One of the great things about being an executive and leadership coach is the opportunity to work with a variety of people who work in a variety of different industries. I have been doing some work recently with Kara Rosner, owner of Key Virtual Office Solutions – a Virtual Assistant (VA) business based in Scottsdale, Arizona.

I asked Kara if she would mind sharing her experiences of starting up her small business through an interview – she was in full agreement. I thought sharing her experience will benefit many of my other clients as well as those who intend to start up their own small business one day.

Kara epitomizes the American entrepreneurial spirit and has demonstrated the leadership traits to be successful in any new enterprise … I hope that you find some benefit into her thoughts about her business.

RG - What is your vision for your business?

Kara -My long-term goal is to build a small team of professional virtual assistants and continue to provide top-notch business support services to small business owners.

RG - Did you have a business plan before you started your business?

Kara -Yes. Writing my business plan helped me think about all aspects of my business–from marketing tactics, to understanding my competition, to assessing my financials. It is a valuable tool and helped me formulate my overall business strategy.

RG - If you had to start over, what would you do differently?

Kara - I would use different marketing tactics now that I know what works best for me. In the beginning I tried various forms of print advertising such as direct mailers and newspaper ads, which did not produce results. My best and most cost-effective forms of marketing have come from personal networking, referrals and my internet presence.

Additionally, I would have begun networking earlier in the process of starting my business. Networking is extremely important in the launch of any business and a great way to let people know what you do. I found it to be very powerful in helping me establish my client base.

RG - What do you think it takes to be successful in your business?

Kara - I think there are several factors for success as a virtual assistant. First and foremost is having a dynamic skill set that is attractive to your target market, which in my case is the small business owner/home-based business. Understand your talents and market them accordingly.

Additionally, a keen sense of client service is vital for success. Knowing your client’s needs and consistently delivering timely and accurate service is crucial. Since most VA-client relationships are not face-to-face it is important to build trust and respect.

It is also very important to be knowledgeable about the marketplace and open to continually learning new skills. Technological advancement is rapid and it is essential to know what skills and services are in demand by prospective clients. A willingness to learn and add to your skill set is important for long-term success.

RG - What are the characteristics you possess that you feel will help you be successful as a VA?

Kara -The traits that contribute to my success as a VA are my creativity, resourcefulness, dedication, strong organizational skills, and proactive nature. Honesty, integrity and a positive attitude are also key characteristics that help me be successful.

RG - What challenges are you faced with today?

Kara -One of my biggest challenges is maintaining a good work/life balance. Starting a new business can be an around-the-clock job. It’s important to take time to rest, recognize accomplishments, and re-energize for the next day!

RG - What is your competition like?

Kara -Since virtual assistance is not bound by physical location my competition is local, national, and international. However, I consider my main competition to be US-based virtual assistants providing right-hand business support services to small business owners. I think what sets me apart is my strong technological skill set, previous corporate management experience, top-quality work and superior client service. There are many talented VA’s all across the country, and that’s a good thing for the industry as a whole.

RG - What are your concerns for the future?

Kara -The VA industry is rapidly growing and the number of people leaving traditional corporate jobs to become virtual assistants is increasing. As the industry grows and competition increases I want to continue to be able to distinguish myself as a top-notch, experienced, and dedicated VA.

RG - Without naming names, can you provide a couple of client success stories?

Kara -I love providing solutions for my clients. One of my clients, an extremely busy entrepreneur with a rapidly growing practice, has little to no time to handle the day-to-day administrative tasks for her business. I started working with her earlier this year, helping organize her client database, managing vendors, developing presentations and organizing financial data. Since then, she has been able to focus more time on expanding her practice, and is now able to spend more time with her clients. We continue to have a strong and productive working relationship.

Another client of mine, also a busy entrepreneur, needed help with various projects including updating his website on a monthly basis. After getting to know his business I’ve been able to take on the website updates each month, along with many other projects. This has allowed him more time to focus on developing his business.

I hope this article has provided you with some insight into the experience of starting a small business. For more information on executive and leadership coaching, or to learn how a virtual assistant could benefit your business please contact Randy Goruk or Kara Rosner.

Author's Bio: 

Randall Goruk is the founder and President of The Randall Wade Group, LLC -- a Leadership Consulting and Coaching Company with a North American client base. He is a seasoned corporate executive and professionally certified career coach. As an executive coach, Coach Goruk offers over 34 years of "real world" business and leadership experience, including 5 years of professional coaching.