Today we’re interviewing Jaimie Skultety of Upscale Your Business. Jaimie is a virtual assistant who helps online businesses succeed. She spent 20 years in corporate America, rapidly advancing from secretary to senior administrator, and she’s done every single possible task. She finally hung out her shingle in 2009 as a virtual assistant. She’s been featured in “Savvy Business Magazine”, “South Florida Business Journal”, “South Florida Business Spotlight”, and Gables Home Page. She’s an expert in how to work with a virtual assistant to get the things done in your business that you need to get done. In this call, she gives a lot of tips and tricks for outsourcing better. It’s definitely worth a listen.
Meredith: Jaimie, you’re known for providing virtual assistant services to other businesses, including social media marketing, and even helping them to automate some of their systems. I understand that you came from 20+ years experience in corporate America and then left to start this business. Perhaps you could tell us your story about how you came to do that and some of your background.
Jaimie: I’d be happy to do that. Yes, I have over 20 years of executive office experience. I’ve worked for large and small companies. In my last position, I worked for my parents. They had two furniture showrooms, and I ran their Internet sales division. It was fortunate at that time as I had an infant son and I decided to leave the job that I was currently at. Once I had my son, my parents asked me to come and work for them. Terrific! Fabulous! I thought I’d have job security the rest of my life and maybe take over their business. Unfortunately, when the bad economy hit in the U.S., my parents ended up having to close their businesses and I was faced with having to find another job.
I actually had a couple of people whom I knew had recommended to me to become a virtual assistant years prior. At that time, I said, “No, I’m really comfortable. I have a great job. I’m making good money. I work for my parents and I get to have my son at work with me.” I even had a crib and a nursery all set up.
But then I lost my job and was faced with having to find another one, so I decided I was going to go with my friends’ advice to start my own business. Within two days I had my website up, and one of my friends became a client. She started referring business to me, and it grew from there. I was able to market my services and find clients that way.
Throughout my journey, though, I learned about social media from being able to market my own business and that was strictly the purpose. I would do a Google search and find out how to set up a Facebook page, and one thing led into the next. I found myself hitting some really great strides in learning about social media. I started sharing ideas with my clients and found that that was another way that I could offer these additional services to them. That whole component sort of elevates the income-earning opportunity for me, so I’ve been able to help my clients as well.
Meredith: So how long have you been doing that as a business?
Jaimie: Since June of 2009, so I’m just over five years at this point. It did take a while to get to a certain level, but I’ve gone through all the pitfalls and kind of stumbled my way through it. I found what worked, and what didn’t work. I found new ways to innovate some marketing. Now I have a lot of referral business, so much so that I’m at a “waiting list” point for my regular services.
I’m starting to transition more into becoming a coach for other new or struggling virtual assistants. I’ve learned all of my lessons, and I’ve had a lot of virtual assistants contact me. They find my website, however they get there, but probably through social media. And I have a lot interest. People contact me and say, “Can I get some advice from you? Can I pick your brain?” I’m always happy to give out free advice, but what was happening is I found myself spending a lot of time on the phone and regularly dispensing advice. After a couple hours, I’d find myself going, “You really need to get back to work.”
So I decided that I have a lot to say and a lot to share, and I developed a book and a coaching program all around that, because I’ve been there, done that, and I can really shortcut people’s other virtual assistants who are just embarking on this journey.
Meredith: Do you see that there’s a growing need for virtual assistants? Have you seen that grow over the years?
Jaimie: Yes. Absolutely. When I first started, people were having a hard time figuring out how to delegate to somebody that’s offsite and really understanding the value of having a virtual assistant. Could they justify the expense? I would argue that it’s a necessary investment for their
business, so people are a lot more receptive to it.
My niche is actually business and life coaches, and that’s who my ideal client is. Many of those coaches have had coaches themselves who have suggested to them, “You need to have a virtual assistant. There is no way you can run your empire by yourself. It just can’t be done.”
So more and more people — not just coaches, but people in general, small businesses, solopreneurs — need that help and support. And they don’t necessarily have the office space or extra equipment. Having someone in their house on a regular basis doesn’t really work for them, so the virtual component is becoming much more widely accepted and sought out. People are being coached also, if they have business coaches themselves, that a virtual assistant is an absolute necessity for their business.
Meredith: Right. Explain to our listeners the kind of tasks that you’re asked to do and how many hours per client that you generally operate.
Jaimie: Personally, most of my clients fall within about a 10-hour per month time period. I actually offer my services not on an hourly basis but more as a retainer package. Within their package they get a certain number of hours. It ranges from social media to just general admin as far as scheduling, and setting up their TimeTrade link, which most of my clients use.
