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Introduce your Multi-VA Business!!

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Hi Everyone,

 

 

I'd love to know how many VA's are currently running a Multi-VA Business!! If you are, take a moment and introduce your company. --What are some of "highs" and "lows". Let's get the conversation rolling! :thumbup:

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I feel like I'm at an AA meeting...

 

Hi, my name is Candy and I have a multi-VA business. At the moment, I have 6 bookkeepers, 2 admin folks, and my husband (tech dude that keeps it all working), plus my webmaster lady and my promo lady.

 

Yes, I'm very tired.

 

Downside? One of my newer bookkeepers got ill and did not communicate effectively with me so I ended up spending all night finishing a project. Glad I gave a few days cushion to the client.

 

Highs? I can go somewhere, to dinner, heck, on vacation, and not worry that my clients aren't taken care of :) Most of my VAs have direct contact with the client after they've worked with me for a few months.

 

I'm still in that stage where we are making the bills and my salary, plus paying the subs on time, so it's all good... trying to find ways to have the business actually turn a decent profit though :) Not complaining - AT ALL - part of it is ironing out the kinks. I sometimes wonder if taking on an actual in-house employee would be better, but I'm committed to making the virtual thing work - I like working with my kids around and my hair up. I mean, I make a SALARY for crying out loud! LOL!

 

My biggest issue right now is turn over. My right hand lady has grown to the point that she's phasing me out. I have a new right hand that completely and totally rocks, but that turn over is hard. I'm totally proud of my subs and how they've grown their own businesses and refer them out directly from time to time as well, but man, that sucks. LOL.

 

Plus I had one that flaked late last month and decided she didn't have time afterall.

 

It's a constant battle, but I'm picky about my bookkeepers and I'd like to continue to work with traditional bookkeeping VAs and not those in the "bookkeeping" sector here locally or whatever. Maybe I need to change that school of thought though... Hmmm...

 

I do have one lady that I've been watching and actually responded to my RFP, so I have my "next one" lined up for when we go through another growth spurt :) I've learned to be prepared and people watch a bit. I've learned a LOT about other VAs by just reading their postings :)

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Guest TerryGreen

I've got a multi-VA company too (thanks to the superb coaching of Michelle :thumbup:. I work primarily with speakers and info-marketers now (slowly moving away from coaches), so I'm always on the lookout for associates that know the different types of software and programs speakers and info-marketers use. Currently, I actually have 8 associates working with me (one is in Singapore and only works with one specific client, and the other prefers to work behind the scenes). You can check the ones that are promoted on my website out at http://www.myfastype.com/fastypeteam.htm.

 

Downs ... it seems as if it's taken me forever to "let go" of stuff and delegate, but I'm getting better and better

 

Ups ... this past 6-8 weeks when I've been out of the office more than in the office due to personal illness and family illnesses. What a blessing to have a team that's working even though I'm not. Which, of course, has spurred me on to make sure I have at least one person trained to do cover for all of my clients.

 

And ... I am so very much looking forward to meeting Michelle in person at FoVA!!!!

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Thanks Terry! I'm looking forward to meetng you too!!!

 

Both of you ladies sound like you're doing wonderful with your businesses!! It seems like we've all had similar struggles -- but even with the challenges, I get a sense from both of you that you don't regret your decision in owning a Multi-VA business. Congrats!!

 

Michelle

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My multi-VA business is Mann Made Time.

 

I'm still in the process of getting everything ironed out. I have a team of twelve VAs that I turn to from time to time. I only use about five of those on a regular basis, but I have experts to turn to whenever the occasion arises.

 

I've also retained a project manager to assist with the clients that I am maintaining, as I begin the transition of having associates work directly with clients.

 

I'm extremely busy, with a growing roster of clients, and a growing family (a seven month old and a two and a half year old) but I wouldn't change a thing.

 

Thanks to Ms. Michelle's ebook, I've got my Associate Handbook ready, and new agreements drafted to send my team members. That's something I've had on my to-do list for quite some time.

 

I haven't faced too many challenges, except to echo Candy's 'decent profit' comment! On the other hand, with so much time being freed up by my VAs, I'm able to focus more on building my business and writing - my true passions.

 

I'm so looking forward to FoVA where I will get to meet Terry, Michelle, Tawnya and so many others! I'll also get to meet my project manager and another of my team members there. I am SO excited!

