Virtual Assistance with Jessica Dorniden (jessicadornieden.com)
My superpower is working with tech-challenged entrepreneurs to bring their business goals to life by delivering tech support services, so that they can launch faster and make more money.
In business since: April 2016
Top 3 VA Tips
- Communication is key – your assistant can’t read your mind and needs to know what your plans and aspirations are. Treat them as a member of your team and you will be winning.
- Your assistant is just that, an assistant. They are not your business coach, branding expert and lawyer.
- Outsourcing does not have to cost the world, BUT you do get what you pay for, so bear that in mind.
Please explain what is Virtual Assistance and how you chose this as a business?
A Virtual Assistant (VA) is someone that helps you to complete work in your business remotely, however this doesn’t really tell you anything about what a VA actually does. This is a really broad term (too broad!) and I promise you that no two VAs are exactly the same.
I didn’t just wake up one day and knew that I wanted to be a VA. It was a long and painful journey to arrive at this point. When I was 19 I moved to London from Germany to go on an adventure. I went through about 8 jobs in the first year (an achievement on it’s own – I know), but eventually settled on working in Early Education. I really enjoyed the job, but I felt frustrated by the limitations of “the workplace”. Initially I assumed this was me being a stubborn young adult, so I stopped arguing and I managed to build up quite a successful career and eventually became a manager. But, I still had this niggling feeling that something was missing. I was still feeling tired by all the rules that are not my own (and totally unnecessary) and I felt limited by having to get my ideas approved by the directors all the time. So I decided it was time to venture out on my own.
I started a business in the same sector, but it became pretty evident that it was going to take years to make this work and I didn’t really want to wait quite that long. Luckily, I had a business coach and some supportive ladies around me. Within a few days I managed to tap into my strengths. I realised that I’m really good at all of this tech stuff that is holding other people back – and suddenly I knew I could be a VA. I built my website over a weekend, let other people know what I was doing, worked for free and got some testimonials and then I was off.
What is the benefit of using a Virtual Assistance service?
That really depends on the type of Virtual Assistant you take on. I would summarise the 2 main benefits as either gaining time or gaining expertise (or both).
If you’re using an assistant that you simply hand tasks to, that you do not have time to complete you will gain extra time to spend on the things that really take your business to the next level. So while your assistant copies and pastes your notes for your next online course, you are writing the newest module or recording the course videos.Think of all the things that you have to do in your business during the day: Reading and responding to e-mails, quotes, invoices and contracts, post to social media, upload blog posts, design social media images, have client calls, complete jobs etc.
Now I encourage you to think: How many of these things really have to be done by you? You will find that with proper preparation most tasks that do not involve client-facing work can be outsourced to a VA – yes, even your emails!
You may choose to take on an assistant with an expertise that you do not have. This is generally a very wise decision. You will now get the benefit of time and expertise. Your assistant will not simply just take tasks off your hand but s/he will also do a better job than you could. This could be for example an assistant that specialises in social media and is able to grow your audience or even run ads for you. You would expect to pay more for this, but I’m promising you, with the right person this investment is totally worth it.
How do you differentiate yourself from other VA providers?
Good Question! I think VAs in general are so different. We all have different experiences and personalities, as well as different areas of interest. My team and I focus on sorting out the tech issues that can really hold your business back from growing. We normally tackle larger jobs such as Email Service Provider migrations (I specialise in ConvertKit) as well as helping online business owners to build online courses and membership sites. I generally think that my clients like to work with me and my team because of who we are, as well as what we know. We are all quite fun to work with and like to have a laugh AND get the job done at the same time. We’re all stubborn and will not let a tech issue go unresolved.
What has been your biggest challenge about running your business and what have you done to overcome it?
I had quite a few challenges, but my main challenge was my lack of time. I would wake up at 6am, work on my business for 1 hour, get showered and head to the day job, work for between 9 and 11 hours and then come home and work on my business until 10pm. I did not waste time watching movies, going out for dinner or doing anything that would be considered fun for about 6 months. The only thing I insisted on was having 8 hours of sleep every night. I realised as I got more clients I would not be able to handle it all on my own. So after only about 2 months of being in business I reached a plateau already. I had to make a decision quick and I did – I outsourced! I took on my first assistant and trained her to help me, first on my business tasks and then on client jobs and she has now become an essential part of my team. If I hadn’t made this decision, I would still be pootling along making pennies.
What advice would you give to people thinking about starting a micro/small business?
Get to know yourself. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with “me, myself and I” and you’d better know what you’re in for. Know your strengths and know your weaknesses. Cater to your strengths; make a plan on addressing your weaknesses. I for example know that I’m really good at working out people. If I have a bad gut feeling it is for a reason. I know that this is one of my strengths and on every occasion where I have ignored my gut feeling I have badly regretted it. Now I don’t. If I have a bad feeling on a discovery call, I pass on the client. No money is worth the stress.
You also need to make sure you’re looking after yourself, as you are your business. So if the day-to-day part of running a business and making you feel stressed and ill, I encourage you to evaluate why you are doing what you’re doing. This is supposed to be fun, if it’s not. Stop. And my last piece of advice is: Consider outsourcing before all the other options. If you’re short on time, ask yourself who can I outsource this too, rather than immediately opting for delaying your course launch or not getting any sleep for 2 weeks. It’s worth it.You also need to make sure you’re looking after yourself, as you are your business Click To Tweet
Learn More: jessicadornieden.com