Another item that my clients really value is I offer a business operations manual from the time that we start working together – and I always feel the earlier the better. It’s where we start documenting all of their processes, procedures, the step-by-step, the templates, the emails, so that every response is documented, and it’s updated on a regular basis. So if people are just starting a business, a virtual assistant who can help you with the operations manual right from day one is going to be very, very helpful.
For instance, it makes it easy to get your hand on just the right script for when people land on a company website, as they typically have some questions. So they’ll send an email and it’s how you respond to those questions. You’ll get the same questions over and over again, so it’s really good to have that all documented so that it’s a simple copy/paste, customize, and send. That’s how I think of that. That’s an important tool that my clients really do get a lot of value from. I put that document into a shared, collaborative workspace — I use Dropbox — so they have access to all of their templates and scripts 24 hours a day. That way, if they want to respond on their own, they certainly could.
Another way that I help my clients is setting up an email address with their domain. It might be assistant@ or it might be jaimie@. My clients all have different preferences. But when I respond to their potential or current clients directly, their clients have no way of knowing that I’m actually virtual. It has the appearance that I’m sitting in their office, so it sort of elevates their reputation in just having an assistant, period, whether I’m virtual or not. That way, I manage their follow-up and their pipeline.
When a prospect contacts them, it typically takes three touches to actually turn that prospect into a client. For instance, let’s say they reach out to my client and say they’re interested in their services. The goal is to actually get them to schedule a consultation. I will respond and say, “I’d like to schedule a time for you to speak.” Then I don’t hear back from them. Most people, at that point — especially without a virtual assistant — will kind of let that inquiry fall off the radar. They’ve reached out once and that’s it. I would argue that — and I know for a fact this works — two times, and even three times, is the charm. They might have gone off in the time since they initially reached out, figuring they don’t need the support anymore.
But by the time I’ve reached out to them for the third time, saying, “You know, I’m not going to be a pest, but I do want to make sure that your request is followed up on properly. Would you, for our final contact, like to schedule that consult?” they’re, like, “You know, I DO need to speak to that person. Yes, let me make that appointment.” Then, typically, they’ll become a client. Hopefully. That has been the case many times. So a virtual assistant, if they’re handling your follow-up properly, will actually help get business for you.
There are virtual assistants whom I consider to be “task-based.” They have their place as well, when you know what specifically what you need to have done. You provide them the system of what you want to have completed, step-by-step, and they will carry out your mission. A lot of people actually have that in their head, that they’re going to have to hold your hand, and that’s sort of a deterrent to hiring a virtual assistant.
However, if you have someone who can really look at your business as a whole, understand how it should flow and work, and they have knowledge of business processes and all of that, it generally just gets handled and they can help you to actually increase your income and client base.
Favorite Book: Launch: An Internet Millionaire’s Secret Formula To Sell Almost Anything Online, Build A Business You Love, And Live The Life Of Your Dreams by Jeff Walker
Favorite Resource: Todoist.com
Want to get a free audiobook version of the book recommended by this week’s guest? Click here to download it.
Jaimie Skultety’s Top Tips for starting a VA business
1) You need a creative name for your business.
2) A website that speaks to your potential clients’ pain points
3) Have a scheduling link and a needs assessment form on your site.
Make it easy for clients to connect with you.
4) Go for a monthly retainer plan rather than with an hourly rate.
5) Learn for yourself – there are tons of free resources out there.
To get your free copy of Jaimie’s book – ‘Upscale Your Virtual Assistant Business’ – here > upscaleyourvabusinessbook.com
Guest – Jaimie Skultety – Upscale Your Business
I spent 20 years in corporate America, rapidly advancing from secretary to senior administrator, both in small firms and large companies. During this time I handled every conceivable business task from routine to complex, including many high-level projects. In 2009, although the “virtual world” was in its infancy, being an entrepreneur at heart and recognizing its potential, I launched and operated my first business, A Virtual Assistant 4 You, which I transitioned in January 2013 to Upscale Your Business. I’ve been featured in Savvy Biz Women Magazine (Spotlight Contest Winner), Forbes.com (“Don’t Let Your Business Be Held Hostage” & “How Virtual Assistants Have Evolved”), South Florida Business Journal, South Florida Business Spotlight, and Gables Home Page, and am an active member of the International Virtual Assistants Association. My wide-ranging corporate experience coupled with my innate organizational talents have allowed me to design, implement and manage systems, structures and procedures which help my clientele increase their bottom line.
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