VA Interview: Sharon Foster, Executive Online Solutions

Sharon is another virtual assistant in Canada that I connected with first on LinkedIn.

Sharon Foster

When did you start your business?
I actually registered my business name in December 2009. I spent the next few months working on my website, doing research via online forums, getting business cards, designing letterhead and putting client info together. During that time I was still working part-time as an Office Manager. I actually left my job and launched my business full-time in June.

Why did you choose to become a Virtual Assistant?
I chose to be a VA primarily because of the flexibility of working from home (I have two young children). I was growing very tired of having to stay at the office until 5 p.m., even though I had no work to do, when I should have been home with a sick child. This way, I can supplement my husband’s income, do what I enjoy, yet still be a mom.

What advice would you give new and aspiring VAs?
I would tell any new VA –do your homework! Research – there are a lot of experience VA’s out there who have been so helpful and generous with their knowledge. Also, take some business or marketing courses or seminars – they can be invaluable.

What resources have helped you in your business?
I have used online forums, particularly and, quite extensively. Connecting with other V’s, sharing ideas, learning from others. I have also joined our local Chamber of Commerce, and found it to be a great way to connect and network with local businesses. I have purchased a few books that are specifically written by and for Virtual Assistants, including Sue Canfield’s The Commonsense Virtual Assistant and Elayne Whitfield-Parr’s How to Build a Successful Virtual Assistant Business.

Share something about yourself such as a hobby.
Someday, when I have more spare time (hah!), I’d love to get back into some of my hobbies, including scrapbooking, and introduce my kids to the joys of canoeing. Meanwhile, I try to keep fit by walking my dog and bicycling.

Additional comments you’d like to share.
Since I decided to launch my own business, my self-esteem has increased and I feel more confident in my abilities and skills. I never thought I’d be able to stand up in front of a roomful of strangers and talk about myself!

Sharon’s Contact Information:

VA Interview: Leslie Adams, Adams Virtual Assistance

Leslie and I connected on LinkedIn while I was searching for virtual assistants in the British Columbia area. We were house sitting in BC in August. Though I didn’t get the chance to meet Leslie in person, I hope that changes in the future as we  hope to get back to BC, perhaps next August again.

Leslie AdamsWhen did you start your business?
I have been working freelance on various projects since 2000, on a part-time basis.  I officially registered my business and began seriously providing Virtual Assistant services in 2006.

Why did you choose to become a Virtual Assistant?
I have over 20 years of corporate experience in positions such as Executive Assistant, Administrative Assistant, Purchasing (Junior Buyer), Accounting, and Customer Service. Tired of the ‘rat race’, working long hours and nothing to show for it, I decided to use my existing skills to ‘work for myself’, and have thoroughly enjoyed the experience! It is SO gratifying.

What advice would you give new and aspiring VAs?
I believe researching the industry and planning are key elements for new and aspiring VAs to consider. I found a business plan extremely helpful in giving my new business direction, as well as knowing where my business would fit in in the current and future markets. I always recommend a book to new and aspiring VAs that was extremely useful to me in starting my own business, ‘The 2-Second Commute’. As well, knowing one’s personality traits is important – I consider dedication, commitment and self-discipline to be valuable qualities to portray.

What resources have helped you in your business?
Numerous resources have helped me in starting, maintaining and growing my business. Firstly, VA associations and networking forums have been extremely supportive. Many forums (like CVAN) offer teleseminars and webinars of varying topics associated with running a VA business, as well as knowledge databases. Secondly, through these forums and my own research, I have come across many free and lower cost business applications that I use in my work. This may be very cost effective for someone who is just starting out and has a limited budget and working capital.

Share something about yourself.
I live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, Vancouver Island. Connecting with nature is relaxing and inspiring. So, I love walking/hiking trails, swimming and biking. On the intellectual front, I enjoy reading, both fiction and non-fiction. I also thrive on constant learning and education, so I upgrade my skills with information from both books and the internet.

Leslie’s Contact Information:
Leslie Adams, Adams Virtual Assistance
Blog: (as of Sept.1, 2010)
Facebook: Facebook profile page
LinkedIn: LinkedIn Profile Page

Southern California Virtual Assistants: I Need Your Help

In September we hope to host Client Communication Clinics in Southern California – one in the Irvine area and another in San Diego. We need to know if you’d be interested in attending. Check out the event as it will be held in Vancouver, Canada in August here:

Then please let us know if you’d be interested in attending the same type of event in Irvine, San Diego, or anywhere else for that matter. Then we can start planning the details. Thank you!

You can either post a comment on the blog or use the Contact Form to send us your responses.

Mobile Virtual Assistant Coach?

It’s great to be a virtual assistant and work from your own home office. You get to have clients from all over the world. It doesn’t matter where they are, you can still provide great service. That’s what ‘virtual’ means. But what about a mobile virtual assistant coach? What?!

Years ago I was a mobile notary. That meant as a notary I came to wherever you were. Now I’m thinking about becoming a mobile virtual assistant coach. Already as a virtual assistant I can work anywhere. I don’t need a home office even. I can take to the road with a laptop and use online tools to meet a client’s every need.

Now that I and my husband Joel coach virtual assistants, we can also do that from anywhere. Most of our coaching is done by phone on Skype. But what if we became Mobile Coaches? Not only do our work from anywhere, but come to you – the virtual assistant – where ever you are? You could now receive in-person training without leaving home.

What do you think of that idea? We’re giving it a trial run in August as we travel from our California home base up into Oregon, through Washington and into Canada. We’ve already talked with a virtual assistant in Oregon who is going to let us stay a day or two with her in exchange for coaching and Joel’s cooking. And we’re putting together a workshop in Vancouver for local VAs there. From there – the world!

Read all about our Nomadic Dream at our blog here: Tell us what you think. Any ideas and suggestions are appreciated. We’re also looking for sponsorship ideas. We’d love to hear from you!

VA Interview: Julie Dillman – Executive Digital Assistant

I first met Julie on the VANetworking Forums. I replied to a request she made for feedback on her website and it wasn’t long before we were talking by Skype. Julie is a real go-getter and her enthusiasm is contagious! She is the first representative in Canada for Chief Virtual Officer.

Sue: When did you start your business?
Julie: February 2010

Sue: Why did you choose to become a Virtual Assistant?
Julie: I have wanted to work from home for about three years now, I enjoy doing computer and administrative related work and when I discovered that other people were making a living doing it from home I decided to try it too.

Sue: What advice would you give new and aspiring VAs?
Julie: Get as much information as you can about the business. Read forums and blogs and talk to the people who are already doing it. And most of all network both online and in person.

Sue: What resources have helped you in your business?
Julie: I read a lot online before I started. I spent at least three weeks reading everything I could find about being a VA.  I joined several online communities and met some fantastic people who gave me some great advice.

Sue: Would you mind telling us a little something about yourself?
Julie: I love music, animals and gardening. I also love anything to do with computers. I am very much a homebody and I’m glad to have found a career that will allow me to enjoy all these things.
Thank you Julie for sharing with us today. Julie’s contact information follows:

Julie Dillman, Executive Digital Assistant
Twitter @ExecDigAssist
Facebook Executive Digital Assistant
LinkedIn ExecDigAssist