This month the spotlight is on Candace A. Chira, Owner of The VA Bug, a full-service virtual assistant firm specializing in marketing and social media. She’s a TON of fun to talk to and incredible sweet! And if you’re looking for a VA, she’s your gal! We were glad for the chance to talk with Candace about some of the challenges and perks of being a small business owner.
Tell us about why you started your business.
After years of experience as an administrative assistant, I stepped away from the work place when I had my children. When they got older and I was ready to re-enter the workforce, people couldn’t get over the “gap” in my resume. I was surprised at how challenging it was to pursue opportunities, despite the fact that I had a strong skillset.
Once I discovered all of the possibilities that came with the advent of social media and internet marketing, I knew that I could make a valuable contribution to the online entrepreneurs I was meeting.
And, to be perfectly honest, at that point I also knew that I really didn’t care for the idea of being stuck in an office all day long, putting up with a long commute, and having to deal with a boss looking over my shoulder. Thinking about all of that, it was a no brainer: deciding to start a business as a virtual assistant was a great fit for me. Not only do I love the work that I do, but I’ve been able to start earning money right away and I didn’t have to make a big investment to get my business off the ground. And I had the skills already, so there wasn’t a big learning curve at all.
What has been the most challenging part of being a business owner?
Without a doubt I’d say the rates that people are willing to pay. There are a lot of virtual assistants that are based overseas that are willing to work for very low rates. For that reason many people that are looking for a virtual assistant, at least initially, don’t want to pay very much. They think they can get away with what a virtual assistant in a foreign country would charge.
What about the biggest mistake you’ve made?
Starting off, I had a tendency to accept any project that came my way, even if the client wasn’t willing to pay what the job was worth.
I remember I took on a project that required a considerable time investment, but the pay was absolutely minimal. Looking back, I don’t know why I even agreed to do the work, but I did. I ended up spending hours and hours completing the work. That was one job that I was delighted to finish, and one mistake I can’t see myself making again. I learned the hard way.
What is the best part of being a business owner?
There’s more than one thing I like. I love the fact that, as a virtual assistant, I can work from pretty much anywhere. If I want to spend a few days with my mother or sister, I can do that and still get my work done. There’s no punching a clock or having to be in the office everyday at a set time.
The second thing I love is the creative freedom. When I get an idea that I want to test out, there’s no one telling me that I can’t do it. For example, I’m putting together a series of business workshops at my local library and through Google Hangouts. I never would have thought of doing that if I was still working in corporate America. And, in the area of the city I live in, there’s no one offering what I am offering. The competition is ZILCH. But business owners in my neighborhood will get tremendous value from my services.
To sweeten the deal even more – I can find most of my clients or prospects within a 5 to 10 minute walk from my house! Having them so close by makes it a lot easier to build the trust that is vital to establishing strong business relationships.
Tell us one thing you wish someone had told you before you started your business.
I can be a bit of a perfectionist. For a long time, when I started this business, I was terrified. What if someone asked me to do something that I didn’t know how to do? I thought if I ever told a client “I don’t know” that my reputation would be tarnished for life. Now I know that’s just silly. If I had a great handyman who didn’t know how to install an outlet, I wouldn’t think – “OMG, he’s awful! I’ll never use him again!” I’d just call in an electrician for that particular job. The same goes with my business.
What’s your favorite tool on EnMast?
Without a doubt it would be the Project Costing Tool. I’m not crazy about entering formulas and whatnot. This tool has all of that created for me already. All I have to do is plug in the numbers and, voila! I have the cost data that I need.
What’s your favorite thing about EnMast?
If there’s one thing people will say about me, it’s that I’m very real, and down to earth. I couldn’t be stuffy or “fake” if my life depended on it. And I’m very naturally drawn to others that also have those qualities. What I like most about EnMast is exactly that – the people behind it. They are real; there’s no pretense. Having a bad month in your business? They get it. Screwed up on a sales call? They get it.
I know this because it’s all there. Read the blog posts, look around the web site, listen to Brad’s podcast. It’s all no nonsense, and based on real, true to life business experiences. That’s what people need; and it’s what I love about EnMast.
We’d like to thank Candace so much for taking time to share her story with us. You can check out Candace’s business at The VA Bug, or read her blog here. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and YouTube.
We know everyone in our EnMast Community has a story to share, and we’d love to hear yours! Email Devan.