Meet Lisa McDonnell, Virtual Assistant and VA Business & Lifestyle Coach from Russell, Ontario, Canada. She started working as a virtual assistant to work from home together with her kids.
Read her story below on how she started working online until she became a Coach for aspiring Virtual Assistant business owners.
1. Who is Lisa?
Lisa McDonell is a Virtual Assistant and VA Business & Lifestyle Coach who inspires and empowers other women to launch and grow their own businesses online. Sharing her wise and witty advice, she shows new and aspiring V.A.’s how to take their ‘big dreams’ and transform them into profitable companies while living large and creating a happy and supportive lifestyle. Lisa is a happy wife, Mom to a trio of little girls and a self-proclaimed ‘Brainy Gal’.
2. How did you start working from home?
While I was on Maternity Leave with my 3rd baby…I started doing some work from home for a couple of family friends who had their own businesses. When those opportunities dried up I started to wonder if there weren’t ‘other’ online companies who could use my help…and the idea struck me that maybe I could turn this into a full-time business. I had never heard of a ‘Virtual Assistant’ before. I began to do some research into it and was thrilled to find out about the industry! Since that day it has been my passion, and I’ve never looked back. Today I run a full practice – working with my own clients and coaching others on how to have Virtual Assistant businesses as well.
3. What is your turning point on deciding to become a Virtual Assistant?
The biggest factor in becoming a Virtual Assistant for me was being able to be at home for my 3 kids. I didn’t know anything about having a business when I started…but I knew I would make it work so that I could still be home with my family. I love that I can be home to get them ready for school, pick them up after and be able to write my own schedule around theirs. It’s a huge bonus that I can earn a handsome living and help so many people make their own businesses successful too!
4. What are the advantages for you working as a Virtual Assistant?
I love the fact that I can set my own hours and work with amazing clients from all over the world. I have worked with women in 5 different continents and I continue to set my own hours around what works best for our family. That would be impossible if I still had to commute back and forth to an ‘office job’.
5. Do you have any negative thing/s to say about being a Virtual Assistant?
I think Virtual Assistants should be cautious about setting proper rates and boundaries at the beginning of their businesses. If you aren’t getting paid a fair amount for your services…or if you are letting clients walk all over you with unreasonable deadlines or after-hours requests, then you quickly become resentful. Being a Virtual Assistant is the best career in the world if you are able to charge a fair price and set clear expectations with your clients right from the start.
6. What’s the most difficult situation that you have experienced in working as a Virtual Assistant? How did you handle it?
Probably the most difficult situation I’ve experienced was not getting payment for services rendered. Twice. After that, I changed my invoicing policies so that clients were billed up front for retainer packages and larger projects required 50% payment up front and 50% at project completion. Difficult situations will arise in EVERY career. You learn what to expect and the best way to handle those situations from experience or from working with business coaches who have been in those situations before you.
7. What’s the best thing that ever happened in your Virtual Assistant career?
Probably getting asked to speak to groups of Virtual Assistants Virtually. I love talking to people about how to start and run successful Virtual Businesses…it’s a lot of fun and you get to meet some pretty interesting people from around the globe. I have had the privilege of speaking to groups who were so far from me that they were already a day ahead of me in their time zone! How cool is that?
8. How do you see yourself 5 or 10 years from now?
I have recently shifted the focus of my business away from doing client work and more towards training and mentoring other women how to have a successful Virtual Business. That’s the best part for me – sharing my knowledge to empower other women to become self-sufficient. Nothing feels better than knowing you’ve helped someone who was struggling become inspired and excited about their future as a Virtual Assistant!
9. Where do you usually get clients?
While about 80-90% of my clients come from referrals, I have also had a lot of success from online Marketing. I’ve acquired clients through my social media sites, email marketing and I have found public speaking to be a great Marketing tool for finding clients as well. Clients tend to show up out of the most surprising places sometimes…so always be prepared.
10. What advice can you give for other aspiring VA’s?
Get training! There are thousands of people out there who are calling themselves ‘Virtual Assistants’ with zero skills or experience to back it up. You MUST invest in yourself and your business to be successful. Get trained in a highly sought-after skill and you can practically guarantee you will be a very busy VA.
Lisa offer private Coaching Sessions and also Group Programs for Virtual Assistants on her website: http://www.thebrainygal.com.
“Working with others to launch or grow their own VA businesses is the thing I love to do more than anything else.” – Lisa