This weeks interview is with Patricia Eales, a certified Social Media Marketing Specialist and owner of Your Extra Pair of Hands.
As I’ve stated before, I hope this series of interviews with virtual assistants will help others overcome that “going it alone” feeling and make them realize we’ve all dealt with the same difficulties, doubts and challenges along the way. There will be one more interview in this series and then I’m going to share my own answers to the interview questions with all of you.
Time to say hello to Patricia:
HOW: Patricia, How long have you been a virtual assistant?
Patricia: Officially, I have been a VA for 6 months, however, in past positions as a Corporate Executive Assistant, I did work remotely for various executives.
HOW: And what first drew you to become a VA?
Patricia: I am a born entrepreneur, and saw the opportunity to combine my 20 + years of skills and experience as an Executive Assistant, with the flexibility of owning my own business. I have not regretted making that decision.
HOW : Wow, over twenty years is a lot of experience to bring to any clients. What did you find to be the biggest challenge when starting your virtual assistant business?
Patricia: The first challenge I encountered was in seeking the best way to find clients, in as cost effective and time efficient way as possible.
HOW : How long did it take you to sign your first client?
Patricia: I was only in business for 2 weeks when I signed my first client, with 2 more signing with me very quickly after that. It was very exciting.
HOW : Signing clients never gets old does it? You seemed to know just what to do to get clients quickly. What did you find was the most effective way to market your virtual assistant business?
Patricia: Networking has been the best resource for me. I belong to BNI, and other networking groups, as well as online social networking forums and groups. Building personal relationships, and demonstrating the value of your services is key.
HOW : And what do you feel is your biggest challenge in marketing your business?
Patrica: I feel that the biggest challenge in marketing my business would have to be in doing it in the most cost effective way without appearing cheap. The adage “you have to spend money to make money” is true, but finding the right balance is crucial and requires constant tweaking.
HOW : What do you find to be your biggest client related challenge?
Patricia: What I find to be the biggest client related challenge is working with clients who have never worked with a VA before and to help them understand the meaning of virtual assistant as opposed to administrative assistant. I have clients who still feel that they need to personally hand me projects, as opposed to virtually giving me the projects. Of all of the clients I had who had this challenge, I am now down to just one client who still needs her “hand held”, and we are working on that.
HOW : What type of changes, if any, have you made to your business since start-up?
Patricia: When I first started, I was willing to “do anything” to get the signed contract. I have realized now that cutting my costs to get the client, devalues myself and the value of my business. I am worth the rate I charge, and if the potential client doesn’t understand the value I bring to them, they are not the “ideal” client for me. The ones that I “discounted” my services to, have often been my most difficult clients.
The other change I have made is by taking a course to be a certified Social Media Marketing Specialist. I wanted to have as much information as possible to be able to assist my clients who are requesting these services.
HOW : What is the one thing you wish you knew before you started your business?
Patricia: Knowing what “niche” I was going to focus on would have been valuable so as to define how to approach the “ideal” client and offer my services, but I found that I opened myself to all possibilities and in just 6 months have discovered what my niche offerings are.
HOW : What do you envision your business being like in 5 years?
Patricia: In 5 years, I would like my business to be running at about 30 billable hours per week for me personally with more business that I can sub-contract out, or possibly be able to have a Multi-VA service.
Patricia, thank you for sharing with us and being a part of our interview series here at Home Office Warrior. It’s so wonderful to see the willingness to share experiences here in the virtual assistant industry.
I’m sure that Patricia’s answers, as well as our other interviewed VA’s, will prove to be helpful to many others. For those of you that want to learn more about Patricia and her business, be sure to head over to Your Extra Pair of Hands . You can also find Patricia on Twitter.
Look for another virtual assistant interview next week!