushed myself to read more often and keep myself off my phone in my free time. I read 220 books in 2023 and am aiming to read more non-fiction this year to keep myself learning and growing.

 

That’s AMAZING! What was your favorite book of 2023?

 

My favorite book of 2023 was “How We Show Up” by Mia Birdsong. It talks about connection and showing up both literally and figuratively for those in your life. I want to say it helped me in my business life as well, with balance, connectedness, and how I can support others.

I love that! What’s the name of your business?

 

My business is called BizStreamlined. Originally, Tracy the VA. I actually rebranded a couple years back because I’d seen so much success. So, BizStreamlined, focusing on helping people streamline their business, making things organized on their backend, and admin. I specialize in Dubsado and offer various services to help make other women’s businesses excel.

 

What did life look like for you before you started virtual assistance?

 

I was a person who had multiple jobs throughout my life. I started in retail, then I worked at an adoption agency in college. I worked at an elementary school in college, too – before and after care. I worked at a hair salon for a little bit as a receptionist. When I came to Texas, I did AmeriCorps for a year. It was essentially tutoring children kindergarten through second grade who were behind on their reading skills and I helped them catch up to their grade level. That was an awesome job. I’ve also been into volunteering my whole life. That was super awesome, and it led me to work at a food bank after that. Did that for a couple years, and then, most recently, I was at the Alamo Drafthouse. I was a runner, supervisor, manager – all of the above there. Then, Covid happened and everything shut down. I knew that that [working at Alamo Drafthouse] wasn’t something I was necessarily going to do for the rest of my life. Even though I was in my twenties when that happened, I was still just like, this isn’t something I want to do forever. And so, during that time of not having a job, I was like, what do I want to do? 

 

How did you learn about virtual assistance, specifically?

 

I had actually heard about virtual assistance a couple years before and just didn’t do the research. I was just like, oh, okay, that’s cool. It definitely seemed like things were starting to lead into more people working online and working from home and having that flexibility. It wasn’t really until after COVID that I looked back into it. Having such a variety of skills and history, I was like, what do I want to do with my life? What do I enjoy doing the most? And honestly for me, it’s helping people. Like I said, I volunteered a lot and I thought, how can I do this with my skills that I already have? Virtual Assistance was in the back of my mind like, this is super interesting. I think this is cool. Maybe something I want to do in the future? But at the time, I had my job with the Drafthouse. Then, in 2021, I actually got Covid and I was in isolation in our guest room, and I was like, what am I going to do with my life? Literally, while I had Covid, in isolation.

 

I started researching ways to work from home. Especially in that time, I was putting myself at risk going to this job that wasn’t necessarily something that was fulfilling. I just started searching and searching and I remembered virtual assistance. I started to Google search and I had found a handful of different products, online virtual assistant courses, that type of thing. That’s how I found The Virtual Savvy! Out of all the ones that I had found online, that one [The SavvySystem virtual assistant course]  was definitely the one that seemed like the most value for my money. I had seen great reviews on it, and looking at the social media and everything, I dove in pretty quickly. Sitting there while I was isolated I was like, um, I need my card! Somebody slide it under the door, I’m going to buy this right now!

 

I definitely downloaded the freebies, and I remember and being like, can I actually do this? I was  going through that list [101 Services to offer as a VA] and like I said, with my random amount of jobs that I’ve had throughout my life, just realizing so many of those skills are marketable that I was like, oh, I could literally do probably 30 of these! No problem. That was pretty exciting, too, to be like, I can literally just take being an organized person and have that be my job!

 

Say it again for the people in the back! Ok, so, before you purchased the SavvySystem, did you technically identify yourself as a VA or were you experiencing any sort of frustration or anything about being a VA that you felt you needed to get the SavvySystem?

 

Yeah, I definitely think when I heard about it in the past, I was afraid to make that initial jump. One of the biggest things that scared me and also helped lead into like the SavvySystem virtual assistant course were the legal responsibilities. I’m such a rule follower, which is funny because I’m like, let me get all the tattoos and piercings. Right? Do all that crazy stuff! But I was also like, I don’t want the government to come after me, that’s where I draw the line. My little innocent self was like, please, how do I make money without going to jail? I really just didn’t know where to start. The idea of running your own business is so exciting, but when you actually get down to it, there’s a hundred steps that I need to follow. Of course, you can take the time to do that yourself, but I very much was like, I want to get it done right NOW. I literally want somebody to just tell me, here’s A, B, and C – and once you set that up, you’re ready to start! That’s why I think the SavvySystem virtual assistant course really appealed to me, because I like to follow checklists and things like that. It was all laid out for me. It was awesome and I could do it at my own pace, too. I mean being in isolation, I got probably half of it done in those two weeks. It was also nice to know that if you wanted to do it while still having a full-time job, you could. You could work it at your own pace, in your afternoons or something like that.

