Nancy A. Brown shares her Virtual Assistant tips to success – how she transitioned from working as a solo VA to managing her own successful Virtual Assistant business.
Nancy is the CEO of Virtual Gal Friday. She has 23+ years experience working in office management and administrative assistance. Her company offers virtual assistant services and virtual management solutions all over the globe since 1998.
In this interview I’ve asked Nancy the following 5 questions:
- How and When did you get started working as a Virtual Assistant?
- At what point in your Virtual Assistant career did you decide to grow a team?
- What do you look for in a Virtual Assistant team member?
- What are the challenges and benefits of running a Virtual Assistant business?
- What is your normal work day like?
How and When did you get started working as a Virtual Assistant?
I started working as a Virtual Assistant in 1998, part time. I went full time in 2002.
I decided to start my business in 1998 because I really wanted to be at home with my family. We live in a small town and every job I had prior required me to commute.
The idea actually came to me earlier than 1998, it was 1996 when I had the first ‘concept’ in my mind that I wanted to start my own at home ‘secretarial’ service. I didn’t hear the ‘term’ virtual assistant until later – while doing research on AOL – I found an article written by Diana Ennen on BizyMom’s .com. What is so cool about that is Diana ended up being a mentor and friend to me through the years.
Virtual Gal Friday was born the moment I read Diana’s article and I knew that was just ‘me’. I was a Virtual Assistant!
I had been working nights and weekends to connect with others in this new industry, and to find clients. I had few projects here and there but I knew the only way to make something of this business was to take it seriously and go full time. At the time, I had a great job working for a local natural gas plant as a secretary. I bit the bullet and left that full time job to take it full time.
For me it was a ‘now or never’ decision. I am glad I took the leap.
I won’t say it was easy, because something worth having never is.
When I look back on where I started to where Virtual Gal Friday is now, I am really proud of the company, my team, and our successes.
At what point in your Virtual Assistant career did you decide to grow a team?
I was a solo VA for many years, I started growing my team in 2008 when my company started servicing medical professionals. But, at that time only had 1 maybe 2 people. The past few years my team has grown exponentially because our client based requires it.
What do you look for in a Virtual Assistant team member?
A valuable team member will bring with them first and foremost, dependability along with the skills to do the tasks at hand are essential.
We receive over 100 applications from people wanting to join the team each month. My HR manager reviews them, and unfortunately, based on our criteria, very few make it to the interview phase. We require skills testing before even reviewing their applications. If they are interviewed, we have really honed in the right questions to ask to seek out the perfect fit for our team. This has taken quite a while to perfect, but we have finally managed it.
We look for people who are eager to work with our clients, who can work well independently but also appreciate team environment. Team VA’s really need to be able to do alot at once, and be open to accept new challenges that come their way. Again, being available and dependable is super important.
What are the challenges and benefits of running a Virtual Assistant business?
- There are new challenges every day.
- The biggest one for me at this point is putting our fires every day. I can be pulled in a million different directions – on client calls one moment, then team orientation calls the next. I have some great team managers now and they do a wonderful job assisting me with this, but sometimes there are only issues that I can handle.
- As my company continues to grow, I am now being challenged with finding a new balance in my life. I love my company, my team and my clients. My company is really a part of me. Even though I know I should ‘shut it off’ – sometimes that is difficult to do. The constant quest for work life balance is always in the forefront of my mind.
- Finding great team members – just as I mentioned above. This has been a huge challenge in the past and I think as long as the VA Industry continues to grow it will always be a big challenge for all VA companies that have teams.
- I do what I love every single day. This is no lie. I have the awesome opportunity to wake up to a business that I built from literally nothing – and work at it every single day.
- When I do want to take time away – I can. My work goes where I go. Control of my schedule is important. Even though I do work some crazy hours, I control them. It’s my choice.
- The opportunity to work with some amazing clients and team members from all over the world.
What is your normal work day like?
Normal? That’s funny.
I start my work day around 7am. The first thing I do is check my calendar for client calls. Then I check in with the team. I stay connected with the team all day . I double-check Teamwork for any messages that I might need to address. Then I move on to any calls for that day. I have learned to balance my schedule where I limit myself to only 2 – 3 calls per day. That has really eased my stress level.
At this point in my career, I have very few client projects that I work with solely on my own. The major part of my day is checking in with the team, checking in on projects and phone calls. If I am handling a client project (like a website or event) – I work on any tasks needed for that project.
My day normally ends around 7pm or 8pm at night.
If you’d like to know more about Nancy and her work, please visit her website: www.virtualgalfriday.com
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