Virtual Assistant Interview: Collette Schultz

Collette SchultzI’ve known Collette Schultz for several years and we met up in person back in 2010/2011 when we first traveled through Wisconsin before moving here. Collette is one of my social media account managers. I interviewed her and here are her responses.

1. When did you start your business?

In March of 2007 I started my service business and now to compliment that I’m adding affiliate marketing to it.

2. Why did you choose to become a Virtual Assistant?

There were a few reasons for starting as a VA.  My passion to learn technology, adding supplement income to the family and a dream to become full-time doing what comes naturally to me.

3. What advice would you give new and aspiring VAs?

Watch and learn from other people in the industry.  You’ll make mistakes and that’s ok; just don’t make the mistake more than once.  Don’t go crazy and try to be involved with too many networks.  Pick three and get involved.  Ask questions and share your stories.  You have to invest in your learning but don’t waste your money.

4. What resources have helped you in your business? Forums, blogs, coaching, books?

The main resources are real people and mentors that worked in the VA industry.  Diane Hess, of Hess Business Professionals & Associates, was the first person that listened and took me on as a subcontractor.  While working for her I went to free forums and eventually joined Solo Masterminds, NAMS and Linkedin.

5. Share a success story or something about yourself – a hobby perhaps.

It’s been twenty years that I’ve been working and educating in the accounting profession.   In addition, I’ve taken the values and hard work from building our family farm and turned it into a virtual business.  For the business owner, I deliver remote office support, product reviews and a directory of subcontractors to meet their needs.  For the service providers that desire to subcontract I provide education, resources, inspiration and project opportunities .

6. Additional comments you’d like to share.

Operating this business has proved I’m successful.  It’s a lot of hard work but it fills my passion.  The best thing about being a VA is you get to choose what kind of services to offer.  The smallest things can help another business.

7. Links to any online profiles you want to share.

Join my LinkedIn group of more than 3,200 members and visit my website for more resources

VA Interview: Collette Schultz, Software Savvy Sub

I first met Collette online at the Find Virtual website for Virtual Assistants. Collette and I have had many discussions about the industry and in particular subcontracting. If you are interested in doing work as a sub or are looking for a sub contracting virtual assistant, Collette can help you out. She has a monthly free call for those interested.

Collette Schultz of Software Savvy Sub

When did you start your business?
March 2007 while working fulltime and raising my two children.

Why did you choose to become a Virtual Assistant?
This has been a dream.  I wanted to stay home with my children yet continue with a career that I would expand my knowledge and skills.  It also is an achievement of learning something different or outside my regular experience.

What advice would you give new and aspiring VAs?
Had I known I could have subcontracted for other VAs and learn as much as I have I wouldn’t have purchased so many unnessary learning tools. Learn from others.  Read VAs’ success stories.   Don’t get over booked when it comes to social networks.  Just a few and be an active member in the group by adding value.

What resources have helped you in your business?
eading success stories of others.  Corporate Mom Drop Outs is a book I can’t put down.  I also thrive on assisting other VAs by subcontracting.  They teach their knowledge by physically doing their tasks. has been one of my main resources along with Mom Masterminds. I’m also an audio learner there are a huge amount of podcasts that have taught me so much. and Denise Griffitts series.

Share a success story or something about yourself.
No matter what type of goal I set I seem to accomplish it sooner or later.  The thing I want people to realize is how appreciative I am that I’m able to do so.  There are a lot of people who drop the ball if they’re not getting to the goal as quickly as they thought.  The key is to stick with it.  Maybe I’m not working from home full-time yet but I am learning more than I ever imagined and from the right people.  I’m from the midwest and technology isn’t many people’s forteit, however that’s what keeps me going.  So I chose to use it to my advantage and become a virtual assistant.

Additional comments you’d like to share.
If you’re a little nervous about getting started start slow.  Do it part-time for awhile.  Most of all I suggest working for someone else so they can somewhat take you under their wing.  It’s ok to ask for help.

Collette’s Contact Information:
Collette Schultz, Software Savvy Sub
Virtual Dream Office Services

How Many Clients Do You Have?

A business broker I know suggested I write about the danger of a virtual assistant having only one client. Many virtual assistants would agree that they want more than one client. However I do know of VAs that only have one client because they get 20-40 hours work each week from that one client. That’s wonderful!

The one drawback to having just one client is – what happens if you lose that client? You’ve just lost your entire business. So even if you are working 20-40 hours per week for one client, consider adding a couple of smaller clients to your client base.

You may think you can’t take on additional work when you’re already working 20-40 hours per week for your one client. This would be a good time to get to know another virtual assistant that would be willing to sub-contract for you. There are other advantages to building a relationship with another virtual assistant also and we’ll discuss that in a future post.

Take Three Steps to Get Your First Client

The #1 challenge new virtual assistants have is getting that first client. You know that if you could get just one client and wow them with your work that they will in turn recommend you to their friends. But how do you get that first client?

There are a variety of things you could do. Today I’m going to give you three different steps you can take to find that first client.

Step #1: Subcontract for an established virtual assistant. Find an established virtual assistant and build a relationship. Some virtual assistants need additional help from time to time and if you’ve established a relationship, they may call on when they need extra help. Be aware, though, that the rate as a subcontractor may be significantly less than the rate you would charge a client directly. This is to be expected since as a subcontractor you did not go out and find the client and are not directly managing the project.

Subcontracting is a good way to gain experience and make a little income. I strongly suggest you have some sort of written agreement or contract clearly defining expectations and rate of pay. I know virtual assistants who only do subcontract work and don’t want the additional responsibilities that come with managing the client directly.

Step #2: Trade or barter services. Especially in difficult economic times, many solo professionals are willing to trade or barter services. I’ve know life coaches, business coaches, massage therapists, chiropractors and other service providers that were willing to provide their services in exchange for a virtual assistant’s time.

If you could use one of these services, find out if they would be willing to barter. Again, this is a great way to get experience and may result in good word of mouth referrals. If the client is happy with your work, this is a great opportunity to ask for a testimonial to use in your marketing materials.

Step #3: Offer an hour or two at no charge. I know you’re wondering right now if I really just told you to give away some of your time without getting paid. Is that what I meant? Yes! However, I did not say you wouldn’t get anything in return. Let me explain.

You are brand new, just set up in business and have no clients, no testimonials, no proof you are good at what you do. So why would anyone want to hire you or retain your services for five or ten hours each month? But if you could get even one client, a glowing testimonial and begin your portfolio, then there’s a reason for someone to consider using your services. So how do you get that first client? Offer an hour or two for free.

Of course you still want to have a contract detailing the work you will do in that one or two hours. Be sure that both you and the client have the same clear expectations. Let the client know up front that you’d like them to provide a testimonial – if they are truly pleased with your work.

If you provide excellent service, you will find that the majority of clients who you gave an hour or two of time at no charge will want to continue using your services and will gladly pay your fee. I have never been disappointed with my return on investment when I’ve done this. I’ve found it’s very rare that a client uses their free hour or two and then never comes back.

Since many small business owners are still reluctant to use a virtual assistant and aren’t sure what we can do for them, offering a small amount of our time can break the ice. In my opinion, this is not much different than a business coach who offers a free report with the hope that you’ll then pay for the more extensive eBook or even pay for his business coaching.

If you’re reluctant to offer free services to someone you don’t know, you may find a friend or family member that you can do some work for to gain some experience. Of course, this can have challenges of its own.

So what step will you take to get your first client?