 

So, how long was it before you landed your first client?

 

Funny story. My first client was actually the job I quit! I was working for a different restaurant, in 2021. I only worked there for like a couple months and it was great, but once I got into this whole VA thing, I was like, I am doing this full on. I’m a person who is like, I just have to do it. I put in my two weeks notice, but I told them all about what I was doing and what I wanted to do. I was like, I actually think that you guys could really benefit from this work! I’m quitting, but also hire me again, but as a contractor, and here’s my new rate.

 

Really, it was pretty great. I rolled them into being my first client and it was crazy because I actually started doing VA work for them during my last two weeks at the job. I was double dipping! They say to just tell people, and it was pretty instantly that I got a handful of clients.

 

 

Clearly you had this inner boldness, this inner confidence. I love it! Can you talk about the first thing that you offered to that client, and then talk about what you offer now? What is the difference?

 

Yeah! When I first started I was very into social media management and creation. That was my thing. I was like, I’m on social media, I know how to do this. I know what looks good and what doesn’t look good, I know how to make this content better. I did that, as well as some admin behind the scenes. I was also helping with some scheduling, organization, and menu development creation. I love Canva. I have the pro version, and that was really where it went wild. I was helping with marketing materials, things like that. I also helped them with their website, which I still like to do for current clients, as well. Those were my main things, along with general basic admin. If somebody was like, I need help with my calendar, I need help with my emails, or, I’m falling behind on scheduling things… I was like, I’m here for you! 

 

Then, I started offering Dubsado probably a year into my VA journey. I had started using it personally about six months in because I needed a CRM (client relationship management system). At that time I was using separate things (wave, calendly, etc) and once I realized I could be more organized and efficient by just having that all in one place, I was like, I want it to be minimalist and have one beautiful place to put it all. I had tried free trials of HoneyBook and Dubsado, and at first I was like, I hate both of these! It is such a crazy part of my Dubsado journey, because I was like, noooo, I never wanna do this! But really, what it was is that I was just so overwhelmed by what you can do with Dubsado because now that I have it and I’m amazing at it, I am like, this is the best. So, I know where people are coming from when they’re like, I want Dubsado but it’s so intense, because you have to set up essentially like fifty different things in one! For me, the work was worth it. Once I went through my own journey of saying, “Wow, I hate this. Do I love this? This is the best thing ever. I can’t imagine my business without it!” I want other people to have that journey as well. That’s why I’ve leaned into mainly doing Dubsado setups as my business right now. People can do it on their own, but it takes time. When people have clients or just their daily life things going on, the last thing they necessarily want to worry about is putting that together. They want to be able to just have dinner with their family, or go on a vacation, or read a book. They want to do and enjoy the things they actually like doing for their clients. They’re like, I just want to do this. I don’t want to have to worry about setting up all of our meetings or all the emails or sending out the invoices. So I’m like, let me take care of that for you!

 

I love, love, love that. Once created, do you give it back, and they take it and run with it? Or do you have an ongoing maintenance package?

 

I have options. Essentially, it takes about four to six to do a full Dubsado setup. We have an onboarding, mapping out process where we go through every single thing about their business. What are their procedures? When they have a client, what are they doing? They have a kickoff call? Okay, you have these emails that get sent out. I put all the information in, throughout very specific phases of setup. Workflows are kind of like the gravy, the best part, of Dubsado, and they really automate the business. But, you have to have everything input in order for them to work. Once the setup is complete, I do a walkthrough of the entire system. We will do a recorded call and go over every single step of their Dubsado. They also go through thirty days of post setup with me, and they have a whole refined aftercare. 

 

Each week for the last thirty days that they’re with me, even though I’m not necessarily hopping on meetings with them, they get emails from me that say, hey, this is week one. Go through all of your emails. Do you want to adjust anything in there? Was there something on the proposal that you might need to change? Maybe your package changed, your offer changed, or do you want to update your photos? Because, sometimes things change. That’s how businesses work, right? So I’m just saying, hey, make sure to review everything in your Dubsado, make sure it looks all good. If not, I’ll go through and fix it. I also always lead them to Dubsado basic education courses. They’re super basic, but it’s like, how do I hook up my payments? How do I hook up my calendar? How do I hook up my emails? Those aren’t things I can do for them, but I still want to lead them to that because Dubsado has an amazing support system I want to let them know is there for them. 

 

Tracy, for those who may not know, can you tell us what Dubsado is in a quick little pitch?

