I often get asked how I do what I do. How did I learn the skills or gain the knowledge to run an online virtual services business? People wonder if I learned the skills in college and I always give them the same answer. NO.
Despite the fact that I have a Bachelor's degree in marketing and a MBA, the education I received was not instrumental in the success of Rescue Me. Yes, it helps to have a broader knowledge of business and how businesses run. However, I owe it all to the VMF Roadmap.
This is what happened…After graduating from my MBA, I went on to work for a global PR firm. The company culture was cut throat. I lost my job due to several cuts. At the time I was upset, but in the long run I realized it wasn’t a fit for me. I was not the type of person to step on others toes to get ahead. I would have never lasted.
Thereafter, I went back to my home town and found a job. That’s all it was...a job. I took this less than ideal job (for many reasons) with the promise that I’d be promoted to another position in roughly 6 months. After 6 months, to my surprise, the position I was promised was given to an outside hire. The responsibilities I had, I hated. To this day, I will still say it was the worst job I ever had. I quit without notice. That was the only time in my life I ever did that.
Next up, I took an event planning job with a family friend. Initially, the job was awesome. I got to rub arms with celebrities, famous athletes and more. It was fun and really enjoyed it. Ultimately, I resigned because the owner and I did not see eye to eye on some things.
Prior to my resignation, I found a position at a country club. Wow. Heaven. I got golf perks and got to keep planning events. I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but people loved me. I never tried to “sell” them. I did my best to guide them in their planning process. I earned their trust and maintained a really great rapport. It was not uncommon to have repeat customers or referrals. The con to this position was that I worked my a$$ off. I put in a lot of hours. In the end, the property went bankrupt and here I was again. Jobless.
After a very humble year of job searching, I started working for a healthcare consulting firm. It was not something I was familiar with and did not have a background in the industry. However, I learned a lot. Over time, I started to notice that they weren’t very good to their employees. I was told I had to take an hour of paid time off to attend my grandmother’s funeral. However, I didn’t have any PTO at that time. So, I had to take an hour unpaid to be there with my family. No bueno. During this time, I wanted to pay off some debt and got hired part-time to deliver pizzas. That was not something I was thrilled about, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. In the end, it was a blessing. The company restructured and again my position was cut. At least I had my part-time income to fall back on for a little while.
This was the point where I had HAD IT! No longer was I going to put my heart and soul into a job only to get the shaft. I decided to do something different. But, what? I was completely clueless.Fortunately, I noticed a former coworker’s job title on LinkedIn. It was an odd title and I started asking her questions. She was a virtual assistant. After working at it for 6 months, she left her full-time job and was able to stay home with her kids. Boom. That was what I was going to do. I asked her how she got started and she recommended a book. I bought the book, but was extremely disappointed. It was very vague and didn’t really take you through the steps of how to start. Even though I was discouraged, I wasn’t about to throw in the towel just yet. I spent a little over a year researching. There had to be something else.
I can’t remember exactly how I came across Michelle Dale on Twitter. But, that ended up being the miracle solution I was looking for. At that time, she had four programs. The VA Passport, the VA Shoestring, the VA Apprentice and the VA Rockstar.
The VA Passport is like an encyclopedia of information and tutorials. Starting out, this was a must. It was a monthly membership at a reasonable cost and something I could continuously go back and reference. Plus, there was a support group of other VAs. Having this saved me hours of time. Instead of researching how-tos, I could get to work using a proven method on the quickest way to do “X”. Thank goodness. Having the support group was great too. I could ask a question and within a few hours, I would get a response from either Michelle or someone else in the group. Even cooler, Michelle offers once a month mentorship sessions to every member. Rock on!
I was so impressed, that I decided to check out the VA Shoestring. The VA Shoestring is where things really got started. The program helped me get my business started PROPERLY on a “shoestring” budget. Michelle walks you through step-by-step on exactly what you need to do to get your business going. Many of her suggested tools and solutions are free too. Being fairly “unemployed”, this was exactly what I needed to get to the next level. At the end of the program, I had my billing and accounting setup, got my operational systems in place and even made my own website. I must admit, that I had some things setup prior to this class, but they weren’t working effectively. When I started the Shoestring, I basically scrapped everything I was doing and followed Michelle’s training 100%...forgetting everything I did before.
After about 6 months and 3 new clients later, I decided I could do better. So, I took things to the next level and signed up for the VA Apprentice. This program was a lot more robust and was an exact blueprint of what Michelle does in her very successful business. This was the turning point for me. This is when everything changed. I not only got to expand my skill set, but walked away with a beautiful, professionally designed website, a new mindset and clients I WANTED to work with...not ones I HAD to work with. My income quadrupled. My husband and I bought a house and I went full-time in my business.
This was more than I could have ever dreamed of.My mindset changed even more after taking her Rockstar course. I started to realize my mind was “programmed” all wrong. It gave me the ability to recognize my fears, visualize what I really want and believe it will happen. During this program, I realized that one of my clients was not a good fit for me. They were taking a toll on me emotionally and I dreaded working with them. I was not sure what to do. This was one of my biggest clients and I actually really liked them as a person. After a mentorship session with Michelle and a leap of faith, I decided to fire the client. The next morning I was freaking out and wondered if I had made a mistake. And you wouldn’t believe it, but I got a new client THAT VERY NEXT DAY! Shut the front door!
About a year later, Michelle released a new series of programs. Ones she had never done before. But, based on my experience, I knew I needed to take them. They are the VA Administrator, the VA Marketer and the VA Creator. In each of these, she walks through EXACTLY how she services her clients in each of her service areas. After taking the VA Administrator, I serviced my admin support clients in half the time and in a much more effective way. Many of my clients had hired me for social media services. After taking the VA Marketer, my clients saw better results, Rescue Me was more productive in servicing them and I was able to better guide them and develop a customized strategy that works. I also learned how to create effective press releases, build subscriber lists and more. The VA Creator - well that is a gold mine. I know I keep saying it, but the program LITERALLY walks you through step-by-step on how to offer website design services. There was no guessing work. Michelle makes it so easy and if you’re not sure or have questions...guess what? Yep. She is right there to support you. Worth every penny!
And...just recently she offered three new courses. They are still in Beta, but rumor has it they will be released really soon. :)
These three courses saved me hundreds of hours in research and time...easily. I walked away from the VA Examiner having learned how to create digital downloads, media kits, an e-Book, preparing for the sale of a digital product and so much more. I have used the skills learned from this course more times than I can count. With the way the online world is going, these skills are so critical to have. The VA Entertainer taught me how to create a magazine, plan and create a successful podcast, how to create videos, planning and hosting a webinar and so much more. Finally, the VA Educator course taught me how to setup my very own membership site and training program. I’m still in the process of creating this myself, but am completely blow away.
Having the knowledge from these courses transformed my business from being a strategist and offering admin support to gaining a skill set that provides me the opportunity to offer premium services. I can honestly say, I would not have made it without Michelle’s guidance, training and courses. It didn't happen overnight, but I’m forever indebted to her for this gift.