 

 

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Guest

I've been operating as a Multi VA business for just over 2 years now, and prior to that it was just me. I have an incredible project manager who has been working with me since we decided to attempt multi VA. I have to say that it works so much better for us. It is always a work in progress, as the business grows. With additional work sometimes comes the need for additional associates. I have to third the "decent profit" comment. I know in time it will happen. Until then, I am pleased that my bills are paid, my subs are paid and I collect my salary. All in all, can't complain

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Guest

Michelle, I just want to first say I'm so thrilled you are Modding this forum for us! :thumbup:

 

I've been outsourcing various tasks for quite a while now; I found that as my practice evolved from virtual assistance to more of a consulting model I simply had to bring other talent on board. Not just because I can't do it all with the measly 24 hours we're given in a day <wink> but because it adds so much value to what I can offer my clients. For example:

  • A second set of eyes for editing and proofreading means I don't have to stare at the same text a zillion times feeling paranoid that I've missed something glaring.
  • I learn a LOT from my subcontractors, both hard skills and soft skills - working with and entrusting others with your projects forces you to take a hard look at the way you run your business; it also exposes you to projects, software and other neato stuff you may have otherwise not had the opportunity to 'play' with.
  • While it's not my primary objective to be 'best friends' with my subs, sometimes a nice friendship or working relationship develops and that is worth a great deal to me as a woman in business - that kind of camaraderie helps get you through the tough spots.
  • I can not only take on more projects but more complex projects that require various skill sets - I've learned that I don't have to be an expert at EVERYthing I outsource; i.e. I have one contractor on my team who has allowed me to take on ecommerce development projects and taught me a TON about ecommerce websites ... it's a risk I was willing to take because I trusted this person with my business, with my clients and I knew her quality control was every bit as good as mine. (And you know who you are if you're reading this!)
  • Two heads are better than one. Having other talent onside allows you to bring new perspectives to the table for your clients. That is an incredible value-add in my profession (Internet marketing).
I could wax on and on and on ... but those are just a few of the benefits for me and my business.

 

Oh, and when I was pregnant (and CRANKY) with my son Erik, I had a HUGE project on the go. Without my team I would have been sunk!

 

The challenges? Trying out new people. But you have to start somewhere. And you can always start small and work up to bigger and bigger projects. Plus, if you decide someone isn't a good fit you can walk away without hard feelings (usually). And I always try to remain on the best of terms with someone even if he/she doesn't end up working for me again. We all have our different working styles, different strengths, etc. It's all networking and relationship building and I enjoy it.

 

Karri

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Thanks so much for sharing everyone!! What a fantastic conversation!!

 

I hope to meet some of you at FoVA and see you in my Multi-VA session. Collaboratively we'll be working on solutions to some of these challenges!

 

It sounds to me we have some pretty successful multi-VA owners!

 

 

Warmly,

Michelle

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I love reading everyone's story! As a newbie to the multi-VA realm, it is reallly helpful. Shucks, I'm a newbie to VA! I started my VA business in April 2007 and Feburary 2008 found myself growing into a multi-VA practice. I now have 3 Associates I can call on as needed. One is full time and the other part time. It's crazy, scary and exciting all at the same time!

 

Karen

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I run a multi-business as well. Providing Caregiver support for people that are disabled or elder. Being a mom with three children with special needs and having the hands-on experience working with senior citizens. I provide additional help when needed. So far I have 3 clients I work with on a regular basis and I really enjoy it knowing I'm helping others.

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Guest

I have a multi-VA business that comes and goes in waves. I have 12 different VAs working on various aspects of things for my business but most just do small projects for me here and there. A few work with me on a more regular basis.

 

Like Jaime I am still ironing out the kinks.

 

Ups - Client work is getting done even when I'm not working or additional work is being done when I'm totally booked. This makes my clients very happy.

 

Downs - I recently had a team member flake on me big time in the middle of a BIG project. That was rough because that person was hired to do something that I didn't have the skill to do. To me the scariest part about subbing out any work is subbing something that I can't do myself in case a team member flakes, has an emergency or gets sick. I normally only take on jobs that I can do myself because of that. After much scrambling and a few very supportive team members to help me out I was able to save face with the client but it has been a very frustrating few months... besides that one issue all the other VAs I have worked with have been absolutely fabulous and I love the people that work with me! Everyone on my team just happens to be a VANA member too. Like Candy said you can really get to know people by what they post. B)

 

 

 

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Guest VirtuallyReady

Trying to find the balance to do it all, I have not "officially" become a multi-VA business, but I have outsourced a few things here and there. With all of this great advice, I feel much more confident knowing that I have some guidance to help me get over that hurdle that has been holding me back from growing my business the way I really want and not have to turn anyone away from becoming a partner like I have in the past. "You can't grow if you don't let go!" :wub: Things are going well and it's most definitely about time! One good thing about turning them away in the past has really been the fact that I do try to refer them to someone here. Although I'm not a very active member on the forum, I am very aware that there are many wonderfully talented VA's on VANetworking!

 

Thanks so much, ladies!

 

You all rock!! :thumbup:

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My name is Kristi Pavlik of Adonai Business Solutions, LLC. I have been involved with some sort of VA-team atmosphere right from the start (back in 2002). When I first became a VA, I was lucky enough to get involved with the Real Estate industry and worked with on of the main speaking gurus and his team of VAs. I learned so much my head about exploded.