 

Yeah! Dubsado is a client relationship management system software. Essentially, it can do almost everything you need to do for your clients. You can do automated emails, proposals, it holds contracts, questionnaires, and lead captures. If somebody is interested in working with you, you can capture that from a form and then it leads into Dubsado. Invoices are in there as well. The only thing it can’t do is mass email, it’s not something like MailChimp or Mailer Light. You can also have your profit and loss statements in there. You can import all of your expenses and stuff so you can see all of your expenses at the end of the year, and you can categorize all of your income. You can also take in from where you got those project sources, so you can find out where people found you. Like, is it from Facebook, Instagram, was it a Google Ad? That way, you’re understanding what your work is doing. Like, am I getting most of my clients through LinkedIn? That’s awesome. Maybe I should put more time and effort into LinkedIn. It does everything in one, even calendar, too. You can make all of your scheduled appointments. It’s pretty amazing! It’s literally just putting everything in one. 

 

 

Thank you for that! Ok, back to you, Tracy. How has your why changed since you first started? What was it when you started and what is it now?

 

One of my main things was honestly wanting to work from home. Having that freedom of being my own boss, working for myself, being able to take time off when I wanted. When I had left my job, it was coming out of the service industry, and anybody who’s worked in the service industry knows – taking time off or having hours that you want to work for yourself, it just doesn’t really exist. Or, it’s incredibly hard to come by. I was definitely feeling that burnout. Now, I’d say I still love that aspect, but it’s definitely changed into like, I get to work with who I want to work with, which is amazing. I get to choose who my ideal client is. I can have a discovery call with somebody, and if they’re not my vibe, I’m like, no, I don’t wanna work with you. It’s very much the opposite of the service industry where the customer is always right, and it doesn’t mean they’re bad people, but you just don’t always want to work with everybody. Having that freedom is amazing. But then also, like I said with my Dubsado setups, it’s seeing that excitement and being with that person. It’s seeing the feeling that they have when they realize that all of a sudden, their business does work for them, and they’re literally like, “oh, I got X amount of hours back in my week”! You know, “oh, I don’t have to worry about my invoices anymore”! You can just physically see the weight lifting off of them. It is so amazing because having been in this for a couple years now, you realize how many people work for themselves or have their own businesses, and it’s amazing to see so many people doing it. I specifically enjoy working with women owned businesses –  supporting other women is just this amazing feeling and working with people whose businesses are just so freaking cool. I see them and I’m like, I wanna help you do everything. So yeah, it kind of just goes back to me helping people. It’s always been something that really makes me happy and is worthwhile to me. That’s definitely been the biggest change I’ve seen is that as I get better at my skills, I’m just like, oh, I can help even more people. How many businesses can I help succeed? 

 

We talk a lot about business, obviously, because we’re in the business of building businesses, but there’s also a personal aspect involved. Can you talk about a little bit how you’ve grown as an individual since starting your business?

 

Yeah, I would say a few things. I was definitely in the height of burnout when Covid happened. I’ve really had to learn how to go easier on myself. Having my own job and being a Virtual Assistant has allowed me to do that because I have been able to have those days where I’m like, I need rest. You know, I’m not feeling great or I’m just not in the right headspace. Being able to do that and working with clients who I really respect, they also respect that, which is amazing. Also, just realizing how many people out there have their own businesses, seeing them doing the thing, I think it’s helped me in my confidence as well. Not only just in my business, but in general to be like, yeah, sometimes you’re gonna have bad days, but literally being able to look at yourself and your business and being like, oh my gosh, I am doing this! It’s been three years, and for me, that’s insane. On my bad days, I look back and I’m like, yeah, but I’m actually doing it. I’m here. That’s been really life changing too. So yeah, I’d say like giving myself the space and time to take care of myself, but then also just realizing how much better it’s been for my overall mood and health and in general, it’s been awesome.

 

I can feel your passion! Your why transformed right into your growth because you’re waking up doing something you love to do. What does your life look like now compared to before?

 

Oh, gosh. Well, I have so much more flexibility in my schedule. I have three dogs, and in a way they are my children. I’ve had an incident where one of them got sick, and now can literally be like, I need to take the day off. I need to go to the vet, I need to do this. Or even, it’s two in the afternoon and you know what? I want to go get some ice cream and I can do that! Those are such little things, but have made such a massive difference in my life. I’d say on average, I probably work 20 hours max a week, but I’m able to do all of the work I need to do.

 

I mean, people have probably had a corporate office job, or really any job.. The full eight hours you’re there, you’re not working every single hour. There’s time you’re getting coffee, you’re talking to your coworkers, you’re doing all the things. Really when you look at each day, you’re like, how many hours of work do I actually need to do to get this work done? It’s been so eye-opening to know I can still be successful only working four or five hours a day, not always in a row either. Sometimes I have meetings that are 10:00am, 2:00pm, and 4:00pm and then in between, I really don’t have to do anything, you know? 

