This is a Virtual Assistant case study and interview with Geniece Brown. Geniece set up her business in 2012 and officially launched her company Brown Virtual Assisting LLC in early 2014. She was born in Texas, raised in Mississippi and currently lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and two children. This is her Virtual Assistant story.
What did you do for a living before you became a VA?
I studied business administration in college and secured a corporate position after graduation with a railroad company where I worked for six years in finance and the department of transportation with commercial drivers. I also served nearly seven years in the military as an Air Force reserve medic. These were both great experiences but not really what I wanted to do long term.
When did you first hear about VAs or became aware they even existed?
I first heard about VAs when I went through one of Loral Langemeier’s 100K challenge and “3 days to cash” workshop. VAs were kind of the talk of town. It was recommended that business owners need support and how valuable a VA can be in helping business owners to be successful. I actually went through a skill set analyser to look at skills that I already possessed that I could use to launch my own business.
Helping others is what I love most. The technical and administrative skills were the bonuses that I could offer my clients!
What was the trigger for you becoming a VA?
The trigger was the opportunity to work from home so that I could be closer to my family. I also like the idea of designing my life the way I want and the flexibility that just doesn’t come with having a job.
Did you just leave your job or start VA-ing gradually?
I started my VA business gradually to make sure there was actually a market that I could serve. I joined my local Chamber of Commerce and a few other business groups to network, and I started taking on clients while still working a full time job. When I got my very first client, that’s when it all became real because if you can get one then you can get more.
Where did you find the help or advice you needed when setting up?
I invested a ton in the beginning in just learning how to set up a business and how to develop an entrepreneurial mind-set. Some of the coaching programs and training that I used in the beginning and currently use:
- A year-long coaching program through Loral Langemeier’s Live Out Loud company and still have a current membership with them
- Specifically for my VA business: coaching with Donna Toothaker’s private coaching and VA Biz Success Academy
- Reese Ben-Yaacov’s private coaching plus her Zip Line Program which is now equivalent to her Virtual Assistant Bootcamp
- For sales training, I invested in Eric Lofholm’s Silver Protégé Academy
- I also did a ton of self-study and research on my own
Who was your first client?
My first client was a personal trainer in Houston, Texas. He was actually a referral from a friend that I met at a workshop in Dallas.
Do you have a niche?
My speciality is email newsletter support and writing. My ideal clients are personal trainers, gym owners, sports enthusiasts and health and wellness coaches.
How would you say you were different from other VAs
In the beginning, I was open to providing whatever general administrative tasks were thrown my way. Nowadays, my main focus is email newsletters and I work in packages not by the hour.
What’s the best thing about being a VA?
The best thing is being able to work where I want and work with people all around the world. Being a VA has also allowed me more opportunities to travel for business events out of town which I love!
What’s the hardest thing about being a VA?
Staying focused on the best use of time can be tricky. I believe that it takes a daily effort in marketing your own business unlike going to a job where you just show up, do the work and get a pay check. But I’m responsible for consistently getting the word out. It’s also sometimes tough drawing the line on when to turn off work.
How virtual are you?
I’m 100% virtual and only work from home.
How do you find your clients?
I primarily find clients through LinkedIn, referrals and will reach out to prospective clients personally if I’ve started building a relationship with them and feel it’s appropriate to take the next step.
How do you manage your personal/work life balance?
I get up super early in the morning, typically 4am so that allows me to do things in peace before my kids get up!
How do you manage your clients and their expectations?
When I bring on a new client, I send them a welcome letter, a contract that they have to sign before work starts and a list of client policies. I do my best in the beginning to let them know what to expect from our work relationship. I also communicate with them via email once a week just to keep them in the loop.
What technology, websites, or apps are invaluable to your working life?
My main tools are Mailchimp, LinkedIn, WordPress.org, Godaddy, Hostgator, and Contractually. Two new found loves are Asana for project management and Google Drive for documents and spreadsheets.
Would you do anything differently if you had to start again?
I did everything that I could in the beginning to learn and cover all my bases. There’s no better learning than diving in and going for it. Though I had some tough struggles for longer than I liked in the beginning, I believe everything happens for a reason. So, I am glad for the experience and it’s helped me to become better at what I do, a better entrepreneur.
What advice would you give to anyone considering becoming a VA?
Invest in your education from someone who is where you strive to go. Find out exactly what they are doing to be successful and then take steps to start your own business.
Geniece actually wrote a blog post on her own website attributing my guide on how to get clients as the MAIN way she now gets hers!
Connect with Geniece Brown on Facebook.