Episode 091: Show Notes
They call her The Entrepreneur’s Secret Weapon, and yes, we have her on the show today. Tracey Osborne, CEO of Empowered Fempreneurs, is here! Tracey has had a decade-long career as a Virtual Assistant and grew her business from $15,000 to 6-figures in only two years. During that time she has authored and co-authored three books, her latest being, Becoming A VA.
Inside this episode, we go over the exact systems that Tracey used to get her business off the ground, from the very beginning. We look at how she was able to leave her full-time job in 60 days, start her VA business and get off to the races in no time. We also talk about how Tracey was able to build relationships and eventually build an agency model where she brought on other VA’s inside her own business so she could grow and scale. Keep listening to learn more.
Starting Out As a VA
Tracey realized her strengths were in organization and administration, so she decided to start a business as a virtual assistant. She set up a website on a Saturday and by the Monday, just like that, her business was launched. She had no idea what she was doing, she didn’t know what to charge people or what work to do and there wasn’t anywhere she could go to get advice in setting up her business. She had to figure it out all on her own. She networked heavily, spreading the word about her business. Within two months, her VA business had grown and she was able to quit her job. It was a lot of trial and error in the beginning and there were a lot of changes that had to be made along the way, but it’s all about jumping in and getting started. You’re not going to know whether or not you like something until you try it, so there are things you have to figure out just by doing them. You have to find what works for you — it’s a learning process.
Pivoting to a 6-Figure Business
For the majority of the business Tracey was with her ex-husband who was making a lot of money, so she never had to worry about making too much money herself. In 2012 when her best friend was killed in a car accident, Tracey hit a massive depression. She almost completely lost her business because she had so much to do that she couldn’t focus on the work. About 6 months later, she started coming out of her depression and she evaluated what she really needed to do. She ended her marriage and suddenly found herself as the sole breadwinner for her family. She had to start figuring things out. 2013 was one of her worst years ever, apart from the first year that she was in business. She made about $15,000 that year. It was a transition period for her and after that, she made more money than she ever had in any of the years prior. What really helped her was getting a coach. Tracey’s coach was able to help her create a path and plan to maneuver through some of the things she had to deal with emotionally, mentally and personally. It was a pivotal moment for her as she started building a multi VA team after that. She also started specializing, creating high ticket items that skyrocketed her business.
Bringing People On to Help Build and Grow Your Business
Bringing on people to help build and grow your business is totally about mindset. Trying to go at it alone, you can only go so far before you hit a wall. If you want to stay in that position and not build a big business, that’s fine, but if you want to expand and grow your business, you’ll need a team. You need to have people whose strengths and skills surpass your own and who will be an asset to your business to help you grow and expand. When you’re by yourself, you have a cap on clients, whereas if you have a team, you can have 30-40 clients. The first change Tracey had to make was to raise her rates to be able to afford her team and still have a profit margin. She needed someone to manage the team but her budget didn’t allow for a full-time manager, so Tracey had to make some cuts and reassess her budgets. However, without her team, Tracey would never have been able to get the business to reach 6 figures and expand the way it has.
Investing in Yourself and Growing That Model
When you have a tight budget, the last thing you want to do is fork out extra money on courses, coaches and training sessions. But the reality is that unless you want to stay in the same spot, if you’re going to be bold, if you’re going to grow and if your business is going to scale, you need to invest in yourself. Tracey made the decision to talk to somebody that had already done what she wanted to do. She needed someone to help guide her with the right advice to help her with her business. She had to find somebody who had already built out a multi VA team and knew how the business worked. To Tracey, the start was when she hired her coach to help her. She also started investing in courses that helped her specialize. It’s an investment in yourself, an investment in your business and an investment in your future. Although it might hurt your check book in the short term, in the long run, it’s going to make you far more money than you actually paid for the course or the training.
Using Social Media Channels to Stand Out
Back in 2008 when Tracey started working from home, she stopped networking altogether, as it was just too difficult. She took to Twitter and she spent hours a day just hanging out, talking to people and building relationships. That’s how she grew her business for the first couple of years. Now she spends most of her time on Facebook. She still does the same thing — she hangs out on Facebook groups, answers questions and gives advice. Tracey gets a lot of business from referrals as well. If you’re going to use social media, you can’t just go into a group and say, “Hey, I’m a VA, I can manage your email and send out newsletters for you. Hire me.” It’s against most group policies, it’s spamming and nobody likes it. You have to create that like and trust factor and that takes time. Building your VA business through social media is not an overnight thing. Tell everybody you know what you’re doing, you never know who or where your next referral is going to come from. It’s all about engagement and value. People are not buying time, they are buying value.
Aspects of the Business You Have to Stay Focused On and What You Can Delegate
Tracey is getting to the point where she now realizes she has to start delegating more work. She can’t focus on the stuff she’s supposed to be doing when she’s doing the stuff she should be delegating. You have to accept the trade-off of doing it yourself or give it to someone else and open that time up to do more important tasks. For Tracey, right now it’s not just about how many clients she can bring on, it’s about what’s on her plate that she can get rid of. There are certain things that cannot be delegated to other people, and by getting rid of some of the things on her plate it frees up her time, energy and focus for stuff that only she, as the CEO of her company, can do. You have to realize that if you’re the CEO of your company, whether you’re a company of 1 person or 10 people, you’re the one that’s running the show, and you can’t be sending out newsletters — that’s not your job. If you’re doing work that a CEO shouldn't be doing, delegate it. You have to figure out what the trade-off is when you delegate, and let people do what they do best so you can do what you do best.
- Starting out as a VA and how to figure it out on your own. [0:04:02.1]
- Pivoting to a 6-figure business, and overcoming tragic personal circumstances. [0:10:48.4]
- Learning how to bring people on to help you build and grow your business. [0:14:59.8]
- Investing in yourself, developing your own skills and growing that model. [0:18:00.0]
- Using social media channels to stand out from the sea of online entrepreneurs. [0:26:15.7]
- Aspects of the business you have to stay focused on and what you can delegate. [0:32:10.4]
- You really need to sit down, think about and write down what marketable skills you have and what you like to do.
- Figure out how you are going to charge for them.
- Figure out how you are different to everybody else.
- Invest in yourself and develop your skillset.
- Get out and start telling everybody who you are, what you do and how you help people.
- Knowing your ideal clients and their pain points.