 

 

Soooo good! What advice would you give to people at the very onset of their business, that are ready and willing to start, but just need a little help?

 

I would say just do it! I think going back even to when I started the SavvySystem Virtual Assistant Course, but just in general, it all starts with the first step, right? As corny as that sounds, you can still do little by little while doing a full-time job. It’s ok if you’re not necessarily ready to give that up. It’s okay to start doing little things and then eventually be to that point where you can quit your day job. I think a lot of us, that’s our dream, right? And so, starting just from the smallest of things you could say, hey, I want to have my own business. And you’re like, okay, the first thing you want to do is just determine what services you wanna provide. And again, those can change because businesses are ever changing and growing. Then, maybe the next week you’re thinking, okay, what are my brand colors? The fun things. And then you’re like, how do I want to do this, and start looking into the systems that you want to use to make your business the most efficient. I think that there’s a lot of amazing resources out there. There’s plenty of free things, plenty of things you can pay for, but you know, start doing research and check out everything, look to people who you aspire to be like, or people you really enjoy. Even just following some people on social media that you enjoy and look and see what they’re doing. Get that inspiration.Every little step will get you to where you’re going. Literally, just start doing it. Don’t be afraid, just get out there!

 

I love that. We say a couple things around here. One, action over perfection. It’s one of our core values. Nothing is real till it’s live, and you can always tweak it once it’s live. Second… Go, set, ready! You’ve got that down.

 

Yes, it’s so true!

 

What is your favorite way to market your business?

 

For my marketing I now lean into LinkedIn fully. I used to utilize Instagram a lot and saw a lot of success from it, but you don’t have to be as active on LinkedIn to actually stay on top of feeds like Instagram. I can post once a week, engage for ten to fifteen minutes a day, and still see amazing growth. Everyone is on LinkedIn to connect and do work so I find it has helped my business a lot more than things like Instagram. However, I still do post on Instagram just to keep my profile alive, but it is not my main focus. I also am planning to share on YouTube more because I love posting how-tos and not gatekeeping the info I know about Dubsado.

 

 

You may only have 40 or 50, but how many clients do you need to be fully booked?

 

To be fully booked I have 3 retainer clients and need 1 full Dubsado setup a month to really be satisfied and balanced

 

Exactly! The conversion rate, the math, works out there.I don’t want anyone to scoff at a lower number because you just don’t need that high of a volume to be fully booked. I think your 50 to 60 is fantastic. 

 

So, if you could travel back in time, what is one piece of advice you would give to yourself when you started, knowing everything you know now?

 

Like you said, the action over perfection is so important. When I joined the SavvySystem virtual assistant course, that was a thing that was said all the time. And I was like, okay, okay… But literally throughout my whole life, I’ve been a perfectionist. I am a very type A person. I like things done a certain way. I think it kind of goes back to like, how do you even start letting go of that control and that fear and just diving into it. I think if I wasn’t so focused on doing some of my things perfectly, even at the start of my business, that I probably would’ve gotten further ahead sooner. I was just afraid to put myself out there. Like, what if I have a typo? Or like, what if this graphic isn’t eye-catching enough? And it was like, yeah, just do it. There’s seriously so many people out there, in the world in general, and even if there are thousands of other people who are VAs, you’re going to offer something that is eye-catching to somebody that’s best for you. 

 

As I’ve grown as a business, I have changed what I’ve offered and I’ve had clients grow with me, which is amazing because I had been afraid to be like, oh, I don’t wanna offer this anymore – I don’t wanna offer social media anymore because it just doesn’t bring joy to me. It’s not something I enjoy doing. But, so many of my clients stayed with me. They’d say, that’s fine because you do all these other things. It was great because, you know, they are my dream clients. They’re people I love working with. And so, not being afraid about not being perfect. There’s so many people out there and when you’re working with people, they’ll understand that you’re human or they should. Yeah, you had a little flaw, or like you messed up something? Just do right and fix it.

 

Tracy, where can people find you if they want to interact with you or hire you to set up their Dubsado?

 

You can interact with me on LinkedIn under Tracy Bates, through my website, bizstreamlined.com, or on Instagram!

 

Can we just summarize and say WOW. Tracy, your passion is contagious. You have such great confidence. You are an inspiration to us all to JUST DO THE THING!

 

AbbeyAshley3-21Print-5033

Meet Abbey

Abbey Ashley is the Founder of The Virtual Savvy. She helps aspiring virtual assistants launch and grow their own at-home business from scratch. She's since gone on to grow a multi-six figure business and retire her husband ALL from her at-home business. It's now her passion to help others start their own VA business so they can taste the freedom and flexibility of entrepreneurship as well.

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