 

From there I took what I learned and as my business grew, I transitioned into my own Multi-VA team.

 

I have found that what works for me is to find a few core group of VAs that I can count on at any given moment. I have 2 right now that work exclusively for me and would pretty much have to fold up shop if it not for them. You see - I HATE TASKS :yuk: I have a "systems type brain". I love to get into my clients heads, develope the systems they need, document those systems and then give those documents to my team to implement. This works great with the 2 VAs I have, becuase they hate the systems side and want to do nothing but tasks - win/win situation. I also have 4 other VAs that I give tasks to on a project basis.

 

And, if I can put a plug in here for VANA Interns - if you have not tried out this program - it is a great way to test the Mulit-VA waters. Patty Dost has really created a great program here where you can commission a certain amount of hours per month and give your tasks to the interns to implement. I use them mainly for internal projects, but have been very pleased with the outcome.

 

Best part of having a team - the ability to work on my business and not in it (huge Michael Gerber fan)!

 

Least liked part - not having them physically in my office. I find it as difficult at times as my clients do to not be able to just physically walk over and hand someone something that needs to be done. But this is a very minor issue in the scope of things.

 

I am also going to FoVA and cant wait to meet you all!

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Hello,

 

I'm Sharon Williams and my company is The 24 Hour Secretary. I guess I've been very fortunate in that I've had a multi-VA business since 1991, with first my daughter helping out and then having on and offsite staff from that point on. We specialize in transcription, secretarial support, marketing and event planning/management. I too am a stickler for meeting deadlines, and if you miss too many, you are no longer a member of the team. I believe in sharing information and implementing systems, so that if I'm not around, others can run the operation.

 

Some of the "highs" of running my business are:

  • I've met and worked with many fabulous VAs, and even have a team member that has been with me since 1992, 6 others for more than 5 year, and the rest for time ranging from 2 to 3.
  • Ability to spend time with my granddaughter (who is getting ready to leave for college). :(
  • "Making a good profit!"
  • Seeing a client's face after they have concluded a very successful event.

"Lows"

  • Large projects that clients don't provide enough information about -- but want us to "work miracles"
  • Losing 3 major contracts due to during the same time fame because of their going out of business.
  • VAs not meeting deadlines -- boy, that burns my gas.

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I'm Michele Guarino and my business is called A Second Office, LLC. I've been a multi-VA business for 5 1/2 years. I have on board 5 regular part-time VAs, with another 3 VAs that I can call upon during the crunch times. We are a full-service operation. So, we can take care of incorporating your business (we have 1 paralegal on board), to assisting the business owner in day-to-day operations (4 All-Around Associates; 1 VA Bookkeeper), to selling of the business - with everything in between. I have a well-rounded group of VAs which I've been calling the "Knowledge Base." Many of my VA's would fall under the All-Around Associates, but many of them have a Specialty (e.g., paralegal, web design, graphic design, etc.).

 

When I first started hiring other VAs to work for my company, it wasn't because I was turning down clients like everyone else's story. I started expanding my business because I had other VAs coming up to me and telling me they liked my business standards and would like to work for me. So, I went out and found clients and put the VAs to work. It did eventually turn out a few years later that I had more clients that my existing VAs could handle, so I had to advertise. That's when some of the Downs come in.

 

Three years into my business I started setting up any new clients as Structure 1, where the VA has direct communication with the clients. I 100% agree with Michelle - have your systems set up so that everything goes through your company's name (email address, 800#, fax, etc.). This way there is no question that the client is the company's and not the VA's. I still have a few clients where I'm the Project Manager (Structure 2). It is only because I've been working with these particular clients for 3+ years and they still what "Michele" to be working on their tasks.

 

Ups - This year I have been able to take a month and work 'virtually' from another state. The group of VAs that I now have on board have been wonderful. There are still some kinks now and again, but I believe I have the systems, procedures, and technology in place now that it has allowed me to be away from the office for a while. And if something does come up, I stay calm and work it out and then update the systems and procedures. I can also enjoy more flexible time running a multi-VA business; I get to see my husband more (yes, that is a good thing).

 

Downs - Finding the right VA to join our team. I've had problems particularly in the last 6 months. I hired a VA who seemed perfect from her resume and her interview. All of her credentials and references checked out. Then she wound up being a total flake; she did not come anywhere close to the quality standards that I demand (and, in fact, ignored the procedures); and I had to fire her when I was on vacation in another state. I almost lost a client, but did not. The client had been working with me for two years and she knew the standards that I demand, so she gave me a second chance. :thumbup:

 

All-in-all I truly LOVE what I do, otherwise I wouldn't be in the business. I've had 25 years previous experience in management positions working with top executives, so I may not have had as many problems in the beginning in setting up systems and procedures as most VAs starting out now. It can be difficult turning into the boss. Isn't that why many of you left the corporate world; because you couldn't stand your boss?

 

 

 

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